Friday, August 5, 2011

Tröegs Brewing Company's Hop Back Amber Ale

As the early Kevin Bacon said to the late Chris Penn in "Footloose", "HOP BACK!" Okay, he actually said "Jump Back" but you get the idea. The idea being that this is called "Hop Back Amber Ale". Clever name? Some may say. It's amber in color, so there's nothing clever about that. The "Hop Back" refers to the vessel used to transfer the wort to the fermentation containment unit that has the hops in which this flagship ale gets it's hopicity. I made that word up.

You might have remember I talked about Tröegs Brewing here when I reviewed their Wheat Ale. So if you're looking for any info on these hippies click up there. Other than that, Tröegs annually does a benefit for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, which is a foundation focusing on the treatment and cure of scarring and cyst formations on the pancreas; duh. It hosts 35 breweries, one is probably the Appalachian Brewing Company, also based out of Harrisburg. Actually, Tröegs is planning on moving their operations to Hershey, Pennsylvania in the fall of 2011, at which time the Harrisburg brewery will be decommissioned.

This is their amber ale. They use Pilsner (PILSNERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!) and Munich malts, Cascade, Williamette and Nugget Hops and Whole Leaf Nugget and Mount Hood hops in their Hop Back. This 6.0% ABV baby has an IBU of 45...45? No, 55. So I mean they use like 4 different types of hops so if you're surprised at that you must be as smart as Clay Aiken's girlfriend.

The Munich malt gives us a tinge of taste of a bitter Pale Ale. The Cascade hops add a medium bitterness and a decent amount of floral taste, whereas the majority of those flavors and bitterness spawn from the Nugget hops and the Williamette gives it a touch of spicy aftertaste. This is a surprisingly floral Amber Ale, whereas I'm used to a more caramel and sweet flavor. This holds the 55 IBU to its title. The fact they add more Nugget in their Hop Back definitely adds to the floral taste and no doubt added the Mount Hood for even more spice. This IBU is more common around a strong Pale Ale or a single hopped IPA, so this should appeal to mild IPA aficionados and the 6.0% ABV should appeal to the inner boozehound in all of us. The smell is strong in the floral department with a hint of sweet caramel. In a blind taste test I could almost mistake this for an IPA, and by "almost" I mean "easily" and by "a blind taste test" I mean "all honesty".

In review this is a decent beer, nothing I'd expect out of a Amber Ale but tasty nonetheless. This is a great beer for someone looking for a sweet IPA or someone who is looking for a very floral tasting beer. I wouldn't slam many of these after dinner because they sit a little heavy and have a rich, malty full bodied flavor. I wouldn't get it again but again, I like my IBUs below 50; but if it was above 9.0% ABV like Hoptimus Prime I can see myself knocking these back on a regular basis. I think they should just market this as an IPA and call it a night. I picked up a variety pack of 12 for $16.

Drinkability: 5/10
Taste: 5/10
Value: 6/10
Curb Appeal: 5/10

Overall: 5.3/10

Other reviews from Troegs:

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