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Beer #33 – February 2, 2010: Marh’s Brau Christmas Bock

February 3, 2010

Beer: Mahr’s Brau Christmas Bock

Brewery: Marh’s Brau, Bamberg, Germany

Style: Bock

Serving Type: 500 ml (16.9 oz) bottle

Price: $3.99/ bottle

Availability: Winter seasonal

Glassware: Mug

Strength: 6.0% ABV (alcohol by volume)

Drinkability: Tasty, but a little strong and a little thick, so one mug will do just fine.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Clear pale golden with big, fluffy white head.

Aroma: Earthy, grassy noble hop aroma.

Mouthfeel: Slightly thick and syrupy; a light-colored beer with a thick and chewy mouthfeel.

Taste: This one starts off mellow… subtle sweetness and a little doughty.  In the middle comes a surprising hop bite with flavors of spicy, bitter, peppery greens like arugula and radicchio.  The bitterness builds moderately towards the finish with notes of chicory and lemon rind, leading into a dryness that leaves you thirsting for more.  Much different than the more common dark, malty, lightly hopped bock beers I often think of as winter bock offerings.

Pairing: Unlike other darker, maltier bocks, I’d consider pairing this one with a mesclun salad, where the greens mimic the peppery notes in the beer, topped with herbed soft goat cheese with a creaminess that melds with the syrupy sweet flavors.  Also pretty tasty with blue corn chips and medium salsa – the hops work nicely with the peppery heat – how’s that for a cross-cultural pairing?

Trivia: Yes, it is February, and I’m enjoying a “Christmas beer”!  However, beers of moderate strength are typically great for drinking for 6 months after brewing, and stronger beers (like many Christmas offerings) can be cellared for years.  In fact, a number of beer bars now celebrate “Christmas in July”, tapping Christmas ales in the middle of summer, knowing that they are still very drinkable.

However, many buyers are weary to buy Christmas beers after December 25th (or Oktoberfests in November, etc.).  This is why you’ll find breweries now changing the names of their seasonal offerings to seasonal names “Autumn-fest” or “Winter-Ale” so that these beers aren’t considered “old” after only a month or two.

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