And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why blogs were created. To share stupid jokes. And reviews. People generally crap on reviews these days. It's trendy. But, really, blogs without at least occassional beer reviews are shatteringly dull, aren't they? And some, like Ireland's Beer Nut, prove they can form a great basis for most of the discourse. You can't pull off a good review, well, what are you? Why do I say all this? Because I am reviewing three beers, of course. Bock beers.
These three takes on the style from three different countries range from 6.5% to 7.2% and go by the names bock, spring bock and doppelbock. Are they three styles or one? Or do they exemplify the pointlessness of style as a concept. Heady stuff. Almost as heady as the question up there in the title to the post. Let's see what I can learn.
The can of Narragansett Bock showed up in the mail the other week from the people who should explain to all you other brewers why you should ship your good beers out to people like me. Brewed at Rochester, NY, this beer gets real love from the BAers but sort of passed me by when I opened the first can. On the nose, I get honey, candy and a nice floral note. Missed that before. It pours a great aged pine wood burnished gold under a rich cream coloured head. Didn't spot that when I drank it's twin out of the can. Creamy malt with toffee and apple notes with steely yet herbal hop in a smooth sip. Bread crusty with even a hint of spice. This is really good. And at likely less than two bucks a can, a beer you really should get your hands on if you can find it.
The Spring Bock, vintage 2010, from Toronto's Amsterdam Brewing is more than a notch darker. It pours an attractive cola or dark chestnut under a reddish-mocha foam. Darker malts on the nose, too: a little hazelnuttiness along with a little blackstrap. Again, smooth and soft in the mouth with less of the honey and more of those earthy brown sugars and pumpernickels the kids are all talking about along with a bit of date. A nice bracing framework of hops verging on minty near the finish that doesn't cut so much as tempers the cloy. Respect from the BAers and reasonably priced at $3.95 for 500 ml locally.
Doppel-Hirsh Doppelbock weighs in at 7.2% and pours almost exactly the same as the Amsterdam without that reddish note. Cola under a light mocha cream rim and froth. Nasally, rummy. Nicely so. In the mouth, bright date and brown bread without the herbal nods of the other two but with a nice acid slice at the tongue tip through the sweet. BAers have the love. A bit bigger and richer than the Amsterdam. Close to a Scots heavy or at least jostling with it in the line up. And at $3.75 at the LCBO, great value in central Canada as well.
So, how do these match up to that guide to big bocks, Salvator? The Narragansett is not in the ball park but, like that brewer's porter, screams of value and, frankly, a better take on a beefed up malty lager than many of the craft beers out there. The other two are of a sort, reasonable facsimiles, worthy in their own right. Also, note again that sweet and malty is a value proposition. Comfort food.