Firestone Walker Hopnosis IPA 355ml

Firestone Walker Hopnosis IPA 355ml

John ShearlockJul 14, '22
Today’s beer scene is one of constant innovation and change and as the number of new breweries and customers swells in size, the need to keep offering new styles, expressions and variations increases.

Firestone Walker were there in the mid 90s when the current craft scene began its ascent and have been going strong for over 25 years. The original brewery was located on a family vineyard in Los Olivos, California and the beer to get them on their way was the Double Barrel Ale (which you can read more about here). It was made in a patented variation of the Burton union system and set out the brewery’s stool as serious brewers using traditional techniques to make modern beers

Matt Brynildson joined as brewmaster in 2001 and things really began to heat up for the brewery with Matt being named Champion Brewmaster four times at the World Beer Cup and Brewer of the Year six times no less.

Hopnosis is one of Firestone’s more recent offerings and could be seen as an escalation in the IPA hop arms race that seems to be gathering pace round the world. This brew ups the hop ante by making full use of one of beer's latest innovations - the Cryo Hop. Think of these as concentrated Lupulin pellets if you like - resinous nuggets heavy in aromatic and bitter compounds where the ratio of lupulin (extracted from pollen-like lupulin glands in the middle of the hop cones) to green leaf material is much higher.

In Matt Brynildsons words Cryo Hops “provide intense hop flavour and aroma, enabling us to efficiently produce a highly delicious and more sustainable beer.” This sounds great right - big flavours made with an extraction process that essentially creates more from less hops - and takes some of the pressure off the farmers.

Let’s give it a whirl…

Pours a lovely amber gold with a white head. Boom - the nose is dank alright - but not like a musty old basement - this is juicy hop expression at its best with layers that unfold. First it’s sweet sherbet and citrus, followed by tropical notes of pineapple and guava and then fresh tobacco, earth, spearmint and pine. You can really get lost in this one. The palate offers much of the above and has a lovely lifted, ethereal cleanliness about it - with bright white bitterness and fruitiness that speaks more of hops than of malt.

Well, those Cryo Hops have certainly done the job on this beer, which is really rather splendid, and will bring a smile to any IPA enthusiast. Intense is certainly the right word with bucket loads of concentration.

Innovation in brewing such as the Cryo Hop might not exactly be the application of cutting edge science, but it doesn't need to be. Beer is steeped in thousands of years of tradition and anything that maintains a sense of authenticity but delivers enhancements to flavour and stunning brews is certainly most welcome.