Sebago Brewing threw me a curveball with Idaho 7

Sebago Brewing Company reached out to me recently, I’m pretty certain they’ve figured out that I like hoppy beers and they asked me to check out Idaho 7, a single hop IPA featuring Idaho 7, an experimental hop from a breeding program at Jackson Hop in Southern Idaho. Idaho 7 went on tap recently at Nocturnem Draft Haus alongside a collaboration brew they did with Sebago – a wonderful, hoppy Saison that was excellent – but Idaho 7 put the brakes on for me.

I swirled and sniffed, the aroma was sweet and heavy with tropical fruit, which isn’t really a show stopper these days, so I took a sip, set the glass down.

Wow,  What is this hop? what does it remind me of? what am I tasting?

Take another sniff, another sip and set the glass down again. I taste Smarties, those round hard candies that come in a sleeve, not sure what I was expecting but it wasn’t that. Sebago describes the aroma and flavor of Idaho 7 as “Marmalade, Tropical Fruit and Watermelon Candy” which I can see, I think it’ll still be the Smartie hop to me though.

At first I wasn’t sure what I thought of this beer or this new hop, it lends or at least accentuates a candy like sweetness in the beer that I generally dislike in an IPA, I do however dig that tropical fruit aroma and always did love smarties, it took a few sips, half the beer actually before I realized Idaho 7 had grown on me.

It’s been a few days and I’m still thinking about Idaho 7, that experimental hop was an attention grabber, I don’t usually get hung up like that on any particular hop variety, the only other one is El Dorado and that’s because I hate the flavor, I’m not sold on Idaho 7 being the polar opposite of El Dorado for me, I’m not sure I love it, it just stands out from the pack. Idaho 7, to my knowledge is a Sebago Brewpub only beer, they just happened to bring it along to Nocturnem, I’m not sure how long it’ll be around for, but the good news is Sebago included Idaho 7 in the newest iteration of Hop Swap.IMG_2112

Hop Swap is aptly named, the base beer stays the same and the hop schedule changes, or swaps,  this time out it’s a blend of Idaho 7, Mosaic and Simcoe. I had a chance to try Hop Swap and it doesn’t display the hop characteristic of Idaho 7 in full force due to the blend and I doubt their hopping schedule matched up to the single hop beer but you still get that big tropical fruit almost jam or marmalade-like aroma up front, the sweetness is dialed back but a little bit of that hard candy like flavor still lingers in the aftertaste.

I like that Sebago is trying out new hop varieties and that they can put a beer on tap that makes me stop and sip and think about the flavors, I’m not the homebrewer I used to be but a hop like this makes me wonder how it could be used in different batches of beer.

So now I want to know, what hop varieties out there stop you in your tracks? If a brewer lists their hops on the can which ones can’t you resist? If you are a homebrewer what are the hop varieties that speak to you, that you find yourself incorporating into your brews the most often?  Tell me in the comments below.



Chad Lothian

About Chad Lothian

Chad Lothian lives in Old Town, Maine. He is a craft beer enthusiast and homebrewer. Chad has travelled to brewpubs, breweries and brewfests all over New England.