Fistful of Hops: The Blog

Friday, December 27, 2013

It should be pretty obvious that we love hops at Sun King, especially since every chance we get we’re creating a new hoppy seasonal or specialty beer to work into our line up and now for the first time ever, we have a year round IPA.

A lot of people don’t realize, but one of the biggest issues with hops is supply and in order to make a particular beer, you obviously have to have a consistent supply of the necessary raw ingredients. When Dave and I were conceptualizing Sun King back in 2007 there was a series of events (agricultural difficulties and a warehouse fire in the Northwest that destroyed a LOT of hops) that led to a serious shortage in the world’s hop supply. We were fortunate enough to have relationships in the industry that allowed us to secure hop contracts for our fledgling idea (which at the time was going to be a brew pub with hopes of producing 1,000 barrels of beer a year) and in turn allowed us to execute our business plan. In fact when we first sat down in 2009 to go over the business plan with our investors, the question was asked, “There is a hop shortage, so while your plans are great, how are you going to get any hops?”. Our ace in the hole was these hop contracts.

Our initial contracts were based on recipe concepts we had been formulating, one of which was a Pale Ale that would eventually become Osiris. Osiris’s recipe was formulated to take full advantage of the hops we had available and create a hop forward beer that was more session-able than your typical IPA. People often mistakenly call Osiris an IPA because of its aggressive hop profile while at the same time others remark that they wish we would kick it up a little and make it an IPA, but at the end of the day it is the beer that Dave and I designed and brew because it is what we want to drink.

Because of the growth in the craft beer industry, hops continue to be in short supply. It’s not that there aren’t hops out there, but the specific varieties of American hops that are essential to making a really tasty American Style IPA are still really hard to come by. People constantly tell us that we should make Grapefruit Jungle all year, but the truth is we simply can’t. We literally allocate every ounce of the hops we need to craft GFJ into making as much of it as we possibly can once a year. Every year we beg, borrow, or steal more of the specific varieties and make even more GFJ and every year it sells out just as fast every time!

In order to offer a year round IPA we came up with Fistful of Hops, which we’re calling a seasonal IPA. The grains used remain the same throughout the year, but the hop profile will change every three months, based on the availability of hops. The intent is to offer a consistently delicious and hoppy beer that keeps IPA lovers engaged while helping people discover what different hop varieties offer to a beer. In order to denote the change, the color of the can will change with each season… Our initial release for Fall was a red can and our Winter release, due out January 6th, 2014 will be package in a blue can, with the art staying constant just like the malt profile.

Fistful of Hops rings in at 7.5% ABV and 70 IBUs. 


Clay Robinson 

Owner/Founding Brewer/V.P. of PR and Marketing/Glorified Spokesmodel

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