Beer Review 0137: Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

I’m hoping today’s beer will be a treat since I tend to like IPAs that use the Simcoe hop.

Weyerbacher, which brews out of Easton, Pennsylvania, was started in 1995 by Dan and Sue Weirback. Weyerbacher is the original spelling of the Weirback family name, hence the name of the brewery.

Like several of the better craft beer companies, Weyerbacher took the initial wrong step of trying to make beers that appealed to wide audiences — typically, these breweries make either a Pale Ale or a Brown Ale, and it gets ignored in the sea of all the other offerings. When the Weirbacks decided to brew a big beer, a Raspberry Imperial Stout, people started to take notice and the run of the mill Pale Ale was out of the picture.

Weyerbacher expanded and then expanded some more, currently into a 20,000 square-foot facility. And there are even more expansion plans coming as the brewery’s distribution area gets wider.

Double Simcoe IPA is a year-round beer, brewed using only the Simcoe hop, which is a hybrid hop variety developed by Select Botanicals Group, LLC, in the year 2000. Simcoe was created for its high alpha acid content, aromatic oils and low harshness levels. I’m not going to pretend I know anything in-depth about hops, because I don’t; but I have noticed that I tend to really enjoy beers brewed with Simcoe. To my knowledge, this is the first beer I’ve ever tried that was brewed using only one hop — at least, this is the first beer that makes it well known that only one hop variety is used.

Although it doesn’t say Imperial (it does say DOUBLE, but Double Simcoe), this is a fairly big India Pale Ale, coming in at 9% ABV (alcohol by volume). This 750 ml bottle is also corked and caged.

Uncorking proved difficult, as I wrestled with this one for a good five minutes before getting a satisfying pop. I swear, the cork was four inches long. The pour also proved a challenge; I went very carefully and still got a monster head, which overflowed the glass and created quite a mess for me to clean up. But what a beautiful beer to behold — this one was very deep orange, almost red, topped with a creamy and soapy head that just would not disappear. The body was considerably cloudy and hazy, as this one is advertised as unfiltered. There were some good, thick clumps of lacing left behind.

As expected on the nose, this one is heavily hopped, with a vivid lemon surprising me up front, coupled with the traditional pine and grapefruit. There’s soft tropical fruit, and some attempt at balance with faint whiffs of caramel, biscuit, and grain. I also got a small grassy note, and then there was an off-aroma: liquid white-out. So I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about that, but the redeeming qualities overtook the negative…

On the sip, there’s some very ripe and chewy fruits up front, coupled with a huge, HUGE resinous note. Then there’s all layers of pine and grapefruit, which coats the mouth with a nice oily sheen, but then the finish dries the mouth out and introduces some crushed aspirin bitterness. And this is when it was cold. As it warmed, the bitterness soothed and everything came together nicely — the tropical fruits fleshed out, and the finish showed a great sweet toasted note that balanced the bitterness and turned it more mellow. Mouthfeel was fairly thick and creamy.

I have to say that this is really the only IPA I have ever had that actually got better as it warmed. This is a very unique beer, and the vibrancy of the hops are insane. I’m not going to call it “fresh” hops, but moreso thickly resinous. Maybe this is as close as you can get to eating a hop?

One thing is for sure: this beer confirmed that I adore Simcoe hops!

Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA, 90 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 750 ml bottle.


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