Posted by dave
Wychwood Brewing (hit the link for the “story” of the Hobgoblin name) have themselves a real gem with this somewhat oddly-named ale. A healthy 5.2% ABV doesn’t hurt the experience, but it’s the flavor that makes this a curious, yet desirable brew.
First things first – it’s an ale, and we here at The Bar Project likes us an ale any day of the week. Ales tend to be a bit hoppier and fuller in flavor. On the downside – that is, to anyone wanting to drink about 15 beers at a single sitting, they also tend to be a bit heavier.
This ale is actually relatively light, and even a bit fruity. Normally, I’d be totally turned off by this. I’m of the recently dedicated Man Law “Don’t Fruit The Beer“. But it’s so – hidden – that it’s really not something of concern. It flavors the beer very subtly, so I won’t take off points for it.
You’ve also gotta love the fact that Hobgoblin comes in a full pint plus an extra 0.9 oz for good luck – none of this measly 12 oz per serving nonsense. If you give the Brits nothing else, give them that they understand beer should come in pints, not anemic 12 oz servings.
I’ll try to straighten out this post that so far is completely all over the place. Flavor wise, you’ve got a standard ale hop strength – mild, but noticeable. It’s slightly fruity, but I have no idea what fruit it is I’m tasting, but there is a sweet side to this beer undoubtedly.
The more-than-pint-sized serving (which, as an expression, is usually is a derogatory, but here is meant as a compliment) is quite appreciated. The color is reddish brown and unimpressive, and the head doesn’t have much lasting power, but these are trivial things that hardly detract from the beer.
Hmm… look at that. As usual, I’m drinking currently what I’m reviewing, and I’ve noticed something that you don’t see much in beers these days – sediment. It’s not a bad thing – in fact, it’s a byproduct of the brewing process, so this simply means that Hobgoblin isn’t filtered millions of times. That could in fact help add to the flavor, so I’ll just let it pass.
As I noted above, this review is all over the place, so I’ll just end it and put it out of its misery. Hobgoblin Strong Dark Ale is good. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to find it, but it’s a solid English ale, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to experience it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s still more to drink. 500 ml is just about 41% more beer than a normal 12 oz bottle, and I’m feeling like 41% more of an ale fan tonight.
Posted by dave
So I’m a hops fan – at this point in time it’s not a secret. I’m also more usually a fan of a good ale over a beer. Although to the common man they’re both pretty much the same thing, I find myself usually smiling a bit more at a well-made ale.
But back to the hops, I’m in a small store in Philly checking out some crazy brews, and the Troegs (sorry, that’s Trӧegs with the funny “ӧ”) not only claims to be hoppy, but has a picture of a hops plant right there on the label. It’s a bold statement – because if it’s not hoppy – well… that’s just false advertising.
Having no reason to doubt the sincerity of the brewers, I picked up one. Now, sipping on this brew, I wish I had gotten more. Many, many more.
I admit that at first I assumed – no, I hoped – it would kick of hops like Victory’s HopDevil (also an ale) or River Horse’s Hop Devil (pale ale). But now that this ale and I have been introduced, I’m oddly happy to report that the hops is almost – reserved.
Ok, so this is called an Amber Ale, and man is it pretty. It’s like pouring liquid apricot, and it’s even got a slightly amber head. The head lasts for a good time, although after a minute or two of admiration I briefly looked away at the Miami-Steelers game, and it was almost instantly gone.
Undeterred, I took my first sip, and was confused. My palette was infused with taste, and yet the hops didn’t muscle out the other flavors in the ale – it was hardly a one-hop show.
Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is like having a serving of fruit – it’s perhaps the sweetest ale we’ve reviewed to date. While the hops definitely makes an entrance, it’s the sweetness of this ale that stays with you for a while – and that ain’t a bad thing.
Back to the hops though – um, YUM. While still being too hoppy for anyone that doesn’t consider themselves a drinker that lives for hops, I can’t overstate the subdued nature of the hops flavor. It’s soft yet strong, quiet yet unquestionably present.
That’s really all I can say about the flavor. It’s hardly complex – and that’s it’s charm. Rather it’s a sweet, cool, refreshing amber that makes up for its sugary flavor with a healthy helping of soft hops. The woody flavor of the hops is ever present, and it’s like eating the apricot – and the branch it grew on – at the same time.
This is a great hop-infused beer/ale. If you’re a hops fan, Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is your new champaigne. It’s for anyone with a tongue for hops, but it’s maturity in flavor makes this an ale for the palette looking for something… well… more mature. And as some of us get older, we’re looking for our beer to grow up with us – and Trӧegs HopBack Amber Ale is right in step.
Posted by sean
With a brewing history dating from the Middle Ages and born from monastic traditions, it’s hard to ignore Belgium’s influence on the brewing community – after all, how can you argue with experience and the church?
When looking to imports, Belgian beers – and particularly Belgian Ales – are some of the best and most widely available to be had. And selection – wow! – Belgian breweries produce over 500 standard varieties (not including again as many specialty brews and one-offs) – all from a country smaller than the state of Maryland with about twice as many residents (reportedly all avid beer drinkers!).
So if you just can’t stomach the idea of trying to force down another of what passes for beer from the largest American breweries and you’re in a mood for a beer with great flavor – read on…
Posted by dave
I’m walking down Pine street in Philadelphia, and happen upon this small deli that sells a whole international selection of beers. Bonus – they have a “make your own six pack” policy on all these international beers, so at least a few reviews will your way be coming.
Not going to spend a lot of time on this ale, but it deserves a taste should you happen upon it. It’s not cheap – a single 11.2 oz bottle cost a whopping $2.50, but it’s certainly worth having at least one for your own beer edification. Nothing wrong with being able to say “oh, Hitachino Nest Beer’s Japanese Classic Ale? Of course I’ve had it. Where have you been?”