I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about the fact that I returned from Jamaica a week ago, and I’m not really going to talk about it, but one of my favorite responses to my blog about my return from Jamaica was in reference to what beer I had first upon returning. This isn’t that beer, but I was craving one thing when I returned home from Jamaica: hops!. Since I’m not a big fan of really sweet drinks, and I got pretty tired of Red Stripe extremely fast, it wasn’t hard at all picking my beer when we first got back to the states. We had a 5-6 hour layover in Atlanta on the way back to DC, so we went into the city from the airport to see what ATL is all about. I’m sorry if you’re from there, but I had enough bad experiences in the 3 hours I was outside of the airport to say I don’t really want to go back. None-the-less, in ATL we ended up going to a restaurant that had a really good tap selection. After perusing the list, I fell on Terrapin – Hopsecutioner. It wasn’t really the hoppiest beer I’ve had, but it hit the spot for sure. That desire for hops has only continued since getting home. Well hops and homebrew!
Troegs is a brewery that I think lies kind of low when it comes to the craft brewing industry. While a lot of people enjoy their brewery, I don’t think they normally cross a lot of people’s minds when they think of their favorite breweries. They do, however, have a few beers that people seek out for sure. Mad Elf is one of their bigger releases of the year, and this beer is right up there with it. Nugget Nectar was one of those involved in a call-a-thon at my local beer store. They posted they got it in on Facebook, but I was unable to call in on time to get it. Thankfully, I have friends who don’t mind sharing. My good friend said he wouldn’t mind spotting me a bottle for a taste of this hard to find beer.
A beer that is clearly focused on hops, I’m surprised they call this one an imperial amber. I don’t think you get a whole lot of imperial amber beers out there. As you read the other day, the very first beer I brewed was an amber, and I have a thought to try to make it imperial now, but I doubt I go about doing that very soon. Too many other interesting brews to try to make first. Anyway, This recipe actually starts with the same base as their HopBack amber ale. They, however, use a heavy hand to add nugget, warrior, and tomahawk hops. Having just brewed an amber, I was really interested to watch this beer blow mine out of the water!
The pour makes the beer look like it’s an amber ale for sure. It is somewhat lighter and clearer than the beer that I just brewed, but they are professionals. The color is a really nice amber color. I know you’re surprised by that. It has a really rich reddishness with a lot of light orange hues to it. The pour results in an ample white fluffy head. Swirling the glass gives you some really nice lacing and ample sticky residue left over as well. Holding the glass up to light, I think you could say there is some slight haziness to it, but it really is fairly clear overall. It may be because I just brewed an amber of my own, but I love the color they got out of it. I’m pretty jealous overall. You can see a lot of light carbonation in the glass as well.
The hops dominate the aroma of the beer. You can tell this is in no way your typical amber beer at all. The hops don’t really overpower the nose, but there is no mistaking their inclusion in the make up of this beer. Mixed in with the hops are some very prevalent citrusy grapefruit notes. The aroma of the grapefruit is really strong here. I definitely throw grapefruit around in a lot of hoppy beers, but I don’t think I’ve ever noticed it this much. Looking up the different hops, I think the Warrior ones may be the culprit here. There is some light sweetness that comes off the malts. Overall, there is some really big pine and floral notes in this one as well.
Just like with the aroma, the hops steal the show here. There is a really short period of malty sweetness that introduces you to the flavor profile; however, I have a feeling I wouldn’t even notice it if I wasn’t looking for it. The hops come in fast and heavy to dominate the taste. They morph from floral to pine as they move from the beginning portion of the taste towards the end of the tasting. The floral hops are pleasant, but if you aren’t into hops, you’ll be unhappy as they turn piney towards the end of the flavor profile. Just as you reach the pinnacle of the piney hops, the strong citrusy grapefruit flavor comes into to add a little break from the hops. It still ends quite piney, but you at least have the citrus to break the hops up a little bit.
The mouthfeel here is rather crisp and refreshing. The hops feel really fresh. The ample amount of carbonation assists in giving this beer that refreshing feeling. There is a point where there is some slight syrup on the end, but overall, there is very little syrup at all. The strong hop flavor throughout makes this one not for everyone, but I think hopheads will definitely enjoy it for sure. I know I do.
When I was first given this beer I thought for sure it would be titled some kind of IPA. I think I’m more happy that it isn’t. It really makes you realize the diversity of hops. Just because you create something that is really hoppy doesn’t mean you need to call it an imperial IPA. Troeg built off their already established amber ale to create a really great and hoppy beer for people like me to really enjoy. I’m sorry if you don’t like hops, but you won’t like this one. But, if you search out hoppy beers like I do, then you definitely need to find this beer.
Teacher Grade: A