I think it was around February of 2013 when I sat down in Franconia founder Dennis Wehrmann's office and he gave me a rundown of what he had planned for the coming year. It was the brewery's fifth anniversary and he was going to try some different things, he said, like brew one beer with champagne yeast and another with a Belgian yeast. Not only that, he was going to violate the German Beer Purity Law by utilizing oats to brew an oatmeal stout.
It took a moment for all of that to sink in, especially the part about sidestepping the Reinheitsgebot for the first time in the brewery's existence, but low and behold he wasn't done dolling out the surprises. And, oh by the way, he'd be letting head brewer Cam Horn make a double IPA.
It was one of those mic drop moments, to use the lingo of the day, as a double IPA is the polar opposite of the kind of beer we'd come to expect from Wehrmann. I mean let's be honest, hoppy wasn't a word you used to describe a Franconia beer. They are typically malty, maybe with a touch of spice (thanks to a Saaz hop here and a Saaz hop there) and eminently easy to drink. Textbook session beers, if you will, with German influence to the core. Now, he was talking about releasing an American style brewed with purely American hop varieties. War er verrückt gewordon (translate)?
He carried out the plan and they brewed the beer in time for the Big Texas Beer Fest that April. More than a few people (myself included) declared it to be not only a great surprise, but also one of the best beers of the festival. Even so, Wehrmann stuck to his guns and said it would be a one-time only release.
I guess he changed his mind, since Franconia Double IPA is back and heading to a store near you after being bottled this past Monday. Is it as good as it was last year? Yes, and this is just my opinion, but it would seem to stand up to most any other DIPA I've tried in recent memory. It's bright and bitter, with ample body and all the pine and citrusy elements you could ask for. Maybe it's because I sampled it essentially right off the line, but we all know freshness a key ingredient in any IPA. In other words, don't be one of these people who unearths a bottle in 6 months and instantly logs into Untappd to tell everyone how terrible it is.
Take note, though, that "bottled" is a key word here, as there will be only a handful of kegs made available. Five to be exact, one of which you'll be able to enjoy at the upcoming Best Little Brewfest in Texas on June 21. Beyond that it's up to you to get out and grab a six-pack out of the 500 cases to be sold. After those sell out, this beer will be gone for good. Well, probably anyway...