Friday Froth: Tröegs, Jack's and Zoë

James Gribbon

Tröegs Brewing Company made its Connecticut debut this week at The Cask Republic, The Ginger Man, Coalhouse Pizza, Craft 260, Max Burger and other locations around the state. Troeg's, from Pennsylvania, has a large portfolio of highly rated beers which are welcome additions to the universe of options currently available in the Constitution State. This week's installment of Froth starts with Troeg's Nugget Nectar, one of the darlings of the current American beer scene, and a limited release for the late winter.  

Nugget Nectar is a 7.5% imperial amber made with traditional European malts and fancy American hops. It pours the color of bourbon with an enticing meringue of head. There are very sweet, peachy hops to the nose, probably due to the Nugget and Simcoe varieties which make part of the hop bill, and a good balance of flavors to the first sip. The color is a faithful predictor of the maltiness in this one, but the fruity hop character is fully apparent early on. 

Keep drinking and you'll notice a slightly dry finish start to creep in: not acidic dryness like a wine, but just a dash of bitterness, like an English style ale. That's what your tongue picks up on as your palate and nose adjust to the more aromatic hops. That Kentish-style bitter ended up being the prime takeaway from my first pint, with just a wisp of those initially nectarine hops being apparent by the last sip. You can find out when and where to try Troeg's by checking in with their Connecticut rep right here

Jack's Abbey beers are still new-ish to our state's scene, and one of the beers making a splash is their double India pale lager, Kiwi Rising. Jack's only makes lagers, so yeah, that's IPL, not IPA. The name is a reference to the beer's all-New Zealand hop bill: Nelson, Montueka, Rakau, Southern Cross, and Pacific Jade hop varieties - over found pounds of them per barrel. It's lighter than I expected for a double, a light amber with a fairly thin head as poured, and there's a pleasant, resinous scent from all those pellets and cones.

Huge, juicy hops overpower the malts on first sip with a mosaic of pine, earth and fruity flavors. The finish is quite bitter and clings to the tongue, which was another surprise from a brewery specializing in lagers. Kiwi Rising isn't especially heavy, otherwise, and its 8% alcohol is never very apparent. 

I also tried Jack's basic Berliner, and their Lashes Lager, a seasonal bock which is malty on the nose above a dark honey color. It's hoppy in a mild, German way, but with a tinge of flavor from Columbus and Palisades hops. Jack's Abbey beers are made up in Massachusetts, and are pretty easy to find at local craft beer bars and bottle shops. 

Maine Beer Co. Zoë is named after its brewer's daughter, and a trip he took with her to the Bar Harbor Whale Museum. Little five year old Zoe loved the museum, and a portion of the proceeds from Maine Beer Zoe go to Allied Whale, the College of the Atlantic's marine mammal research group. This American amber pours a rusty red color with serious head. Browns and ambers like this can be flat walls of malts, smooth and reliable as a garage coating, but just as featureless as a result. Not here: the beer's bitterness is apparent from the aroma alone. This "hoppy hoppy amber" as the brewers call it, makes great use of those little green cones.   

They also left a small acerbic taste in, a result of the malt toasting process, and a familiar profile in darker Cascadian ales. In this beer it adds a compelling extra facet to the body, and left me feeling like Zoe would make an excellent accompaniment to a cigar. For someone who tends to find ambers pretty lame and average, I liked this one quite a lot. It definitely put a smile on my face.   

Friday Froth reminds you that no umlauts were harmed in the making of this column. See you out there.