If you’ve hung around enough beer geeks you’ve probably heard the phrase “shelf turd,” an expression that refers to the bottles and cans that perpetually sit around on the shelves of nearly every beer store.  This phrase has given some people the idea that beers that sit on shelves and are readily available are not beers worth drinking.  If you employ this mentality, you are missing out on some of the best beers in the world; beers that are just as good if not better than some so-called “whales,” which refers to a beer that is highly sought after and rare.

I’d like to coin a new phrase, a phrase that refers to beers that are easy to find and always enjoyable, world-class beers that you don’t have to wait in line for. These beers are “Shelf Staples.”  Ask any employee at your local bottle shop and they’ll tell you that some of the best beers are often ignored in lieu of the newest and hottest beer. 

This month I chose Firestone Walker’s Union Jack IPA as our Shelf Staple feature. Yes, Firestone Walker is well respected in the beer community, but their year-round beers (Lion and Bear series) are often overlooked. Union Jack was first released in 2008 and that same year it won Gold at GABF and Silver at the World Beer Cup. Since its release it’s won 14 major medals!

Union Jack has a bright, citrusy hop presence with some slight spice thanks to copious amounts of Cascade and Centennial hops added late in the boil. It’s also double dry hopped with the same hops (with a little Amarillo and Simcoe added). The malt bill is simple but effective. It’s just enough to balance the bitterness and add some slight honeyed bread-like notes. If you aren’t an IPA drinker, I’m not going to try to convince you this beer will change your mind on the style. But it will please the entry-level craft drinker and the biggest hop-head as well. Drink it fresh (like any IPA) and you will not be disappointed.

Firestone Walker currently distributes to 19 states across the country. If you can’t get it in your area, why not brew it? Check out this home brew recipe. Thanks to The Brewing Network’s – Can You Brew It Podcast for all the information!

Union Jack IPA
Homebrew Recipe (6 gallons in fermenter) 70% efficiency

SRM – 6 (Morey)                                                       
IBU – 83 (Rager)
OG – 1.070 - FG – 1.012

Mash @ 145 F for 60 mins
              155F for final 10 mins
90 min boil
WP – 30 mins
Fermentation – 17C (62.6 F) – 24-36 hours you can ramp to 19C (66.2 F) to finish out
Water – adjust with gypsum and calcium Chloride 100ppm each (FW uses RO water)


81.9% 6.24 Kilograms (13.75 lbs) 2 Row Pale Malt
11.8% 900g (1.98 lbs) Light Munich
5% 380g (13.4 oz) Carapils
1.3% 100g (3.5 oz) Caramalt (Simpsons)

25g (.88 oz) - Warrior – 90 min
18g (.63 oz) - Cascade – 30
18g (.63 oz) - Centennial – 30
52 g (1.83 oz) Cascade – WP (30 mins)
52 g (1.83 oz) Centennial – WP (30 mins)


Dry Hop ONE –
44g Cascade (3 days and dump)
44g Centennial (3 days and dump)

Dry Hop TWO:
30g Cascade (3 days and rack)
30g Centennial (3 days and rack)
14g Amarillo (3 days and rack)
14g Simcoe (3 days and rack)