New era, new beers for The Lost Abbey

After relocating to a new brewery, a 17-year-old company goes about refreshing its hoppy stock

This year, world-famous craft-brewing operation The Lost Abbey has undergone a series of significant changes that have seen it relocate from its longtime home and cease production of beers from sister brands Port Brewing and The Hop Concept. The latter’s portfolios consist primarily of hop-forward beers that are now being produced by Pizza Port Brewing, the owners of which were also co-owners of The Lost Abbey. In March, both companies reorganized, with the former taking ownership of the latter’s San Marcos production facility, which will soon feature a Pizza Port tasting room.

Meanwhile, managing partner Tomme Arthur retained The Lost Abbey brand, its beers and trio of tasting rooms in downtown San Diego’s East Village neighborhood, Cardiff-by-the-Sea and the residential San Elijo community in San Marcos. Arthur has since brought on new investors and signed a deal with Mother Earth Brew Co. to share that company’s Vista production facility and brew beers for its tasting rooms as well as retail distribution. 

Historically, those beers have primarily included Belgian-inspired ales, including barrel-aged sour and strong ales, but those alone would not constitute a healthy business model. IPAs remain the most popular style of craft beer in the country. The many IPA recipes Arthur and company brewed for Port and The Hop Concept were of high quality, but with them belonging to another business entity, the 25-year brewing-industry veteran has spent the past three months developing new recipes for hoppy ales that will form the crux of The Lost Abbey’s revised lineup.

“Because we have three operating tasting rooms, we knew what profile we needed to replace in our brewing process. There are four new IPA recipes,” says Arthur. Those include a West Coast, double, hazy and tropical rye-infused model. “These beer styles represent some of the best-selling beers in our tasting room, so we needed to ensure we had those drinkers covered.”

The first of The Lost Abbey’s new beers are scheduled to hit taps and retail accounts today. The following are Arthur’s notes on each of them…

  • Every Everything (West Coast IPA, 6.7% alcohol-by-volume): Brewed with Cascade for its classic West Coast sensibilities, Jackson Ocho for its resins, Eclipse for its fascinating Down-Under (i.e., Australian) character and one secret hop varietal, this IPA blends citric pop with the Cascades.
  • Unseen Things (Tropical Rye IPA, 6.2%): Brewed with Mosaic, Cascade and a pile of Strata, we really wanted to celebrate the unique tones the latter can provide a beer. So, the base hops were built to support the foundation of tropical with the very New-World fruity esters that Strata is known for.
  • Moral Codes (Dank West Coast Double IPA, 8.5%): Our customers have loved us over the years for making beers at 8.5% with loads of hops sprinkled over a dash of malt. We really wanted to live in a land of citrus rinds and piney dreams, so we hopped this beer with Cascade, Mosaic, Columbus and Centennial, and dry-hopped it with lots of Simcoe. We have contracted for a new-to-the-market hop and will be metering some of that into the beer, as well.
  • JMJ (Hazy IPA, 6.8%): We regularly hear that our customers are looking for a hazy as part of their IPA universe, so we designed JMJ with this in mind. It features Cascade, Amarillo and Citra, but let’s keep it real…those hops are really there to let the Citra shine through. It’s a classically-styled hazy IPA with juicy tones and fruity bits. (Note: This beer has not yet been canned and is scheduled to debut next month.)

The aforementioned beers come packaged in cans sheathed in white with accentuating single-color artwork from artist Dylan Jones. The inspiration for the defined yet minimalist design was The Lost Abbey’s Czech-style pilsner, Noble Tendencies. On the naming front, Arthur wanted to lean toward quirky names flirting with irreverence.

“Moral Codes is a nod to sinners and saints, each of which have their own compasses. Unseen things was my way of saying the beer might or might not be a sparkle party in the glass. We no longer have a centrifuge, so we might get some haze,” says Arthur. And what of that acronymic hazy IPA? “For JMJ, there’s a Catholic reference in there somewhere.”

The Lost Abbey will distribute all of its beers, including seasonals such as Italian-style pilsner Mopeds in Milan (coming out in August), pumpkin beer Avant Gourde (September) and holiday brown ale Gnoel de Abbey (October or November). Those beers will also be on tap at The Lost Abbey’s tasting rooms along with draft-only specialties like the brand-new Bingo Lady blonde ale and a rebrew of former core offering Red Barn saison.

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