Coastal Evacuation in Cans!
It’s one of our most popular brands. It’s beloved by fans, it’s sought after high and low, and minstrels have written ballads singing its praises.
(Okay, maybe that last part isn’t true. Yet.)
Either way, its sheer popularity is why we needed to can our flagship Double IPA, Coastal Evacuation.
We’ve been brewing Coastal Evacuation since 2014, but its origins go back much further.
“Cape May IPA seemed like a hop bomb in this area,” says Head Brewer Brian Hink. “It wasn’t the most craft beer-savvy area around.
“Actually, who am I kidding? Craft beer didn’t exist around here before CMBC opened up shop.”
As people’s palates evolved, we wanted to brew something with a little more flavor. So, we added Hank’s Centennial IPA (CIPA) to our lineup.
“We had Cape May IPA,” Hank says, “but we wanted to do something bigger.”
At the time, Double IPAs weren’t quite what they are today.
“They were few and far between,” Brian says, “and a lot of breweries weren’t even making them. Centennial wasn’t even a double, more like an IPA-and-a-half.”
It clocked in at about 7% ABV, but it was pretty hopped-up. However, it was a little ahead of its time — DIPAs wouldn’t catch up to CIPA until around 2013, so it really stood out.
After taking home Best IPA at the 2012 Atlantic City Beer Festival, we assumed we had a hit on our hands, but the bars weren’t as receptive. We needed to kick it up a notch.
“We wanted to beef up the recipe to more of that Double IPA status,” Hank says.
We’d already gotten our feet wet in the DIPA world with City to Shore, which first came out at the end of September 2013 (and will be returning soon!). That was right around the time Brian started brewing for us.
“I still spent some shifts behind the bar in the Tasting Room,” he says, “and the most common question I’d get asked was why we didn’t make a beer like that year-round.”
So, as is often the case at CMBC, Brian started needling Hank about evolving CIPA into a proper DIPA.
“It took some convincing,” Brian says, “but by the summer of 2014, we started making subtle changes to CIPA, easing its way to becoming Coastal.”
They played with the mash temperature, grain bill, hopping rates, and, most importantly, the dry hopping process.
“We didn’t want to make all the changes at once and completely reinvent the brand,” Brian says, “so we would make one of the changes on a batch and see how it worked. Next batch we’d keep the previous change the old way and change something else, and so on and so forth.”
Batch to batch, the beer stayed true to brand for CIPA, and once we knew how each individual change would affect the beer, we pulled the trigger and brewed our first batch of Coastal Evacuation in August of 2014. We released it at the very first Brews by the Bay.
However, we couldn’t hold onto the name. Centennial IPA was a good beer with a great name, but there’s another one out there, being brewed by someone a little bit bigger than we are. We didn’t want to ruffle Founders’ feathers, so we needed to rebrand a bit.
“I’m not sure why, but we wanted to keep the C from Centennial,” Hank tells us.
Hank, Brian, and a few other employees were brainstorming different naming possibilities. A lot of them referenced CIPA or its evolution in some way.
“We were having a tough time nailing one down,” Brian remembers. “Ryan walks up to us, asked what we were doing, and says, ‘Oh, cool. How about Coastal Evacuation?’ and walked away, and the rest, as they say, is history.”
Throughout the years, we’ve tweaked the recipe a bit, adjusting the dry hop three different times since we’ve moved into HQ.
“The recipe is evolutionary in a way,” Brian says.
“It’s still very Centennial-forward,” Hank says. “We always added more hops. I don’t think we’ve ever taken any hops away, but we’ve definitely added more hops.”
“If we were to brew Coastal as the very first recipe of Coastal, it would definitely be a drastically different beer compared to what we know and love as Coastal today,” Brian says. “The malt bill is nearly identical to the first batch, but the flavor and aroma have really evolved.”
At the time, we didn’t really have “flagships” in the truest sense of the word. We made sure that we always had enough IPA to go around, and there were a handful of bars who always wanted Honey Porter, but “the idea of seasonals or flagships didn’t really concern us too much,” Brian says.
As we started growing from a hyper-local brewery and expanding our territory throughout South Jersey and into Philly, we realized that we needed to have some sort of schedule of releases.
“It used to be, ‘What haven’t we brewed in a while?’ or ‘Man, I’ve always wanted to drink this kind of beer, let’s make one!’” Brian says.
Before Richie and Justin moved into sales, Ryan would just call up the area bars to see what they wanted. But, with a sales team forming, the guys in the field needed to know what was on the horizon. We needed a core brand.
“IPA was the no-brainer choice,” Brian says, “but what else to call a flagship? Coastal, Honey Porter, and Devil’s Reach were always very consistent brands for us, so it only made sense to elevate them all to flagship status, with Apple Bomb being the on-again-off-again core brand rounding things out.”
Hank looks at it a little differently.
“In another sense, it’s always been a flagship,” Hank says. “Since Centennial IPA, some people want the IPA, and some people want the bigger, badder Double IPA. We were brewing it all the time, so it just made sense to call it a flagship.”
Whatever the reason, Coastal Evacuation has evolved from Centennial IPA into one of our best-selling brands. It only made sense that it would be one of the first ones to get canned.
“It’s one of our finest beers,” Ryan says, “and it’s one of my favorites.”
And you can get it now. Coastal Evacuation cans are currently available in the Brewtique and are currently out for distribution.