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The History of Black IPA 

While it is a debate amongst brewers as to where the first Black IPA was brewed, the story we are going with is that it originated in England. Sean’s take on Black IPA, however, was inspired by Vermont Pub and Brewery’s ‘Blackwatch.’ Many people believe that this was the first Black IPA in the United States. 

Blackwatch was first named ‘Black and Bitter’ by the head brewer. Supposedly, it reflected his feelings towards the divorce he was going through at the time.

The Early Days of Big Hoppy 

Before there was Lawson’s Finest, Sean was a part of a local home brewers group. The group would gather in the late summer or early fall for what they called the Mad River Brewers Party. Each person would bring their newest beer for an afternoon of sampling and live music. Sean fondly remembers the nights before these events when they would meet in someone’s barn for poster making. According to Sean, these poster parties were legendary! Big Hoppy made its debut at this party and the large hop that Sean drew on his poster is still featured on our can today!

What’s in the Name 

The name ‘Big Hoppy’ was inspired by the enormous amounts of hops that are used throughout the brewing process. The desired dark color comes from the use of roasted malts, however, with roasted malts comes additional bitterness and charred flavors; this creates a challenge. Through experimentation, brewers discovered that a debittered black malt was needed to counteract the strong roasted malt flavors. The final product is a dark, Black IPA with a resinous and dank character.  

Sean’s Fun Fact: To get a debittered black malt, the husk is removed from the grain because that’s the part that develops the charred and burnt character.
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