The Hoppy Boston style of the month for May is actually a combination of styles, Maibock/Helles bock and Helles lager. I felt the need to combine the two because there were a limited number of examples for each style that I could easily obtain, especially when you factor in the beers I’ve already reviewed. Maibock and Helles bock are synonyms for the same style of beer, a paler and more heavily hopped version of the traditional German bock. Maibocks are brewed for spring festivals, particularly for the time between the last melt of snow and when plants start to bloom. It makes sense that many of the American breweries who make Maibocks brew them as spring seasonals. Troegs Brewing’s spring seasonal is Cultivator, a Helles bock brewed to celebrate the beginning of hop growing season. Troegs Cultivator is available in the spring on draft and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.
Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock pours a clear deep gold with a small white head. The scent is a mixture of bready malts and floral hops. The flavor is also very balanced. A full dose of malts contributes notes of whole grain bread, crackers and honey. This is complemented by a solid hit of Old World hops that add touches of grass, herbs and earth with just a hint of bitterness. The beer is medium bodied and very smooth but packs a little punch at 6.9% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with a very mild and balanced aftertaste. Overall Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock is a very nice version of the style, tons of flavor and very easy to drink, perfect for warm spring days (that I hope are coming soon)! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Troegs Reviews:
Troegs Nugget Nectar, Troegs Mad Elf, Troegs Troegenator, Troegs Sunshine Pils
If you pay attention to the scores and rankings on websites like Beer Advocate and Rate Beer you’ll notice a trend, the “best” beers in the world are almost all incredibly hard to find. If there is a beer that you can grab off the shelf at a local bottle shop it will probably be lower rated than a beer you need to wait in line for. Many brewers read these reviews and care about their ratings, they understand that high ratings on these sites can lead to more consumers seeking out their products. This presents an issue for established breweries who have increased capacity and distribution, they want to create buzz but their business needs higher sales volumes to cover their overhead. It doesn’t make much sense to release very small batches of your most popular beers just to improve the score on a website. One solution is seasonal releases – make a large quantity of a sought after bee,r but only release it for a couple months to help build anticipation. A great example of this is Troegs Nugget Nectar, a hopped up version of an American amber ale that is only released in the late winter. I was surprised at the amount of social media buzz that this year’s release generated. I know Nugget Nectar is a well-liked beer but didn’t realize how many people look forward to it’s release each year.
Troegs Nugget Nectar pours a light amber with a mild off-white head. The smell is a solid dose of floral and citrus scented hops. The hops also lead the flavor with notes of lemon, grapefruit and pine along with a solid hit of bitterness. This is balanced by a substantial malt body that adds touches of toast, toffee, roasted nuts and just a hint of sweetness. This beer is defined by the brilliant interplay between the rich malts and pungent hops. Nugget Nectar is medium bodied and goes down smooth while still packing a little punch at 7.5% ABV. It is really easy to see why this beer is so popular, I love hop-forward amber ales and this is one of the best. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Troegs Reviews:
Troegs Mad Elf, Troegs Troegenator, Troegs Sunshine Pils
Some holidays have very defined food and drink standards, like turkey on Thanksgiving, champagne on New Years and obscene amounts of candy on Halloween. Food on Christmas in the U.S. seems to vary from family to family. My parents usually cook up a roast beef or pork while my in-laws enjoy lasagna Christmas Eve and turkey on Christmas Day. There is also no defined beer style to best celebrate the holiday. Some breweries release fresh hopped beers from the fall harvest, while others do maltier ESBs, winter warmers, or stouts. Many Christmas beers include spices or fruits that complement the distinct flavors of the holiday season. One of the most sought-after Christmas releases is Mad Elf by Troegs Brewing Company in Pennsylvania. Mad Elf is a Belgian strong dark ale brewed with cherries and honey. I am a fan of Belgian dark beers in the winter and especially during the holidays. The malt sweetness and fruity esters from the yeast result in a bold and complex brew. The yeast flavors can also nicely complement subtle additions of fruit and spices. Mad Elf is available for a very short time on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Troegs Mad Elf pours a clear deep amber with a mild off-white head. The scent is a mixture of roasty malts and some spicy Belgian style yeast. The taste starts with the malts, significant dark fruit flavors including plum, currant and raisin, along with notes of caramel and chocolate. The yeast is also present with touches of apple, clove, pepper and pear. The cherry flavor is noticeable but subtle, and the honey adds alcohol along with some mild sweetness. At 11% ABV the alcohol is noticeable, but mild on your palate so the beer actually goes down very easy. There isn’t much hop flavor, but the hops add enough balance to keep the beer from being cloying. Troegs Mad Elf is a full bodied sipper that finishes with a touch of sweet fruit. This has emerged as a classic holiday beer for a reason, it is complex, flavorful, and perfect for a cold winter night. Pick up some before it’s gone! Merry Christmas – enjoy your food and beer, whatever it may be! Hoppy Boston score 4.5/5.
