In his book Maine Beer: Brewing in Vacationland – a must read for all Maine beer enthusiasts – Josh Christie asserts, “Sebago Brewing Company is, in my mind, one of the most underrated breweries.” I concur. When I moved to Maine in 2005, Sebago was the only brewery in this state making high quality American-style beer, yet it didn’t seem garner the reverence heaped upon other Maine breweries.
Their underrated status on the Maine beer scene may stem from a few possible factors. Maybe people see them as more of a restaurant chain than a brewery. Perhaps their corporate-vibed brewpubs don’t jive with the new hipster brew scene. Or it could be that since they began in 1998, they’re simply thought of as part of the Old Guard of Maine brewing, cast off before their delicious beer is even imbibed.
If you follow my blog, you know I’ve dubbed their Frye’s Leap IPA, ‘The Best Everyday IPA in Maine.’ For my money, you’re not going to buy a better six-pack IPA in this state.
Unlike some of the other O.G.’s in Maine brewing, Sebago is working to find its place in our post-millennial beer world. Case in point, last year they rebranded their labels to look more chic and less cartoonish.
This spring, however, they have brewed a Session Beer that is surely to earn them some street cred in the hop-forward beer scene that has swept the nation.
Out is their old summer seasonal, a middling hefeweizen, and in is a new summer Session Ale Simmer Down.
Cue the choir of angels singing, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!”
Simmer Down is a twenty-first century beer. By this I mean that Kai Adams and co. brewed this beer with three hops that have all been developed and patented during the aroma hop boom of the last fifteen years. Simmer Down boasts El Dorado, Mosaic, and Ahtanum hops.
Let’s get into a description of this beer to see how the magic of these three hops will forever change your summer drinking experience.
When you first pop a bottle of Simmer Down, place your nose right into the beer and breath deeply. You will be awash in tropical fruits: mango, star fruit, a hint of lemon. I’m going to guess that the center-stage hop in Simmer Down is Mosaic – the sexy daughter of the citrusy Simcoe hop. Now that you’ve bathed in the aroma of Simmer Down, take a healthy gulp. There is an immediate flavor of tropical fruit, and then the clean finish of a fresh Sebago ale. A slight bitter flavor lingers on the back of the tongue, but only a hint, not the big finish of their Frye’s Leap. The light golden color is perfect for a summer day. From aroma to appearance to flavor to finish, everything in this beer works.
Simmer Down is as brilliant and clean as a Macklemore song playing through your radio on a sunny day at Crescent Beach.
This isn’t Sebago’s anemic attempt to join the hip beer scene in the way that Sam Adams Rebel IPA clearly is. Simmer Down is something new. It takes Maine brewing into new territory, the way Sebago Brewing Company did in 1998 when they first hoisted their American-style beer flag in a territory dominated by British-style brews.
Cheers, Sebago! Simmer Down tastes like the future of brewing.
P.S., Any chance you guys will give us cans of this beer so it can be my beach beer this summer?