Bock

GUEST POST: Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock

Beer: Celebrator
Brewery: Brauerei Aying
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 6.7%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Tulip glass
Drinking Establishment: Stuff Yer Face, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Jon
Guest Reviewer Qualifications: He knows the difference between a boli and a beer.

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Deep mahogany color with a thick beige head.

Scent: A malty aroma of brown sugar, like that of caramel or molasses.  Also, some dark fruits.

Flavor: DELICIOUS.

Feel: Smooth, with a light mouthfeel.

Concluding remarksThis malty Bock gives you a gift even before you open the bottle–it comes with a little charm dangling from the neck.  Lesser beers would use this charm as a distraction from the actual brew, but instead this draws you in.  You get the idea that this beer will be a little special–like getting the Cracker Jack prize before you open the box.  Well, once opened, it doesn’t disappoint.  The mahogany coloring of the beer provokes you with thoughts of a dark velvet taste.  Tasting reveals a sweet, but not heavy, deliciousness that leaves a wonderful lacing after finishing.  You’ll want another.

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THANK YOU, JON!  You were lucky enough to review the only Bock that got a 5 Pint Glass rating.  We’re all very jealous–but mostly because none of the beers we tried this month came with a little plastic goat charm.

We are always looking for interested and interesting beer consumers to review a brew we might not have seen or had time to review in the month. Let us know if you’d like to contribute something, in exchange for internet fame, a line on your resume, an unpaid internship, a free ride, a huge tax rebate, a happy ending, and everything else everyone else has promised you in life. Sounds like a sweet deal to me.  Email us at wunderassn@gmail.com!

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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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Harvest Moon Maibock Lager

Beer:  Maibock Lager
Brewery: Harvest Moon Brewery
Style: Maibock
ABV: 7.0%

 Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Pint glass
Drinking Establishment: Harvest Moon Brewery, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Seconary Consumer(s): Kerensa’s family

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OVERALL RATING:

(although the rest of the family wanted to rate it a 4.5)

Sight: Deep, rich amber body with no head. Bright white rim of bubbles surrounds the glass.

Smell: Warm sweet malt scent with a very, very little trace of Noble hops.

Flavor: Oddly enough, it tastes like Fruity Pebbles–sweet from the malts and grains. Dad is impressed with the “nice continuing flavor.” Overall, it’s very balanced, with a slight hop bitterness at end, like a good Maibock should be.

Feel: Thin, but not watery, with moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: Although not quite as good as its German counterpart, I’ll be damned if Harvest Moon’s Maibock doesn’t give the German brewers a run for their money. Brewed with Pilsner, Vienna, and Munich malts, the sweet Vienna malt is most dominant (characterized by a rich, caramel flavor).  While this Maibock would have been more “authentic” tasting if the Munich malts took the spotlight, it’s still pretty great. If you’re in the Central New Jersey area, make a trip to Harvest Moon and try this guy out while it’s still in season!

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TYIB REVIEW OFF: Troegenator Double Bock

What happens when Get Blitzed Day rolls around and the ladies at The Year in Beer both want to get blitzed on the same brew?  Well, a TYIB Review Off, of course!  Read on to get a double review of this Double Bock from Pennyslvania-based brewery Tröegs.

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REVIEW OFF: THE BEER

Beer:  Troegenator
Brewery: Tröegs Brewing Company
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8.2%

REVIEW OFF: CONTESTANT 1, ALLY

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Tulip glass
Drinking Establishment: Stuff Yer Face, New Brunswick, NJ
Primary Consumer: Ally

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark amber, like maple syrup.  Foamy white head that recedes quickly.

Scent: Sweet malts, with notes of figs and raisins.

Flavor: Malty sweetness balanced with bitter hops, with some citrus zest, raisins, and other dried fruit flavors lingering in there as well.

Feel:  Rich, crisp, with moderate carbonation.

Concluding remarks:  Chocolate isn’t the only amazing edible being produced in Hershey, Pennsylvania; Tröegs Brewing Company is releasing some pretty great brews that rank highly on the Pint Glass Scale–not least among them their version of the Doppelbock.  Winner of many a medal at the Great American Beer Festival and the World Beer Cup, the Troegenator is a well-balanced Bock that lives up to the monastic tradition of being “liquid bread.”  It’s a substantial beer, but very drinkable, and the bitter hops and sweet malts complement each other nicely.

REVIEW OFF: CONTESTANT 2, KERENSA

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Murky, dark mahogany body with no head.

Scent: Sweet dark pumpernickel bread with a bit of raisins and a lingering note of alcohol.

Flavor: The ‘Nator tastes like liquid creme brûlée bread pudding. (Now if only that existed in food form.) There is a very slight smoke presence, too.

Feel: Thin body with little carbonation. It feels warm from the alcohol content.

Concluding remarks:  This is the best Doppelbock I’ve had this month. As there is little carbonation, the complex yet balanced flavor takes the spotlight. The alcohol note is hidden in taste, but you’ll feel Tröegs’s brew in your cheeks. All in all, this Bock is exceptionally delicious.