Previous Troegs Reviews:
Troegs Troegenator, Troegs Sunshine Pils
I have spent the last few months focused on drinking and reviewing malty beers, especially malty lagers. My frequent readers might notice that there is one style I haven’t touched upon, the dopplebock. I love dopplebocks, bold and malty, but still smooth and drinkable, they are one of my favorite styles of lager. Dopplebocks are an especially great selection for the late fall/early winter. The full flavor holds up well with hearty food and the higher ABV helps combat the falling temperatures. I admit, I have been holding out a little! I bought a number of dopplebocks and sampled them over the last few weeks so this week I’ll focus my beer reviews on a few of my favorites. Hoppy Boston Dopplebock Week begins with a review of Troegs Brewing Company’s highly regarded dopplebock, which is fittingly named, Troegenator (the -ator suffix is common for traditional German dopplebocks). Troegs brews this dopplebock year round using a combination of Pilsner, Munich and Chocolate malts along with Magnum and German Northern Brewer hops. It is sold on draft, in 12 and 22 oz. bottles and 16 oz. cans.
Troegs Troegenator Dopplebock pours cola brown with a moderate off-white head. The scent is a mixture of bready dark malts and a little boozy alcohol. The flavor is very malt forward, roasted grains, whole wheat toast, dark fruits like plum and raisin, and just a bit of chocolate. There is minimal hop flavor and just a bit of bitterness at the end. The beer is clean and drinkable, with a little lingering alcohol in the flavor. Troegenator drinks pretty easy for a bigger beer, but with a full 8.2% ABV it is a beer made for sipping. Overall this is a very solid version of the dopplebock style, big malt flavor combined with the drinkability that you expect from a lager. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Troegs reviews:
Troegs Sunshine Pils
When you mention the town of Hershey, PA most people immediately think of chocolate (and for good reason). While the town is a destination for chocoholics, it has also become an important stop for craft beer fans as the relatively new home of Troegs Brewing Company. Troegs was established in 1997 by brothers Chris and John Trogner. Inspired by the flavorful and inventive beers they were tasting in Philadelphia and Colorado, the brothers each decided that they wanted to start their own brewery that would mix Old World brewing traditions with American innovation. Troegs now distributes their line of year-round and seasonal beers to 8 states and Washington DC, with plans to expand distribution over the next few years. Troegs summer seasonal is Sunshine Pils, a well-hopped European pilsner. Troegs Sunshine Pils is available all summer on draft and in 12 oz. cans and bottles.
Troegs Sunshine Pils pours a hay yellow, crystal clear with a moderate white head. The smell is pretty mild, some earthy hops and a touch of malt. The hops are more noticeable in the flavor, with hints of pine, lemon and orange. This isn’t a hoppy beer, the flavors are evident but subtle. The light pilsner malts are also well represented, with notes of grainy bread and biscuits. The beer is very light and easy to drink, but still full flavored. At 4.5% ABV it is sessionable, I could easily crush a few of these while I BBQ. The finish is very clean, with a nice crisp bite at the finish. Troegs Sunshine Pils is a great example of a US craft pilsner, complex but still light bodied and drinkable. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.