Once again I’m buying local and loving it. Made over in the state capitol of Harrisburg midway between Steelers and Eagles country, Troeg’s is a relatively new beer to me but nonetheless a popular favorite around these parts. Judging by the label alone I figured that their Hopback would fall in that category of semi-big American ales that I like the best (see also: Hop Devil, 90 Minute IPA).
This beer hit me just right. You can see its amberish hue befitting a proper amber ale, topped by a respectable head with notes of floral malt and (duh) hops. After the head a decent coat of lacing remains. Like many of my favorite beers they certainly don’t skimp on the hops but at the same time at 6% ABV there is enough malt to take the edge off and add layers of caramel and, to my taste anyway, a hint of cassis. To me this beer seemed just un-big enough to think about having another after dinner, which was great for my enjoyment of the evening news but bad for my waistline. Fortunately I can always blame that part on my wife’s French cooking. BAers strongly approve.
Coming later tonight: two good reasons to visit Chambly. Three if you count being snubbed by Quebecois!
The best laid plans of mice and men…I learned tonight that Unibroue’s excellent Blanche de Chambly is not available in the US so I headed over to the Sharp Edge and discovered Southern Tier’s entry in the imperial IPA wars, Unearthly. Wow. The first sign of trouble is the deep, dark cream head which simply has no right sitting on top of an 11% ABV beer. Underneath you find an amber, almost mahogany liquid giving off a nose of HOPS. This beer tastes big, almost impossibly big. Southern Tier did not screw around when it came to staking their place in the big-hops arms race, but they somehow squash in enough leftover malt to make the beer very near to balanced. Think about that, they stuff enough malt in this beer to reach 11% ABV naturally and then throw in enough hops to easily reach the top five that this reviewer has ever tried and the residual sugar still manages to hold its own in the flavor profile. I would love to be their barley vendor.
Southern Tier stops well short of overmalting like the crazy insane people at Dogfish Head do it, but rather strike a decent balance that reflects the ideal mix of an American ale, only more so to the nth degree. When would you have something like this? Forget about a meal, unless you plan on chasing habanero peppers with Thai fish sauce. A session? Laughable. Even one is almost too much. The wife and I agreed that pretty much the only place for this beer is after dinner when you would usually uncork a neat tumbler of Laphroaig, Highland Park or Talisker. If you don’t know what I’m talking about then you probably won’t like the beer.
BAers approve, of course.