Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Craft Beer Crosscut 10.10.17: A Flight of Simcoe Hops

Ron Swarner


Peaks-and-Pints-Tacoma-Beer-FlightSimcoe was introduced in 2000 by Yakima Chief Ranches as a proprietary hop varietal with strong bitter and aromatic qualities. Little has been released about its parentage, but it has been compared to Cascade. Although not used much as a bittering hop, many craft brewers favor Simcoe for its unique aroma profile composed of piney, woody, and grapefruit citrus notes mixed with slightly dank and spicy notes of onion and garlic. The Simcoe hop is polarizing. Like cilantro tasting soap to the genetically predisposed, some think that Simcoe smells like cat urine, or ammonia, and can’t move past it. If you are in the camp, however, that experiences an evergreen forest with a slight citrus tang when exposed to this hop, then Craft Beer Crosscut 10.10.17: A Flight of Simcoe Hops are the Simcoe brewed beers for which you’ve been looking.

Alpine-Duet-IPA-TacomaAlpine Duet IPA

7% ABV, 45 IBU

Simcoe and Amarillo. Not a buddy-buddy cop movie but rather the only two hops in Alpine Beer Co.’s Duet IPA. On the nose, grassy and straw notes coincide with the pine and tangerine citrus hop blast. On the tongue, we definitely pick up the “old school” nature of the two hops — pine, grapefruit and earthy — as well as tangerine. A touch of honey and toast are also in the mix while the beer presents a pretty good amount of bite for just 45 IBU.

E9-Pogo-Stick-Simcoe-IPA-TacomaE9 Pogo Stick Simcoe IPA

6.6% ABV

Flash forward to July 1995, Engine House No. 9 became Tacoma’s first brewpub. That was big news then and is worth toasting nearly 22 years later. But the real cause for celebration is the birth of one beer in particular — E9 Brewery’s Pogo Stick Simcoe IPA. Known as “Cascade on steroids,” Simcoe hops, obviously, are the main attraction here, and pine is readily identifiable — more needle than cone. As the beer warms, a faint alcohol aroma emerges, which is surprising given the beer’s 6.6 percent ABV, and the woody pine becomes even more prevalent. A slight citrus character—tangy orange—peaks through in the dry finish, but the pine never disappears.

Evil-Twin-Imperial-Simcoe-Slacker-TacomaEvil Twin Imperial Simcoe Slacker

7.5% ABV, 70 IBU

“Despite his bitterness, lack of power and insuperable aversion to any over-the-counter labor — he kind of has a charming charisma, and perhaps he is even loveable. Somehow we find him unbelievable irresistible and stimulating because he is one of the few that masters the ability to effortlessly impress with wide-ranging conversation even though he was not even supposed to be here today.” That’s Evil Twin Brewing’s description of its Imperial Simcoe Slacker. We have no idea what that means, but we do know this is a tasty IPA with classic Simcoe earthiness complimented by some pine, grapefruit and a hint of sweeter tropical fruit. It has solid and satisfying bitterness with a dry bitter finish.

Firestone-Walker-Union-Jack-IPA-TacomaFirestone Walker Union Jack

7.5% ABV, 70 IBU

When Firestone Walker elected to use the catch phrase “Passion for the Pale”, they were telling the truth. This double dry-hopped IPA has become a West Coast standard by which many others within the style might be measured. A beauteous grapefruit and citrus aroma is achieved through multi-leveled hopping that involves 4-pounds per barrel mix of Warrior, Simcoe, Cascade, Centennial, Amarillo and Chinook. Citrusy, floral, pungent, and powerful, the masterful blend of American hop characters is simply unlike any other. Even with its 7.5 percent ABV, alcohol isn’t actually apparent in the taste; in fact, there’s nothing weighty or overwhelming about this beer. It’s elegant, light, and palatable, and finishes dry and perfectly clean.

Gigantic-Sodbusted-V-The-Simcoe-Strikes-Back-TacomaGigantic Sodbusted V: The Simcoe Strikes Back

5.3% ABV, 85 IBU

Gigantic Brewing landed its Lupulin Falcon at Sodbuster Farms in the Willamette Valley where the Portland brewery’s Hoptroopers picked citrusy Simcoe hops for the Sodbusted V: The Simcoe Strikes Back. The orange and citrus are strong with this one.