We're hoping to rededicate ourselves over the coming months, with reviews from new or never before covered locations, drinking new or newer beers, perhaps with even a new voice behind it all (we've cast a unanimous secret vote to replace Jason with a human-sized talking wallaby named New Zealand Orlo).
Despite our almost four years of covering beer, we've yet to set our focus on the output of 2010 Indiana Brewer's Cup Best of Show winner Liz Laughlin, brewer at Rock Bottom College Park. That was obviously a mistake.
Liz's prizewinning Simcoe IPA is a cloudy copper colored beer, with a creamy head and lacing that seem to say "have more". A sweet nose with just a hint of candy grapefruit elements gives way to a middle that's lightly woody, piney, and perfectly balanced. The beer finishes chewy and bitter, but with a subtleness that begs for repeated drinking. 3.75 Mugs.
Simcoe hops are very popular with the Rock Bottom chain, especially in Indiana. I don't know if they have a great contract on them, but one thing is for sure; Simcoes make a damn good IPA. Liz' 2010 Brewer's Cup Best of Show award winning Simcoe IPA starts begins with the aroma of grapefruit and pine and a hefty dose of sweet caramel which lets you know that this IPA is going to be well balanced. Although we've repeatedly ruined our palates with DIPAs (see: TFN2), hop bombs are not what I typically expect when I see the label "IPA." I personally prefer a more balanced IPA, and the Simcoe IPA delivers. The first thing that jumps out in this IPA, as with most IPAs, is the strong hop bitterness. Strong bitterness, yet moderate for the style. Caramel and sugary sweetness round off the edges of the hops and a soft carbonation level gives it a creamy mouthfeel. Grapefruit and lemon zest are the most prominent, and probably most expected bitter flavors in this beer. Pine and juniper hints give it a pleasantly spicy compliment. I can't speak for the rest of the beers in this year's Brewer's Cup, but this one is certainly worthy of a title like Best of Show. 4.00 Mugs.
One whiff of this IPA and I was in heaven. The super strong nose of pine and grapefruit gave way to a sweet, chewy mouthfeel reminiscent of a Double IPA. This beer was big but the flavors playfully remained balanced. There is a line at which hop flavor goes from complex and flavorful to harsh and bitter and this beer seems to walk right up to that line without crossing it. By the time I finished my sip, I was already looking forward to the next. This beer is enjoyable and delicious, absolutely deserving of its awards. Fantastic work by Liz! 4.5 Mugs
Rock Bottom College Park Simcoe IPA
Mike: 3.75 Mugs | Rodney: 4.00 Mugs | Jess: 3.70 Mugs | Gina: 4.5 Mugs
KOTBR Score: 3.98 Mugs