Tuesday, March 1, 2011

O'So Lupulin Maximus

Inspired by Matt's post about the Rush River Double Bubble DIPA last Friday, I tracked down a couple of other Imperial IPAs for this week. Today is O'So's (wow, that looks weird, eh? Notice that the upper case letters and apostrophe are exactly replicated by the lower case letters and apostrophe; I can't imagine that this happens often in the English language. Sorry for the detour, now back to your regularly scheduled programming ...) Lupulin Maximus.

If you've ever held a hop cone in your hands, you know how awesome they are. Crumbly, and resiny, just rolling a few and taking a big whiff can transport you. You can make a tea out of them for some effect. I wouldn't advise smoking them if you suffer from depression ("You should not use Hops if you suffer from depression. Consult your health care provider before beginning use of any herb."). Folks out west are obsessed with them. We're just getting around to growing them again here in Wisconsin.

O'So's (ha! used it again because it's neat!) use of them here is not only functional (used in the beer for bittering, aroma, and flavor) but decorative. My bottle had an actual hop in it. In fact it appears that at least one bottle in each six-pack contains a hop cone in it. Some might argue that this is pure novelty and gimmickry. I'm not sure I'd entirely disagree, but I have two responses:

1) So what?
2) It does, in theory, provide some use by contributing some essential oils (the aroma component of the resins in hops) not to mention vegetal matter and leafy-ness and a quasi-tea like quality therefrom.

O'So Lupulin Maximus
RB (97). BA (B+)
Appearance: this bottle has a hop cone in it; a pour into the glass reveals a third thing about putting a hop cone in a bottle: it slows the flow of beer into the glass considerably, thus reducing (eliminating) any head that might have been generated; Dogfish Head might point out that it likes a Randall of sorts; so, little head; a pale amber, or deep gold, the beer is more filtered and clearer than I might have anticipate given the hop cone inside the bottle; there is negligible carbonation
Aroma: grassy and flowery with a slight lemon aroma at first, followed by a fairly strong orange-y-ness that gets bolder as the beer warms; a distinct grapefruit, tart-er, aroma follows at the end
Flavor: sweet and citrusy; strong pale malt in the middle indicates that this beer does have some heft to it; but the hops are front and center, the bitterness is good and clean, but not over-the-top; when room temperature the booziness really comes out
Body: soft and oily and fairly paunchy; the bitterness provides a clean-ish finish though the citruses (is that the plural of citrus? citrum? citri? citrusa?) found in the aroma continue to linger, plus a slight spiciness
Drinkability: a relatively easy-drinking DIPA; these can be one-and-done sorts of beers, but this one certainly invites a second or third because of the more restrained relative bitterness; between the hop flavors and malt, it is definitely sweet and that, for me, would be the limiting factor moreso than the overwhelming, taste-killing bitterness (which, as we discussed, doesn't exist here)
Summary: Looking big-picture, it is fairly typical of quality Midwest DIPAs in that it balances the considerable hoppiness with a prodigious amount of malts - in this case not a ton of specialty malts though, which keeps that maltiness, though not the sweetness, at a minimum; Midwestern hop-heads will love this beer, West Coasters wouldn't be sure what to do with it - it's not nearly as "over-the-top" as the 100+ IBU monsters from out there, but it's certainly bigger than their standard IPAs; my own tastes are well-documented in these pages; but, overall, a very solid DIPA.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that this is now ... what? March? This beer was released back in late September, I think? These are beers that need to be fresh and some of my reticence to heap praise on the beer might be related to age. I have had this beer on-tap closer to its release and have loved it equally if not more. However, having said that, I love aging DIPAs because some of that big-overt hoppiness does go away and they can become almost barley-wine like similar to the Nils Oscar Barleywine I reviewed in mid-January. In my opinion one (fresh) is no better than the other (aged), just please adjust expectations accordingly.


  1. There are certainly some hop monsters out there, but it's unlikely that any of them are 100+ IBUs. Here's an interesting article on the subject:


  2. They very well COULD be 100+ IBU - on paper or via analytical instrumentation (HPLCs), but that will differ greatly from perceived bitterness. Especially if the process used lends itself to perceived versus chemical.

    First wort hopping is a good example of this, in my opinion. You can have a first-wort-hopped beer clock in at 100IBU, but the same traditionally-hopped recipe could come it at 70IBU and be perceived as more bitter.

    I feel a lot of breweries throw that IBU number around a lot to hook the masses ("the bigger the better"), as most of the public understands it to be an absolute value anyway - not factoring in how it was calculated or the threshold for human IBU determination in the first place.

  3. Hey Garrett, I hear you on perceived bitterness vs. IBUs. In fact, Rock Bottom coordinated a hop experiment across most of their brewpubs and found that perceived bitterness correlates much more closely with perceived flavor and aroma than IBUs.

    What I'm talking about, though, is that it's very difficult for a packaged beer to have iso-alpha acid concentrations of 100+ mg/L. Once you move past 60ish IBUs, iso-alpha acids begin to inhibit each other.

  4. Steve - River CityMarch 1, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    O'so Brewing had a ReRelease (hmmm ReRe?) again in Mid February of the Lupulin Maximus. So you did get a Very Fresh one.


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