Fremont Brewing Company's Lush IPA is a beer built on a promise.
It's a beer that tells the drinker it's all going to be alright, spring is just around the corner. A beer which provides a tropical touch during the dregs of another dreary Northwest winter. It's sunshine in a glass.
That's why when I found myself drinking Lush on tap in Fremont's “urban beer garden” on a sunny, mid-50s February day, it felt somehow like I had cheated. This beer is meant to make the rainy days bearable, and here it was making a beautiful one better.
The beer garden is one of Seattle's best summer joys, and on a rare sunny winter day, you'll find as many beer lovers crammed onto the communal tables as there is room. And the crowd is eclectic. You're as likely to share a table with an Amazon executive as you are with an overexcited Corgi, or a woman wearing North Face and a college student wearing shorts and boat shoes in the winter for some unknown reason. Most of them – particularly the dog – will be drinking Lush or any number of Fremont's other excellent IPAs.
According to the website, Lush is “made with a hand-selected blend of malts and lush, tropical hops to help you bridge the last days of Winter and the coming of the Spring fever.”
Those gorgeous hops (Citra and Mosaic, with help from Citra Lupulin Powder) make themselves known in the beer's finest quality, the aroma.
From just picking up the brew, the grapefruit, pineapple, and honey are immediately present in the sweet bouquet, along with a bitter undertone from the high-alpha hops. Those bring a slight pine and resin element to the aroma.
It's a juicy, floral, thirst-quenching beauty.”
Lush is aptly named; a fact which is apparent after the first mouthful. It's a juicy, floral, thirst-quenching beauty. It's slightly sweet from honey malts, highly-fruity, and juxtaposed from its aroma by sheer dint of how utterly drinkable it is. You'll taste citrus and tropical fruits with maybe a touch of brown sugar sweetness.
Lush pours an attractive orange-amber with fluffy white head sticking around on top. It's surprisingly heavy on the tongue and leaves a subtle bitter linger.
My drinking partner, not a hop-head by any stretch, said it was a beer she would want to drink after mowing the lawn. Since Lush is only available from New Years to March 31, that's not likely in Washington's climate.
However, according to one of Fremont's distributors, the company has a hard time keeping it on the shelf. Apparently the 7% ABV and 80 IBU don't scare off customers looking for a gentle IPA, as the beer still manages to differentiate itself from the crowded West Coast IPA market.
The beer could soon find itself promoted from a popular seasonal to a mainstay in Fremont's lineup. The brewery has produced excellent beers since it was founded in 2009 and is soon to expand to 250,000 barrels a year.
That said, don't put Lush in a corner. It's a quaffable, juicy IPA available in cans, bottles and on-tap just about anywhere in Seattle. And it's about as tropical you're going to get in the upper-left part of the country.