Odyssey: Ego Wars: Simcoe vs Wakatu (England: IPA: 6.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy bruised apricot. Large brown to caramel touched head of loose bubbles.

Nose: Grapefruit. Blood orange. Flour. Tart. Jiff lemon. Tangerine. Very fresh.

Body: Tangerine. Vanilla. Pineapple and grapefruit. Passion-fruit. Malt toffee drink. Malt biscuits.

Finish: Blood orange. Fluffy hop character. Palma violets. Some hop bitterness. Malt biscuits. Kumquat. Hop oils.

Conclusion: Wow this is fruity – the malt part of the body pretty much gets out of the way quickly, taking with it the rougher notes of the hop bitterness, and just lets the fruit side of the hops do their thing.

Over time a kind of malt biscuit core does reveal itself – a fairly neutral weight – again letting the fruit character show itself and do the heavy lifting. So, the fruitiness then – tart orange dominates, lovely bright notes backed by an equally tart pineapple and grapefruit set of notes that give a mouth tingling air. This is the bright and beautiful core of the beer.

The neutral backing of the malt feels like both a benefit and a curse here. A benefit as it lets the hops shine, and boy do those hop shine. However it feels like if they used the malt base to add to the beer, rather than just get out the way then this may be on its way to being an all time classic. By making the malt such a neutral element it doesn’t intrude, but can’t add to the beer either, so it feels like they are missing a trick. I will admit that is a minor point, the malt does do its job which is to let the bright hops really shine, so I shouldn’t give them too much grief.

Looking at the two hops used, I think the Wakatu hop is the one that wins out in this ego war. While the beer does show some oily hop notes over time and a vegetable hoppiness that I associate with Simcoe, the Simcoe hop feels like a bit player with none of the huge alpha acid hoppiness it normally brings on show. Instead it just provides a backbone from the brighter fruit notes here. It isn’t the star, but it does its job so the Wakatu can shine.

A very good, very bright IPA that is a great hop showcase. It just feels that with a bit of malt tweaking this could be an all time great instead of just good.

Background: Last Ego wars I had was V2, they seem to have given up on numbering since then but a quick google tells me this is V5 of Ego Wars where they make a beer with two big hops going head to head. I’m a big fan of Simcoe, not tried much Wakatu, so should be interesting to see what it brings to the table. Huge fan of Odyssey beers, especially their hoppy beers, so this was another must grab from Independent Spirit. Put on Against Me! Transgender Dysphoria Blues while drinking – probably still Against Me!’s best album in my opinion.

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