Monday, February 28, 2011

Review #6 - Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe IPA

Posted by: Stonecipher

Feb. 26, 2011

Finally!  The Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA is here!  Not all of it, but most of it. 
After a bunch of setbacks and two separate incidents in two different states resulting in bottles being broken, two of the four in the 4-pack arrived safely here at 20 Beers in 20 Nights World Headquarters in Evanston, IL.

So, as I embark on my first ever home brewing journey this afternoon I thought I would spend some of the downtime I have writing the Double Simcoe review.

Also, a special thanks to ‘nevins’ over at Beer Advocate for getting these bottles to me, this is the first beer on The List acquired by trade and I’m very excited.  First, as usual though, some quick facts about the beer:

ABV: 9%
IBUs: 153
Brewery Location: Easton, Pennsylvania
Style: American Double IPA
Average Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.13 – Excellent
My Beer Advocate Rating: A-/4.2 - Excellent
Current Number of Reviews/Rank in the Top 20 on Beer Advocate: 1,009/12th
Bottled On: NA

APPEARANCE:  (3.5 out of 5) The Weyerbacher’s Double Simcoe IPA pours a nice, deep, reddish-brown that is cloudy and opaque.  A bubbly and very clean three-quarter inch head rests on top of the snifter housing the contents of the 12 oz. bottle it was poured from.  Retention on the head is not impressive and what little lacing was apparent early on in the glass slid away by the end. 

SMELL:  (4.0 out of 5) There has been some debate as to what type of aroma Simcoe hops produce, some have said fruity, others woody, and still more have said piney.  To me, however, there is no doubt about it; the aroma is heavily piney and very enticing.  A touch of orange and other citrus smells makes its way into the nose here, but the pine is in charge.  This is a good smelling beer and would have been a higher rating if it was a little more intense.

TASTE:  (4.5 out of 5) In terms of flavor, Simcoe hops are known for their bitter qualities and Weyerbacher’s certainly made sure that this 100% Simcoe hopped brew did not disappoint on that front.  This a beautifully balanced beer with just enough malt to make it go down smooth, but not so much that it takes away at all from the bitterness.  In addition to the malty hoppiness, the Double Simcoe also provides a hint of grapefruit in the citrus department; the orange from the nose is completely obliterated by the flavor, but the orange first, grapefruit second makes for a delicious combo.  This is a bitter beer, but it is not harsh at all and that makes it very accessible to those who may not be huge hop heads. 

MOUTHFEEL:  (3.0 out of 5) The Double Simcoe is smooth and a bit oily, which I am generally not a huge fan of, but the oily feel actually works to make this beer go down a bit easier.  Still, I prefer more sparkle in my beer and while the feel is not bad at all, it is somewhat of a let down.

OVERALL:  (4.5 out of 5) Considering that all 153 IBUs are very apparent in this beer it is an incredibly easy beer to drink.  While some Double IPAs, like Bell’s Hopslam are good for introducing beginners to the style, this might be more of an intermediate beer, for someone who is starting to develop a palate, but isn’t quite sure how much bitter they can handle.  A highly drinkable, bitter DIPA is not always easy to find, but the Double Simcoe nailed it for me.

DRAWBACKS:  In the two most important categories, taste and smell, the Double Simcoe IPA gets very high marks.  I was disappointed in the appearance and feel, however.  Although I already acknowledged that oily and less carbonated feel helped this beer go down easier, I don’t mind the slighter greater challenge to the palate that comes with some extra sparkle.  Additionally, the lack of head retention and lacing was a disappointment.  It may seem like a little thing, but seeing those rings and arches around the glass as the beer slowly disappears is a thing of beauty and excitement for a craft beer drinker and that was missed in this experience.

SOUND:  Pretention Alert!  Yep, as always in the sound category, my snooty taste in beer meets my snooty taste in music – and The Double Simcoe reminded me of one of my favorite groups for a very specific reason.  Jurassic 5 is an underground hip-hop group from Southern California (As a side note, one of their MCs, the very friendly Chali Tuna, is originally from Chicago) that has had more commercial success than many other groups of their ilk.  J5 has had their videos played on MTV, they’ve collaborated with Dave Matthews and both their 3rd and 4th albums, “Power in Numbers” and “Feedback” made it to the #15 spot on Billboard’s Top 200.

The point is, Jurassic 5 produces some very high quality hip-hop, but they have also had a good deal of success in mainstream pop/rap circles.  So they end up being the one good, underground hip-hop group that people with mediocre to bad taste actually enjoy.  The Double Simcoe IPA struck me as the type of beer that someone who thinks Harp and Bass are the epitome of fine beer would be able to tolerate and even brag to their friends about liking.  In other words, someone could slip this into their line-up, not fully explain what it was and they would end up inadvertently becoming craft beer advocates. 

In that same respect, I have met dozens of people who treated Jurassic 5 that way, in particular, the title track from their 2000 album “Quality Control”.  In case you have missed it for the past 11 years, check it out on iTunes here: 

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