Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale – By Lee Salawich
Today is like a High Holiday to me: No, not Rosh Hashanah, but it is the start of a new year, a new year of football! As a lifelong Steelers fan growing up in a sports oriented home, I remember many childhood Sundays spent watching the NFL on a black and white, then a color, TV, and even a few Sundays spent at Memorial Stadium watching the Steelers and Colts compete live.
With the lockout and threat of a strike, I feared this day may not even happen this year (at worst) or that there would be an abbreviated season (at best). So what does this have to do with beer? To celebrate Kick-Off Thursday at Lambeau Field, (should be coming from Heinz Field…) I sampled one of the better beers from Pennsylvania: Tröegs HopBack Amber Ale!
The neck-band states that “Each batch of HopBack Amber Ale flows through a bed of whole flower hops creating a fresh aroma, spicy taste, and rich caramel note that defines our signature beer.” Hops is the word!
HopBack pours a ruddy brown, only a tad redder than the bottle itself, with a floral, almost fruity scent. This is another Tröegs carbonation monster: bubbles rush to the top as the beer is poured and carbonation lasts the entire glass. There is a very faint white head that dissipates quickly but leaves a nice lacing to the end of the glass.
As the name suggests, this is a hop-heavy beer and more akin to an IPA than other amber ales I’ve tasted. Though hoppy, HopBack Amber is not bitter at all and is quite flavorful where fruity hints of caramel and pine are the most prominent flavors. HopBack definitely mellows as the beverage approaches room temperature.
There is a heavy mouthfeel and the tongue does feel a noticeable, almost sticky, coating that lingers long after each swallow. At 6% ABV, I wouldn’t drink more than a couple at a time, but would enjoy every moment of every sip. Four stars and bravo!
My people are fond of saying, “Next year in Jerusalem.” Tonight, I say, “Next year in Pittsburgh!”