Tröegs “HopBack Amber Ale” Review (#143)

Tröegs "HopBack Amber Ale"

“HopBack Amber Ale”
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

From The Brewery

Tröegs Brewery’s Flagship beer, HopBack Amber Ale derives its name from a vessel in the brewhouse called a hopback. As the ‘wort’ is being transferred from the brewhouse to fermentation it passes through the hopback vessel. Packed full of fresh whole flower hops, the wort slowly circulates through this vessel extracting the essence of the aromatic hops. This vessel adds more time and more hop character that creates a fresh, spicy taste and rich caramel note that defines this signature ale

ABV: 6%
IBUs: 55
Color (SRM): Amber
Availability: Year Round
Malts: Pilsner, Munich
Hops: Cascade, Williamette, Nugget
HopBack Hops: Whole Leaf Nugget, Mt Hood
Yeast: Ale


Appearance: This brew pours a glowing amber with a half inch lacy white head. It truly is an amber beer, not just in the name.

Smell: Floral hops with a sweet malt lingering – very tea like.

Taste: A full flavored brew: starts off with a huge punch of floral hops, followed by a wave of caramel malt sweetness, finishing with more hops – more earthy with a bit of spice mixed with the lingering malt. Complex; the yeast seems nicely subtle.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied and mouth coating sweetness.

Drinkability: High – very approachable even for a full flavored beer.

Notes: Tröegs comes through again! This beer is very complex and delicious. What I love about American Amber Ales is that they can be malt forward, but can still pack a hell of a hop punch.

Sierra Nevada “Estate Homegrown Ale” Review (#142)

Sierra Nevada "Estate Homegrown Ale"


Sierra Nevada
“Estate Homegrown Ale”
Chico, CA

From The Brewery

Here in the sun-drenched fields of California’s North Valley, the black soil is rich with promise.
In winter, rows of barley seed are laid in the freshly tilled dirt. In spring, trellises are set for hops.
From our fields comes a remarkable homegrown ale, made with organic wet hops and barley grown at our brewery here in Chico and one of the few estate-made ales produced anywhere in the world!
This Estate Ale is rich with the flavors of the valley—featuring hops with earthy, grapefruit-like flavors and layered spicy aromas and barley with mild sweetness and smooth, toasted flavors. Together, these crops grow alongside the brewery to make a truly unique brew.



Appearance: The beer pours to a copper brown with a thick, long lasting eggshell white head.

Smell: Distinctive west coast citrus hoppiness.  Sweet, mild and hoppy.

Taste:Hops up front: citrus and pine – lots of orange and lemon peel – with a sweet and unique malt sweetness. Very interesting and complex. It has an earthy, almost peat funk to it; not a bad thing, just different. Very big, bold, and balanced – lots of hops, but the finish is a lingering caramel sweetness with floral orange hops in the background.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied – I usually would like it a little fuller and creamier, but I think the thinner beer leads to increased drinkability.

Drinkability: Large – the glasses were not full for long.

Notes: I very unique and interesting beer, not only in flavor profile, but also due to the brewery growing all of the ingredients used on site. It is an amazing feat, and very well executed. I would love to see more Estate beers from not only Sierra Nevada, but other breweries as well.

Victory Brewing Co. “Yakima Twilight Black IPA” Review (#140)

Victory Brewing Co. "Yakima Twilight Black IPA"

Victory Brewing Co.
“Yakima Twilight Black IPA”
Downingtown, Pennsylvania

From The Brewery

The tenacious grip of big, juicy hop aroma and character slides smoothly into rich, dark malts. This heavyweight battle between fresh, Yakima Valley hops and dark, roasted malts is resolved harmoniously as the flavors merge to deliver complex satisfaction with a warming edge. Bask in the “glory”­ of the bright and brassy hops!

Malts: Imported, German malts
Hops: Four whole flower Yakima Valley hops


Appearance: It pours to a dark mahogany brown to black with a thick khaki head that dissipates to a thinner head with low to medium lacing.

Smell: Cocoa covered oranges with a bit of hoppy spice with a nice bit of yeast and heat.

Taste: A fine balance between a nice healthy roast and a whole lot of hops that cover many layers; citrus and floral/herbal with a heat and yeast finish with that building up over the drink. I really enjoy Indian Brown Ales, so this is a version or style with more roast, but never burnt.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied IPA with a long lingering drying orange zest hops.

