Today I have a treat from Tröegs Brewing Company. I have their Hop Back Amber Ale. This beer is an American Amber Ale I received from a friend who brought me home a whole slew of beers from this brewery located in Harrisburg, PA. I have had all of the beers he brought back, Java Head, Scratch IIPA, Pale ALe, Troegenator Dopplebock, and Dreamweaver Wheat; and all of them were very good. I chose to review Hop Back because it is my favorite of all the beers he brought me. As an American Amber, you can expect the beer to be like an American pale ale with more body, more caramel richness, and a balance more towards malt than hops (although hop rates can be significant). OK, lets get started.
Aroma: The first thing I get in the aroma is a sweet caramel aroma that is smells simply delicious. It’s sweet and slightly biscuity. The hop aroma is orange-like with a hint of grapefruit. The combination works very well, and is very inviting. Other then the hops and malt character, there really is not a whole lot going on, but there does not need to be in this style. You are looking for a beer more malty than a regular Pale Ale, and the same amount of hop presence. This beer has exactly that. (10 points.)
Appearance: A fairly clear solid amber color with a light tan head. No haze from dry hopping. The head is long lasting. (3 points)
Flavor: The flavor matches the aroma. Up front you have sweet caramel soaked biscuits, The middle is all citrus. A soft orange and grapefruity flavor with just a bit of hop bitterness near the end to wash away the sweetness. The finish is toasted caramel and a faint bit of citrus in the end. I am in love with the flavor of this beer. While it’s not complex, it’s simplicity is the beauty. The flavors meld well together and are leaving you drink after drink wanting more. As I finish this line, the pint is almost gone already. The only ding is that I would like a bit more hop bitterness in my American Amber, but not much more than what’s here. (18 points)
Mouthfeel: Medium-full body with a very nice creamy texture to it. No astringency and no hot alcohol feel to it at all. Personally, I would want a medium mouthfeel to this beer, but now I’m just nit picking. (4 points)
Overall: OK. I need to find a clone for this recipe. The beer is very well done, and in the world where your beer needs to be over the top to get noticed, this beer stands out head and shoulders above many others. The simplicity in the flavor and aroma are welcome, not because they are simple, but because they are so well in balance with all the components of the beer. You don’t always have to hop overloaded in the American styles to be a world-class example of an American style, Pale, Amber, Brown, or IPA…..OK maybe to be an IPA, but this is not an IPA. This beer is a solid win in my opinion. (9 points)
I gave this beer a 44 out of 50 which is simply a must have beer in my eyes. This beer gets a solid A from me and a huge thumbs up!