Hop Pop: Hops-flavored craft soda has the ‘IPA aftertaste’ without the hangover

By Mary Ellen Shoup

- Last updated on GMT

Hop Pop delivers a refreshing, sweet flavor with a bitter aftertaste similar to a strong IPA, co-founder Zach Corn said.
Hop Pop delivers a refreshing, sweet flavor with a bitter aftertaste similar to a strong IPA, co-founder Zach Corn said.

Related tags Alcoholic beverage Beer Brewing

A team of Chicago-based t-shirt printers and part-time “soda enthusiasts” collaborated to make non-alcoholic Hop Pop, a hops-flavored soda that can function as a standalone craft beverage or as a cocktail mixer.

“We’ve always wanted to make a soda that’s available to everyone,”​ one of Hop Pop’s founding team members, Zach Corn, told BeverageDaily.

The creatively-inclined team took their hops knowledge gained from creating custom t-shirts for local craft breweries to concoct a carbonated blend of hops, lime, lemon, and ginger.

Hop Pop is sold individually or in four-packs for $12.

Substitute for ginger beer

According to Corn, the taste of Hop Pop is a similar flavor profile to ginger beer but with more of an “IPA aftertaste and a little bit of a burn of the hops” ​thanks to the use of citrahops, a hops variety known for its citrusy, slightly floral flavor profile.  

“It’s almost a bitterness that really stays at the back of your throat,”​ he said.

The Hop Pop team aims to maintain a slight lingering burn from the hops but with an overall refreshing taste that can be used easily in a mixed alcoholic beverage.

“With a lot of the drinks that we make, we’ll find recipes that have ginger beer in them and then try with hop pop instead and see if it works,”​ Corn said. “It’s pretty interchangeable.”

The Hop Pop website has over a dozen drinks recipes that incorporate the hops-infused beverage.

Focusing on steady, organic growth

The product’s marketing presence rests primarily on social media promotion but the team at Hop Pop is taking a laid back approach to spreading the word until they are able to scale up production.

“We’re letting it spread organically,”​ Corn said “If stuff happens share it and boost it a little bit, but we don’t want to go crazy until we have the ability to get it out to everyone.”

Hop Pop is currently available in select retail locations throughout Chicago including Bowtruss Coffee Shops as well as few restaurants in various Chicago neighborhoods.

“The market right now is who goes into those places right now,”​ Corn said. “Once we get into wider distribution then I think we’ll be able to analyze the market a little bit better.”

The Hop Pop team has their sights set on the Treasure Island grocery chain and Mariano’s locations where customers have the option to pick their own six pack with craft sodas.

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