I love hops. It’s a topic that some may think is over played but I consider it one of the most important factors driving modern craft beer. There are so many different varieties and more being created all of the time allowing us to explore new flavors. Outside of new varieties, there’s also a new method for how breweries can receive their hops – Lupulin Powder.
Have you noticed some IPAs reference lupulin powder on their labels and wondered what it is? Well, you’ve come to the right place.
The four base ingredients needed to make beer are water, yeast, malt and hops. Each does their own part to make the beer what it is. Hops provide aroma, flavor and bitterness to counter act the sugar from the malt. They are a crucial part of any beer – even beers that aren’t “hoppy”.
Hops are the flower part of the vine-like plant called humulus lupulus. They are small, green and leafy in appearance. The humulus lupulus plant produces the most hops when it is able to grow (climb) up a trellis, rope or wire.
Historically, hops were used fresh because they do not last long after being harvested. This is still done today and is referred to as whole cone, fresh or wet hops. Some breweries focus on whole cone brewing while others only use them on special projects. Many believe that this method provides the most flavor.
In modern brewing, hops are converted into pellets where they can be stored, shipped and used at a later date. Almost all the beer you consume was made from hop pellets. The heat used to dry the hop and convert it into a pellet destroys some of the oil that the brewers need to flavor the beer. So it isn’t ideal but has been the best solution.
The oil, lupulin, which is found within the hop is what the brewer needs to flavor the beer. This oil is found in the lupulin gland. The only point of using hops is to get the oil out of the lupulin gland and into the beer.
Related Post: What Is A Sour Beer And How Is It Made?
So What Is Lupulin Powder?
Lupulin powder is a new proprietary process that pulls the lupulin oil out of the hop and converts it into an oil rich powder.
Unlike the pellet process, there is no heat used so the oil is not disturbed during the process. Unlike fresh hops, this powder can be stored, shipped and used at any time just like the pellet. So in many ways, it is best of both.
In addition, other hop products can create a vegetal flavor in the beer caused by portions of the leafy hop left behind. This new powder doesn’t have this risk. In addition, lupulin powder doesn’t absorb any of the potential beer like the other products meaning breweries can yield more beer per brew.
There’s obviously a lot of upside to this new product; however, it is a new product. Not many breweries are using it and when they do, it is often in a small batch or single run beer. So there is a lot left to learn about this new hop product.
For now, Cascade, Citra, Columbus, Ekaunot, Loral, Mosiac, Palisade and Simcoe hops are available in lupulin powder form.
Learn More About Craft Beer: Why The New England IPA Is So Popular
Is Lupulin Powder The Future Of Hops?
The brewers that have used lupulin powder are reporting excellent results. They are getting more flavor than hop pellets without the risk of using whole cone hops.
More flavor, less waste, more control; seems like a winner to me.If there are any issues, they would be with availability and cost.
Like with any new product, there is a period when there isn’t enough supply to meet the demand. Brewers must be able to rely on getting hops to maintain their production schedule.
So if breweries do shift to this powder, it will be a slow transition as they learn to use it and convert recipes to it. Until then, breweries will only be able to use this for single run or limited edition beer. I
The cost, limited supply and proprietary process makes me wonder if the cost of this powder will prevent widespread use. Most beer I find that use lupulin powder are more expensive than those that don’t. But over time and with increased volume; this could be solved.
We will slowly see more and more beers featuring lupulin powder. And some may be using it but not announcing it as they test and compare it to the hop products. It will take time to see this really impact the overall beer market. For now, most breweries will use this new product as a great way to stand out from the crowd and help all of us learn more about it. I’m seeing this almost exclusively in NE IPAs but I am sure other styles can benefit from lupulin powder as well.
Have You Tried A Craft Beer Made With Lupulin Powder?