The annual hop harvest is just around the corner in Washington state’s Yakima Valley, the agricultural area where 75 percent of America’s hops are grown, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And as brewers and hop brokers from across the country head to Yakima’s farms to sniff just-picked whole-cone hops and taste IPAs created to showcase different varieties, they’re also going to be talking about something that sounds far more futuristic than traditional hop farming: Cryo Hops.
Soft, juicy and aromatic IPAs remain one of the hottest segments of the craft beer world, and brewers who specialize in these beers are always on the hunt for new ways to make drinkers feel like they’ve stuck their face in a pile of tropical citrus, or to smooth all the bitterness out of a pale ale.
Their latest weapon is Cryo Hops LupuLN2 – pronounced “loop-you-lin” – which looks like the name of a Star Wars droid but is actually a bright-green hop powder created by Yakima Chief-Hopunion, or YCH, a major Yakima-based hop supplier. “Brewers were coming to us and saying, ‘We’re making IPAs and double IPAs, and dry-hopping and double dry-hopping, and using too many hops,’ ” says Karl Vanevenhoven, senior vice president of operations at YCH. You’d think that selling more hops would be good for business, but instead, YCH turned to developing a new kind of hop product.
Its proprietary process dramatically lowers the temperature of hops using liquid nitrogen – LN2 in the name refers to the chemical symbol – before separating the lupulin, the substance that contains the oils and resins that provide beers with flavors and aromas, from the hops’ leaves…
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