Are Lupulin powder or Cryo Hops the next magical ingredient for breweries?
Last week on a Friday night I came home and needed a beer as usual. Scanned the fridge shortly, and there it was: Goblin Sauce from Bellwoods Brewery. It's a double dry hopped IPA with a new label design. However the lable design was not the only innovation, on the upper right corner, "with lupulin powder" remark was the most recent innovative addition (For the non obvious, check the left eye cavity of that Goblin face).
Another beer named Runes also had the lupulin powder. Now I had to understand what it was and did some research for the curious and also for the lazy
Is Lupulin powder a new type of hop?
It’s not a new hop variety. It's rather a powdered form of the lupulin extracted from existing hop strands like Citra, Simcoe and so on. Cradle a fresh hop flower in your palms and gently rub them together, separating the green leaves from the fine yellow powder inside. That soft stuff is called “lupulin,” and it contains all of the resin compounds and essential oils responsible for imparting hop flavor and aroma to beer:
YCH known as Yakima Chief-Hopunion uses a process that lowers the temperature of the hops using liquid nitrogen to separate the powder from the leafy part of the hop cone. Basically, leaf hops are chilled and milled, and the lupulin within the lupulin gland is separated from the green matter. That powder contains the aromatic oils and resins filling your IPAs with aroma and flavor. Named as Cryo Hops, this new powdered substance is also known as "LupuLN2" where the N2 at the end refers to the nitrogen (N2) used as cooler during the process. And the trademark Cryo name is just the short for Cryogenic
The lupulin powder is much more concentrated than hop cones or pellets, therefore YCH recommends using half the amount the breweries use for regular hops. In other words, you get double the aroma.
Pros and Cons of using Lupulin Powder (Cryo Hops)
To answer it short: Efficiency gains in brewing
Alpha acids in the lupulin are isomerized during the brewing process and are converted into iso-alpha acids responsible for bittering your beer and into essential oils giving the distinctive aroma to the beer. LupulN2 contains twice the percentage of alpha acids and also twice the percentage of essential oils. That's why the dosing should be carefully adjusted.
The concentrated substance give more aroma when dry hopped. In addition, when dry hopping, there is a loss of beer because of the trub and hops absorbing some amount of your fermented beer. When using powder, you don't lose any beer!
And how about that vegetal flavor caused by dry hopping? Nope, you do not get any. A big win!
From another commercial point of view; powder takes less volume than hops when storing. Meaning: improved storage and transportation costs.
One final note this powder is so new that there are still many unknowns about its usage:
- How is the aroma stability?
- What happens to the aroma quality let's say after two weeks?
Some breweries like Bellwoods, Other Half Brewing, Fuerst Wıacek and Mikkeller already started playing around with it, so we might have an answers pretty soon.