The Brew Kettle brewer Jack Kephart figured he’d create a one-off for the Brewing News’ National Imperial IPA Competition. He’d devise a special beer for the event and also offer it exclusively on draft at The Brew Kettle brewpub in Strongsville.
When it was gone, it would be gone. So much for that thinking.
El Lupulo Libre won the competition earlier this week and, given the publicity the beer has received now, Kephart is planning to brew it again. (Editor's note: The name of the beer was initially spelled incorrectly in this post. Click here to read why.)
El Lupulo Libre is on draft now at the brewpub. But if you want a taste of the winning batch, you better hurry there. It’s expected to be available for only two or three weeks.
Kephart is timing the next batch for release around Cinco de Mayo (May 5) and he expects to serve it at beer festivals through the rest of the year.
El Lupulo Libre bested a deep field that included beers from Fat Head’s, Great Lakes, Deschutes, Bell’s, Oskar Blues, Firestone Walker, Bear Republic, Southern Tier and Ballast Point. The event is held like the NCAA March Madness tournament with beers pitted against each other until there is only one standing.
Kephart said that winning is especially gratifying because he knows that The Brew Kettle went up against hoppy heavyweights in the industry.
“You’ve got to be competitive against the best,” he said. “That meant a lot.”
So what exactly is El Lupulo Libre?
“The concept behind it was the grain bill for a Mexican lager, think along the lines of Dos Equis or Negra Modelo. ... Then hop the hell out it,” Kephart said. “It was built to appeal to hop heads. And there are a lot of hops in it.”
The beer is 8.8 percent alcohol by volume and 88 IBUs.
It also includes Mosaic hops. Kephart noted that three of the final four beers — Fat Head’s Hop JuJu and Great Lakes Chillwave Double IPA — used Mosaic hops.
“That is kind of interesting that all three of those beers had a touch of Mosaic,” he said.