Friday, October 5, 2012

Samuel Adams Double Bock – The Boston Beer Company – Boston, MA

Those of you, who know me, know that I’m originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Montreal is home to Comedy Festivals, Jazz Festivals and the best hockey team on the Planet…The Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are winners of 24 Stanley Cups and a member of one of the most heated rivalries in the NHL…the one between my beloved Habs and the Boston Bruins. The first game that I ever saw was against the Bruins, and since then, I’ve learned to hate the Bruins with a passion rivaled only by my intense distaste for the Toronto Maple Laughs. Boston is our nemesis…bottom line. When it comes to beer though, I can be a little bit more objective, and breweries like Samuel Adams are proof that perhaps there is something good that comes from Boston. Today, I’m checking out their Double Bock with its heavy ABV and a promise of flavor that will knock you back a notch or two. Here’s what the web had to say:


Intense and warming, a meal in a bottle.

One cannot help but appreciate Samuel Adams® Double Bock's huge malt character.  We use an enormous amount of malt, half a pound per bottle, to brew this intensely rich lager.  Its deep brown-ruby color is all made in the kettle, no black malt is used, resulting in a rich sweetness that is free of the rough taste of burnt malt.  All that remains is the velvet smooth flavor and mouth feel of the two-row malt. Samuel Adams Double Bock's intense malt character is balanced with a subtle piney, citrus hop note from the Noble hops.

The Greatest Hockey Rivalry Anywhere
The mythology surrounding bocks and double bocks is almost as rich and intriguing as the brews themselves. Brewed since the 13th century, these malty lagers are still some of the biggest and most sophisticated beers around.

The bock style originated in the northern city of Einbeck and is known for its rich sweet malt taste, low hop bitterness and higher alcohol.  Doppelbocks (or double bock) originated in Bavaria as an extra strong bock brewed by the monks of St. Francis of Paula.  Traditionally monks brewed strong, high gravity bock beers full of nutrients, to provide sustenance during fasting.  These beers thus became closely associated with the holidays from Christmas, to Lent and Easter.

Bock is the German word for "billy goat" and pictures of goats grace the labels of almost all bocks and double bocks.  The connection between the term and the beer is much debated with stories ranging from a link to the Zodiac calendar to the beer being like a kick of a goat.

Samuel Adams Double Bock as with all of the beer in the Samuel Adams Imperial Series, is brewed using only the first wort (wort that has not been sparged in the lauter tun) to obtain a liquid that is very high in gravity.  This high gravity allows for a fuller body and higher alcohol content in the final beer.  We age this beer for over 4 weeks to allow all of those intense flavors to develop and mature.

Two-row Harrington, Metcalfe, and Copeland pale malts, and Caramel 60 are used to obtain that gorgeous mahogany color and intense flavor.  The malt character is balanced with a subtle piney, citrus hop note from the Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops.

Flavor: Strong malt and caramel character; very smooth, full bodied, low to medium bitterness
Color: Deep mahogany, 40 SRM
Original Gravity: 23.0° Plato
Alcohol by Vol / Wt: 9.5%ABV - 7.3%ABW
Calories/12 oz.: 323
IBUs: 25
Malt Varieties: Samuel Adams two-row pale malt blend and Caramel 60
Hop Varieties: Tettnang Tettnanger and Hallertau Mittelfrueh Noble hops
Yeast Strain: Samuel Adams lager yeast
Availability: Year round
First Brewed: 1988


The Boston Beer Company
For the first 35 years of his life, Jim Koch's family history and his future career lay in the attic of his parent's house. Jim's father Charles Koch, a fifth generation brewer, had left the business but kept the old family beer archives upstairs in an old trunk. The recipes hadn't been used since the Louis Koch brewery closed during Prohibition and when American tastes went away from full flavored beers.

Jim left for college believing that for the first time in 150 years the eldest Koch son would turn his back on beer. After college and graduate school Jim began a promising career in management consulting. Even though he followed that path for several years, he always kept an eye on the beer business. In 1984 his instincts told him it was time to make his move; people were starting to crave something different in their beer.

In 1984, the American landscape was vastly different from what it is today. The only options for domestic beer were pale lagers from the mass market brewers. To find a flavorful, "better beer", there were only a handful of imports like Heineken and Beck's that were thought of as the only option for quality beer. American craft beers were virtually non-existent, or still in the basements and kitchens of a few spirited brewers. There were virtually no widely distributed micro brewed beers.

While Charles thought his son's plan was crazy, he picked out his favorite family recipe, one that Jim's great-great grandfather, Louis Koch, had made at his brewery in St. Louis, Missouri in the 1870s. The following spring, Jim Koch filled his old consulting briefcase with bottles from his sample brew and started going door to door asking Boston bars and restaurants to serve the beer that he had named Samuel Adams Boston Lager®.

