Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Troegs - Nugget Nectar Amber IPA Review
Brewery: Troegs (PA)
Style: Amber Ale / IPA
I think every beer drinker must have their biases: styles they get excited by, styles that they enjoy but aren't excited by, and styles that they don't care about at all. But within those biases — assuming you can maintain some objectivity, and truly enjoy most beer — there are going to be exceptionally-crafted beers and disappointing beers. Regardless of your biases, a well crafted beer from an overlooked style can be much better than an average beer from a style you might normally prefer.
I don't normally pay attention to amber ales; chances are, wherever I am, there's going to be something else that catches my eye first. It's a middle of the road style almost by definition, but Nugget Nectar takes it further and transforms this into, basically, an IPA. And the quintessential East Coast IPA, at that: hoppy, malty, but still clean and crisp and dry. In fact, it's one of the few beers I've had that actually makes the case that East Coast IPAs, as a thing, can kind of work. If I had to fill Dharma Initiative-style cans labelled just "beer" with any beer — a beer that embodied the best of hops and malt; a quintessential craft beer exactly in the middle of style and at the top of taste — it would probably be this.
Nugget Nectar hits such a perfect balance of bready, dry malts, with sharp, piney bitterness and aromatic, citrusy hops, that for once I don't mind using the word 'balanced' in a positive light. Even at 7.5% ABV, this is incredibly balanced. Which doesn't mean that the flavors aren't strong and deep; they are. But the malts aren't overly sweet or cloying — the problem some IPAs have when trying to be balanced. I love when beers can taste malty without tasting sweet, and Nugget Nectar achieves that with equally liberal doses of hops. Bitterness backs up the malts and at times takes the lead, while enough fruity American hops built upon that to give this the classic layers of flavor one expects from an IPA. Everything works together. Nothing dominates... too much. I wouldn't necessarily go out of my way to track this down, but it's a quintessential beer that does what it does very well.
Availability: Spring release. 12 ounce bottles. Apparently people stock up on this stuff, but I don't see how it could be too hard to find.