The promise of a “complex hop and malt theme park” in your mouth” in an IPA would tend to most appealing for the hop heads, one would figure. But how many IPAs can you point to whose laurels rest on its malt?
Short’s Huma Lupa Licious follows through more on the malt side of things, as they tout. That’s not to say the hoppiness is subdued – the bready, biscuity malt pushes past the usual array of hoppy bitterness while still complementing it.
Huma Lupa Licious pours a somewhat cloudy, dark golden yellow because of its intense malt and hop backbone. An initial whiff brings about a strong hop presence, but, again, the sweet, bready malt comes to the forefront, without coming across as overwhelming. The same can be said for the taste – a one-two punch of hops, and then formidable, chewy malt that always left me intrigued about its origins.
It’s no surprise that Joe Short, Short’s owner and original home brewer, took great pride and detail in creating the brewery’s flagship IPA. If you’ve tried Huma Lupa Licious and also Short’s Local’s Light, the brewery’s light lager, you might have noticed the malty similarities. To me, Huma Lupa Licious is instantly recognizable among any other IPAs because of that unique malt. That same bready malt stood out in the Local’s Light. It screamed “distinctly Short’s” each time I had either one.
Short’s created an IPA with a distinct malt and managed to showcase it in a lighter beer.”
In having my fair share of Huma Lupa Licious over the years, that malt always stood out to me. Being a novice homebrewer but well versed in sampling West Michigan’s finest beers, the why of Huma Lupa Licious’ maltiness always intrigued me, I’ve asked friends and we’ve had our assumptions as outsiders of exactly what makes Huma Lupa Licious stand out. I’ve had plenty of malty IPAs, but the exact maltiness shared by Huma Lupa Licious and Local’s Light always had me wondering how Short’s created an IPA with that distinct malt and managed to showcase it in another lighter beer.
The answer – like so many other regional delicacies, the distinctness might be attributed to the hometown water.
“Both Local's Light and Huma Lupa Licious use base malt from Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., which has a unique malty flavor,” said Tony Hansen, the current head brewer. “Huma is brewed with four additional specialty malts that create a strong malt bill to balance out the intense hop additions. These specialty malts add a slightly toasted biscuit and bready flavor. The only other similarity between the two beers is the pristine water that we use from Northern Michigan, which may be the reason you can identify them as Short's brews."
In my search for the reason why Huma Lupa intrigued me so much, it occurred to me that the why isn’t exactly essential. The very existence of something that created such an effect on me is something to treasure each time a Huma Lupa comes my way. The initial impression of the standard IPA hop bomb was washed away by the lasting memory of that memorable malt, one that I’ll always recognize.