Last year, Firestone Walker’s next-generation West Coast-style IPA Hopnosis became a new way to IPA. Featuring Cryo Hops, dry hopping, and, perhaps most importantly, a lager yeast, Hopnosis awoke a sleeping bear from hibernation: Cold IPAs.
A style we’ve now come to write about extensively, Cold IPAs drink hop-forward like a typical IPA—courtesy of a supercharged dry hop—but finish crisper, cleaner, and more crushable like a lager—thanks to that all-important lager yeast.
First invented in 2018 by then-Wayfinder Brewmaster Kevin Davey, Cold IPAs have become hotter than hot, with breweries such as Firestone Walker putting their own fingerprint on the style.
With the success of Hopnosis, Firestone has now decided to double down on Cold IPAs with Double Hopnosis.
Launching in 19.2 oz cans in Firestone Walker’s markets in April, Double Hopnosis levels up Hopnosis.
And no, before you say it, Double Hopnosis isn’t a “Colder” IPA.
Instead, this double Cold IPA stacks up the hops—old-school West Coast, new-age Cryo Hops, and new-wave Southern Hemisphere ones. All lead to a luxuriously potent imperial beer, finishing with a next-level mouthfeel that’s well balanced even at 8.3% ABV.
And did we already say Double Hopnosis comes in a 19.2 oz stovepipe can? 🤯
Much like mother is the necessity of invention, new craft beer styles are often the impetus for innovation.
We’re not saying we’re fortune tellers, but if we predict the future of Cold IPAs, we’d double down on Double Hopnosis right now.
Hopnosis, A New-Age IPA With Old-School Roots
If Double Hopnosis is like the bigger bad brother of Hopnosis, to understand this beer, we need to know why Firestone Walker brewed its original Cold IPA.
The answer is actually pretty simple.
“We were just trying to make the best IPA we could,” says Firestone Walker Brewmaster Matt Brynildson.
Here’s the blueprint Brynildson came up with for Hopnosis:
Step one: Begin with a straightforward malt bill of 2-Row, Carapils, wheat, and Munich malt, to give Hopnosis a perfect canvas for the hops.
Step two: Add a plethora of new-school Pacific Northwest and New Zealand hops. “There’s always a nice handful of hops that you’re itching to use and a new IPA that we can easily deploy in beers,” says Brynildson.
Step three: Innovate by adding a mid-fermentation dose of Mosaic Cryo Hops “to bring some new-school flavors that everyone is starting to associate with IPA in general, whether it’s hazy or West Coast,” says Brynildson.
Step four: The kicker: Ferment with lager yeast. This last all-important technique gives Hopnosis that crisp, lager-like bite at the finish.
Bynildson may have made it look easy, but brewing a Cold IPA at the beginning of 2022 was a daring experiment. The Firestone Walker Brewmaster wasn’t sure how it would play out in the wild. In fact, Firestone Walker didn’t even label Hopnosis a ‘Cold IPA’ at first.
But after a year following this recipe and watching the market grow, Brynildson felt that “we’re finally cracking that code,” he says. “I think the longer we brewed [Hopnosis] that way, the more we realized that our recipe and method were almost perfectly in line with a Cold IPA.”
A realization confirmed by the Cold IPA master himself, Kevin Davey.
“I told him honestly, with Hopnosis, you know the process, you’ve tasted it, this is how we’re doing it…would you consider this a Cold IPA?” says Brynildson. “He’s like, ‘Absolutely, I would consider Hopnosis a Cold IPA.’”
Bolstered by this recognition, Brynildson knew Hopnosis had hit all the right notes of the style. And the success of Hopnosis last year proved Cold IPAs are here to stay.
“I really think Kevin was on to something; it really worked and proved out in Hopnosis that lager yeast is great for making hoppy beers,” says Brynildson.
With a vetted beer, Firestone Walker and Brynildson started to think: What’s next?
Doubling Down on Double Hopnosis
To us, Firestone Walker’s new Double Hopnosis signifies the first breach beyond that initial wave of Cold IPAs.
What’s next? What’s new? How can brewers innovate on the style?
The answer may lie in a tried and true class: double IPAs.
If Cold IPAs are hot, then double IPAs are warming back up.
As Brynildson sees it, hazy IPAs have dominated for so long that now might be a great time to bring double IPAs back into the fold.
“I don’t know all the trends and predictions for 2023, but one thing we saw in 2022 were breweries of scale—New Belgium, Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, and everybody—making some noise around their double IPAs,” says Brynildson.
Now may be the perfect time for Firestone Walker to dip its toes back into the imperial field.
“Ever since we discontinued Double Jack, we’ve been itching to get a West Coast DIPA back into the portfolio,” says Brynildson. “All our brewers love making this beer.”
