May & June 2005 Troegs HopBack Amber Ale

Dear Replicator, A few months ago (when I was low on homebrew), I went to the closest 'real' Beer store and found the most wonderful beer - Troegs Hopback Amber Ale. One taste and any hophead will fall in love. I'd love to try my own hand at a brew this full of hop flavor. I have gathered some data from Troegs' website, but would like any other insight you may have. Lastly, according to their web site, their beer is only available within a three hour drive of Harrisburg, PA. A good replicator recipe would let many more be able to enjoy this jewel of a brew. Long Time Reader and Subscriber (I have your first issue!), Scott Flieg Stafford , VA Scott, It’s impressive that you have our first issue from 1996. Homebrew was as good then as it is now, and just as much fun! On to your request. I talked to founder & brewer John Trogner about their Hopback Amber, and what makes it so popular. The use of a “hopback” is how Troegs gets the full hop flavor in their “Hopback Amber Ale”. A hopback is a container that you fill with fresh hops, and you then run hot wort right through your fresh finishing hops, then into your wort chiller or fermenter. John says that by using a hopback, the hop aroma and flavor that you extract from the hops in a hopback is not as “raw” as the hop aroma from dry hopping. And you retain more of the aroma since it is a closed system. There are many different ways to build a hopback for homebrewing. Search the BYO web site, or ask your local homebrew shop how to build a simple hopback for your homebrew system. John describes Hopback Amber as the “ultimate amber ale”, with Oktoberfest style maltiness, and a nice hop flavor of citrus, mango and spice from the hops used in the hopback. Hopback Amber is a big beer, with an alcohol content of right at 6%, which holds up nicely to the bigger hop and malt profiles of this beer. John also suggested making a yeast starter or using 2 packages of yeast to ensure that you are using a large amount of yeast. This large amount of yeast will ensure a fast fermentation, which will minimize flavors like Diacetyl, and encourage the clean flavors desired in this beer. For more information you can visit the Troegs Brewing Company web site at: or by calling 717-232-1297. Troegs “HopBack Amber Ale” 5 US. Gallons (19 L), extract with grains OG=1.063 FG=1.017 IBU’S = 50-55 SRM= 9 Alcohol 6.0% by volume Ingredients 6.6 Lbs. (3.0 kg) Briess Pilsen Light malt extract syrup 2.5 Lbs. (1.1 kg) Munich Malt (20L) 0.25 Lbs. (113 g) Crystal Malt (20L) 1.0 Ounce (28 g) Chocolate Malt 16.25 AAU Nugget hops (bittering hop, boil 60 min.) (1.25 Oz. (35 g) of 13.0% Alpha acid) 5.7 AAU Nugget hops (in Hopback) (0.5 Oz. (14 g) of 13.0% Alpha acid) 2.8 AAU Liberty hops (in Hopback) (0.25 Oz. (7 g) of 4.0% Alpha acid) 2.8 AAU Simcoe hops (in Hopback) (0.25 Oz. (7 g) of 12.0% Alpha acid) Wyeast 1056 American Ale yeast or White Labs WLP001 California Ale yeast O.75 cup (180 ml) of corn sugar for priming. Step by step instructions Steep the 3 crushed malts in 3 gallons (13.5 L) of water at 152º (67 C.) for 30 minutes. Remove grains from wort, add the malt syrup and bring to a boil. Add the Nugget bittering hops and boil for 60 minutes. For the hopback, run the hot wort through an in-line hopback type filter where you have the remaining 3 hops in a straining bag, with the outlet going into 2 gallons (9 L) of cool water in a sanitary fermenter, and top off with cool water to 5.5 gallons. (25 L) Cool the wort to 75º (24 C.), aerate the beer and pitch your yeast. Allow the beer to cool over the next few hours to 68 ° (20 C.), and hold at this temperature until the beer has finished fermenting, then bottle and enjoy! All grain option: This is a single step infusion mash. Replace the 6.6 lbs of malt syrup with 9 lbs. of Briess Pilsner malt. The rest of the grains used are the same as the extract recipe. Mash the 4 grains together at 152º (67 C.) for 60 minutes. Collect approximately 7 gallons wort (32 L) to boil for 90 minutes and have a 5.5-gallon yield (25 L). Lower the amount of the Nugget hops in the boil to 1.0 ounces (28 g) ounce to account for higher extraction ratio of a full boil. The remainder of the recipe is the same as the extract.