The Beer: Luponic Distortion, Revolution No. 001
The Brewery: Firestone Walker Brewing Company, Paso Robles, CA
The Stats: 5.9%, 59 IBU
Notes: First in a series of new revolving hop beers
Firestone Walker has always been a trend-setter in the craft beer industry, and with the introduction of Luponic Distortion, it continues the tradition. Luponic Distortion is actually more of a concept than a beer, as every 90 days the brewery will release another version of it, showcasing a different combination of hops. The base beer will remain the same throughout the duration of the series, giving beer lovers a chance to truly understand the different characteristics that hops can provide in a beer.
As with all hop-forward beers, Firestone Walker encourages drinkers to enjoy this beer within 90 days of its production to maximize the hop experience. Following this advice will be a true reward for the consumer.
As many as nine different hops will be included in each release, with up to six used in the dry-hopping stage alone. Dry hopping is the process of adding hops after fermentation is complete, during which time no bitterness is derived but much of the fresh hop aroma is brought out. With each release, a specific experimental hop will be dry hopped in greater quantity than the others, showcasing that particular varietal. And though it's usually a full-disclosure brewery, Firestone Walker isn't disclosing which hops are being used in the series — in part, because some of the new varietals of hops haven't even been officially named yet.
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In Revolution 001, pine, orange, mango, and other fruity hop flavors lead but are set on a moderate bed of wheat and bready base malt. Whereas most IPAs check in around the seven percent ABV mark, Luponic has all the hop flavor and aroma of a traditional IPA on a moderate strength backbone of a 5.9 percent ABV beer. Having a little less backbone than a traditional IPA provides a lighter overall package, more drinkability, and helps the hops to truly shine.
The beer is highly attenuated, meaning that there is very, very little residual sweetness in the finish. This beer finishes very dry. Medium-high carbonation provides a pleasant carbonic bite, and the high quantity of hops provides both a creaminess and a lasting head retention on the beer. The beer pours yellow-gold and is quite clear despite being so heavily dry-hopped.
IPAs are best served in a glass that will help retain the hop aroma, so avoiding a traditional shaker pint is advised. Luponic Distortion can be enjoyed with wings, pizza, fried chicken, or even barbecue, as it makes an excellent palate cleanser due to its relatively high carbonation and high hopping rate.
Luponic Distortion holds true to the Firestone Walker tradition of great IPAs. It has characteristics of both Union Jack (the brewery's traditional IPA) and Easy Jack (session IPA) filling the midpoint between the two, strength-wise. Jump on board the Luponic Distortion train and be sure to look for each new version every 90 days. To find out when the next one will be released, check out the Firestone Walker brewery website.