Alpha Hop Trial: Simcoe

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Alpha Hop Trial: Simcoe

Post by seymour » Fri Nov 14, 2014 6:41 pm

As conscientous brewers, it's essential for us to sample beers brewed with a single hop variety. There is no better way to educate our palate to each hop's unique bitterness, flavour, and aroma traits. Obviously, different hops behave differently in different beer. Noted author Stan Hieronymous reminds us that when we isomerize hops in boiling wort, we set in motion complex chemical reactions which continue into the fermentation stage. It's easy to forget hops are in fact a fermentable ingredient. This is why we cannot get a full understanding of what hops will bring to finished beer by simply smelling a handful of hops, making quick-and-easy hop teas, or even dry-hopping alone. If we take a moment to record our thoughts about each hop, we can more effectively blend our favourite traits from different hop varieties into a winning recipe of our own design.

With so many different hops available these days, it's impossible for each homebrewer to brew all of them single-handedly. Jim's Beer Kit is a great place to read what worked for other homebrewers, but it's especially handy when commercial brewers do this "dirty-work" for us. I taste every single-hop beer I can find, and post ratings to Ratebeer, which serves as a handy online resource whenever I need to remember my impressions of a certain hop. It occured to me these thoughts might benefit other nerdy homebrewers on this forum too.

Disclaimer: these are my own subjective opinionated conclusions, based on just one sample, at one specific moment in time. I am frequently surprised by how much another brewer's results differ, even using the same single hop variety. Your mileage may vary, and I certainly don't think my taste buds are superior to anyone else's.

From my Ratebeer rating of Alpha Hoppy Brown Ale
Aroma: 7 out of 10, Appearance: 3 out of 5, Taste: 8 out of 10 , Palate: 4 out of 5, Overall: 16 out of 20

Total Score: 3.8 out of 5

Sampled at their taproom and brought a growler home. This one needs a better name because it’s not extremely hoppy and not extremely brown, but it is a delicious beer in its own right. It pours a mostly-clear deep amber colour with weak off-white foam. The colour and malt traits make me think of a Scottish 90 Shilling sorta thing. Subtle grainy flavours, some rich caramel with a well-suited hoppy balance. As said, the hoppy traits weren’t too strong, but definitely complex: I love Simcoe’s blend of fruit, pine resin, and ganja weed. Medium body and round mouthfeel, soft bittersweet aftertaste. This is a great session beer at the high end of the alcoholic spectrum. Scottish ale with New World hops, anyone? Recommended.

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