Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Single Hop Theory...

The fine folks at Weyerbacher seem to be taking a page from the Nicene Creeders when it comes to their latest big beer offerings: Double Simcoe IPA and (coming soon) Eleven Triple IPA, both of which make extensive use of a single hop variety.

Though Simcoe sounds like a corporate psuedonym straight out of a Philip K. Dick novel, homebrewers and beer afficionados (i.e., high-toned sots) know that it's the latest hot hop variety (first introduced in 2000, it's taken some time to really catch on). A casual search on the web will tell you the why—high alpha acid level + low cohumulone content = big, smooth hop flavor sans harsh bitterness—but you'd do much better to dispense with the science and simply try this beer.

I first heard of Simcoe hops from Derrick at myLHBS, who sold me an ounce for the IPA I was planning to make. It was a good choice, though the exact contribution from the Simcoe hops in my brew was difficult to distinguish from the lupuline qualities of the other two hop varieties I used, the downside of blending different types of hops. Not a problem with Double Simcoe IPA.

I first sampled Double Simcoe straight from the tap at Max's on Broadway in Fells Point (Baltimore Harbor) with my girl about a month ago, and knew just from the first huff that I was going to like it. Then, while recently scanning the beer section at a local WholeFoods, I noticed the unusual label on the bottle—a surreal close-up of a hunk of hop cone that could have been painted by Edvard Munch—before I caught the name. Almost without thinking, I swept three bottles into my basket.

So what does it taste like? Well, true to form, it's hoppy AND smooth. Citrusy? Yeah, sure. Complex, especially considering the limited ingredients, and with a strong alcohol presence, though not as much as you might expect for a niner. Very drinkable, like it should be. Malt is there, but as with most hop-laden ales, it's the spindly rack on which the bitter fruit hangs in abundance, to wax artsy. Definately recommended; in fact, I just picked up another bottle, along with something called Black Hole Ale, which looks, um, interesting, to put it mildly.

Also, I recently had a chance to try the newly reformulated Hops Infusion Ale on tap at Rustico in Alexandria; a big improvement on an old ale that just seemed dated once the newer wave of hop-heavy IPAs (e.g., Loose Cannon, the alliterative duo Nugget Nectar and Hop Hog, Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale, etc.) hit the market. Looks like Simcoe had a hand in the new taste as well.

As for the aforementioned Eleven, a triple IPA that uses Phoenix hops as the single variety, it's due out sometime this month, and celebrates Weyerbacher's 11th year in the beer business. At nearly 12% abv and with 109 IBUs, this one's gonna leave a mark.

POSTSCRIPT: Speaking of PKD, his elegiacal masterpiece A Scanner Darkly has been made into an upcoming film that makes use of an animation technique known as digital rotoscoping. Digital rotoscoping is the tracing of live action sequences to produces animated images that are eerily lifelike; you may have seen it used recently in that series of creepy commericals from Charles Schwab (imagine receiving investment advice from a 'toon—Debord has by now spun himself six feet up to the surface). Seems to me like one helluva way to increase the costs of production, assuming you still have to pay the actors along with the rotoscopist, but maybe they're counting on the "wow" factor to bring in the brass.

And who do they get to "play" Bob Arctor, the leading character? Keanu Reeves. That's right, the guy who played "Ted" in all those horrible movies, most profitably The Matrix and its familial ilk. Although early indications are that the movie's plot stays true to the book's (the choice of Reeves notwithstanding), I'll really be surprised it this one doesn't suck like all the other overhyped, overbudgeted, derivative dreck that Hollywood continues to paristaltically push out like so much spent beer. That aside, you have to love the genius of signing on Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr. to play Arctor's drug-addled roommates.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: If you brew-it-yourself and you're in the area, check out myLHBS in Falls Church. Derrick will be happy to hook you up with anything you need and offer advice drawn from years of service as a professional brewer.


DiscoCowboy said...

fucker went there last night and they still don't have any more in stock! Ended up picking up a bottle of the Black Hole Ale... any update on that one?

Is Jeff still there, haven't seen him there in a long time.

iconoclasst said...

Well, I picked up the latest bottle (and the Black Hole Ale) at the WF in Old Town, Alex. Still some left there, I would guess. Limited edition, so get it while ya can; maybe there's none left to restock. The Clarendon WF doesn't have it.

As for the parenthetical beer, haven't tried it yet. Supposed to be a freaky mix of styles. Here's Weyerbacher's description:

"Coming in at an ABV of 7.0%, Our Black Hole satisfies the transition from dark ale to stout. We think of this as slightly "Porter-ish" with a strong malt body and a very light hop finish. This is a limited edition ale, made only several times per year. As the seasons change so should your drinking. This will help the ale drinker among us maintain their own balance!"

As for Jeff, probably on vacation.

Tim Wise said...

Wrench in the Gears?? Should be Beer in the Gullet. You better get back on the bike. I need to see some east coast trail pics goddammnit!! I had the Stone Vertical Epic Ale the other night. Very Tasty

DT said...

Man, when are you going to start brewing again? I STILL haven't had your IPA... Come on by for a nice cold Reparations Stout.

troegenator said...

i just found this blog and left a handful of copmments already. that rotoscoping was used in a pretty good film called waking life if im thinking of the same thing.
anyway i was wonderin do you know any troegs sponsored riders that i might be able to get an autographed jersey from?
i too love bikes and beer.
im actually from harrisburg where troegs is brewed. good stuff if ya ask me. should take a tour of the place. damn jerseys are so expensive though!

iconoclasst said...

Don't know any Troegs-sponsored riders, but you could always visit the brewery and ask one of the brothers (one of them is always there). I know they sponsor the Dirt Rag crew for many of their events, so that's another channel.

I did get a chance to tour the brewery a while ago, along with Victory. It was when Mad Elf was becoming a big hit.

DT said...

It's Imperial IPA brewing time bitch! I'm gonna try some of that Simcoe you used for a 3 hop blend...

F that Weyerbach Triple IPA...if this thing ferments all the way out it's going to be over 13% with over 150 IBUs!

iconoclasst said...

ABV and IBUs ain't everything, sweetheart, ya also gotta have TASTE!

BTW, should have the BB logo ready sometime this week, so we need to start planning this thing.

DT said...

Ha, but it's hard to go wrong using a blend of Simcoe, Amarillo, and Centennial...that's right, the SAC blend! Some nice clean Galena hops up front for some of the bitterness and the rest of the IBUs is actually going to come from massive amounts of flavor and aroma hops. Also adding some Honey Malt, which is damn tasty! Haven't done a bad IPA's to hoping this one kicks all of them in the ass.

The Instigator said...

Just picked up some Simcoe to homebrew an APA. Should be interesting.