Why breweries are offering ever-changing recipes, and how it’s a win-win for everyone.
The bottle shop is pretty packed these days. To the left- a crisp pilsner from right up the road; to the right, an uber-hoppy milkshake IPA. Like clockwork, many of those beers will disappear within the week, supplanted by something new and shiny. And let’s be honest, we drinkers love this. We’re always on the hunt what’s fresh and new, and more breweries are following a trend that makes that easier, the rotating series. It’s not a complicated concept from our end: same beer name, endless recipe changes. But breweries are also using these ever-changing beers to experiment.
Take Massachusetts’ Night Shift Brewing Company, which has cranked out over 60 iterations of its Morph IPA series since debuting in 2014. The can’s always the same, but the Night Shift team swaps out ingredients with every release, offering variations in hop flavor and alcohol content every time you pick it up. You can view every recipe dating back to its inception here.
A series like this keeps things fresh for us and makes snagging the beer that much more exciting. It also gives the brewery a platform to let creativity thrive. The brewery landed on its now-flagship IPA, Santilli, back in early 2015 through the Morph series. The team also tweaked The 87, its flagship double IPA, with new techniques they learned from past releases. While we get to enjoy the endless amount of flavor possibilities, the brewery gets to breathe new life into its lineup — win-win.
Most rotating series like Morph focus on IPAs, single-hopped beers, etc. due to the sheer amount of different hops on hand, but many non-hop-forward series are out there. Both Revolution and DESTIHL have a sour beer series in their lineup, while Harpoon’s 100 Barrel series goes nuts with an eclectic mix of everything from wheatwines to Belgian blondes.
For a lot of brewers, creativity is a primary motivator. The widely available Luponic Distortion series from Firestone Walker aims to explore new and exciting hops hitting the market. The base beer remains the same each time, but the hops always change. For the team at Firestone, Luponic offers a way to play with all the new varieties making waves around the world, while also letting them test some wacky ideas and new ingredients. As head brewer Matt Brynildson put it online, he’s finally“free to jam.”
Every 90 days, the brewing team mixes up the recipe to showcase experimental hops from across the world, including Germany and South Africa. The most recent batch of Luponic, No. 11, spotlights flavors of lemon drop, pineapple, and guava. I gave it a go and can attest to the fact that the beer was ripe with lush fruit and sweet citrus.
“We can completely evolve, change and redirect this thing as new hops come to us and as we get to know the hops better,” Brynildson writes on the brewery’s website, “Luponic is this beer that can keep morphing and stay interesting and remain out in front of this crazy hop wave.”
For some, a rotating series is also a means to an end. Idle Hands Craft Ales of Malden, Mass., launched its Change Up IPA series with the goal of crafting the perfect flagship IPA. Using each batch as an incubator for fresh ideas, the team built Four Seam, a New England IPA now steadily available in the Boston area.
Dive deeper by checking these out: Finback’s Oscillation rotating IPA, Proclamation’s Derivative single-hop series, Stone’s Hop Revolver IPA, Revolution’s Freedom series, among many others. Ask your local Craft Beer Cellar for suggestions!