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Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock

Beer:  Hubertus Bock
Brewery: Hacker-Pschorr Bräu
Style:
Maibock
ABV: 6.8%

 Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Stein
Drinking Establishment: Austro-Hungarian Pilsner Haus, Hoboken, NJ
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Secondary Consumer(s): Suzy

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Golden amber, crystal clear body with a very thin white head.

Scent: Suzy says it reminds her of a wet beer pong table, but does not detect a discernible smell otherwise. I get a sweet, wet, Munich malt scent. That’s about it.

Flavor: It tastes slightly metallic, as if a penny had been left in the glass. Suzy also gets a Granny Smith apple note, because of the beer’s sweet and slightly bitter taste. The end note is sweet bread and honey, with little else to make mention.

Feel: Thin, almost watery, body with aggressive carbonation. Suzy says it’s as if she just drank a glass of Pop Rocks.

Concluding Remarks: Bavarian Hacker-Pschorr’s Hubertus (named as such for St. Hubertus, patron saint of hunting) is a fine Maibock. It wouldn’t win an award at a Bock brew-off, but it’s not undrinkable, either. Stick with the Hofbräu Maibock if given the option, but this is a fine afternoon beer that you could keep drinking into the night. All in all, it’s a good example of a Maibock, but not an excellent one.

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Paulaner Salvator


Beer:  Salvator Double Bock
Brewery: Paulaner Brauerei
Style:
Doppelbock
ABV: 7.9%

 Serving Style: Draft
Glassware: Stein
Drinking Establishment: Austro-Hungarian Pilsner Haus, Hoboken, NJ
Primary Consumer: Kerensa
Secondary Consumer(s): Suzy

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Dark, cloudy amber body with a fluffy beige head that quickly recedes to a one-centimeter brim.

Scent: Noticeable alcohol, estery note. Traces of licorice, overripe fruit, spice, and pine. It kind of smells like a combination of a sweet Portuguese bun and the (Black) Forest?

Flavor: It tastes like sweet bread and those caramel square candies. There is a spicy aftertaste.

Feel: Creamy body with moderate carbonation.

Concluding Remarks: Paulaner’s Salvator was the first Doppelbock, according to legend. While I have had few Doppelbocks this month that have been better than this…there have been some. But, Paulaner’s original was a fantastic foundation from which to improve upon. It’s pretty much the equivalent of beer candy. Quite enjoyable, but I would recommend drinking alongside a savory, salty treat in order to balance the Doppelbock’s sweetness.

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Yuengling Bock

Beer:  Bock Beer
Brewery: Yuengling Brewery
Style: Bock
ABV: 5.1%

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

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Reddish and golden amber hues.  1/2-finger off-white head that quickly settles to a light dusting of carbonation with decent lacing.

Scent: Sweet and malty, with some notes of alcohol.

Flavor: Not as flavorful as the aroma suggests; it’s a weak attempt at some malts, with a note of cereal and some sweetness at the end.  Kind of seltzery as well.  And just like seltzer, it’s pretty darn bland.

Feel:  Thin and somewhat watery.  Sharp, moderate-to-high carbonation that tickles the mouth and throat.

Concluding remarks: For the longest time, I never really considered that Yuengling Brewery–America’s oldest brewery, as it proudly proclaims on every can and bottle–made anything but its Traditional Lager.  When someone said, “I’ll have a Yuengling,” I had only one drink it mind.  So, when I discovered this Bock on the shelves of my local liquor store (shout out to Cedar Grove Wine & Liquors!), I was stoked.  But then I brought it home and tried it…and was a whole lot less stoked.  I mean, I don’t know what I was expecting: the Yuengling Lager isn’t anything to write home about–it’s your better-than-average, found-at-most-northeast-bars, cheap-but-decent brew; and the label of the Bock even proclaims it “tastes good”–not that it’s great, or that it’ll blow your mind, i.e. no false advertising.  Nevertheless, I hoped for more from this simple Pennsylvania brewery, and was disappointed by this dull, flavorless beer.  I guess it wouldn’t be completely out of left field to say this is the Bock equivalent of what Yuengling does for the Lager; and so, if you find it somewhere for very cheap, and your only other choices are Bud Light, Miller Light, and Heineken, go for it.

And for the record, Yuengling also makes a Porter, a Black-and-Tan, an Ale, and what it nebulously refers to as its Premium Beer.

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Narragansett Bock Lager

Beer:  Bock Lager
Brewery: Narragansett Brewing Company
Style: Hellesbock
ABV: 6.5%

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 Serving Style: Can
Glassware: Pilsner glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer: Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Deep golden, medium-opacity body. Three finger, frothy, white head that very slowly fades to a springy pond of bubbles (too much?).

