I brewed this beer two months ago in an effort to clear up some hops stored in my freezer. Although they were kept cold and in the dark, they were exposed to oxygen, and is most likely the reason why my hop-bursted Back to Basic’s IPA had lackluster hop character. I’m expecting more of the same with this beer. However, I added 2 ounces of fresh whole leaf hops to make up for hop character. There is some debate as the best way to dry hop, with some homebrewers advocating in the primary while others suggest to rack the beer and then dry hop. I prefer the latter, but I dry hop very cold in the keg for a long period of time (basically all of my beers – whether it is a barleywine or pale ale – gets lagered). While it takes a long time to extract hop oils and aromas, I never find any vegetal flavors that can occur with warm temperature dry-hopping. A keg that has been dry-hopped for 2 months simply bursts with hop aroma and flavor, with the last pint having the most character.
Appearance: Pours a light golden hue with some orange highlights. Although the picture says otherwise (condensation from the glass), the beer pours clear with a slight haze. Good head retention that quickly retreats to a thin lace. Thought adding some carapils would help in this department.
Smell: Huge hop nose. Sugar coated oranges and passionfruit. Guava and mango comes to mind. Slightly resiny with a wood like profile, but I can’t get any pine. Some biscuit and cracker-like malt character, but its subdued.
Taste: Firm bitterness that is not harsh. The taste is where I get plenty of pine. Resin and soap-like character is very strong followed by tropical fruit undertones. Very fruity. Maris Otter Malt supplies a biscuit and toasted cracker flavor. Prickly carbonation and an average body/mouthfeel.
Overall: Not bad, but I wonder how much of the hop character came from the dry hops as opposed to the older hops. I think the fruit-like character is coming from the hops as opposed to the yeast. As far as hops go, and from judging from this beer, it is no wonder Simcoe has gained in popularity. I absolutely get the pine and the tropical fruit notes. That being said, I feel Simcoe is also a great blending hop to provide depth of hop flavor.