Sebago Brewing Co.has introduced Simmer Down, a new summer session ale replacing its hefeweizen in its seasonal lineup.
Simmer Down’s origins go back to last year, when Sebago brought in three beer bloggers – Carla Companion, the Beer Babe on mainetoday.com; Ben Moore, the Active Beer Geek; and Chad Lothian of If My Coaster Could Talk – to create a beer for the beer bloggers conference held last year in Boston with a side trip to Portland.
That beer was available as Citra Saaz Down last year at the Maine Brewers Guild Festival in Portland and at Sebago’s hop-picking party in Gorham.
“To take it a step further,” Kai Adams, Sebago’s co-founder and brewmaster said in a phone interview last week, “and make it a session IPA – although we are not really branding it as that – we used some different hops.”
Simmer Down uses El Dorado, Mosaic and Ahtanum hops in a method called hop bursting, which includes adding hops late in the boil and dry hopping to create a great aroma of tropical fruit and mango.
It is a light golden color, light in body and 4.9 percent alcohol by volume.
“This is not your typical summer beer, something like a wheat beer with fruit or other flavors, but instead a good session ale,” Adams said.
I bought a six-pack of Simmer Down at Hannaford’s for $9.99. It poured a deep golden and crystal clear with a long-lasting white head. The hops aroma was fruity, but I did not specifically detect the mango that Adams mentioned. It is bone dry, no sweetness and lightly malty.
It would be a refreshing but still flavorful beer for a summer day.
The name has both Maine and tropical roots.
“It is a Maine phrase. When the kids are acting up, you tell them to simmer down,” Adams said. “And it is a really great Bob Marley song. So, here it is summer, and it’s time to simmer down and have some fun.”
With Simmer Down, Sebago has, over the past nine months, created its third new seasonal ale. Bonfire Rye came in as the new fall option last year and Bump Black Ale, available February to April 15, as a spring seasonal.
Adams said the change is an effort to stay relevant in the fast-changing Maine beer market.
“With the package rebranding we did last year, we wanted to focus on Frye’s Leap IPA and Runabout Red as our year-round beers,” Adams said. “With so many new beers it gets confusing to people. And we can have some seasonals that are fun and unique and have a broad appeal.”
He did promise that Slick Nick, the highly popular and flavorful Christmas beer, is not going anywhere.
In addition, Sebago – which opened 16 years ago – will have some specialty beers available in four-packs, including Full throttle IPA, Local Harvest and Hop Swap, that will be sold mostly at beer stores.
Those and some restaurant-only beers let the brewers have fun and show their creativity.
Adams said he is especially excited about the Hop Swap that will be coming out next month. This is an IPA in which the hops varieties are changed every year. This year’s version will include Amarillo and another new hops whose name he couldn’t remember when I was talking to him. Another reason to look forward to summer.
ALLAGASH IS SPONSORING an event called Eight Great Plates from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday as part of American Craft Beer Week.
The fundraiser for the Preble Street social service agency costs $45 to try the cooking of eight Portland restaurants paired with an Allagash beer.
Restaurants taking part are Eventide, The Thirsty Pig, Winter Hill Farm, Le Crem Chocolat, Nosh, Rosemont Market and PB & ME.
Tickets are available at allagash.com or at 800-330-5385.
MAINE BEER CO. will host its third annual Do What’s Right Night at the brewery from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at 525 U.S. Route 1 in Freeport.
The event benefits the York Center for Wildlife, and for $30 you get unlimited drafts, appetizers, sweets and a tour through the brewhouse with the owners.
Tom Atwell is a freelance writer living in Cape Elizabeth. He can be contacted at: