Archive for the 'Bock' category
Next up in this season’s Longshot offering is what I understand to be the overall winner this year – a Traditional Bock.
This one pours a very deep brown color, but very clear. It’s even darker than most bocks I’m familiar with, with a thick caramel head that eventually peters out to nothing. The aroma here is heavy on the caramel, with hints of rich dark malts. The flavor is much the same. The mouthfeel of this is super rich and silky, carrying heavy toffee flavors with some dark fruit reminiscent of dark cherry or deep red grapes. This all co-mingles to provide a sweetness that is both fruity and very rich, courtesy of those dark malts. The beer is really quite decadent, even for a bock, but actually washes fairly clean, giving it a lightness that wouldn’t be indicated by the flavor. In addition, it has an interesting tart bite about the middle of the tongue that tastes as though it may be a yeast contribution. It isn’t very pungent, but just enough to give the beer some kick. All in all, it’s a totally inoffensive beer – I can’t imagine someone NOT liking this. In addition, it’s just darn tasty, and more of a standout in balance and flavor profile than most bocks I’ve put in my mouth. Very nice, indeed.
Last Wednesday Ben and I went to pub quiz at one of our favorite local watering holes, only to find that we stumbled into a “coming out” celebration of sorts for Gordon Biersch Brewery. A few of their beers have recently become available in the RDU airport and apparently Wednesday commemorated the beginning of availability in NC bars and retail stores. I would classify this event as fairly significant as the owner and brewmaster himself, Dan Gordon, was in house rubbing elbows with the masses. Ben and I even had a little personal face time with Dan. He seemed to be a super nice guy who loves to make beer and strives to do it well. He told us he’d been brewing for over 25 years so I guess he’s doing something right. Anyway, he and his staff circulated thorughout the bar and promoted one of their seasonal beers, the Winter Bock.
There’s nothing spectacular about the appearance or smell for that matter. It’s amberish in color and has no distinctive smell. There is a subtle grapeness with an ironish finish but your nostrils have to work hard to pick out this aroma. I had 3 glasses of this beer over the course of the night soI had plenty of time to decipher flavors and nuances but in my humble opinion this beer is rather nondescript, especially for its size (7+% abv). A grape sweetness attacks the palate, almost in excess. There is also a yeasty characteristic that thickens the mouthfeel and accentuates the overpowering sweetness. This flavor wasn’t as noticable and abrasive at first, in fact I initially thought this could be a good session beer during these colder winter months. However, I found that by the middle of the second glass this beer was sitting heavy in my stomach. The good thing is it has a very clean finish so it doesn’t create the same heaviness in the mouth. This is a decent beer, nothing special but fairly refreshing when enjoyed in moderation.
I won’t get on my soapbox like I did in response to Ben’s Big Boss post but I will say while my impressions of Dan Gordon and his beer were relatively favorable, I cannot say the same for some of the promoters he had in attendance the other night. A number of them were obnoxious and/or drunk and in my mind were terribly unprofessional. My hope is that this was an isolated incident and these folks were just a little overly excited about there new expansion. If not I hope Mr. Gordon re-evaluates who he brings to these events and who he choses to represent his product because if people are like me (and if they like and respect good beer, I feel safe to assume they are) these people will be just as turned off and give serious consideration to whether they want to patronize Gordon Biersch products.
Welp, folks, it’s finally the last of the Schell sampler – ending up with a bang with the Caramel Bock. Honestly, I used to love these kinds of beers – the rich, decadent dark brews. However, I’ve drifted away from them recently. I think that, too often, a barrage of rich flavors can hide the true quality (or lack thereof) of a beer. With enough make-up, you can make any old street hag look good, you know? Okay, bad metaphor. But, seriously, I think there are a lot of bad beers out there that only survive because they have enough caramel or brown sugar or strawberry to hide their bad base. BUT, I’ma try not to let that affect my impression of the Caramel Bock – I promise!
