We love our IPA these days, and one of the most interesting craft beer brands is Lagunitas from Southern California. What makes them successful in an increasingly competitive market?

We met up with marketing manager Chris Meyers to get some insight.

1. Keep it cool

Just as we prefer to drink cold beer, hops are really sensitive to heat.

− If you don’t keep good, hoppy beer really cold it will turn on you very quickly. Hops begin oxidizing and decomposing, turning into flavours you do not want.

LAGUNITAS #IPA… A beer with a bite!

A photo posted by The Lagunitas Brewing Company (@lagunitasbeer) on

2. Consider the logistics

A large obstacle when it comes to beverage distribution is logistics – especially with regards to the aforementioned heat-sensitivity. Since two years back, Lagunitas ship all their beer from a satellite facility in Chicago.

− It’s a way of minimizing the diesel we let out during transportation coast to coast. It’s also good for overseas shipping and removes a third of the time. That way we can offer a fresher product that preserves the flavour in a better way.

3. Grow organically

In the US, craft beer makes up almost 50 percent of the beer consumption, which is not the case in other countries. Since the start in 1993, Lagunitas has so far only expanded to Sweden and the UK, as well as some distribution in Japan.

− The reason we’re in Sweden is actually because our New Dogtown Pale Ale was entered in the Stockholm Beer and Whisky festival. We still don’t know who did it, but we won a gold medal both by the people’s and judge’s vote. So that was a good sign!

4. Dry-hopping is a must

IPA was invented by the Brits in order to preserve flavours in the beer during the shipments to the troops in India. Today, the technique is slightly different.

− To get the rich, piny, fruity flavours of the hops, we have to do something called dry-hopping. That means you let the beer ferment on a bed of dry-hops, which allows those great nuances to surface. It’s just like when you’re making a soup: you don’t put all ingredients in at the same time – you make sure that the ones that are brightest go in at the end.

5. Worry about the flavour, not the ABV

Many IPA’s, including the products from Lagunitas, are high in ABV percentage. They even have a “Daytime IPA” which is lower in ABV.

− It’s the flavour that counts, says Chris Meyers. Tony McGee started Lagunitas in 1993, and he studied musical composition in college. A lot of our recipes are approached under that concept of bringing on a thematic representation, being able to amplify all the different ingredients in a harmonious, melodic way. It’s kind of the same way an orchestra would do it when they’re playing a symphony.