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Brew notes: winter bocks.

Notes from the tasting panel for Modern Brewery Age, by Peter V.K. Reid, editor of Modern Brewery Age; with Gregg Glaser, editor of Yankee Brew News, and Tom Conti and Robert Lachman of the YBN tasting panel. Joining us each week is a rotating cast of tasters, to include Dr. Steve Victor, formerly of Yale University; Connecticut state government economist Ernie Adamo; home brewer Phil Simpson; Northeast Beverage field sales director Greg Zannella; Maltose Express Homebrew Shop co-founder Tess Szamatulski; Former rocket scientist and future craft brewer Mark Szamatulski; Marty Juliano, Northeast rep for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.; Renzo Kian-Kubota, artisanal beer buyer for Harry's of Fairfield, CT, and a variety of guest tasters, lately including newly-minted commercial brewer John Watson. Every month we sample 40-50 beers. We write up the the best examples of a given flight of beers; Our rating of "Five mugs" denotes "Excellent" and "Superb" with all panelists in agreement; Four mugs denotes "Very Good."

Bocks have traditionally been the province of spring, but these malty robust beers are plenty fortifying in the cold weather at hand. We tasted a range of representatives from regular strngth to double bock.


Hacker-Pschorr Animator


Munich, Germany

Imported by Paulaner HP North Am.

The best dopplebock we tasted this season was from an unsurprising source, old country Bavaria, specifically Munich, more specifically Hacker-Pschorr. It's a rich dark brew, with deep crimson highlights when held to the light, with a toasty malt nose, and notes of dark fruit. Rich malt with dark fruit carries into the body. No one makes these better than the Germans.

"This is the real deal," said Gregg Glaser, editor of Yankee Brew News. "Dark fruitiness in the aroma, like dates, the high alcohol and Munich malts come together to create that."

"Big malt in the nose," said Tom Conti.

"Fruity aroma, nice esters," commented restaurateur Frank Whitman.

"I like the nose, that sweet maltiness, and you get that throughout the flavor as well," said homebrewer Lawrence Kaczmarek.

"Spot on," said Robert Lachman of New England Brewing Co. "Malty sweet smoothness, the mouthfeel is excellent,

I could drink a bunch of these!"

"Right on style, the fruitiness, the esters," said Greg Zannella of Northeast Distributors. "It's perfect. But the thing about these German dopple-bocks is that they are all perfect, and they all taste the same."

"Really delicious," said homebrewer Phil Simpson. "I do like the dark fruit flavors blended with darker malts."

"Well handled malt profile, refreshing character," said Frank Whitman. "There's a bitterness not from hops."

"That bitterness balances out the finish," Lawrence commented.

"Brewed perfectly to style by one of the great world brewers," said Gregg. "Real German dark strong beer."

"For a dopplebock it's right on the money, perfection," said Tom Conti.


Uff-Da Bock

New Glarus Brewing Co.

New Glarus, WI

New Glarus brews up some proper bocks in the Wisconsin heartland. Uff-Da is a sturdy representative of the style, just a notch below a double in strength. This is a bock that can stand with the German examples--it's malty and rich, but not sweet and cloying.

"Nice amber bock color," said Gregg Glaser of Yankee Brew News. "You can smell that Munich malt and a note of alcohol, it's a very typical bock nose, and a very good one."

"Pleasing malt aroma, a little candied quality," said restaurateur Frank Whitman. "That carries you into a sweet malty bocky flavor."

"Malty richness on the palate," said Pete Reid. "Has a true clean maltiness."

"Big mouthfeel and and lots of malt sweetness," said Tom Conti.

"The roasted quality of the malt plays against the sweetness, it provides a nice counterpoint," said David Talbot.

"Flavors are big, lots of malt, nothing modest about it," Frank Whitman noted.

"Good mouthfeel, strong malt in nose and flavor," said Lawrence Kaczmarek.

"I like it, it would be interesting in a barrel, that sweetness would fade over time, and the flavor would work well," commented guest taster Dave Schmeir of Bardstown Barrel Selections.


Sam Adams Helles Bock

Boston Beer Co.

Boston, MA

A fine pale bock from the experienced lager brewers of Boston Beer Company, this beer was part of the company's "Adventures in Lager" 12-pack that debuted in August. Boston Beer is one of the most prolific American bock brewers, and produces a wide ranges, including many less common variations of the style, like this one. Our tasters delighted in the clean maltiness of this helles bock.

"Smells good, has a great malty nose," said Dr. Steve Victor.

"Smells wonderful, I can't wait to dive in," added restaurateur Frank Whitman.

"Honeylike biscuity malt bready nose," commented Gregg Glaser of Yankee Brew News.

"Lots of rich malty flavors, has the depth of flavor you get from the German versions," said Pete Reid.

"Big caramel maltiness," agreed Robert Lachman of New England Brewing Co. "Well done."

"The alcohol is well hidden, has a solid malty character, quite delicious, I want to keep drinking it," said Frank.

"Sweet and malty, not cloying. They nailed this style," Gregg said.

"Very Good"

Flying Dog Dopplebock

Flying Dog Brewing Co.

Frederick, MD

Afresh, lively American-style dopple-bock from Flying Dog.

"Smells like a dopplebock alright," said homebrewer Tom Conti.

"Really malty sweet and alcoholic nose," said Gregg Glaser.

"You can smell the malt a mile away," said guest taster Dave Schmier of Bardstown Barrel Selections.

"Doesn't have that rich Germanic quality," said Gregg Glaser. "but it's a nice bock, with the things you look for, it's sweet, strong, alcoholic and malty."

"Malty sweetness on the palate," agreed David Talbot of Ultimate Beverage Challenge.

"It's good, very malty as expected," said restaurateur Frank Whitman.

"A sweet malty beer with good mouth feel," said Gregg. "The alcohol comes through a bit much."

"Sweetish caramel flavor," noted homebrewer Lawrence Kaczmarek.

"I like the nose, it promises a lot and mostly delivers," said Dave Schmeier. "I like the flavor, malty, complex and rich, but it's on the sweet side, I'd want a small one."

"Pretty good double bock, hits at the edges of the right stuff," said Tom.

100% Whole Wheat Bock

A.C. Golden Brewing Co.

Golden, CO

An off-beat wheat bock from the brewers of A.C. Golden, produced with 100% wheat. The brewers use six different varieties of wheat grown and malted in Bamberg, employ a long brewing process and a mash filter. Head brewer Jeff Nickel says the process "allows us to extract the goodness of the wheat without adding enzymes, using filter aids or syrups."

The beer was aged for three months before bottling, and for another year in the bottle. The end result is a fairly mild and sweet weizen bock, but our tasters liked the rich, flavorful bready quality.

"Roasted malt nose, a little chocolate," said Gregg Zannella of Northeast Distributors.

"Unusual aroma, all that dark wheat, and high alcohol, it has a little tartness to it," said Gregg Glaser.

"Dark roasty sweet nose," said Robert Lachman.

"Wheaty nose," said. "The flavor is mild and sweet, the finish is nutty and interesting," said guest taster Lawrence Kaczmarek. "Malty and sweet until that distinctive finish."

"Fairly light bodied, a little tartness in the finish," said Frank Whitman.

"Bready and rich, deep malty flavors," said Pete Reid.

"Dark and sweet flavor," Greg Zannella commented.

"Dark, sweet and delicious!" exclaimed Robert Lachman.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Dec 30, 2014
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