I’ve missed draft beer. That’s a phrase I never thought I would say unless I accidentally stumbled back in time to 1930.
Now, there is nothing wrong with packaged beer. But a pint fresh from the taps is a thing of beauty I had probably taken a little for granted until COVID-19 basically killed draft beer in America for a while. New Realm Brewing’s Hazy Like a Fox IPA was a staple during quarantine, and sitting down at a bar this week finally have a fresh pint felt a little bit like a hoppy Christmas.
Except that’s not what I got.
Every beer drinker has had that internal debate whether to say something to the bartender about a miss-poured beer, and look a little pretentious in the process, or say something. If you say something, the beer will just be poured down the drain. Such a waste. What was sitting in front of me wasn’t Hazy Like a Fox, but equally if not more delicious. It’s been a shit year, so I decided to stay the course and be grateful I’m sitting in a bar and not on a Zoom call.
As it turns out, it was New Realm Hoptropolis. This “juicy” IPA debuted back in 2018, and honestly, that was the last time I had it. As of late the beer has been popping up everywhere. Jeff Chassner is New Realm’s VP of Business Development and a good friend, so I asked him what was up. As it turns out, New Realm is “leaning in” on Hoptropolis as spring and warmer weather sets in.
“Hazy Like a Fox is now our number one selling beer both inside and outside of the brewery, and Hoptropolis isn’t far behind,” he says. “We figured it’s time to remind folks don’t forget about our other favorite IPA.”
It’s built on Loral, Citra, El Dorado, and Azacca hops which are all headliners in juicy IPAs in these days. Georgia is lucky to have an IPA god like Mitch Steele working his brewing magic with Tyler and team.
Covid lulled me into a bit of a rut. Same safety beers during a turbulent time – until the wrong pull of a tap. I very literally proved New Realm’s point without even knowing it.
On the same topic, that’s another unintended problem beer has dealt with during the ongoing pandemic. It’s not just a loss of volume to every brewery in America. It’s the loss of the variety and exploration you get sitting down in front of a tap wall. Trying something new by the pint is much less daunting than 6 pack commitments. A notion I nearly forgot after playing it safe so many months now.
This week, Paso Robles, California based Firestone Walker Brewing Company has released three new IPAs, including a new edition of Luponic Distortion.
The first two IPAs – El Dorado, and Motueka, were both born in Firestone Walker’s Propagator pilot brewery in Marina Del Ray. Both pilot beers are simply named for the spotlighted hop in each IPA.
- El Dorado IPA – West Coast IPA with a next-generation hop variety from the Pacific Northwest that offers soft stone fruit flavors with notes of tropical melon and pear. (5.6% ABV)
- Motueka IPA – Hazy IPA with a New Zealand-grown hop that delivers punchy flavors of tropical fruit, white grape, and lemon zest. (5.6% ABV)
The latest Luponic Distortion IPA is the 15th entry in the ongoing series. This edition features emerging hops hand-selected by Firestone Brewmaster Matt Brynildson. Per Brynildson, Luponic Distortion #15 “offers explosive fruit flavors of kiwi, lychee, and feijoa.”
Pay attention, because where to find these IPAs gets a little complicated (and we are pretty sure this is correct):
Motueka IPA is available exclusively in Firestone Walkers ‘Crafted Thru Hops’ mixed CAN packs, alongside Mind Haze, and Union Jack.
El Dorado IPA can be found in the ‘Craft Thru Hops’ mixed BOTTLE packs, with Easy Jack IPA, Luponic #15, and Union Jack.
Luponic Distortion #15 is available in 12-ounce cans, 12-ounce bottles, and draft for a limited time.
Hops: Varied By Beer
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Limited Time Release.
Debut: Late February 2020
Bell’s Brewery’s Two Hearted Ale is known epically as one of the best (if not the best) India pale ale in America. Double Two Hearted Ale, which is is basically Two Hearted turned into the hoppy Incredible Hulk, was bottled last year and brewery fans couldn’t’ get enough. Then it was revealed that the “Hearted Ale” series had a lesser-known, lovable lighter side – Light Hearted Ale.
The 110 calorie, 8.7 carb, 3.7% alcohol by volume “light” ale has been a Bell’s General Store exclusive release, showing up on social media as early as last summer.
Gearing up for a wide-scale release, Bell’s has overhauled Light Hearted’s artwork. This lighter approach to one of America’s most popular India pale ales utilizes two hops – Centennial and Galaxy.
A light IPA Success
As 2020 gets underway, this beer joins the ranks of a growing segment of lighter, lower calorie, lower alcohol by volume creations by craft brewers. The category is growing every month, but much like any India pale ale, the light IPAs are not created equal. Without naming names, some of the releases are either too thin, low flavor, or even worse – tastes like hoppy water. You might be saving the calories but you’ve also thrown flavor out the window. Bell’s solved the calorie over flavor equation, and they did it beautifully.