With Double Hopnosis, Firestone Walker merges the best of both worlds: Cold IPAs and double ones—all into one big happy family.
“We’re doubling down on West Coast with Double Hopnosis,” says Brynildson. “And they didn’t have to ask me twice!”
Double Hopnosis, the Big Sibling to Hopnosis
Bynildson says the best way to think about Double Hopnosis “is like the big sister or big brother to Hopnosis.”
This imperial Cold IPA starts with a similar malt bill to Hopnosis, but Brynildson strips that down further. “There wasn’t much specialty malt in Hopnosis to start with, but we pulled almost everything out of Double Hopnosis,” he says. “In Cold IPAs, that’s part of that style as well; it’s relatively devoid of any specialty malt character.”
Double Hopnosis starts with just base malts like 2-Row, White Wheat, and a tiny amount of specialty Munich malt.
From there, this double IPA captures many of the same concepts of Hopnosis: Cryo Hops, lager-yeast fermented, and a plethora of sexy, delicious hops.
Did we say a plethora? According to Brynildson, he adds 1 lb/bbl of hops on the hot side and 3 lbs/bbl in the dry hop. Along with the Cryo Hops, Double Hopnosis nets out to about 5 lbs/bbl of hops overall.
Much like Hopnosis, Bynildson adds Simcoe, Callista, and Mosaic Cryo on the hot side. For that mid-ferm addition, he chooses Citra and Mosaic Cryo. During the dry hop, things start to shift; Brynildson subs in Vic Secret (for the Riwaka and Nelson in Hopnosis).
“I think in terms of impact on the finished beer, this is one of the differentiators,” he says.
For us, we picked up bright pineapple and passion fruit personalities in Double Hopnosis that seemed amplified compared to Hopnosis.
What’s the Verdict on Hopnosis?
Look, we named Hopnosis one of our favorite Cold IPAs for a reason; the beer explodes with dankness and juiciness yet slides down easily.
And Double Hopnosis stomps through those footprints in even bigger shoes.
The very neutral, even-more-stripped-down base ensures that this beer is all about the hops.
Sweet, sweet hops.
On a first pass over the glass, we detect whiffs of sweet candied orange but also floral orange blossoms.
“Aromatically, it’s really nice… It has a really pungent yet pretty modern hop aroma that follows through on the flavor,” says Brynildson.
First sips have us saying words like “mesmerizing mango” and “gorgeous grapefruit.”
And where our mind registers double IPA, our taste buds search for bitterness.
But therein lies the rub: This beer drinks smooth and carefree. “[Double Hopnosis] is a pretty lean beer for DIPA by the numbers, but I still feel like it has a mouthfeel that doesn’t come across too dry and alcoholic,” says Brynildson, noting Double Hopnosis clocks in a good fifteen to twenty IBUS lower than normal DIPAs.
Don’t get us wrong, the underlying bitterness exists, but it’s more like a babbling brook than a raging white water rapid.
To finish everything, the oh-so-Mr.-Clean lager yeast scrubs our taste buds, preparing them for the next round.
Double Hopnosis drives home Cold IPAs while elevating them into an imperial plain.
Speaking of bigger…
A BIGGER Can for a BIGGER Beer
Walking into the store now, you’ll be hard-pressed to miss Double Hopnosis on the shelf.
And that’s very intentional.
After all, a bigger IPA gets a bigger can.
Packaged in 19.2 oz black stovepipe cans, Double Hopnosis towers above its 12 oz brethren, inviting someone to pick up the can.
“We built this beer for that,” says Brynildson. “I don’t have a problem drinking a full pint of it or two, that’s for sure.”
Plus, the taller can makes us feel like we’re getting the most bang for our buck here. Drinking an 8.3% imperial Cold IPA packed with 5 lbs/bbl of hops out of a 19.2 oz can gives us that giddy feeling.
And excited for what comes next.
What’s Next for Cold IPAs and Firestone Walker?
Could we see a Triple Hopnosis at this same time next year!? Could Firestone Walker triple down? No idea. Just pure conjecture on our part. But we wouldn’t be surprised.
At the very least, Firestone Walker seems committed to perfecting Cold IPAs.
“I’m pretty convinced [Cold IPAs] will not go the way of the dodo bird, Brut IPA, or other types of twists and turns of IPA out there,” says Brynildson. “I think it will stick mainly because people are staying pretty true to the spirit of the original concept, and these beers are just delicious!”
And if Firestone Walker has taught us anything over its twenty-seven-year legacy, they aren’t afraid to be one of the first into the breach.
Where Can I Find Double Hopnosis?
Drink any Double Hopnosis or Hopnosis to earn the limited-release Hopnosis badge on Untappd, available from March 13, 2023, to April 13, 2023.