This beer, as expected, is super dark. In addition, it is a bit cloudy and has a thin caramel colored head. The aroma of this isn’t as pungent as expected. However, what you CAN smell is a good dose of caramel and not much else. In the mouth, this is about what you expect. Obviously, there is a ton of caramel. An odd twist is an additional sweetness that is almost sweet-cream like, giving this a flavor that is akin to those caramel cream candies. And, frankly, it’s really good. This beer loses most of it’s beerness behind the sweet flavors, leaving only a dark malt flavor that lends a bit of a rootsy flavor. However, this rootsy bitterness combined with the caramel cream flavor gives us a pretty tasty beer. I do think that this is a flavor overkill, but it’s a good flavor, so it’s hard to argue with. This is very much a desert beer, nice to enjoy as an after dinner treat. I can’t imagine buying a six-pack of this, because you really won’t want more than one every few days. However, for what it is, it’s pretty tasty – might be a nice idea to go ahead and ‘take it to the limit’ with an Imperial version in a larger bomber bottle…
Seems like Schell loves to make beers of specific and unorthodox genres. Yesterday we had the Vienna lager – today we have the Maibock. But, I don’t mind. I love the blondes (ales, not women – more of a brunette guy, myself), and this can otherwise be considered a blonde doppelbock.
The pour of this is a bright golden with a bright white head. Seems light and clear in all respects. The aroma has a bit of light malts and even a bit of citrus to it. Smells light and airy while still pretty rich. In the mouth, this beer is pretty rich, considering it’s tint. There is a lot of malt here, along with a surprising dose of hop. Honestly, it’s pretty big doses of both, which is almost an overload. But, for a Maibock, this is pretty typical. On the slighter side in the beer is a citrus tint and a thick sourness that sticks to the back of the throat. This is certainly a big beer, especially considering how light it looks in the glass. The mouthfeel is full, there is a lot of sweet and a lot of bitter. In addition, we can taste some citrusy flavors and a fairly inexplicable sourness. The aftertaste of this beer leaves me a bit confused and with a syrupy aftertaste that keeps me confused for some time. I like the ‘bigness’ of this beer, but honestly there is a bit too much going on here for my taste…
And…. Here’s the second of the latest Longshot batch. This one is a weizenbock – an interesting genre that’ll appeal to those of you who are into dark beers but light wheaty flavors, or those of you who really dig a good dunkelweizen but might want something with a little more kick.
This one pours a very murky dark brown with a dense caramel head. Frankly, this beer looks downright dirty! It’s obviously unfiltered and thick with debris, which will be good or bad depending on what you’re into. The aroma of this is very interesting. Surprisingly, the aroma of this beer is exceedingly fruity – I’m smelling a bunch of dark grape along with a bit of clove. It also has that unique ‘wheaty’ aroma that I really enjoy. This beer is a regular party in your mouth. It’s quite big and rich, with a full mouthfeel that sticks to the tongue. However, the flavor isn’t overwhelmingly thick. Rather, it seems like a bunch of fleeting light flavors hitting you with a steady barrage. It’s like, instead of a shark, this is a team of tiny barracudas nibbling at your tongue. Each one seems unassuming enough but, altogether, they make for a vicious attack. Except, while I don’t think barracudas usually cause a pleasant sensation, this beer surely does. The flavors here take a lot from a fruity dubbel or a dunkelweizen. It is light and crisp, like a good wheat beer. But, the mouthfeel is thick and full of spice and dark fruit, like a darker Belgian Ale. In fact, there are a lot of flavors here that might be considered ‘girly’ all on their own, but they combine into one mother of a beer. And, the aftertaste has an interesting tangy quality that makes you pucker up just a bit. Okay, I know I’m all over the place with this review, but what I’m getting at is this is a REALLY good beer. In fact, this is one of the best beers I’ve had in the past several months. Fruity and rich, light but substantial. So, if nothing else, go out and seek it out and try it for yourself – let me know what you think…
This is a beer that, frankly, I didn’t know existed. But, it just appeared on NC shelves recently, so I had to pick it up and see what it was all about. I’m sure you all either know about or have had the Anchor Steam beer which is, by all accounts, a major beer in the craft beer revolution. On top of that, it’s a good beer. So, while I never looked for anything else from Anchor, I was happy to see this.
