For the past few years, one beer style has remained the fan favorite of craft beer drinkers in the United States: The Illustrious American India Pale Ale. These hop intensive ales represent nearly one quarter of domestic craft beer volume- more than any other individual beer style. Hopping techniques and hop oil extraction methods are on the cutting edge; several breweries even tout their proprietary hopping equipment directly on the labels of their six packs. Also, the number of commercially available hop varietals is at an all time high, with each varietal allowing for distinctly unique flavor profiles. The downturn is that the newest experimental hop varietals are, by nature, limited in supply and therefore difficult for breweries to formulate recipes around and put into production when their access to these hops is tentative. On the consumer side, one driving force among craft beer fans that is promulgated by social media and mobile device apps is the desire to continually seek out new and different beers. So in regard to the best-selling India Pale Ale, how does a brewery reconcile the consumer demand for uniquely fresh and interesting beer with the objective of consistency in flavor and quality when access to the latest and greatest hop varieties is uncertain?
Enter Firestone Walker. The California-based brewery discontinued their cult classic double IPA, ‘Double Jack’ and their award winning black IPA, ‘Wookey Jack’ in 2016 to open up a brand new canvas for their hop-forward line of beers. One such beer that was born out of this decision is their ever-evolving Luponic Distortion India Pale Ale. This rotating release IPA features the same malt base and bittering hops in every iteration, yet is dry hopped with a different set of experimental hops every 90 days. The result is a screamingly fresh IPA in which every new version has a familiar taste albeit distinctly different aromatics. Past versions of Luponic Distortion have featured experimental hops from Michigan, Washington’s Yakima Valley, South Africa, and Germany. The current iteration of this beer is #007 and is dry hopped with a blend of 3 Australian hops that showcase a citrusy Sauvignon Blanc character in addition to the juicy, fruit-forward aromas of similar hops grown in the Southern Hemisphere. So sit back and embrace the change- your taste buds are in for a treat.