Hold a fresh hop cone in your hand and gently rub it between both of your palms, separating the green leaves from the fine yellow powder inside. That soft yellow powder is called “lupulin,” or “lupulia” and it contains all of the resin and aromatic oils responsible for imparting hop flavor and aroma to beer. Lupulin powder, also referred to as hop-dust, is thus a purified concentration of those compounds and oils. By removing the leafy plant material, brewers can dose large quantities of hops to achieve intense hop flavor and aroma without introducing the undesired astringent or vegetal flavors. It also increases yield, as traditional pellets and whole-leaf hops act like sponges soaking up precious beer.
The way this is all done is hop cones go through a “proprietary cryogenic separation process” created by Washington hop producer Yakima Chief-Hopunion. This process makes the lupulin glands inside the cone fall from the plant, while leaving behind unnecessary plant material, and minimizing the damage done to them.
Lupulin tends to fade in flavor far quicker in a beer than if it was brewed with cones, so many brewed will typically use a combination of hop pellets, and lupulin. You can use lupulin in the beginning of the boil to impart a brash bitterness, but it truly shines when it is used to dry-hop a beer.
Personally I’ve found that heavily lupulin hopped beers can sometimes be a bit harsh on the throat if its super fresh. I mean fresh like if it was canned within the last 48 hours. If you find this is true for you, you can let the beer sit for a couple more days to let all the flavors settle and marinate, and the beer will drink much smoother. Beers that are dry-hopped with lupulin powder are absolutely delicious. They are super bright, and they explode with aroma, and flavor! The second you pop the tab on the can the room is going to fill with delicious hop aromas.