Spring-eth hath arrived-eth. Yeth! Here we are, presented with the fact that we will have to wean ourselves off the stouts and porters and other darker, heavier, more potent beers for the lighter, brighter brews which are more in tune with this time of year.
Prior to Friday’s escapade at the beer store, I did a little lookin’-up on the Net. What beers are in style for early spring? As far as I’m concerned, March 17th, St. Patty’s Day is the last day for stouts to be acceptably in season. After that it’s on to new territories. Bock beers are on the shelves now. I remember as a kid going with my dad to the beer store where he’d buy a few quarts of bock beer at some point during the year and my childhood. But the name of the brew and the time of the year is missing in memory.
The few things that seemed to pop in my head were that bock beer was dark and that Easter had something to do with it. Now as an adult and a novice beer geek, I’d venture to say that right now, bock beers are the style of the season and that they’d tend to be a little on the maltier side. What they tasted like was another story. I naively thought that they’d taste like a light porter or somewhere along those lines. As far as flavors and hoppiness, it would be a new taste experience.
For now, I would be looking for bocks, Kolsch or spiced beers and lambics or fruit beers. To be honest, I’d never tasted a fruit beer that I liked. So far. I’m leaning away from that style for now. Off to the beer store.
I parked the Mighty Tundra in the lot of the Four Seasons beer store and went in. Barry was behind the counter and greeted me by name. Down the craft shelf aisle I went. Hmm. DogFish Head’s Red & White which I reviewed a few weeks ago, was considered a spring beer. How embarrassing that I never mentioned it in the review. But hell, I’m a calendar oriented guy with skin weather sensors versus a logistics guy who has to put product on store shelves in time for a special occasion.
Down in the bomber section was the usual array of Kriek lambics and suddenly, Goose Island’s Madame Rose Belgian ale made perfect sense having a couple of clusters of cherries on the label. Now my thoughts on lambics are starting to change.
Off to the cooler aisle where I spotted a newcomer in the Sierra Nevada lineup. It was their Glissade Golden Bock. Interesting that a bock (I think dark brown beer) would be named Golden. I decided to begin my new venture into the style with this beer. About 9 bucks wasn’t bad and I’d get change back from a sawbuck. I paid the man and strode out the door with many questions in my head about the season, the style, the taste and the season.
Saturday broke with occasional sun and temps in the middle 50s. Garage night. I cast a glance at my firewood pile and decided that I had enough dry oak to sustain me through the evening until I get time to cut up the long stuff which accumulated over the winter months.
At the beginning of this review writing session, the temp in the Manly Garage was 55°. Within 45 minutes, the temps became more tolerable, in the middle 60s and the garage hoodie helped to stave off a chill.
I began beforehand looking up subject matter on bock beers and came across this gem of an article on epicurean.com. But what the hell is a glissade? Isn’t that some sort of ballet dance step?
More research. Yes. But wait. There’s more! It’s also a way of sliding down a slope. (Videos at the end.)
I finally have something to go on. Now to slide into the first squatty bottle of Glissade Bock beer.
The liquid filled the glass with a brilliant golden color. Tons of large bubbles zoomed towards the top. The creamy white head came up to about a half-inch then slowly dissipated over time. The aroma was slight with a tad bit of malt present.
The first sip revealed a medium body with medium taste and a medium finish. Patience and more sippage should bring out the true flavors. The middle of each taste was rich in body and gave me the sense that this beer had some quality and quantity of light malts that enriched the flavor.
Slowly some microns of sweetness crept in and blended with mouth tissue. The swallow has a crispness which came from the carbonation rather than the hops. I could hardly taste any hop presence at all. The big feature for this beer is its body.
It was in the somewhat recent past that I started to pay more attention to the styles of beer and the seasons where they are popular. Although there are a few types of bock beer, this one was a new one on me. I’ve heard of Maibock and Helles bock, but never really put the two in a mental classification because I really never sampled these styles.
After rooting around on the Internet looking for a definition, I’ve come to the conclusion that this beer more readily fits the description of a Helles bock rather than any other types of bock beer. Good ol’ Wikipedia started the ball rolling with its open paragraph on bock beer.
Bock is the term for a strong lager of German origin. Several substyles are based on bock, including maibock or helles bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals; doppelbock, a stronger and maltier version; and eisbock, a much stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the water ice that forms. (Link)
Whereas, Maibock is a different story:
Made to celebrate May Day, here’s an even maltier version of hellesbock, thick, chewy, in some cases fruity and estery – one doozy of a Munich lager. Such renowned Bavarian breweries as Ayinger and Paulaner produce excellent versions of the style, and have exported them to the U.S. It’s a fair assumption that many more small breweries in the region make special extra-malty amber brews for Maytime consumption. In addition, a few German breweries from outside Bavaria (Herforder, Holsten, and, of course, Einbecker) offer maibocks. If your travels take you to Bavaria on May 1, don’t miss the annual tapping of the first gargantuan maibock barrel at Munich’s Hofbrauhaus! Here, you can sample the Real McCoy, described by Michael Jackson in The World Guide To Beer as possessing “an aroma so powerful that it can almost be eaten.” (Link)
And there, as they say, you have it.
This Glissade beer had no off-flavors or esoteric yeast tastes and drank almost like a great after-work beer. It was a nicely malted beverage straight down the middle. And the middle is where most of the taste lies. I am somewhat surprised that I chose this Sierra Nevada beer as it fits in perfectly with the changing of the seasons.
This beer drinks like a nice, hefty lager with a great mouthfeel. Smooth on the palate and smooth going down. A couple of these after work or dinner and all becomes right with the world. The 6.4% ABV is sure to fool the drinker into believing that the beer in hand is a warm weather slammer.
This beer is on the shelves right now and I urge you to pick up a couple of sixers. One for after Saturday yard work and one for after the following Saturday’s yard work. At about 9 bucks each it won’t deflate the wallet and will surely put you in a pleasant state of mind.
Taste: B+ > A buxom body of beer.
Smoothness: B+ > A glide down the gullet.
Sessionability: B+ > Easy drinker. Should come with a warning disclaimer.
Bang for the buck: B+ > About right for the taste delivered.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: It’s light. (sip) These are kinda the beers we grew up on. (sip) Not bad. A bit of a tang. (sip) Actually it’s kinda good. I could drink a whole one of these. (So why not sit down and have one with me? Hey! Where are you going? It’s 70° in here. Sigh.)
Glissade in snow
Glissade in ballet
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