BridgePort's New Labels and Rotating Hop Czar IPA Series

BridgePort Brewing Co. is turning 30 this year. To celebrate, they will release their Trilogy series of limited release beers throughout 2014. 
In addition, BridgePort will soon spruce up their label artwork as well. In the picture below, you can see BridgePort’s current label images on the left. On the right, are the new labels. The updated labels sport the same general look and color scheme. The BridgePort name is displayed more prominently in black. Gone is the image of the bridge (St. John’s by the looks of it).
Now if you look closely at the Hop Czar labels, you'll notice a more substantial difference. Hop Czar is changing—well actually, Hop Czar will be rotating.  Last week, I asked BridgePort about the branding and formulation changes. In their response, they also confirmed to me that Hop Czar will become a rotating line of IPAs (similar to Widmer Brothers’ Rotator IPA series). The first release will be a Citra Dry-Hopped IPA. Here’s what BridgePort told me about the changes: 

What prompted you to redesign your labels and eliminate the image of the bridge? 

For 2014, we wanted to place as much emphasis as possible on our 30 year anniversary. We considered many design options both with and without the bridge. Although we ultimately decided to proceed with a design that does not include the bridge, this does not mean that it has been permanently discarded. This was simply a design choice that we felt would help to place more visual emphasis on the 30 year labeling. 

Will all of your beers use the new design?

Yes, all of our beers will use the 30th anniversary design for 2014.  The new labels will begin arriving at the shelf during the week of 1/20.

Why did you change Hop Czar? Is this the first change you made to this beer?  When will the new Hop Czar be released?

The original Hop Czar was created as an exploration into the world of adventurous hop-centric styles. The Hop Czar series that we are launching this year is simply an expansion of this exploration. The series gives Jeff and his brewers the opportunity to craft and release new and innovative IPAs and double IPAs three times per year. This is an exciting creative opportunity for our brewers.

Yes, this is the first change. The launch of the series does not mean that the original Czar is gone for good. It may come back in its original form, slightly altered, or extremely altered—only the brewers know for sure!  The first of the series, a Citra dry-hopped IPA (6.5% ABV, 60 IBU) will begin shipping in February.

There you have it. I think a change to Hop Czar was overdue. Perhaps it was an Imperial IPA when it originally launched, but it doesn’t fit the bill in the current era of mega hopped, high alcohol IIPAs. I’m a big fan of variety—and IPAs, so I welcome the change. But, I’m glad to see that BridgePort is keeping their classic IPA in the lineup.
However, at the same time, I wonder if beer lovers are getting rotating IPA fatigue. Widmer Brothers launched their Rotator IPA series nearly two years ago. For the first year, they seemed to release new IPAs every 3-4 months. Recently, the length of their IPA rotation has increased. Hopside Down IPL, Widmer’s current Rotator, has been on the market since last May. Is that a reflection of declining interest? Time will tell.
There has always been a special place in my heart for BridgePort IPA because it was one of the two beers (along with Widmer Hefeweizen) that kindled my love of good beer. So I’m looking forward to tasting the new releases! Happy 30th anniversary to BridgePort! 
What do you think of Bridgeport's labels and their new rotating Hop Czar IPA series?
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  1. I have no idea about the new varieties or the new labels, but you're like the Woodward & Bernstein of craft beer. Keep up the great work!

  2. Personally, I find this change extreamly disappointing. Hop Szar was my favorite beer.

  3. Hop Czar Imperial IPA was in my top five favorite IPAs. The new Citra dry-hopped IPA would not make it into my top 30 favorites.The flavor is quite weak and one dimensional.I hope the next incarnation is better I will not purchase this version again.

  4. Bring back the original Czar! PLEASE!

  5. Hop Czar was my top IPA by far. Spent a lot of money on it. Tried the new one, wasn't impressed. I don't understand the change, but I am also not a brewer. Time to find another IPA.

  6. Bring back the original Hop Czar. One of the best
    of all time!!

  7. I am disappointed in the new hop czar. The name should have changed so people would not have been duped into thinking they were getting the same product. Hop Bishop, or Hop Leader.

  8. I am another disappointed, long time Hop Czar fan. It was in fact my favorite IPA purchased by the case every week. Picked up my case last week and was surprised to discover the unwelcome change. Not that it's a bad IPA, just not as good and no longer my favorite, switching to Unita Hop Nosh for now.

  9. The original Hop Czar has been my go to IPA for well over 2 years, and as such, has become my favorite. I am thoroughly disappointed by the new rotating series and feel that I was bamboozled into buying it by Bridgeport using the Hop Czar name. I can understand brewers wanting to experiment, but for gods sake, create a new series for your inferior product so as not to sully the good name of our beloved Hop Czar. I plead with Bridgeport to restore the lifeblood of the original Hop Czar.

  10. Big ditto on being negatory to the new Hop Czar. Changing the formula (and shrinking the ABV) without changing the name feels like deception…maybe even a cost-cutting measure. Not a good brand message. And the new Hop Czar Topaz I got in the box from Costco is a shadow of the original. Bummer, Bridgeport.

  11. The new Hop Czar will not be purchased again. It tastes bad.


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