Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Tasting : Hoppily Ever After (Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone)

Well, my brother's wedding went off without a hitch (ha ha, I'm awesome)... great weather, great people, no one got jilted, and most importantly, the beer was a hit! I had high hopes for this Russian River Row 2, Hill 56 clone, an all-Simcoe American Pale Ale, and I wasn't disappointed. More importantly, neither was the groom or his guests.

Things really worked out well for this beer. The brew day and subsequent fermentation went smoothly - the only aspect that was off was the higher-than-expected efficiency, resulting in an OG of 1.061 (5-6 points above target), but the beer still fermented fine. I then bottled the beer a little over two weeks before the wedding, which gave it plenty of time to carbonate (always easier this time of year), but still allowed it to be consumed very fresh during the festivities.

And it really came out tasty. As I stated in my original post, I was a little skeptical as to how hoppy a beer would be with only 3 oz of hop additions for aroma and flavor (1 oz at flameout, 2 oz dry-hop), but had read a lot of positive feedback on this beer from others who had brewed the recipe. I'm really starting to think that crazy-high hop additions at flameout and for the dry-hop may not be completely necessary, especially if you're using as-fresh-as-possible hops. For this beer, all of the Simcoe I had was this year's crop, so I'm sure that made a difference.

More research is needed, however... which I'm happy to dive into. In the meantime, you can add my name to the long list of homebrewers recommending this recipe. Hoppy, delicious, highly drinkable... and VERY approachable as a craft beer for any population. Brew it!

Appearance: Poured with a moderate-sized white head that fades fairly quickly to a thin film on the beer. Body is a dark gold color, approaching amber/light copper, with good clarity (despite the picture shown above).

Aroma: Big fruity hop aroma, with a bit of pine... but surprisingly, the fruit is way ahead. A bit of malt sweetness in there, with the grainy pils character slightly noticeable. No flaws.

Taste: Again, the hops are the dominant flavor, but are backed up nicely by the slightly grainy and sweet malt character. Finishes fairly dry with a medium bitterness.

Mouthfeel: Light-bodied, possibly medium-light; moderate carbonation.

Overall: A very tasty beer. Great hop character; the Simcoe definitely comes through with a mostly fruity presence. I really like what the malt bill adds to the beer as well, very supportive for an APA, without overbearing the hops. Quite drinkable, and a nice beer for beer geeks and non-beer geeks alike.


  1. Sounds great, and congratulations on brewing a winner for the wedding. Always a high-pressure proposition. Did you share the link to the recipe? I must have read right past it...
    With thanks,

    1. Thanks, yeah, the pressure was definitely on a bit!

      Yep, the recipe link is there... just click on the Row 2, Hill 56 link.

  2. Just curious, but have you ever added water to adjust the gravity? I just had the same thing happen where I ended up with a higher og. Looks like a great beer! Cheers

    1. Not for a long while... I would probably only do that if it was an extreme difference that I thought would hinder the beer. When I take the OG, the wort has cooled down to yeast-pitching temps, and to add water, I'd have to take the time to boil it, cool it, etc. Now, if I were smart, I would do this all in advance, just in CASE my OG comes in too high, but it rarely happens more than a point or two.