This is my first time trying Peak's Spring seasonal, a Simcoe-hopped pale ale with a very attractive label. In general, Peak Organic has never quite stood well with me; I've had about 5 beers from them and all of them have been weirdly disappointing in their own ways. This is a hoppy Spring beer with one of my favorite American hop varietals, meaning I'm both excited by the prospect of another brew in the lineup of cool Spring beers, but also scared that it'll turn out like other ales I've had from the brewery. Without further ado, then, let's begin the assessment!

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There's a nice haze as the beer pours, with a copper-orange/lighter yellow body featuring pale highlights that accentuate the slight opacity. Up on top of the proceedings is a thin cap of light, white foam that seems to be leaving meager, spotty lacing as it fades quickly to a tiny rim. The color on this is nice but I definitely feel like the head disappeared far too quickly for a fresh hop ale using one of the most talked-about hop varieties in brewing. Luckily the nose makes up for that slight misgiving with notes of guava, melon, pine resin, orange, grapefruit and toasted bread; yep definitely Simcoe with a pale malt base! Carbonation from the bottom seems slightly lazy but steady with some bubbles struggling up. Each sip leaves a thin veneer of lace that shimmers momentarily before taking its leave; the palate is rife with punchy tropical fruit, citrus and a sharp carbonation but the body is too thin to support the strong hoppiness and a slight acerbic character definitely hits the palate even before the drying (yet flavorful and bitter) finish. I like the playfulness on display here with the light bready malt ever-so-slightly interplaying with the flavorful and multifaceted hop notes, but again, the body is much too watery to support the beer entirely. Would a more malt-biased recipe help this beer, though? I'm not quite sure this would work too well with, say, caramel malt taking the center stage... the hop notes, though forward, seem pretty delicate and a lot of the complexity would probably be lost with sweeter/darker malt. I just wish there was more of the malt that already is here; it's too thin and the spritzy carbonation is a bit distracting.

All that being said, Simcoe is a beautiful hop; a lot of the amazing things APAs and IPAs can accomplish come out in full-force here in the hop flavor. The bold citrus, the sticky pine and the juicy fruit are all present and accounted for and make this a drinkable yet challenging beer. I'm just not sure it's exactly the right recipe for the hop to stand out in. Comparing this to something like Weyerbacher's Double Simcoe is a tad tough but it also features this varietal and the body is much bolder and thicker which seems to help support the menagerie of flavors produced by this intense botanical. Though this is more of a single pale ale, the intense hop flavor means Simcoe is definitely the star of the show. However, it feels like Peak could work on making it more of and not the only thing providing the beer with any distinction. Nice drink and with some very interesting flavors but not enough balance to liven it up. One of the better PO beers I've had, though!

The official breakdown:

  • Style: American Pale Ale
  • ABV: 5.4%
  • Appearance: A nice orange/gold with pale yellow around the edges. Nicely translucent with a resilient (though small) head. Not much lace
  • Scent: Woody/pine-y, citrus, guava, mango and light pale malt. Quite fresh and well-rounded with a solid aroma
  • Taste: Crackery pale malt drowns quickly in bitter, pine hop notes before tropical fruit and sharp citrus finish out in the end
  • Mouthfeel: Medium-high carbonation, a bit too watery for my liking though. A bit oily and slick, though the finish highlights a drier feel
  • Drinkability: It's very highly drinkable and likely even sessionable. A bit weird like most PO beers I've had, but not nearly as off-style as it could be.

From http://blogs.lowellsun.com/beer/.