Welcome to the Ravens Game Day 6 Pack series, where we will try to highlight some unique/different/fun beers available right now to try and enjoy while watching the Ravens. Or Orioles, or Terps. Why you’d want to watch anything else…I don’t know?
Previous weeks posts:
Week 5 – BYE (I had a migraine…)
The week one seasonal harvest ale from Tröegs was so good, when I saw this in the store I picked it up without hesitation. Let’s take a look at the information provided by the brewery:
The first question that comes to mind when I read that is “what is a hopback?” Well here you go. Basically, it’s a process where a separate tank with a “hop filter” is used to separate out smaller hops in the hot wort (the alternative and more popular/easier method being centrifugal separation). So basically, it separates out the hop particles from the liquid, and ads more hop flavor while doing it? HOPS FTW!
This IPA gets reviewed well, with a 91 on BeerAdvocate and a 98 on RateBeer. But everyone seems to be in love with IPAs these days, and I’m a bit more picky.
I’m writing this from a hotel, so I’ll spare you the plastic cup picture. Needless to say, the appearance is pretty much like most pilsners you’ve ever had. Golden in color, clear, with a modest white head made up of homogenous, small to medium size bubbles. Nothing to get excited about in terms of appearance. However…
Even while pouring, you can’t help but smell the hops. There’s no way you’ll mistake this for a pilsner for long. I get mostly pine and floral, with a lot of sweetness in the aroma, though many others include citrus and random tropical aromas in there as well. It smells good. Too good to sit around and analyze the smell of…
The taste adds two things to the aroma in my mind: citrus flavor and bitterness. A lot of bitterness. I’m getting less of the floral hops and more of the pine and citrus. I’m getting a bit of metallic flavor. I’m tasting bitter up front, and in the aftertaste. Behind everything is a subtle grainy base similar to what you would get with a pilsner, but with a bit more sweetness mixed in. The overall flavor is lighter in every way than I expected, and I don’t see that as a bad thing. I wouldn’t be ready for a stronger presentation with this much hop flavor and bitterness (though undoubtedly, many would love it).
I am enjoying this, and I am in general enjoying IPAs more and more as I try to understand and appreciate their unique flavors. That said, this would have been past the “too funky” line for me a year ago for sure. It’s saving grace for me is the lack of “funk build-up.” I’m sure they are right when they (they being the brewer) recommend this with spicy food, as the flavor can certainly hold up too it. Still, I don’t want to drink any beverage that is so strong it dulls my taste buds to everything else, leaving me tasting only that. This doesn’t. I should mention that I am drinking this very cold, counter to the recommendation of 55 degrees. I’m sure there are more hop flavors at that temperature, and I’m sure commenters on reddit would ridicule me to no end for drinking it this cold, but whatever, wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe I’ll let one warm up a while. Maybe.
It’s hard for me to say exactly why, but I enjoyed the Hop Knife a bit more. Surprisingly, it gets the exact same ratings as this on on both sites, a 91 and a 98. Weird.
So there you have it. I’m a day late, but not a beer short. If you like IPAs, I’m pretty sure you’ll be a fan of this. And it comes in cans, which adds +1 to the ratings for just being awesome.