Nick Carr on August 8, 2016 0 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Firestone Walker Brewing Company Location Paso Robles, CA Style American IPA (Rotating Hop-Experiment) ABV 5.9% IBU 59 Hops Blend of Seven Undisclosed Varieties Malts Pale & Wheat Malts Shelf Life 3 months Suggested Glass IPA Glass Serving Temp 46-50°F Availability Rotating – July to September 2016 Food Pairings BBQ Chicken, Grilled Spicy Shrimp w/ Mango Chili Sauce, Monetary Jack Cheese, Peach Tart So, strangely I didn’t realize that both the Deschutes Armory and this beer, bought at the same time, were both on-going hop experiments. An interesting coincidence considering the amount of beer I had to chose from. Maybe my subconscious guided me, feeling the pull of new hop combinations much like the downward pull looked for by the water diviner. However it came about, you lucky people get another hop experiment review. Firestone Walker Brewing Company was founded in 1996 by Brooks Firestone and his brother-in-law David Walker. When they bought the former SLO Brewing Company in Paso Robles in 2001 they gained Matt Brynildson as their head brewer. A position he had taken at SLO not long before they closed. Before that he was head brewer at Goose Island. Matt Brynildson is America’s most decorated brewer, being named “champion brewer master” at the World Beer Cup four times and “brewer of the year” at the Great American Beer Festival five times. Matt Brynildson’s start in the brewing world was as a hop chemist, now along with being the brewmaster at Firestone Walker he is an international consultant for the Hop Growers of America. There’s little wonder he’s made for himself a playground called Luponic Distortion. Luponic Distortion uses the same base canvas to paint its ever evolving hop picture. It is a canvas of wheat and pale malts, which creates a far less complex background than many of the other IPAs out there. The plan is to use up to nine different hop varieties in each batch, all playing a supporting role for one experimental. The first batch used a six color hop brush. This one ups it to seven. Only two of the varieties are carry-overs from No. 001. Along with the experimental Pacific Northwest hop, they used two other varieties the brewery had never used before. All in all, Luponic Distortion 002 is made from a blend of hops that include two varieties from Germany, two varieties from New Zealand, and three Pacific Northwest varieties, one of which Firestone Walker calls “a new experimental variety.” As expected with a brew so far along the crest of the hop wave, the names of all the hop blends — but especially that single experimental — are being kept very hush-hush. But, I have faith that you savvy readers will figure it out, and leave us a comment down below. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Luponic Distortion 002. If you’ve tasted this beer, or perhaps both versions of Luponic Distortion, please share your thoughts with all of us in the comments below. I’d love to hear how No. 001 compares to No. 002. Pour and Aroma: It lands in the glass a bright yellow-gold. Clarity is superb, allowing a distorted Lupulin-yellowed picture of a world beyond the glass. Medium carbonation drifts off the bottom, tumbles upward to feed a finger’s worth of small bubbled, pure white head. Aroma is extremely fruity and fresh. Peach, light mango, and papaya take the center stage, while light melon and some grapefruit follow. Once in a while catch the slight character of Sauvignon Blanc, especially as it begins to warm — no doubt, from the New Zealand hops. Mouthfeel and Taste: Body is on the light side of medium and carbonation is moderate creating a mouthfeel weighty in its juiciness. End is crisp, played through with rindy bitterness. Wow! That first sip is spectacular. Lightly sweet and fruity upfront. I’m not sure I’ve had a beer with such a distinct “papayaness” to it. Peach and apricot follow. Light cereal malt qualities underneath. Bitterness hits toward the back creating a rindy feel to the fruit flavors. The rindiness sticks into the aftertaste; fresh with a slightly drying bitterness intermingled with dying fruit flavors. FINISHING THOUGHTS This was a very refreshing and fruity IPA. It made me wish I’d been paying attention earlier and gotten a crack at No. 001, so I’d have a comparison. But, oh well. Now that I’ve had No. 002, I’ll definitely be ready and keeping an eye out for No. 003. The intense peach/papaya experience was one of a kind — in my book of beers at least. Don’t get me wrong I’ve had others with notes of these fruits, but none with the same clear sensory delivery — at least not without additions of peach or papaya fruit to augment the experience. If you consider yourself a hop-head or just want a refreshing, yet still gracefully hoppy, summer beer, then you need to give Luponic Distortion 002 a try… it’s just that simple.