Our “Brewer’s Spotlight” is a series of conversations with innovative brewers across the country. Recently, HAAS sent one of its latest products, LUPOMAXTM to Equilibrium Brewing in Middletown, NY to see what they thought. We sat down with Peter Oates, co-founder of Equilibrium, and Amaey Mundkur, Eastern Account Manager at John I. Haas, to hear about the experiences.
So, just to set the stage, tell us a little bit about Equilibrium?
Pete: Equilibrium was started by two MIT scientists who were working on remediation of the Hudson River in the early 2000s. We were trained in water chemistry and we’re super big craft beer-heads. With our training about how to take the bad stuff out of the water, we kind of took that and did it in reverse and learned how to put good stuff into water and we call it beer.
We started a small brewery in Middletown, New York. Originally, we planned to just do kegs…but the beer came out really, really good and kind of became a monster and people started lining up by the hundreds to get it. So, we’ve opened a second location where we focus on cans and on cultivating an experience where we try to balance science and innovation and research—and the craft beer community itself.
Do you focus on any type of beer style(s) in particular?
Pete: Volume weight by production, we’re definitely into the hazy beers. Hazy IPAs, Double IPAs and now we’re really known for Triple IPAs. We basically brew what we want to drink and then we share it. Right now, our production schedule looks roughly like my Saturday night, you could say. Five or six IPAs and double IPAs, couple pilsners, and then at least one giant barrel-aged pastry stout and at least one sour.
How did you start working with HAAS?
Pete: Amaey (Mundkur, our Haas Account Representative) met one of the owners, Will Rivera at a festival in Tampa. About a year later, Amaey was in New York visiting some breweries and he swung by Equilibrium.
Amaey: Yeah, just to chime in. I’m always looking for brewers who can always make our hops shine. We got to talking and, at some point, Pete and Will sent me some of their beer in the mail. Immediately, I became a fan. We met a few more times and then, when they opened their second location, we realized it was a great opportunity for us to start working together. I love the beer they were making, and I know that they were into research, so I really wanted to find a way to get them some of our newer products to beta test.
So, how did you end up beta testing LUPOMAX?
Pete: We actually had run into a bit of a Citra® shortage since, surprisingly, we were way ahead of schedule on our expansion and we were ready to take on more hops than we had contracted. I told Amaey we needed way more Citra® and he suggested this new product if he couldn’t get the standard T-90 pellets. Well, he got us the T-90s but wanted us to try the new product anyway.
What was your initial impression?
One of our rotational beers is called Fluctuation, made with 100% Citra. We made a small, 20 barrel run of it and called the beer LupoLab and replaced the dry hop with the LUPOMAX instead of the standard T-90. We did that on the same mass-by-mass basis. So, normally, it’s about a 3 pound-per-barrel dry hop…we were aware that we can and should scale down the mass with LUPOMAX because it’s much more potent, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to see how far we could push it. The results were pretty phenomenal.
That’s awesome. Were there any surprises?
We have a very technical process that we use and what comes out is something we call “Rainbow Melon.” We didn’t know if the process used to make LUPOMAX would work with that, but it ended up working really well. So we got a beer that was like Fluctuation on steroids. Big hop punch, super Rainbow Melon, super juicy with a bit more dankness.
We were also a little concerned that, with the hops being so concentrated, we might get that polyphenol astringency—the hop burn you get from over-dry-hopping—and we got none of that at all.
We also saw about a 5% yield increase, as well. Our finance guys really like that. Even though LUPOMAX was a little more expensive than the T-90s, it more than paid for itself on the yield end. So we got a lot more flavor, a lot more yield…it was pretty exciting to work with.
And what about useability? Did it handle any differently?
Actually, it was very easy to work with. Originally, we thought this was cryopowder, which it’s not. But, you know, some of the cryopowder we’ve worked with in the past, you dump it in the beer and it just floats on top—and if it doesn’t get into the beer, it doesn’t count. LUPOMAX behaved very much like a classic pellet. It’s very soft, it dispersed into the beer very well…it’s a nice product.
Is it safe to say you’d brew with it again?
Yeah, we actually just ordered some LUPOMAX SABRO® and LUPOMAX Mosaic®. Our experimental beers come from research and inspiration, and when we really like something it gets promoted to our Equilibrium Series. COVID has kept us home doing a lot of fun things…like some cool drone photography. We were using some of the imagery as an inspiration for a new line called Project Elevate and it’s going to use all HAAS innovation products, like LUPOMAX, INCOGNITO® and FLEX® and some others we can’t talk about yet.
But we’re also thinking about the cost analysis and looking at some of our weekly production beers. I’d like to try to recreate, say MC2, with LUPOMAX and see if the flavor is the same and what the overall yield is like. So, yes, we absolutely would like to brew with it again. Actually, we’d like to brew with just about anything HAAS comes up with. The more we can put cutting-edge, experimental products into our beers—the more we’re pushing the envelope—the better.