Scent: This smells like my undergrad house after a keg party. Even though it’s being consumed chilled, it smells like red Solo cups of warm, day-old Pabst, or J.W. Dundee’s Honey Brown (house favorites). Honey Brown makes the most sense, as there is a noticeable dark honey note…somewhere in there behind the prevalent scents of Generic and Macrolager.

Flavor: Yeah, this tastes like I expected, but not as sweet. It tastes like the fine flavors of Rhode Island water (Narragansett is from Rhode Island), sprinkled with some lager yeasts, left out in the sun for a day or two, then put into one of those soda stream/carbonator machines, and then refrigerated for a year. I mean, it’s not that bad. I do appreciate the attempt at “Bockinizing” their flagship, the Narragansett Lager (on tap at many a fine New England establishment and becoming increasingly popular at Brooklyn bars for its tallboy container).  It’s funny, when you first take a sip, it could almost pass as a respectable lager (read: not a Bock). However, the flavor dissipates in–literally, I’m going to time it right now–okay ready, sip….and four seconds later it tastes like I just swallowed a big heap of mineral water. And not the fancy kind. Like whoops, your faucet hasn’t been cleaned in awhile.

Feel: Thin, almost watery, with aggressive carbonation that almost makes it bearable.

Concluding remarks: If this month was Macrolager month, pitting Budweiser against Coors against Narragansett (a peer), this guy would get a 4. I SWEAR! I need to preface that I spent much of my life near this brewery, so I wanted to like it (although I also knew from drinking their regular lager that I would not). But let’s call a spade a spade: this just isn’t a Bock! But nevertheless, Narragansett gave it the old college try, and apparently has since the 1930s when it first brewed this Bock. It says on the can that it was “crafted to be highly drinkable [I guess, but just drinkable, not highly] with a rich, golden color [yeah, check], an elegant, spicy character [elegant like Miller High Life is the champagne of beers] and a clean, dry finish [yeah, like clean water–well no, not even that].” And then it concludes by saying “Enjoy!” Oh, Narragansett, no. Tip? Sell a six-pack alongside one of those Das Boots that the kids like so much and stick to what you do best: providing mediocre affordable beer. No need to slap on the Bock label, or talk about “Bavaria” on the back of your can. Just keep it simple. Less is more. And on that note, less of this beer for me, please.

To further support these claims, Men’s Health Magazine said it was a “must-try” and “killer.”

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Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche Doppelbock

Beer:  Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche
Brewery: Schlenkerla
Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8.0%

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 Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pilsner glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cloudy light amber/deep golden body.  Two finger off-white fluffy head, with some tiny carbonation bubbles near the bottom of the glass.

Scent: Bright floral for half a second, then…bacon! Well, actually, Ally, the resident vegetarian, thought it was more like smoked tempeh–or, at least, like liquid smoke.  But then it began to remind us not of bacon (or bacon-like products), but of kielbasa…so, we asked resident expert Pole, Kerensa’s roommate Kat, and she confirmed: smoked kielbasa! Or, in general, it smells like a Polish deli.

Flavor: The taste is less of kielbasa and meat, and more like hickory.  Very sweet like a Doppelbock would be, with a bit of hops, and an endnote of smoked wood–like food grilled over hickory.  This smokiness disappears as you drink more–it ends up blending together with the sweetness.

Feel:  Crisp, thin-to-medium mouthfeel, with moderate carbonation.

Concluding remarks: This German brew–the Schlenkerla “Oak Smoke”–is, simply put, a good Doppelbock + smoke.  It has what Kerensa refers to as “shock value”: if you tell a friend you’re going to buy them a good German beer, he or she will definitely be surprised by this smoky wonder.  But the smoked flavor isn’t artificial or off-putting in the least.  It’s a beer made for a summer barbecue (maybe because it tastes like a summer barbecue?) and would pair well with some hearty German bread and meat.  Drink it nice and cold.

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Aventinus Eisbock

Beer:  Aventinus Eisbock
Brewery: Schneider-Weisse
Style: Eisbock
ABV: 12.0%

Serving Style: Bottle
Glassware: Pilsner glass
Drinking Establishment: Kerensa’s kitchen
Primary Consumer(s): Ally & Kerensa

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OVERALL RATING:

Sight: Cloudy mahogany, with a 1-finger frothy beige head that has big bubbles lingering in it.

Scent: Smells like extremely alcoholic butterscotch candy, with notes of raisins and apple as well.

Flavor: Reminiscent of banana-flavored Laffy Taffy–banana, but that sweet-candy kind of banana. There is a spiciness as well, in the way of clove and pepper.  A note of alcohol is also evident.

Feel:  There is a sort of oiliness that coats the mouth, and the alcoholic peppery heat lingers in the throat. Low carbonation.

Concluding remarks: This complex brew from German bräuhaus G. Schneider & Sohn is incomparable to anything we’ve had yet.  It sort of reminds us of a Belgian, with its sweetness, but the spice notes balance it well.  The flavor also hides the high ABV well.  The brewery refers to it as “stronger than strong”–and we like it like that.

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