Beer O’ The Moment: Tröegs Hopback Amber

Picked this one up on a recent foray through northern Jersey. Luckily, Bergen County blue laws allow the purchase of beer on Sundays. Electronics geeks are not quite as fortunate. No, seriously. No electronics can be purchased in the Garden State’s most populous county on Sundays. You can’t even by pants there for crying out loud!

Tröegs Brewing Company is a pretty well thought of brewery based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. None of their stuff makes it to Upstate New York, so I jumped at the chance to grab a sixer of the flagship, Hopback Amber. Sure, I would have loved to get my hands on some Nugget Nectar or Mad Elf, two purportedly fantastic Tröegs entries, but this stuff surely does in a pinch.

Here’s how the Brothers Trogner describe it:

Tröegs Brewery’s Flagship beer, HopBack Amber Ale derives its name from a vessel in the brewhouse called a hopback. As the ‘wort’ is being transferred from the brewhouse to fermentation it passes through the hopback vessel. Packed full of fresh whole flower hops, the wort slowly circulates through this vessel extracting the essence of the aromatic hops. This vessel adds more time and more hop character that creates a fresh, spicy taste and rich caramel note that defines this signature ale.

Deep amber in color under a huge creamy head. The aroma very apparent, bold and spicy with a slight floral character. Balanced with caramel malt, this well-rounded amber ale has an up-front floral spice that builds with a flush of sweetness

Our very own Bill, as only he can, expounds on the virtues of Hopback Amber thusly:

Appearance: Thick fluffy head. Ruby red with brown tinge. Glassy but with a haze and nice body.

Smell: Awesome combination of some dark caramel and bitter, woody hops. Hops evolve into a citrusy aroma. Really outstanding smell.

Taste: Toasted, roasted caramel malts, but with a latter bitter taste. Bold on both fronts and challenging. Both the piney hops and the malt are powerful flavors.

Mouthfeel/Overall: Thick and chewy. Creamy and viscous; really nice. Overall, a bold and challenging brew. Smooth, dark and bitter. Very good beer, all things considered.

Me? This is the third of these I’ve had over the past four or five days, and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last. At first, I thought it was solid, but no match for, say, Ithaca Beer’s über hoppy red ale, Cascazilla. I’m still leaning that way – gotta love the hopping Ithaca gives both Cascazilla and Flower Power IPA – but Hopback Amber is no pushover. It’s a pretty caramel/orange beer with a great nose. An everyday drinker with a nice, bitter finish. I’d buy this stuff pretty regularly if getting it didn’t involve entering New Jersey. Score one for the Trogner Bros.

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~ by bojangles on August 30, 2008.

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