He chose that name because Samuel Adams was a Boston firebrand, a revolutionary thinker who fought for independence. Most importantly, Samuel Adams, was also a brewer who had inherited a brewing tradition from his father.

In April 1985, when Samuel Adams Boston Lager made its debut in about 25 bars and restaurants in Boston, the company had no office, no computers, and no distributors.

Jim Koch and his partner, Rhonda Kallman, were the only employees. They spent most of their time going bar to bar just trying to sample people on this different kind of beer. The beer caught on faster than anyone expected. By the end of the year sales of Samuel Adams beer had reached 500 barrels, and distribution had expanded from Massachusetts to Connecticut, and a place where great beer is revered, Germany.

It was beginning to look as if Jim's instincts were right. If you offered people a better beer, they'd be thirsty for it.

While it didn't have the trappings of a company that was about to change the industry, Samuel Adams had two key things in its favor: a full flavored, quality beer, and an incredible passion for that beer.

Drinkers quickly learned about Samuel Adams and shared that passion. Sales were brisk, by 1988, we were able to build a small brewery in Boston, sold 36,000 barrels, and were able to make the beer available on both coasts.

The expansion wasn't just geographic, however. We also began introducing new beer styles – like Boston Ale, Cream Stout, and Double Bock, as well as a line of seasonal beers.

The success and rapid growth of Samuel Adams soon became a catalyst to other small brewers, and the microbrew revolution began to take hold. By 1995, there were hundreds of small, local, and regional breweries sprouting up all over the country. It was a great time to be a beer lover in America.

Never satisfied just to make our own version of existing beer styles, in the early '90s we began our exploring the limits of the known beer universe. We began with Samuel Adams Triple Bock® to experiment with barrel aging beer and extended that new found knowledge to create Millenium. We pushed our ideas further and work with aging, materials, and vintage blends to create Samuel Adams Utopias®, the strongest beer in the world. We continue to experiment and push the expectations of beer to create new complex and flavorful tastes.

Today we're a team of about 750 people with our breweries are in Boston, Cincinnati, and Pennsylvania. Our family of beers includes over 30 different beer styles that's ever changing. Samuel Adams beers are now available in all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries. We're proud that our beers are recognized for awards all over the world, including in the style's country of origin. Over the years our beers have won more awards around the globe, more than any brand in history.

But what we're most proud of, and passionate about, is still the beer itself. From the first days in Jim's kitchen through today, the mission at Samuel Adams hasn't wavered or compromised, we're still focused on making the best beer possible and we can't wait for what's to come.

For us, our protectionism and obsession over the quality of our beer begins long before it reaches you. It starts with the ingredients and follows all the way through to how the beer arrives in your glass. We work with the growers to track the progress of the hops and determine the exact right time to harvest, we hand select the best of the year's crops, and then ship them when the temperatures on the Atlantic are at their coldest to keep the hops fresh.

Once we begin the lengthy process of brewing the quality checks continue. We do hundreds of measures throughout the over five week process to make sure the beer is exactly the way it should be.


It's a Tough Job

There are some perks to being a brewer. Each morning the brewers gather for a taste panel to evaluate the beers at each stage of the process to make sure they are on track. As each batch progresses, they also need to pass one more hurdle before leaving the brewery, Jim Koch. Jim tastes a sample of every batch we brew to make sure it meets his standards.

Freshness Dating

Unlike wine, beer has a shelf life. Beer with natural products and no preservatives, like Samuel Adams beer, begins to change over time. As it oxidizes, the flavors begin to mellow and the hops become more subdued. There are some beers that are meant to age but for the most part the time limit on our beers is about four to five months from when it was brewed. To make sure your beer is as close to what the brewers intended as possible, we helped pioneer easy to read freshness dating.

Some breweries use a "born on date" which shows when the beer was bottled. Knowing when the beer was bottled is like knowing when a cow was milked—it doesn't really help tell you when it's at its best. Instead, our dating marks the month to enjoy the beer until.

Draft Quality

Once the beer leaves our brewery we still keep a watchful eye on it. We go into bars and perform thousands of draft quality checks every year to make sure the beer passes our standards. We check the draft lines for cleanliness, the temperature, glassware, and the conditions where the kegs are stored. Each of these elements can adversely affect the taste of the beer. We want to make sure that each pint of Samuel Adams beer is as good as the last.



Wow…this beer has bite. Sometimes you get one of these high ABV brews, and the flavor is just too much to sit around and enjoy, but in the Double Bock, you get a truly drinkable brew. Last night, I got home from playing hockey around 11:30 PM, and chose to crack open one of these beauties. The taste was fantastic, and truly easy to take down. The pour was clean, with just the right amount of aroma escaping. It was a robust aroma that held the promise of a taste bud tingling brew. Right off the bat, you can taste the high ABV. The presence of the malt dominates the brew, and you can definitely taste that a lot of time was put into this beer. Some of these can be too much, but Sam Adams gets it right.


8.5/10 - Great

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