Addition: This beer will be available for early tastings at Shore Craft Beer Fest: Salisbury Riverwalk Celebration. Click here for ticket info.

One of the coolest things about having a neighborhood taproom is you have access to test batches. Brewers try out beer recipes and share them with the people who come in. Some beers make it and some don’t. But when a beer does, there’ s certain sense of ownership that comes along with it, kind of like an “I knew him when” for beer.

For the few hundred people who got to try Hops Limon when it was in test mode, next week’s region-wide rollout of the latest Evolution Craft Brewing brand is going to be pretty satisfying. Hops Limon IPA is a 6.8% ABV that was made for hot days and good food. The lemon/lime is subtle, but certainly present. Last year, Evo put out Pine’Hop’le pineapple IPA, which has an analogous subtlety. That is, you know the lemon/lime taste is present, but it isn’t punch-you-in-the-face tart.

“We had a lot of success with the Pine’Hop’le IPA, and I think we really just wanted to offer people something that builds on that experience,” said  Evo head brewer Mike Piorunski. “You don’t want it to taste perfumey and you don’t want it…to taste like a macro lime beer. You want it to taste like an IPA.”

hops limon
James Elliott collects short fills as part of his job running the bottling line at Evo

Gearing up

James Elliott, who helps run the bottling line, has been super busy cranking out case after case of the beer. The bottling line runs sort of like an elevator. Bottles are lifted by the pallet to the top of what would be an awesome rollercoaster, if it could be made to scale. They then slide town into place, are washed, filled, and capped. The brewery was chaotic as bottles by the thousands were filled packaged, and prepared for shipping.
James is the guy in charge of making sure you get all the beer you pay for. Short fills (bottles that aren’t sufficiently topped off) get pulled out so they’re not packaged. When he thinks he sees one, James runs to the part of the line where the offending bottle is, grabs it and the ones around it and examines them. If there’s not enough beer there, he pulls the bad bottles and sets them aside.

Executing the plan

Hops Limon was the brainchild of Tom Knorr, who, with his brother John, owns Evolution Craft Brewing. Tom worked with Mike to get the beer he envisioned. Evo’s beers always are constructed with food in mind. That is, they often think, “What would taste good with this beer?” when considering new recipes. In this case, Tom wanted something summery and citrus-y, but something that wasn’t too much of either. The trick was to limit the hop bite while keeping it an IPA.
“We try to lower the bitterness in the kettle so that our aroma and dry hop additions really pop and so that allows some of those fruit flavors to take over,” Mike said. “It’s really not a light beer, but when you lower the bitterness it becomes a little more drinkable.”
I think of this as a gateway IPA. Some people have early IPA experiences that leave them thinking if you drink an IPA that’s all you’re going to taste for the rest of the day (of course, other people love IPAs where that is the case). This beer, as with a lot of the fruit IPAs, is one for people who may be ambivalent on the style. It’s one worth taking a chance on.
Evo hasn’t generally made a huge deal of its releases, but this beer is timely and slated only to be shipped in bottles. Pints will be available in the tasting room, but most people who want to try this beer, will try it by the six pack which is why drinkability was important.

Tony Russo
Author: Tony Russo

Tony Russo has worked as a print and digital journalist for the better part of the 21st century, writing for and editing regional weeklies and dailies before joining the team that produces OceanCity.com and ShoreCraftBeer.com among other destination websites. In addition to having documented everything from zoning changes to art movements on the Delmarva Peninsula, Tony has written two books on beer for the History Press. Eastern Shore Beer was published in 2014 and Delaware Beer in 2016. He lives in Delmar, Md. with his wife Kelly and the only of his four daughters who hasn't moved out. Together they keep their two dogs comfortable.

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