Samuel Adams Cinder Bock

Beer:  Cinder Bock
Brewery: Samuel Adams / Boston Brewing Company
Style: Rauch Doppelbock
ABV: 9.4%

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 Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pilsner glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s apartment
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:


Sight: Dark burnt orange body with a thick, beige, frothy head. Thick lacing lingers on the glass.

Smell: For trying to be a smoked beer, there is only a faint hint of smoked ham. Other smells include overripe fruits and alcohol esters (no surprise considering the high ABV). Final note is cheap Oscar Mayer processed meat.

Flavor: The overall taste is sweet caramel with a slight smokiness. Well, no, not smoke, just cheap meats, akin to those mentioned above. There is a sharp bitterness at the end due to the inclusion of Noble hops.

Feel: Thin to medium body with low carbonation. It is slightly oily and there is a very distinct heat from the alcohol.

Concluding Remarks: Samuel Adams’s Cinder Bock is better as a pun than as a beer. (Cinder Bock…cinder block…plus, it’s smoked…GET IT?) While I know that Rauchbiers (German for “smoked beer”) are not up everyone’s proverbial beer alley, I happen to love them. Like, really love them. So, I might be judging Sam Adams’s offering a bit too critically. The Cinder Bock might actually be perfect for those who only want a little ham in their beer. But I doubt it.

We could discuss just how much smoked meat flavor should be in a Rauchbier all day, but at the end of this day, the Cinder Bock is a confused beer. I want to excuse its schizophrenia for the insanely high ABV (at 9.4%, this is our second most alcoholic Bock this month–the Aventinus Eisbock coming in at top billing), but…I can’t. It’s just too weird.

I recently rewatched a number of Arrested Development episodes, and as I finish this beer, all I can think of is Lindsay Fünke’s hot ham water. The Cinder Bock tastes like said ham water, but cold, and spiked with some bottom-shelf vodka in Lucille’s back-up liquor cabinet. Translation: this tastes like ham water with vodka.


Sam Adams calls it a “roguish brew,” but this style is nothing new, as our review of the Schlenkerla goes to show. I really do appreciate their ballsy attempt at a rauch Doppelbock, a difficult brew to mass market as not everyone appreciates their beer with a side of ham (or in this case, bologna). While it is a noble effort (yes I’m making a hops pun), it doesn’t quite work. It is a complex cluster-f of bitter, sweet, smoke, and liquor. Clearly these are all excellent flavors, but the balance is just off. The potential is there, but it’s just too alcoholic (am I really saying this?) and doesn’t deliver on the promise of smoke. Sigh.

The label says this is Batch Number One; maybe Sam will get it right on try Nummer Zwei.

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