Light Hearted Ale is born of the same creative expertise that pushed Two Hearted Ale to elite status in American brewing. Centennial and Galaxy hops walk hand in hand through each sip, bolstered by an actual malt backbone (a term brewers hate) that his been missing in a string lactose and adjunct heavy IPAs hitting shelves coast to coast. Those looking to make a more health-conscious beer choice, look no further.
Bell’s Light Hearted Ale will be available year-round in 12-ounce cans and draft starting in late-January
Image: Beer Street Journal
There are a handful of lower alcohol by volume, lower-calorie beers in the craft brewing segment. Some of the most notable recent releases include One-y IPA by Oskar Blues, Slightly Mighty by Dogfish Head, and Swipe Light by Southern Tier. Soon, Monday Night Lay Low IPA is joining the category soon.
Early details are pretty simple. Lay Low is an India pale ale that is 3.2% alcohol by volume, instead of 3.5% as previously reported and just 95 calories. Starting in 2020, the brewery has ceased using 6-pack rings and has shifted to the box format.
Monday Night Lay Low IPA is slated for 12-ounce cans and draft starting January 24th.
Style: IPA (Session Beer)
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. GA, TN, AL.
Image: Monday Night Brewing
Founders Civilized Brut IPA is slated to be the first seasonal release by the Michigan-based brewery going into 2020.
The hazy India pale ale is in full control of the hoppy category in the United States, and there are industry rumblings that the category will swing away from the string of turbid, triple dry-hopped releases and back to the IPAs you can actually see through. In the case of Founders, it will be the Civilized Brut IPA.
The Brut IPA is defined by the effervescent, champagne-like mouthfeel the IPA – though few breweries have pulled this off very well. Founders brewmaster Jeremy Kosmicki on this future release:
“Dry, sparkling, hop-forward IPA. Civilized Brut has just the right amount of bitterness and hop flavor to not overwhelm the clean and dry finish of this beer, while the high effervescence makes it feel like a party in every sip.”
Founders Civilized Brut IPA will make its debut in both of the brewery’s taprooms on October 30th. Look for it in 12-ounce cans in both 6-packs and 15-packs, as well as draft nationally in November 2019.
Style: Brut IPA
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Seasonal Release.
Debut: Late October 2019
The craft beer industry continues to expand the lower-calorie offerings industry-wide. Dogfish Head, Southern Tier, and Harpoon are among a few notable breweries that added low-cal, low-ABV options earlier this summer. Bell’s Brewery is currently prepping a “light” version of Two Hearted Ale dubbed Light-Hearted Ale for early 2020. Now, nationally distributed Oskar Blues is launching One-y IPA.
Beginning in mid-September, Oskar Blues One-y IPA will join the light beer fray, described as “low-cal” and “high haze.” The brewery’s goal was to create an IPA that huge, hazy, and hoppy, without the calorie count of a regular IPA or Imperial IPA.
Juice Drapeau, the head brewer at Oskar Blues pilot brewery in Lyons, Colorado did so with a heavy hit of hops. One-y IPA is dry-hopped with El Dorado, Comet and Citra hops, with Mosaic and French Aramis added to the whirlpool.
“The aroma hits you first. There are notes of citrus, honeysuckle, peach, and mango. The beer is fruity with a hop haze and a nice biscuit flavor to the malt. The use of pale ale malt and wheat, along with the hefty dry hop load, creates a medium body. It’s easy to drink – pairs well with breakfast, lunch, or dinner.”
Oskar Blues One-y IPA is just 4% alcohol by volume, and 100 calories per 12-ounce serving. Available nationwide year-round this month.
Style: Hazy IPA
Hops: El Dorado, Comet, Citra, Mosaic, French Aramis
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft. Year-Round.
Debut: Mid-September 2019
Wild Leap ETA IPA, a “transcontinental IPA” according to the brewery debuts in mid-September.
Chris Elliott, Wild Leap’s head brewer, states this release is a much drier India pale ale that the IPAs they have brewed before. These new hop combinations combined with a big addition of oats have created a medium-bodied IPA with a fluffy mouthfeel.
ETA is a dryer IPA than any we have ever brewed and will fall behind both the Alpha Abstraction series and Chance IPA in sweetness.” – Chris Elliott
As for the “transcontinental” description, that’s tied to the artwork. The blue and green can was drawn with a 70’s vibe. “In the ’70’s, flying was a luxurious experience, not the rat race that it is today,” explains Rob Goldstein, CMO and brewery Co-Founder.
Look for Wild Leap ETA IPA mid-month in 12-ounce cans and draft.
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft.
Debut: Mid-September 2019