Northern Brewer’s new homebrew kit, The Luckiest Man Pale Ale, is a beer on a mission. For every kit sold, Northern Brewer will donate $10.50 toward research aimed at finding a permanent cure for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. The name of the beer is a nod to Gehrig’s famous “luckiest man on the face of the Earth” speech.
The session pale ale was formulated specifically around a new, experimental hop variety called HBC-438. The hop was bred by Loftus Ranches and Hopunion for their Ales for ALS program, which raises money for ALS research by giving participating brewers access to new hops. For example, HBC-369, which in 2012 was officially released as Mosaic, is another hop that was born out of the Ales for ALS program.
According to a blog post by Stan Hieronymus on the American Homebrewers Association website, HBC-438 is currently only available through homebrew channels and still has to pass more tests before it might be grown on a larger scale, get a name, and be sold more widely.
Of the hop’s characteristics, Hieronymus goes on to write, “In a raw state, it smells of both tropical and stone fruits. It is pleasantly herbal, a bit spicy, and I’m pretty sure that when used badly it will produce beers that can be described as catty (as in ‘smells like a litter box’).”