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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Lupulin Returns: Cascade and Crystal

A formidable beer makes its return tonight: Full Sail's Lupulin, a fresh hop beer so good I gave it my Satori Award two years ago. That beer was brewed with fresh Amarillo hops. Last year brewer John Harris did a tripartite batch and hopped each third with Mt Rainier, Cascade, and Nugget. The base beer remained the same in all four batches, so the only difference came from the hops. Follow the linked text above for a description of past batches.

This year John returns with a divided batch, half hopped with Cascade, half with Crystal. They debut tonight at five:
Lupulin Fresh Hop Release
Tasting Room and Pub, Hood River
Riverplace Brewery/Pilsner Room, Portland
Thursday, September 10th at 5:00pm
What to Expect
Fresh hops behave differently than dry hops. The flavors of a wet hop compare neither to dry hops generally nor even to their dried selves. I've been trying to chart the experiments of wet hopping to see which varieties perform best. Cascade and Crystal are two that have shown consistent success.

John's used Cascades before, though this is no guarantee he's following the exact same recipe for this batch. Of the four Lupulins he's made in past years, the Cascades are his fave. (For my money, the Amarillo and Nuggets were tastier, but especially with hops, your experience may vary.) This is how I described that beer:
Cascades are a bright, happy, and sunny. They don't have a care in the world. But wet Cascades are earthy and rustic. They have a freshly organic quality, but very little of the floral/citrusy quality of dried Cascade. It had a bit of orange, but it fades to a darker, more bitter tea-like quality. There's a certain quality about some leafy green vegetables that is bitter--this beer had that.
Given their ubiquity in American craft brewing, Cascades haven't been featured in a huge number of fresh-hop beers. However, in addition to Lupulin, BridgePort used it in last year's Hop Harvest. (This year Hop Harvest uses Chinook and Cluster.) Cascades have been used in mixtures by other breweries, too.

Dry, Crystal is a pretty generic hop. It's clean and crisp, but exhibits nothing particularly unique. As a wet hop, it shows much more character. Deschutes' very well-regarded Hop Trip uses Crystal. It's stability as a dry hop is good--it means less funkiness wet. The clean character becomes denser and more oily, with notes of lemongrass. Of Hop Trip, I wrote, "They linger in the mouth almost tangibly after you swallow--a fresh, rich aroma you can chew on for a few seconds."

How will they be in Lupulin? You have only a few hours wait to find out.


  1. Fresh Hop Pales are my most favorite. When I first tried Deschutes Hop Trip last year, it was my new found love. A lot of beers I like to at least just try once and move on, but with Hop Trip I kept going back until it was gone.

    I love most all of Full Sails brews, and wish they would bottle this one. I may never get a chance to try it as I don't make it all the way downtown much anymore. I do however look forward to bottles of Wreck the Halls :-)

  2. I love fresh hop season and look forward to my now annual pilgrimage to Hood River for the hop fest there. The best fresh hop beer I've ever had was 2007 Pelican Elemental. Grassy and funky, really amazing beer. I pretty sure it was unfiltered too, which is what I think made it great. Simcoes (sp?) were the hops I believe.

    Other consistently exellent fresh hop beers are Vernon the Rabbit Slayer from Big Horse and Killer Green by Double Mountain. I was also very pleasantly surprised by the fresh hop Mirror Pond last year.

  3. Jeff: totally agree, I thought Amarillo and Nuggets were the best of the 4 Lupulins to date.

    I also agree with joe: that fresh-hop Mirror Pond was awesome last year, and I think it was Cascades, right?

    Anyone going to the opening tonight? I hope to but not sure I can make it.

  4. Not able to make it there this evening, but I am absolutely there at some point tomorrow.

  5. I also agree with joe: that fresh-hop Mirror Pond was awesome last year, and I think it was Cascades, right?

  6. Whoa, is there an echo in here?

    So, I did make it by there last night. The current Lupulin is the Crystal hops one, and it is the tasty creature you'd hope it is. Maybe a little more bitter than that first awesome Amarillo Lupulin, but there's nothing wrong with bitter, is there? Highly recommended.

    John was at the Pilsner Room briefly... he said to expect the Cascade version in about a week. He also said something about a slightly lighter malt bill to give the hops more prominence. Not a bad idea. Wish I'd thought to ask if that lowered the ABV, I know it was easy for me to drink a couple of them.

  7. Bill, I think I saw reference to this year's batch being 5.8%--but I don't know what previous years were.