Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co.

Santa Barbara Head Brewer, Kevin Ashford brews first beer with Lupulin Powder

Posted by Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. on June 07, 2017


What is Lupulin powder and where does it come from?

Lupulin powder is essentially the extracted lupulin gland from hop flowers. Lupulin glands store all the active ingredients that make hops hops. We’re talking about things like bitterness potential, flavor potential, and aromatic potential, they're all coming from this gland. What you do to get it is take the flower and extract only this gland and get a powdered form of it. It’s basically like concentrated hops, its pretty wild stuff.

What motivated you to use it?

One of our hop providers, Yakima Chief Hop Union, reached out to us to see if we were interested in a product like this. When somebody asks you if you’re able to utilize a new product, the answer is always yes, so we were stoked to do that. This is a very new product to the market. What does it do to the flavor, scent, or color of a beer? It creates what I call more hop-thorough, hop-concentrated, qualities in beer, where IPA’s become hoppier somehow. It has more intense aromatic and flavor quality attributes, that’s something I’ve noticed already in this short-term experimentation period we’re going through right now.


Was Powder Rangers specifically designed to use lupulin powder?

That beer was totally designed around using this new product. I used fairly traditional hopping rates that we would use on a beer like hoppy poppy, but implimented it in a different way, with different varietals, and essentially a different form of hops. Now, we’re looking at concentrated, powdered hops vs. pelletized, whole-leaf formats. It’s a little different but uses a lot of the same know-how.

Does using lupulin powder require any special steps in the brewing process?

I wouldn’t say there are any extra steps, but I would say that there’s a little bit more thought that goes into it. The surface tension of wort (the liquid that eventually becomes beer) can be pretty stout. When you’re adding a powder on top, its like making a cake. You slowly integrate wet and dry ingredients. You kind of have to think this way when you’re utilizing this powder because otherwise it won’t fully hydrate and then you’re just going to have these big clumps of powder like flour, just stuck together. You certainly have to think about that more, but its a similar application for this ingredient. Another thing I would say is that since you are working with basically the purest form of what makes an IPA bitter is that you want to be careful and make sure you’re not using too much. We certainly monitor the dosage rate to make sure we’re not adding too much too early and extracting too much bitterness.


Is this a product you plan to use on all Fig Mtn beers?

I don’t think this will ever be in all of our beers, just because of the cost of it is very high. Not that cost would ever deter us from using it, but there’s an old adage that goes: "is the juice worth the squeeze?" I love our beers and the way we produce them now. Certainly we’re going to keep experimenting with this product and keep having fun producing new one-off products that are compelling and interesting, but we’re always going to be making staple products with the same know-how and ingenuity.

Do you think more people in the industry will start using this product?

I absolutely think more people are going to be experimenting with it. In terms of it being a norm, I don’t see that yet, but by the end of this conversation, somebody is already working on the next level of how to make beers hoppier. This is certainly a cool product that I see flourishing in the marketplace, to a degree, but not necessarily becoming stable.

Is there anything else you would like to add about Powder Rangers?

Powder Rangers is the first beer of its type that we’re doing. We have another one coming out, an 8.4% IPA called Dustin Hoppman that will be out in a couple weeks, and then we’re going to do one more after that. We will keep experimenting with this product and see where it goes, it will certainly be a product we keep around to have fun with. The sky’s the limit with beer and I think whenever you get a new raw material to implement, you do it and we keep playing around with it and see where it goes.