I remember the first time I drank Lagunitas IPA. It was straight from the bottle while waiting for my plane at the airport in San Fran, which weren’t the ideal circumstances, but even then it stood out as a great fresh hoppy beer and I thought how bloody good is this for a beer at the airport.
And now Lagunitas IPA is going to be launching on taps in Australia, legit and fresh, and rather than out of the bottle at an airport, you’ll be able to drink at at a comfy bar with some nice glassware too, with the initial distribution set to be in kegs.
The Australian launch event was held at the Great Northern Hotel with legendary founder Tony Magee on hand for the Australian launch, while also serving as the keynote speaker at GABS.
“We can’t wait for Aussies to wrap their taste buds around some freshly imported Lagunitas. If you can’t make it to GABS, our IPA will be coming to a tap near you shortly,” said Magee.
Tony has been a controversial figure, often accused of hypocrisy when he sold Lagunitas to Heineken for a figure believed to be around $1 billion, after previously criticising big beer companies.
But he’s also an undoubted legend of the craft beer movement and his story is an incredible rags-to-riches story, from a broke homebrewer to the owner of a booming groundbreaking craft beer business that’s still growing 25 years later.
Lagunitas IPA is currently USA’s no. 1 selling IPA which is pretty staggering when you think of all the big name IPAs out there.
Lagunitas has only trickled into Australia in the past, either through one-off events at the Great Northern Hotel or through grey imports. Indeed my first experience with Lagunitas was a grey import that had degraded into a disappointing caramel bomb.
But now with their beers having official distribution direct from their brewery in Petaluma, California, we should see a higher standard of beer and more regular supply compared to what washed up here in the past.
For those who made it to GABS, they got a bit of a taste of Lagunitas beers at their best. I sampled the Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale from their stand. The beer has one of the best stories I’ve heard for a beer, brewed in response a 20 day shutdown for not properly policing marijuana at their venue, an example of the kind of counter-cultural flavour of the brewery back in the day. A huge 9.8% ale, brown with big toffee malt flavours and plenty of hops to give it a firm bitter finish.
Lagunitas foreshadowed their entry to Australia earlier last year but after some delays they are now launching with a slow and steady approach. Of the big US craft brewers, they’ve been one of the slower ones to move but definitely have a lot of potential to gain traction with the flagship IPA. They’ll be an interesting to watch here in years ahead.