Hops cones growing on a plant.

Simcoe Hops

If you’re at all familiar with hops, you’ve likely heard of Simcoe Hops. Simcoe is one of the most popular hop varieties used in modern brewing. It’s especially popular among craft brewers and homebrewers who love its complex but smooth bitterness. While Simcoe is most well-known for its use with IPAs and double IPAs, people are starting to use it with a wide variety of beers. It’s often referred to as a modern delight with a classic and complex taste.

In this article we’ll take a closer look at Simcoe hops and why you should use it in your next batch of home brew.

Hops cones growing on a plant.

History/Origin

Simcoe Hops was first grown and distributed by the legendary Yakima Chief Ranches in the Yakima Valley of Washington. Its creation, however, is credited to Charles E. Zimmermann, who then developed it through Select Botanicals Group. From there, it made its way to Yakima Chief, who then released it to the public in 2000. It’s been a favorite ever since.

General Characteristics

Simcoe Hops has a high alpha percentage and low cohumulone, which makes it an excellent bittering hop. It’s a dual-purpose hop, which means that many brewers use it for both bittering and flavoring their beer. Let’s look at a few of the other distinguishing characteristics of Simcoe Hops.

Simcoe has a moderate and sometimes vigorous growth rate and a yield rate to match. The cones are typically small to medium in size and yellow/green in color. The cones mature fairly early in the season and are susceptible to wilt and mildew. Overall, Simcoe is fairly easy to harvest and stores very well.  

Flavor & Aroma Profile

While its bitterness is undeniable, Simcoe has a complex flavor profile that dulls it down and helps with the taste. This hop plant has bright citrus flavors with subtle earthy undertones. Grapefruit, apricot, berry, pine, passion fruit, and herbs are all flavors and aromas attributed to Simcoe. Simply put, it’s often described as being both earthy and fruity at the same time.

Closeup of hops cones.

Brewing Values of Simcoe Hops

You should note that brewing values vary from harvest to harvest, so these numbers are based on the overall average of Simcoe. Here’s what you can expect from a typical crop.

  • Alpha Acid % – 12-14%

Alpha acid is where a brew gets most of its bitterness. Higher levels of Alpha result in a more bitter brew.

  • Beta Acid % – 4-5%

Beta acid contributes flavor and aroma to a beer but no bitterness.

  • Alpha to Beta Ratio – 2:1 – 5:1

The ratio of Alpha to beta determines the degree of bitterness that is lost as your beer ages.

  • Hop Storage Index – 27%

This percentage refers to how much of your alpha and beta acid will be lost after six months of storage at room temperature.

  • Co-Humulone as % of Alpha – 15-21%

Low cohumulone will result in less bitterness, whereas higher levels will produce sharper bitterness.

  • Total oils – 0.8-3.1

Various oils are often added to brews to add flavor and aroma. Here are the oils contained in Simcoe Hops.

  • Myrcene – 40-50%
  • Humulene 15-20%
  • Caryophyllene – 8-14%
  • Farnesene 0-1%
  • Other Oils – 15-37%

Beer Styles That Use Simcoe Hops

Simcoe is extremely popular with a wide variety of beers, and you’re likely to see it used in these styles.

  • IPas and DIPAs  
  • Various Indian Ales  
  • Porters  
  • Stouts  
  • Barley Wine  
  • Amber, Red, Brown, and Pale Ales  
  • Wheat Beers  
  • Lagers 
Glasses of amber ale, a popular brew made with Simcoe hops.

Beers That You Can Buy That Use Simcoe Hops

Unlike many of the hops we cover, Simcoe is used in a ton of commercially sold beers. Here’s a list of a few of the most popular.

  • The Weyerbacher Brewing Company makes a mean Double Simcoe IPA  
  • Hopworks Urban Brewery creates the IPX Simcoe 
  • Make sure to try Kermit the Hop from the Bison Brewing Company 
  • Count Hopula from Santan Brewing Company

Simcoe is often paired with other hops, and the list of beers that do this is quite extensive.

Common Substitutions For Simcoe Hops

If you have trouble getting your hands on Simcoe Hops, here are a few common substitutions that experienced brewers use.

  • Cascade
  • Columbus
  • Amarillo
  • Centennial
  • Magnum
  • Summit

Tips For Growing Your Own Simcoe Hops

For those who like to see the process from start to finish, you might be interested in growing your own Simco Hops. If that’s the case, here’s what you need to know. Remember, hops take time to develop, and you likely won’t see a substantial harvest until year two or three. However, once they start producing cones, hop plants can live as long as 25 to 50 years.

Jar of dried hops cones.
Jar of dried hops cones.

Water

Hops love water, especially in the first two years of its life. The soil should be moist up to 1.5 inches below the ground, but the soil should never be flooded.

Light

It would be best to plant your hops in an area where they can get 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Direct sunlight is ideal, but Simcoe is pretty hardy and can thrive with a mixture of sun and shade.

Soil

The soil you plant your hops plant in is perhaps the most critical aspect of its success. It would help if you only planted hops in nutrient-rich soil with a pH level between 6.5 and 8.0. The soil must be well-draining and, ideally, be a mixture of sandy and loam.

Zones

Hardiness zones 3 through 8 are ideal for growing Simcoe Hops.

Outdoor

Hops plants grow extremely tall, so unless you have 40-foot ceilings, outside is the only place to grow them. Because they grow 20 to 30 feet in height, you should also have a trellis or other support system. Hops plants aren’t strong enough to support themselves when fully grown.

Where To Purchase Comet Hops

If you’re feeling the way I do right now, you probably want to buy some Simcoe and get your brew on! The best place to purchase Simcoe pellets is from Brew Demon.

Conclusion

Closeup of hops cones.

Well, there you have it. Everything that you need to know about Simcoe Hops, where it came from, and how it’s used. Simcoe is one of the most popular hops in the United States, and it’s used in beers all over the world. It’s one of the most consistent and reliable hops plants out there, and you’re all but guaranteed to love it once you give it a try.

Have you ever used Simcoe hops in your home brews? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below! For information about other kinds of hops, click here for our blog posts about brewing ingredients.

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