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Beer Buzz

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Liz Laughlin's Simcoe India Pale Ale earned Best of Show at the 2010 Indiana State Fair Brewers Cup Competition. We expected as much tasting Liz's Simcoe IPA at Phoenix Theatre's Brew-Ha-Ha. IPA is not this writer's favorite style. Too much harshness on the palate is the usual reaction. But on that very hot sticky day the pour from the Rock Bottom College Park booth provided an immediate, "Wow, this is refreshing." With a nice kick without wanting to scrape hops off the tongue, this was giving us what the popular Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA had not. We happened to be at RB College Park the day Liz was brewing. We had stopped in to taste her "Bottoms UpKolsch," having missed the tapping on June 9. Liz couldn't take time to talk; she was preoccupied with "a single hop IPA." Liz, not unlike many others, is an intuitive brewer, along with being analytical. She sees, smells, tastes cerebrally as she develops a recipe. Conversing afterwards, we recognized something unusual was going on - like you know in your bones that seeming high fly is going, going, gone out of the ballpark for a sweep of bases and the winning run at the bottom of the ninth. Liz was being gutsy - putting herself out there for her regulars at RB College Park, "They're amazing," she summarized about the people who come to the restaurant expecting something special. "We got it," remarked a patron at the July 14 Summer Seasonal Brewer's Dinner. "I tasted Liz's IPA and knew it was special even before the judges did." He analyzed: "The color is beautiful. Pure Pacific Northwest sunshine, don't you think?" Simcoe, bred by Yakima Chief Ranches, hit the market around 2000. It was cultivated to be a bittering cultivar with a clean pine-like aroma and a slight hint of citrus taste. Somewhat like Cascade or Saaz hops, except that it's more bitter, so one expects it to be harsh, but with Liz Laughlin's expertise toward balance, the malt's backbone and the yeast's energy pair nicely with Simcoe's moderate alpha acid content for a lovely brew.

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