Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Miracle of St. Lupulin

The garden is overgrown, but with just a little bit of imagination one could see the beauty that once existed. The garden belonged to Henry Huggins in the early 20th century. You may have heard of Henry Huggins from a set of children’s novels and Henry Huggins was indeed the namesake of those novels. The author, Beverly Cleary, had grown up in the house next door and always loved the kindly Mr. Huggins and the lyrical quality of his name. In fact, the garden, in its glory, was a place where Cleary would play amongst the wondrous rose bushes and the vines that seemed to climb straight to the sky.

Henry Huggins would tend to those vines day and night, taking care to never run little Beverly Cleary out of the garden. The garden and vines took up a good 2 acres on the Huggins property and was surrounded by a 3 foot high stone wall. On the vines grew the finest hops in the world of every variety imaginable. Huggins, you see, was a hophead of the highest magnitude, long before hopheads had a name and were as plentiful in the Colorado mountains as snow covered peaks. In those days Huggins was viewed as more of a curiosity in the community.
Don’t get me wrong, Huggins was never a nuisance or a bother, no one understood what someone would want with 2 acres of beautiful hops. Everyone seemed to be happy drinking the local product made with small amounts of hops, Coors beer. And no one really understood why Huggins was always brewing his own beer. His beer was different than the Coors product, it had a bitterness and a much fuller flavor than the flagship Colorado beer. Most people in the community didn’t have much of a taste for his beers.

Undeterred, he kept experimenting with his brews. He tried all different combinations of hops with all different combinations of malt. He gave the beers all sorts of names used later by Beverly Cleary such as Ramona the Pest, Ribsy (a particularly filling brew) and Ralph Mouse (after a particularly pesky barn mouse Huggins had named Ralph to amuse Cleary). Legend has it that Huggins gave Cleary a growler of a brew called Beezus for Cleary’s 16th birthday, so named because after one drink the hop flavor made you say “Beezus” after each swallow.

Near the end of Huggins’ life he finally found his aha moment brewing a beer with the lupulin or the yellow resin that appears when you grind a hop between your fingers. The oils from the lupulin mixed with just the right kind of malt and generous amounts of Cascade, Perle and Centennial hops created Huggins’ masterpiece. Even the people in the community who grew up drinking and loving Coors couldn’t help but taste the genius in each glass of Huggins’ new brew which he called Lupulin. The beer was somewhat sweet with a pear and grapefruit flavor. It finishes with a hoppy, flowery flavor but is not overly bitter. Having tasted so many of Huggins’ previous hoppy beers for so many years the townsfolk couldn’t believe this beer didn’t make them say “Beezus” after every sip. They continuously asked Huggins how he perfected a hoppy beer with little to no bitterness, to which he would reply “it’s a miracle”. After repeating the claim several times, Huggins’ friends and family began calling the beer St. Lupulin.

The folks at Odell brewery started to hear the legend of the St. Lupulin beer and investigated. Henry Huggins had long since passed and his garden had fallen into disrepair. Yet, his relatives had some old recipes that Huggins had written up and they found the one that had to be the one Huggins called Lupulin, but everyone else called St. Lupulin. They are now producing the beer and calling Henry Huggins St. Lupulin. The bottles say that St. Lupulin was a mythical figure, but he was not fictional, he was the first hophead, the inspiration behind one of the greatest children’s authors ever and producer of one fine beer that should be available all summer and should be the American Pale Ale you seek out this summer. And if you care enough, you can still find the Henry Huggins garden. It’s not as nice as it was, it’s certainly overgrown, but with a bottle of St. Lupulin you can see the miracle that St. Lupulin performed.

Not a single word of the above story is true. I have no knowledge of where Beverly Cleary grew up or what the inspiration behind Henry Huggins is. It is true that St. Lupulin is a great beer.

4 comments:

  1. Agreed - great summer beer. Without the heavy bitterness, it's very easy to drink, which can sneak up on you if you're not paying attention. I'll bet this ends up being a gateway beer for some. It's also available on tap at Barley's.

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  2. I'll have to try it. What do you guys think of Trippel by New Belgium? I just tried it and thought it was great.

    Mike

    KANSAS LAWYER

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  3. It was present at the American Royal Wine and Brew Ha Ha this past weekend and was quite tasty. Even though I don't like hoppy beers.

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  4. Mike, New Belgium's Trippel is a good beer, especially for the price as it resides at the low end of craft beer pricing (usually about $6.99-$7.99/six pack). That said, it's probably a below-average beer for that particular STYLE. (Take that a compliment to the style, not an insult to New Belgium's version of it.) There are some remarkable Tripels out there (Karmeliet and Chimay White are fantastic), but you'll also pay a substantial premium for them.

    Just a wordy way of reiterating: NB's Trippel is a good beer, great value.

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