The latest of McMenamins‘ seasonal beers is to go on tap company-wide this Friday, April 11: Jam Session ISA (India Session Ale). It’s a 4.77% abv beer hopped with Chinook, Mosaic, Centennial, and Falconer’s Flight hops, about which the company says:
Spring is in full bloom, and its song plays the soundtrack to a beautiful season. Wanting to add our instrument to the collaboration, the McMenamin’s brewers were inspired to produce Jam Session ISA. A light and easy drinking beer that embodies the spirit of spring as it fades into summer. We jazzed up this session ale with an ensemble of hops and arrangement of malts. Brewed in the style of an India Session Ale, or Indie Session Ale (to avoid being main- stream), you’ll find a brew that has low alcohol levels and full flavor.
Here in Bend, the Old St. Francis School‘s brewer Mike “Curly” White put Jam Session on tap at the pub a few days early, and was kind enough to provide me with a growler of the beer at no charge so I could sample and review it.
Needless to say, the beer is incredible fresh and a bit lighter in color than my unintentionally-unfocused picture there would have you believe. It’s a hazy golden-copper color, the head is off-white (not nearly tan like my picture—seriously, not sure what happened there!).
The aroma is bright and enticing, the kind you smell and then want to keep smelling. It’s juicy and fruity, a lightly citrus-tropical fruitiness with a hint of sweaty dankness from (I think) the Falconer’s Flight hops.
The taste is just as appetizing as the aroma. It’s got a nice toasty bread character that piques the appetite and makes you want to keep sipping. The bready malt is followed by a gentle bitterness that mellows into a juicy note that makes me think of prickly pear fruit. That juicy note comes out in the hoppiness as well, and combines with the crusty-wheaty malt character that’s bracing and light on the tongue. It’s light-medium-bodied, and being unfiltered gives a nice bite. It finishes crisply hoppy.
This is a really good beer, juicy with hops and easy to drink. In fact as I was drinking it I couldn’t help but wonder how it would drink if it were blended with orange juice, mimosa-style; that may well be something I try (or pop into McMenamins and see if they’ll do that for me).
Seek this out and drink it, if you can. One caveat: because Jam Session is being brewed by the individual breweries on systems of varying size and configuration, I do have to point out that my experience may not be the same as yours (even though they are brewing to the same recipe). But, I’m pretty sure it’ll hold up.