Tasting: August 1, 2012
Style: Triple Bock (made with Maple Syrup/Aged in Whiskey Barrels)
Sam Adams Triple Bock
I really enjoyed that 2004 Thomas Hardy Ale. It made me think of another “old” beer I have in my cellar, a 1994 Sam Adams Triple Bock. I remember when it was released, it had the same type of hoopla that would surround a KBS release today. There were newspaper articles and beer stores got limited quantities. There were people like me (not many) that would drive around from store to store trying to find a bottle or two. I ended up with a case of it and even got the box from one of the stores. The brewery promised to send tasting updates every six months and they did for a couple of years. I had bock and double bock before and really had anticipated the same rich malt flavor and some resemblance to bock. I recall very strong raisin and vanilla flavors. It was uniquely odd and I didn’t really like it. My wife liked the cobalt blue bottles and a few ended up as salad dressing bottles. I just checked my basement and I have sixteen bottles remaining. So, if you are interested in one – let me know, I’m happy to share. And hey, if you don’t like it – the bottle is beautiful.
Samuel Adams still details their only vintages of Triple Bock on their website – 1994, 1995 and 1997. Here are some of their comments – Triple Bock is the beer that truly started our odyssey into extreme brewing. Its deep, full flavor explodes with notes of maple, vanilla, oak and toffee. This flavor, along with the rich mouth feel, has drawn comparisons to a vintage port, sherry, and cognac; and Samuel Adams Triple Bock should be enjoyed in much the same way. We recommend serving it at room temperature in a snifter a few ounces at a time – one bottle should generously serve two to three. Its warming malt character and fruit esters make it an ideal after dinner aperitif.
We began by looking at other beer styles and brewing history to see what we could build on. There was something intriguing about whiskey and the flavors that could be created through the barrel aging process. The whiskey barrel we used gave the beer a whole new dimension of flavor during the aging process. Unlike regular beer which has a very limited shelf life, Samuel Adams Triple Bock seems only to improve with time, becoming even more complex, and slightly dryer.
Original Gravity: 40° Plato
Alcohol by Vol/Wt: 18% ABV – 14.4%ABW
Calories/12 oz.: 340
Availability: Limited release
First Brewed: 1994
At 18% ABV, this should have no problem aging. Pours as still as prune juice. Boozy ethers and dark fruit. Flavor is pretty amazing – dominant with burnt sugary syrup and raisins with strong booziness. Really does drink like a port. If you don’t like those dark fruit flavors, this isn’t for you. If you expect something that resembles a beer, this isn’t for you. I would certainly stick to the small portion suggested by Jim Koch. More than a couple of ounces might wear out its welcome. I wouldn’t put this at the same level as the Thomas Hardy – but really not bad at 88 points. I think I’m done with old beer.