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Belt’s Beer Garden: What a Lush

Freemont’s Lush & HUB Gear Up

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This week I have a couple brews from the Pacific Northwest for you.

First up, a very popular Seattle brewery - Freemont.

Freemont Brewing opened up back in 2009 in Seattle, Washington’s Freemont district. Since then they have won a plethora of awards and have grown in distribution to six states (Alaska, southern California, Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington) and Japan.

They offer four year-round releases in cans plus a fifth draft only beer. Freemont, like almost all West Coast breweries, is quite smitten with hops – their four flagship cans consist of two pale ale and two IPAs.

Today I bring you their highest rated year-round brew – Lush IPA.

Lush was made with Citra and Mosaic hops, Citra lupulin powder, and 2-Row Pale and Honey malts. It clocks in with a 7.0% ABV and 80 IBU…so it’s a hop-head’s dream. The six-pack of cans, at $10.99, will run you just over the average price.

Lush poured a cloudy orangish copper color with about a finger of slightly off-white head settling atop the beer. The foam faded relatively fast and was soon nothing more than a few clouds in the middle and a small collection of bubbles on one side of the glass.

On the nose Lush was flowing with tropical fruits and hops. Pear, mango, guava, melon and oranges were the main offenders in this pretty juicy brew that was backed up with spicy hops and a dash of lightly bready malt. I was hooked on the smell…but how would it taste?

My first sip began with a low, lingering carbonated fizz that the flavors quickly powered over. And, just like the aroma had foretold, the taste was big on the tropical and citrus fruits. The melon actually took the lead, giving off flavors of honeydew and cantaloupe, but was quickly followed by the mango and guava.

Halfway through, the hops added a bold bitterness and some peppery spice that stung my tongue some but, luckily, the malts also kicked in a caramel sweetness and bready quality that hushed the bitter bite some.

As the taste came to fruition, there was one new flavor that finished it all off – a pear flavor peeked its head out and added a nice sweetness just moments before all the flavors vanished. However, at the close, the hops imparted a long-lasting bitterness that was amplified by just how dry Lush ended. This IPA ended so dry that, after just a few consecutive sips, even the bottom of my tongue needed hydration and required me to take a sip of water to keep going.

As the beer warmed up some the dryness seemed to became more tolerable…or I just got used to it. Either way.

Lush was sheer West Coast in a glass. Hoppy, citrusy, tasty.

This was a very delicious IPA with the one flaw being how massively dry it finished…but the great flavors more than made up for that.

Secondly, from a little farther south, HUB and one of their newer IPAs.

HUB, also known as Hopworks Urban Brewery, has been brewing up tasty beers in Portland, Oregon since 2007.

They are now available in six states (Alaska, California, Idaho, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) and two countries (Canada and the Netherlands) and have six year-round brews in addition to their plethora of seasonal and specialty beers.

While visiting family in San Diego, I was able to find a six-pack of their newest flagship beer – Gear Up, an IPA brewed with locally grown hops and malted barley. The six-pack of cans set me back $11 so it’s priced just about average, and each can contains a moderate 6.2% ABV and 65 IBU.

Gear Up poured a bright, but cloudy, orange straw color with some light sediment floating aimlessly towards the bottom of the glass. On the surface, a finger of white foam topped the beer. However, the head didn’t stay too long and within a few moments only a thin line remained.

On the nose, Gear Up was all West Coast IPA. It featured a solid hop profile that combined pine and tropical fruits (mango, pineapple, and grapefruit mostly) while also bringing a sweet, bready malt backing that did what it could to limit the hoppy bite.

My first sip started with a rush of moderate carbonation that seemed to fizz on my tongue throughout the entirety of it. The flavors appeared shortly after the initial burst of carbonation and it started with a sweet, citrus rush.

Grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon were the main offenders initially – bringing a slightly juicy start to the beer. But then, about half way in, the taste took a turn as the hops imparted a sharp bitter bite that dried out my tongue and brought piney and earthy flavors with it.

As everything began to fade away, there was another short, but juicy, rush of tropical fruit that cut through the bitterness and profiled the mango and pineapple that were so prevalent in the aroma.

It ends on a slightly dry note and a lingering flavor that’s half pine, half tropical fruit.

There was very little lacing as the beer was excavated from my glass; just a solitary line half way up and a few tiny cloud splotches.

The beer may only clock in at 65 IBU but Gear Up certainly doesn’t do much to hide the bitterness at all. The entire second half of the sip was basically one giant bitter bite with a brief reprieve during that late pop of mango/pineapple.

All in all, Gear Up starts good but the second-half bitterness brings it down some…and that’s coming from someone that loves bitter brews. It starts with good flavors, ends with a short burst of citrusy goodness, but is also quite bold on the hops. Good but not for everyone…hopheads only.