I’ve been looking forward to this one. I picked it up on my first ever visit to Plonk Beer Store in Canberra. They’ve got a great range of Australian craft and international beers, some spectacular wines and also boasts the largest range of ciders in the country. If you ever find yourself in Canberra I implore you to check it out.
Anyway, enough of the overt and shameless plugging. The Hoppy Amber from the Red Duck range “… is what it is, a hoppy amber.” It’s a triple-hopped American style amber ale with flowers from the Centennial, Cascade and Galaxy hop varieties that presents “[s]trong hop aromas with a strong, balanced bitterness.”
On the pour the head is reasonable albeit from an incredibly sloppy pour. To smell it’s got an extremely fruity aroma of rich, overripe tropical fruits. It’s akin to a ripe and ready-to-eat papaya but with subtle grassy hints of the hops it’s derived from. Overall it’s incredibly enticing on the nose.
The head seems to be staying the distance too and licks the glass well. Dark golden in colour with a slight amber tilt, it’s got little to no bubble action occurring in the glass and appears to be very light on in the carbonation stakes.
Flavour-wise, it’s not at all sweet as predicted from the aroma. The overkill with the hops that the name implies seems to take care of most of the residual sweetness. As a result there’s not much happening on the front palate and the lack of carbonation doesn’t do this any favours. Some subtle papaya notes occur at random before reaching the dry, grassy flavours of the hops as they kick in somewhere around the middle. These flavours from the hops build and linger for a strong, bitter and almost sour finish. The subtle bursts of papaya flavour persist to the end, doing their best to penetrate the robust, tangy bitterness of the hops.
The hoppiness is good. It reminds me of the HopDog brew I had at the Canberra small brewers festival that was put through a Galaxy hops filter right before serving. It was similarly carbonation-free so my guess is they’ve done something similar with this beer to achieve that hoppy overload.
Overall it’s a bit watery though and the flavours (apart from the bitterness) are haphazard and lack intensity. I’m not entirely convinced however that papaya flavours in a beer work well; at least they don’t in this instance. I can’t help thinking a little more carbonation would work wonders for this beer and help to pull together and intensify those subtle bursts of fruitiness.
- Genre: Dark ale
- Regionality: Ballarat, VIC
- Strength: 5.6%
- Rating: 1 / 3 flavour + 1 / 2 ancillaries = 2 / 5
- Plus: It delivers on the hops factor.
- Minus: Needs a bit more carbonation to zing it into action and give it a bit more oomph.