In the foothills of Colorado lives a tiny blue butterfly: the Celastrina humulus, more commonly referred to as the hops blue butterfly. This rare and beautiful creature can only be found living in the foothill’s canyons and ravines from 5800–6500 feet. The wings of the male are a powdery blue, while females have black and iridescent blue wings. Celastrina caterpillars dine on Humulus lulupus, or wild growing hops, the biological cousins of the hops used for beer.
In Fort Collins, the Colorado Natural Heritage Program wants to study this butterfly and learn more about its habitat and lifecycle so future generations of Coloradoans can view this beautiful insect. When it came to finding a local organization to help them fund their research, they took an unusual route. They went to people who knew about hops, brewers at Odell Brewing Company.
“The hops blue butterfly is only found in a handful of counties along Colorado’s Front Range, where it spends much of its time in moist drainages that support its host plant, wild hops,” says Robert Schorr of the program, a nonprofit from Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources. “CNHP and Odell Brewing Company have developed a novel partnership to conserve one of Colorado’s rare species.”
Last year, Schorr gave a presentation on the hops blue butterfly to a group of Odell’s workers. After learning about the connection between the butterfly and the hops, Odell's wanted to help. Since Odell’s knows what to do with hops, the brewers created a special beer.
The Celastrina Saison is a French-style beer with hints of banana, clove and citrus and these tastes and scents come only from the hops used in the brewing process. Crisp and dry, the Saison has a subtle hop flavor with a floral finish. The beer contains 7.5 percent ABV so it packs a bit of a punch, but it’s a fine beer for sitting on the patio watching for butterflies in your own back yard. The Celastrina is part of Odell’s Cellar Series, where the brewers get to exercise their brewing chops using unique ingredients and experimental methods. Odell’s bottles the saison in 750-ml. bottles. When you purchase Celastrina, $1 of every bottle will go to the CNHP’s hops blue butterfly research program. You can find Celastrina in stores wherever Odell’s beer is sold.
Carrie Dow, Drink Denver