Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber


Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber

Amber Ale / Brooklyn NA / <0.5%

Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber is a hoppy lager-style brew with an unexpected zesty aroma and pleasantly bitter finish. The beer gets its bready sweetness from a blend of specialty malts, and its surprising nose from dry-hopping with citrus-forward hops--a technique rarely used in non-alcoholic brewing.

In my experience, there are typically two major strategies that craft breweries tend to stick to. This seems especially true when it comes to those who are focused on creating non-alcoholic beer. There is one group that likes to experiment and releases dozens of styles to see what sticks. Some of these offerings fall flat, but hopefully a few of them catch on. Other breweries stick to the classics and do their best to perfect them. They usually craft a handful of flagship beers that come in traditional styles, such as IPAs, golden ales, and maybe a stout or porter. But occasionally a beer maker will pop up who doesn’t conform to either of these categories.

Brooklyn Brewery has roots dating back to the late 1800’s. Unlike many of the breweries that you find in the world of NA beer, most of their efforts are actually focused on creating a wide range of traditional alcoholic brews. They have only been dabbling in non-alcoholics for a few years now, which in and of itself makes them somewhat unique in the industry. And while one of their two offerings is a standard IPA, I find it very interesting that the other is something they call a Hoppy Amber. I am a big fan of both hops and ambers, so I look forward to getting started with this Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber review and seeing exactly what it has in store. Continue reading, and we’ll find out together.

Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber Review

Brooklyn Brewery likes to be very artistically creative with their beer labels, and their NA offerings are no exception to this. Apparently going along with the name Special Effects, both of these beers have a trippy, psychedelic spiraling to their label design. The Hoppy Amber art is blue and gold and definitely catches your eye on the shelf.

Poured into a glass, this beer is rather appealing as well. The liquid appears a nice bright amber color, not the darker shade that many beers of this ilk seem to be lately. It is topped by a nice foamy head that would like right at home alongside traditional alcoholic versions. It shows some decent retention and a little bit of lacing around the rim.

On the nose, it becomes apparent for the first time why this is called a Hoppy Amber. There is a very nice amount of hop aroma that isn’t typically found in a brew that looks like this one does. There is a bit of malt present but perhaps not as much as I would have liked. I also sense some of the grassy wort that is so commonly found in these NA beers. I’m hoping that doesn’t jump to the forefront later on.

Without tasting, it seems like this beer at the very minimum lives up to its classification. It is a beautiful amber color, and there are plenty of hops on the nose. But how much does that all mean? The only way to truly answer the question, “Is Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber good?” is by digging in for the first swig.

Is Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber Good?

When I sampled the Brooklyn Brewing’s other NA offering, the IPA, what struck me most was simply how solid every aspect of the beer was. Nothing jumped out as particularly remarkable, but it was clearly made by people who knew what they were doing and how to play it relatively safe. A Hoppy Amber sounded more experimental and exciting.

But what still sticks out immediately upon tasting is that nothing really…sticks out. It is a high-quality, drinkable, refreshing Amber that has clearly been crafted by experts. In some ways, it is a great attribute to have nothing present in your beer that makes drinkers recoil in shock. It means no one will find it offensive or pour it down the drain. But in an industry this replete with options, you also want to be memorable in one way or another.

What might be most memorable about this beer is its classification, which doesn’t exactly hold up as it appeared it would from the nose. There is a beautiful amber flavor, but I find it to be less tinged with hops and more influence by the grassy wort. Not in a bad way. It is quite tasty. And there is some hop presence, just not so much as to call it “hoppy” in my opinion.

There is a good amount of caramel malt in there, but it doesn’t come across as sweetness, which is good as far as I’m concerned. The finish is very clean, if not crisp, with that malt fading pleasantly down the back of the mouth.

The body is medium-light, which is essentially what I expect from any NA beer at this point. The mouthfeel is quite smooth despite the nice malt and grass qualities. This brew gives you the rich qualities of a moderately heavy traditional beer, but the lack of booze leaves it eminently drinkable.

My final Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber rating will be influenced by all of these factors. The quality of this beer ensures that it will score highly, but the only way to find out how highly

Brooklyn Special Effects Hoppy Amber Rating

I ended up giving the Special Effects IPA a pretty high grade because as I sat with it and kept enjoying what it had to offer, I realized more and more how solid every aspect was compared to most of the other NA beers that I have sampled. A similar phenomenon happened with this Hoppy Amber. While there is nothing particularly remarkable upon first tasting, after a little while you realize how rare it is to find a non-alcoholic brew that does this many elements well and truly mimics a traditional alcoholic version to a believable degree.

So while at first I wasn’t sure that this beer would end up near the top of my scale, the fact of the matter is it is just as solid as their IPA and actually has a little bit more going for it in terms of flavor profile and complexity. For these reasons, I feel obligated to wrap up this Brooklyn Special Effects by giving it a full 5 out of 5 stars. It will not blow your mind in any unique way. It simply tastes like a really good beer.


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