The beer pours an extremely dark brown that only shows any light right around the edges of the glass. The head is fairly thin, but substantial, and carries a light caramel color down the glass. The aroma of this Bock is fairly big and nutty. There’s also a light sweetness that gives this beer, oddly enough, a slight peanut buttery aroma. In the mouth, this beer is pretty impressive. Again, I have to cite a peanut butter similarity here. It starts lightly sweet, but is quickly hit with a nutty blast around the middle of the tongue that carries all the way through the mouth. There isn’t a strong bitterness here, but I notice my mouth reacting as though there were. In other words, there’s a slight ‘pucker-factor’ around the middle of the mouth as the nutty flavor presents itself. It seems as though my mouth is slightly ahead of my tastebuds as the bitterness does cause me pucker a bit even though the bitterness is constantly moderated by the malty sweetness. The aftertaste is about the same, malty and nutty, and sticks around for 10-15 seconds before falling out. So, basically, this is a good beer. It isn’t simple, per se, but it is consistent. After that nutty blast at the middle of the mouth, the beer never really changes again. However, that consistent flavor is a good one, and an interesting combination of bitter and sweet that is never overbearing on any account. I’d say that Anchor did a strong job with the genre, and I love the goat on the label…
Moving on down the line, we have a High Falls brew that sounds pretty interesting. I recall having maybe 1 or 2 other pale bocks in the past, but this is, in no way, a common brew. I’d be interested to know why High Falls decided on this particular genre – seems an odd choice for a brewer that, with the exception of their honey brown, seems to stick to common varieties. Regardless, I’m excited about it, and I intend to drink it.
This beer pours a very clear dark golden, and smells of big light malts. In the mouth, this beer is very malty. This pile of malt gives a tasty sweet-biscuity flavor with a full mouthfeel. In fact, for a light lager, this beer has the mouthfeel of a big dark ale, and it’s a little surprising. The first sensation is actually slightly bitter with a nutty flavor. However, it seems that the beer’s sweetness increases exponentially as the beer moves through the mouth. By the back of the tongue, the sweet-bread flavor has reached terminal velocity. In the aftertaste, this sweetness sticks around and hangs out in the back of the throat for a long while. I have to say that this is the most interesting beer yet from this variety pack. It looks light and airy, but tastes big and malty. Also, for a domestic beer in a 12-pack, this beer is much more impressive than you expect. My hat’s off to High Falls for this gem.
Now, I suppose this could be considered a legitimate Bock beer, although the label indicates that the naming has to do with the fact that “leute” means “joy” in Flemish and “bok” is the “he-goat” – thus the combination apparently builds to a dark, full-bodied, living ale. Unfortunately, I’m a bit behind on my definition of a Bock. However, by flavor, I’d say that this could pass for an exceptionally wild-tasting Bock in both flavor and color. So, I’ll review it as such – someone correct me if I’m wrong!
This beer pours a lovely dark-reddish brown that is obviously unfiltered. There is an aroma redolent of toffee and dark cherry that is quite pleasing. It is quite big and sweet with a light spiciness. In the mouth, this beer explodes with dark flavors. The spiciness bites you on the tip of the tongue. Through the mouth, the beer develops a tart spiciness around the middle of the mouth, blended with a rather rich bready sweetness. On through the mouth, a wild cherry flavor hits around the back of the tongue that sticks around into the aftertaste. This wild flavor gives this beer a slight touch of Flemish wild ale flair. However, the same wildness is tamed by a dark malt base to give you a complex and rich beer. Toss in this great spiciness and you have a beer that is both rich and quite punchy. Overall, I obviously like this beer a lot. I haven’t had a brown ale with cojones in a while. It seems that often brown beers are brewed neutered, relying on their malt and richness to pull them through. So, it’s nice to find a dark that can really hit you in the taste buds while still delivering a truly excellent flavor experience. Excellent job, van Steenberge – I’m sorry I didn’t try this sooner, since you’ve been brewing this since 1927 apparently. Better late than never!
Well, folks, this was obviously the highlight of Matt and my trip up North – after unsuccessfully attempting to order this beer off of vintage lists at other bars, we wound up finding the 1994 SA Triple Bock at Sunset Grill in Boston for TEN BUCKS! Seriously, folks – $10/bottle. So, if you’re within striking distance of Boston, I suggest you go now, ’cause there ain’t many left. To me, this has been a bit of a jabberwocky. I tried the Utopias, and it was so crazy that I’ve been dying to try it’s predecessor. However, you just really can’t find the stuff. So, when it was made available to us on the last night of our trip, it was as though God himself shined down and told me I was his most special creation.
