In December, Port Brewing Company/The Lost Abbey announced the coming of a third brand called The Hop Concept. This seemed an odd route to go for a house already divided, but this is craft beer. Nothing’s off limits. That sentiment certainly holds true for the reimagining of the West Coast India pale ale (IPA). Easily the most popular beer style in all of San Diego County, its makeovers have been many. Birthing new editions of West Coast IPAs and breaking them into digestible sensory experiences is the aim of The Hop Concept’s Hop Freshener Series, which debuts this week in bottles and on draft with the release of its first seasonal entry, Dank & Sticky IPA.
Crafted to convey the adjectives comprising its name, the beer is hopped with tons of Cs — Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Comet, and CTZ (a Columbus, Topaz, Zeus hybrid)—as well as Amarillo, Mosaic, Simcoe, and the super sexy-sounding Experimental 05256. Those last ones have made a splash and are said to bring on notes of pine, mint and stone fruit. All of that are apparent, along with the herbaceous little sumpin’ that earns the beer its “dank” descriptor. Melon is also pronounced at first sip, as is a sharp, almost peppery spike giving way to a resiny finish that goes for miles. As the beer warms up, a caramel sweetness plus notes of peaches and persimmons join the party.
If this sounds like a multilayered beer, that’s because it is. Yet, even with so much going on, the flavors meld together to physically tell the tale of what it means for an IPA to be dank and sticky. It’s an ambitious undertaking that most would have trouble bringing to successful fruition (especially at this beer’s 8.5% alcohol-by-volume, which can add muddying booziness to some IPAs, but doesn’t in this case), but these master crafters of hoppy stock are off to a great start.