So last night, while watching the painful part of the Red Sox game, I compared the three Lupulins. They're all on tap now, so you can try them side by side and see what a profound effect a single ingredient can play.
John Harris was at the pub and we spoke for a few minutes. He started out with a knowing smile and said, "what'd you think of the Cascade?" It was his fave. Well, funny you should ask. It was all right, but man, does the character of the hop change when it's fresh. 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.
Up to this point, my favorite fresh-hop beer was the Nugget/Cascade hopped Hoppopotamus by Roots. Well, solely Nugget-hopped Lupulin has now taken the top spot. Score one for Nuggets! This beer had an amazing aroma, very sweet, like the scent you might pick up in a tropical jungle. Fruit, flower? The flavor assures you that it is indeed fruit. Something tropical, but not quite mango, not quite passionfruit. Something I haven't tried yet. This initial note doesn't last, and it fades into a spicy finish. This was my favorite, by quite a distance.
I also tried the Rainier- (Mt. Rainier?) hopped version, and it was much as I reviewed earlier.
The aroma and flavor of this beer can be decribed in three words: piney, piney, piney. Smells piney, tastes piney. If you dig deeper, you can evoke mint, but this isn't too different from pine. Good news! There's no decomposition note. John Harris, who last year used Amarillo in his Lupulin (unavailable this year), managed a beer without the note, too. So he's two for two--impressive. I am not personally in love with the mentholated nature of the beer, but it was very well made. I can't call it sublime, but you might.
Three Other Harris-related Comments
It's worth noting that when John Harris says Cascade's the best of the three, you should listen to him, first. It also goes to show that palates differ, and in the subjective realm of beer-tasting, trust your own taste bud's, not some blogger's (or anyone else's).
He also rejected my description of the Rainier as "piney," but when he offered his descriptions, mint was right there. Not so much difference between the two, really. We were tasting the same beers. So you see, even when you agree on what a beer tastes like, you don't always agree whether it's "good." (Some people don't like chocolate.)
Finally, he talked a bit about the Amarillos he used last year. They're a proprietary strain that a Yakima grower (Virgil Gamache Farms) discovered on his land. Apparently they are only available in Yakima, to which Full Sail last year drove to retrieve them. None were available this year, so he wasn't able to score any. Stay tuned for next year.