Tasting Notes doubles down this week by taking a look at the Partner Ships Hoppelbock collaboration from Heavy Seas Beer (Baltimore, Maryland) and Tröegs Independent Brewing (Hershey, Pennsylvania).
Hoppelbock was created by brewers from both Heavy Seas and Tröegs Brewing as part of the Partner Ships Series, a lineup of limited releases from Heavy Seas that is “produced in collaboration with other regionally and nationally recognized brewers in the spirit of friendship, creativity, and adventure.” This 8% ABV twist on the Doppelbock style gets its malty foundation thanks to a “large percentage of locally sourced malt from Deer Creek Malthouse in Pennsylvania” and a hoppy counterbalance by way of five German hop varieties (Hallertau Mittlefrue, Opal, Perle, Magnum and Herkules hops). A limited amount of Hoppelbock was officially released in May, but 22 oz. bottles may still be hanging around out there at craft beer-friendly establishments within the Heavy Seas distribution area. Now that we covered the background on this beer, let’s pour this bomber and get familiar with Hoppelbock in some Tasting Notes!
Tasting Notes for Partner Ships Hoppelbock from Heavy Seas Beer & Tröegs Independent Brewing
Appearance: Hoppelbock pours up a burnt orange to rich caramel brown in appearance. Held to direct light, lighter brown, shimmering orange and deep garnet hues push through. This glowing body is crystal clear and shows off a lazy carbonation level meandering within. The pour got me two fingers of bubbly, off-white to light tan colored foam. Head retention is decent, eventually falling to a much tighter and chunkier half finger that has some real lasting ability. Lacing is minimal, as most wisps of foam glide quickly back down the glass to rest once again in that top cap. The look of this beer is both beautiful and imposing.
Aroma: The malty goodness you want from a Doppelbock absolutely billows from the glass. A biscuity and caramel sweetness leads the grains to have some serious size in the aromatic profile, but an assertive hop presence resides within. Spicy hops and a light dark fruit character complements the malt nuances with ease, and a floral note stands tall to declare the “Hoppel” portion of this Bock.
Taste: The balance is on point with this beer. There is a delightful dance of push and pull between the malty backbone and the hoppy accents. Like in the aroma, the malts lay down a wonderfully sweet foundation of caramel and bready qualities. The hops then come forth with some black pepper spice that shifts into graceful floral and nondescript fruity notes. Although it may sound simple to some, this harmonious flavor profile is a lot to take in and a joy to explore.
Mouthfeel: This is a medium to full bodied lager that bears a nice weight to it. On the palate, it has a velvety, silken texture that is a touch creamy as well. At 8% ABV, the alcohol has a bit of heat to it but it is more than reasonable. The carbonation level falls in the middle of the road, keeping the beer somewhat easy drinking while still allowing it to have some heft. Aftertaste is full of those wonderful malt tones and some lingering floral notes.
Final Thoughts: Just as the name suggests, Hoppelbock is a wonderfully duplicitous brew by providing its drinker with the best of both worlds: It has all the malts you expect and crave from a German Doppelbock, and the assertiveness you want from American-made hoppy brews. This beer is a constant give and take that takes its time to show each and every malty and hoppy note within. Some may want or expect a bit more in-your-face dynamics from this beer, and to them I would suggest that they slow down and truly allow the senses to drink in all aspects of this offering. In doing so, the craftsmanship employed to create this brew’s fine level of balance will not go unnoticed. Sip, savor and revel in this wonderful, American take on the Doppelbock style by two great breweries. Prost!