Sunday, May 17, 2009

Bock and Rock 2009

I like beer, but I’m not what you would call an afficianado. I enjoy the occasional craft pack, when I can sample bocks, porters, pale ales, pilsners, etc. So I was looking forward with some excitement to the 2009 Bock and Rock in Minster this past Saturday. For the price of admission, you get a tasting glass and a set of tickets that can be used to sample some of the more than 75 different specialty and craft beers available.

This is the second year that the Minster Civic Association has held the Bock and Rock. Last year, my wife and I considered attending, but she was nine months pregnant at the time, and we decided that it would be wise for both of us to stay completely sober. This year, however, there was nothing preventing us from enjoying the event. My wife doesn’t like beer, and she knew that my primary intent was to sample the different offerings.

After just four samples, my head was swimming and my wife suggested that we get a little something to eat. I’m a pretty big guy at 6’4” and 235 lbs, but I was telling Amy that I didn’t know I was such a light weight. You have to realize, however, that these are not your standard beers. Some of these had alcohol content of more than 10%!

I never did use all of my tickets, but I did come away with some personal favorites. The Koningshoeven Trappist Quadrupel was one of my two favorites. It was described as a Belgian specialty ale:

Inspired by the Trappist brewers of Belgium, a Quadrupel is a Belgian style ale of great strength with bolder flavor compared to it Dubel and Tripel sister styles. Typically a dark creation that ranges within the deep red, brown and garnet hues. Full bodied with a rich malty palate. Phenols (clove or Band-Aid flavors) are usually at a moderate level. Sweet with a low bitterness yet a well perceived alcohol.

The “ale of great strength” in the description was certainly accurate. I could tell from the first sip that it had a higher alcohol content, but it was smooth and crisp.

My other favorite was similar. The St. Bernardus ABT 12 was listed as a Top 100 Beer and was one of the Bock and Rock committee’s favorites. It was described as a Belgian Strong Dark Ale:

On the same path as the Belgian Dark Ale but obviously higher in alcohol with more of an all around character. The alcohol character can be deceivingly hidden or can be very bold and in your face. Look for lots of complexity within a delicate palate. Hop and malt character can vary, most are fruity and some may have mild dark malt flavors. Phenols will range from minimal to high and most will be light on the hops. All in all most are spicy and alcoholic.

One of the things that surprised me about the German and Belgian beers that I sampled was the spice flavor that was present. I sampled one beer that was described as “the grand-daddy of all stouts.” It was extremely dark and thick. I was told by those who attended the VIP tasting (limited number of tickets available), that the stout was very good when mixed with the raspberry ale. I imagine that might be true, but mixing specialty beers seems like too much work for me. I might enjoy beer, but I’m just not that much into it.

I have to mention that I tried the Chapeau Banana. Yeah, that’s right. It was a banana flavored beer. I thought it tasted very sweet, almost like a fruity white wine. It could be that my tasted buds were by that time desensitized by the Quadrupel and the Stout and the 90 Minute India Pale Ale, because upon hearing my description, my wife decided she needed a sip, and she declared that it was definitely beer. Did I mention that she doesn’t care much for beer?

We ended up leaving a little early to make a dinner date with a lovely couple from town at Amy’s favorite local Mexican restaurant, but that was probably a good thing. If I had used all of my tickets, I probably would have had a harder time getting up for mass on Sunday. It looked like the attendance was pretty good, so they will probably have it again next year. If so, I think that I might have to try to get a VIP ticket for the directed tasting.

Those Belgian Trappists sure make good beer!

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