Drinkability: High

Notes: A very good beer. This is an interesting new style of beer. Well, more of a new approach and naming to a style called different things through out history. More to come on that later. A really great beer that is a great representation of Pennsylvania craft beer.

Corsendonk “Angus – Abbey Pale Ale” Review (#139)

“Abbey Pale Ale”
BelgiumOud-Turnhout, Belgium

From The Brewery



Appearance: It poured a glowing 18 karat gold with huge chunky white head that lasted forever and left huge lacing.

Smell:Big yeast and sweet malt with hints of apple and pear.

Taste: Potent malt with a variety of different sweetness – Belgian candi sugar and yeast. Leaves an awesome, long lingering sweetness.

Mouthfeel: The head just makes it perfectly creamy and smooth with a heavy coating.

Drinkability: Big for its size 7.5%

Notes: A very, very tasty and sweet, but never cloying beer.

Horseheads Brewing “Sullivan’s Stout” Review (#138)

Horseheads Brewing "Sullivan's Stout"


Horseheads Brewing
“Sullivan’s Stout”
Horseheads, New York

From The Brewery

This style of beer is classified as an American Stout. The focus is on the roasted malts used during the brewing process. Our version uses several of these dark and flavorful malts, thus the color is dark and dense and the taste is robust and hearty.



Appearance: A very very dark brown to black with a thin and solid tan head. Opaque and medium viscosity. It left sporadic thin lacing.

Smell: A bit earthy with cocoa and a little bit of fresh ground coffee.

Taste: Full flavored – roasted malt forward with residual sweetness. Semi sweet chocolate with a lingering lactose sweetness. Occasionally hints of vanilla would pop through as would a bit of heat/esters. Overall, chocolate and coffee all over with a long lasting finish.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, creamy, medium weight. Not to dry on the finish, quite coating.

Drinkability: Medium. A little heavy for a regular stout, but very enjoyable.

Notes: A very solid, heavier stout – I could only imagine what an imperial version would be like. I dig this beer; my first from this local brewery and I look forward to trying their IPA.

Sierra Nevada “Hoptimum Imperial IPA” Review (#137)

Sierra Nevada "Hoptimium Imperial IPA"


Sierra Nevada
“Hoptimium Imperial IPA”
Chico, CA

From The Brewery

A group of hop-heads and publicans challenged our Beer Camp brewers to push the extremes of whole-cone hop brewing. The result is this: a 100 IBU, whole-cone hurricane of flavor. Simply put —Hoptimum: the biggest whole-cone IPA we have ever produced. Aggressively hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed with our exclusive new hop varieties for ultra-intense flavors and aromas.
Resinous “new-school” and exclusive hop varieties carry the bold and aromatic nose. The flavor follows the aroma with layers of aggressive hoppiness, featuring notes of grapefruit rind, rose, lilac, cedar, and tropical fruit—all culminating in a dry and lasting finish

ABV: 10.4%
IBUs: 100
Malts: Two-row Pale, Golden Promise, Munich & Wheat
Bittering Hops: German Magnum
Aroma Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Dry Hops: Simcoe & New Proprietary Variety
Torpedo Hops: Citra & Chinook
Yeast: Ale
Original Gravity: 22.8 Plato
Final Gravity: 4.5 Plato


Appearance: It pours a beautiful glowing copper orange with a solid, half inch thick off white head, that is easily brought back, and left massive lacing.

Smell: HOPS! Huge citrus orange and grapefruit hops on the nose. Very pungent with a bit of sweet toasty malt on the back end.

Taste: Complex hops all over the place – pineapple with grapefruit, tangerines, and orange zest – with mild malt in the middle, with a yeast ester/heat finish. It leaves a very citrus forward sweet finish that lasts forever.  It is a big beer – 10.4% – which comes forward with warming. Very, very tasty and west coast.

Mouthfeel: Lower full bodied, creamy across the palate, with a sweet lingering finish.

Drinkability: High – the finishing flavor is awesome and makes you want more and more.

Notes: A very, very citrus forward, complex IIPA. This is not an entry level beer. I hope they make this one at least annually. Quite different from their Torpedo Extra IPA, which I also highly recommend (review found here).