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03-17-00

Beer Review #319 Cultivator Helles Bock

03-17-02Even though there is another snowstorm smacking parts of the Mid-Atlantic today spring is right around the corner. Spring means that it is helles bock season! One of the newest helles bock beers, or simply helles for short, is Cultivator Helles Bock by Troegs Brewing Company.  I was at their brewery in Hershey about a month ago and I had no idea they were going to be releasing a new beer.

Cultivator pours a nice yellow orange and has a thin white head that fades to just a covering. The nose has a slight bit of sulfur along with the typical “lager smell.” It also has a great honey-like sweetness along with a crisp biscuit. I really like the combination of odors going on in this beer. I didn’t get any hops as expected.

On the first taste I did notice the flavor at first, instead I noticed how nicely this beer drank. The flavors are wonderful, but this beer took me back to my trip to Germany. It’s darn authentic and lovely. Past the nostalgia, Cultivator is big everything a helles should be. It starts with a nice light sweetness that is intertwined with biscuit and wonderfulness.  The hops come in an provide a nice bit of balancing but still leave it a bit more on the sweet end of the scale. The hops taste fresh and floral.

I could seriously drink this beer all day. It’s wonderful and makes me want to sit down with some German meatloaf, potatoes, and a fried egg. Yup, it really did take me back to Germany. I will be purchasing more of this beer shortly. (more…)

06-01-05

Beer Review #293 Hoppy Bock Lager

06-01-03I’m always on the prowl for an affordable new beer when I go to the beer store. New Belgium Brewing Company anyways has something new from their Lips of Faith series, but they generally are not affordable. A month or so ago I discovered Hoppy Bock Lager, which was affordable and came in a 22oz bottle. A hoppy lager sounded a little gimmicky to me, but what the hell, a solid affordable beer is always worth seeking out.

Hoppy Bock Lager pours a clear golden color and has a thin white head. It really looks like a pilsner or the like and not like something that is going to be super hop forward. This guy also comes in at 6.9% ABV which is a few ticks higher than what  I was expecting. The nose had a slight malt/bread component that is typical of a bock. For a beer that has hoppy in the name, I wasn’t overly impressed with the nose. There are some citrus notes, but why you say hoppy, I want hoppy.

There is a decent malt presence on the first sip of this beer. The bread really comes out, and as we all know, I love a bready beer. The hops come in halfway through but they don’t jump out. The hops are there but they aren’t crazy. I would describe the hop flavor as floral, but not bright. Hoppy Bock Lager also had a grassy flavor going through it that I didn’t particularly care for.

This beer just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t find the hops bright or excited. They were a bit too toned down for a beer that says it is hoppy, and according to the label, comes from New Belgium’s Hop Kitchen. This beer didn’t stand out and while a drinkable beer, is not repeat worthy for me. The quest continues. (more…)

Beer Review #261 The Gift

01-18-03I have a seasonal beer (gasp!) up for review today. If you remember, I went a full year without purposely seeking out seasonable beers, and I’m ready to stop limiting my choices. I saw The Gift a few weeks ago and picked up a few bottles. The Gift is brewed by Starr Hill Brewery of Crozet, Va. The bottle says that it is a Bock, but their website narrows it down a bit more and calls it a Hellerbock. I honestly have no idea what the difference is.

The Gift pours a nice clear orange color and has a quickly fading, thin white head. The nose is very lager. It has some bready notes followed by some slight sulfur. Other than that, there really isn’t a lot going on in the nose department.

On the first taste I really noticed the malt flavors. It has a nice honey-like sweetness that is mixed with a toasty flavor. The combination is time tested and works wonderfully. There are some hops that come in towards the end but they are not crisp. The hops do not remove the sweetness entirely, but instead just help cut it down a bit to better balance the beer. The sweetness is a bit much for me personally.

I enjoyed this beer. I would like this beer to be a little less The Cranberries and linger a less then it does. It’s a solid example of a Bock and I assume a Hellerbock. I’m kind of a beer nerd if you haven’t noticed (post #584 on this site) but I am not familiar with the Hellerbock style. This beer makes me want to do some more research and I thank Starr Hill for alerting me to something that I didn’t know existed. (more…)

Beer Review #209 Anchor Bock Beer

One of the first craft beers that I ever had came from the Anchor Brewing Company of San Francisco, California and I have enjoyed their beers ever since. I’m a fan of their Christmas beer series that has a new recipe each year. In addition, they serve Anchor Steam at Phillies games along with a large number of craft beers. During last year’s playoffs I didn’t drink a single Anchor beer to show my support for the Phils and my dislike of the Giants, but in the end, the Giants did what the Phillies couldn’t. I’ve finally brought myself around to drinking a beer from San Francisco again, and Anchor Bock Beer is as good of a beer as any to jump back in with.

This bock pours a deep ruby to mahogany color with a tan head. This beer is much dark then what I was expecting. Generally bock’s tend to be lighter in color and double bocks tend to be closer to the color of this beer. While this beer is dark, light does pass through the clear liquid. The nose is very sweet with some strong caramels and slight bread. There is not real hop odor on the nose to cancel out any of the sweetness.

Caramel is the first flavor that I noticed when drinking this bock. The caramel is super sweet but it fades into a nice chocolate roast flavor. Again, there are not hops in this beer to help cut through the sweetness, but the slight roast helps in this respect. I found this beer to have a cigar quality to it. There was just something in it that reminded me of smoking a cigar on my back deck.

I liked this Anchor offering. It was not what I was expecting from a bock as it was far darker and roastier than expected, but it was decent. This beer would be good on those cold spring days that are full of sun, but not warmth. (more…)

Beer Review #97 Atwater Winter Bock

I am a big fan of bock style beers so when I saw a winter bock, I had to grab it. The hand with snow covering the fingertips also enticed me towards this selection. Atwater Winter Bock is brewery by Atwater Block Brewery from Detroit, Michigan. I’m not sure if I have ever had a beer from Detroit, but now is as good of a time as any to start. Atwater Block Brewery specializes in German style lagers and specialty ales. The bottle even said the magic words, “high gravity lager” on it.

This winter offering pours a nice deep ruby color and is accompanied by a light tan head. The nose is very pleasant with some slight roasty components to backup the malty front-end. I also got some slight heat, which can be expected in a 7.5% bock like this one.

On the first sip I really got a complex malt flavor. The roasty back-end was there, but it was accompanied by some chocolate and biscuit. The aftertaste almost tasted like a Wendy’s Frosty. Strange, yes. Good, also yes. There was a slight hop bite in there too, but nothing overpowering. Overall I think this one is pretty decent. Nothing that will rock your socks off, but a solid beer. The roasty component is what did it for me. It is so balanced and delicate that it elevated the entire lager. (more…)