The pour of this stuff is both dark and viscous as motor oil. The real beauty of this is how it rolls in the snifter, though. Hold this bad boy up to the light and swirl it around – it’s darkness diminishes around the meniscus and it sticks to the side of the glass with a color similar to a good balsamic vinegar. This characteristic is mostly due to the age of the beer (Keep in mind, this stuff is 13 years old). The aroma is more akin to a port or sherry than a beer – There is a lot of raisin and fig, and you can definitely smell the alcohol (18% abv). However, it is all very rich and appealing – if you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself sitting there with your nose stuck in the snifter glass looking like an idiot for minutes at a time. However, once you do pull your nose outta there, you’ll be in for a treat. This beer enters the mouth with a bang – it’s an explosion of flavor and alcoholic gusto. This begins at the tip of the tongue with a rich raisiny sweetness and instantly fills the mouth with flavor. On through the mouth, this develops more refined dark fruit flavors like fig and dark cherry. Also, there is a subtly accelerating alcohol presence that develops throughout the mouth. At the back of the throat, a slight coffee aftertaste creeps in while the essence of this beer sticks all over the tongue and mouth in it’s sticky, thick goodness. And, oh yeah, I didn’t mention that this beer is totally uncarbonated – this only lends to the illusion that this beer is as much a fine port as a Sam Adams creation. Overall, I’d say this beer is a phenomenal experience, and one you should seek out. It isn’t quite as explosive as the Utopias, or quite as complex. However, I would wager to say that it is a bit richer and a bit better developed. Of course, this has also aged for 9 years more than the Utopias I had the pleasure of drinking, so it’s had plenty of time to mature. Regardless, phenomenal beer – drink it.
This is a mighty tasty Bock. The pour is dark and oily, as you might expect. The aroma is remarkably rich and chocolaty. To be honest, this tastes more like a Porter than a Bock to me, but it’s a tasty treat by any name. The flavor is heavy with dark chocolate, toffee, and hints of coffee. I’d consider this a great Bock, one of the best American Bocks I’ve ever had
This beer begins and ends with an excessive CO2 burn that makes it difficult to appreciate the subtle flavors that likely lie within. What I can discern are tasty flavors of dark chocolate, as expected from a bock. However, I generally expect my bocks to be more warming and a bit less sprightly, and this come across overpowering. It might be Matt’s fault for opening this like an amateur, but I’m not impressed
Apparently this beer started out like something I might have worked on, which is to say that some trivial detail was decided upon first, and then the important meat and potatoes of the project were fudged to fit around that one little insignificant piece. Unlike something I might have worked on, however, this ended up working out pretty well. I guess if one can simply spit out a really good beer on a whim like Rogue can, building a beer around a cool tap sticker is a perfectly reasonable way of conducting business.
From the Rogue website: “In the early 1990s Dead Guy Ale was created as a private tap sticker to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead (November 1st, All Souls Day) for Casa U Betcha in Portland, Oregon. The Dead Guy design proved popular and was incorporated into a bottled product a few years later with Maierbock as the elixir.”
The pour is a deep, almost hazy amber with a thick, cream colored head. The smell, I think, is sweet, malty, and maybe a twinge fruity, but the remnants of cold might be dumbing-down my olfactory intakes. There’s a very smooth presence in the mouth with a slight hoppy tingle down the tongue. The taste, to me, is more sweet than anything else, almost a sweet bread or cake. Every once in a while, I get hints of a sour yeasty thing going on, but it’s very delicate and just nudges the overall flavor of the beer away from being fruity or floral. The finish is smooth and even with brown sugar and sweet malt on the sides of the tongue. This is a very smooth, pleasant, drinkable beer, and one that I’ll be sure to have around regularly. I totally can’t wait for Dia de los Muertos next year.
Ah, the knuckleball; feared big Big League hitters for its unpredictable, erratic flight. It’s difficult to control and difficult to hit — I would call this aptly named brew a big swing and a miss.
Stone Creek calls this a “light amber, light bodied lager with light to medium hop character.” That statement is correct. It is, in fact, light amber in color, light bodied, and has a medium hoppiness. I should point out, though, that Stone Creek failed to include “offensive” and “gross” in their description, and the bock classification might be a bit inaccurate. This is much more of a “light bodied lager” than a bock, but still unsatisfactory whatever cap it’s wearing. There IS an encouraging fruity undertone for the nose and palate, but that soft flicker of pleasantness is completely overpowered by the tawdry neon glare of cabbage and skunk.
To be fair, this is a Stone Coast seasonal brew which is available during baseball season, March 1 to October 31. Now November 13 isn’t too far past the 10/31 deadline, but it’s far enough into football season that a baseball beer probably isn’t the best choice. Perhaps I’ll give a fresh version of this brew a try in March when the Grapefruit League starts back up, but until then I’m going to give the other five bottles of this six-pack to any visitors I have that I don’t really like.