This past weekend, my girlfriend and I went out to Cincinnati to visit a friend who had moved out there a few months ago. Our visit just happened to coincide with the Cincinnati Bockfest, so on Friday night we went to check it out.
The main Bockfest hall is located just outside of the center of downtown in the event hall for the Christian Moerlein Brewery. Throughout the night, buses shuttled people around to a number of participating bars in the area, including Arnold's, the oldest bar in Cincinnati. Overall, it was a great festival filled with some fantastic German food and some true characters. But was the beer good?
First of all, what is a Bock? A bock is a traditional strong German lager that is usually enjoyed towards the end of winter. The bog brother of the bock, the dopplebock, is a slightly stronger version of the bock (kind of like the Double IPA to the standard IPA). On tap during the Bockfest were pretty solid versions of both of these styles.
So which bock reigned supreme? Over the course of the night, I tried four bocks and the end results looked a little something like this:
Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau - Maibock
Spaten's Maibock was probably my least favorite of the event, but it didn't start that way. The beer pours a pretty clean golden color with a slight white head that goes away pretty quickly. At first, the smells coming off it were good: lots of malts and a slight breadiness. As soon as the beer warmed a bit, the smell took an unexpected turn: Grape Bubblicious. Strange.
Taste-wise, the beer did the same thing as the smell. At first, the beer tasted a bit thin, but had some good maltiness going on along with some flavors of freshly baked bread. As soon as it warmed, the flavor went south and tasted like Grape Bubblicious. This wasn't a terrible beer, but it was my least favorite of the bunch.
Hudepohl-Schoenling Brewing Co. - Hudy Bock
I tried this both on tap at the beer hall and in a bottle at a bar later in the night. Both times, the beer was enjoyable, but not quite great. The beer pours a nice, golden color with a cream colored head that lasted nicely. This one smelled more like a traditional lager with scents of grain and malts.
Taste-wise, this was better than the Spaten, but not as good as the next two beers. There was some nice malt flavor upfront, but the beer tasted a bit watered down to me. This one definitely had potential, but didn't quite reach it for me. Still, it was nice to try a beer that was made right in Cincinnati.
Christian Moerlein Brewing Company - Emancipator Dopplebock
The event was sponsored by Christian Moerlein and held in their event hall, so it only seemed right to try one of their beers. On tap were a few of their offerings, but I went for their dopplebock because I had heard that it was tasty. The beer didn't look that great coming off the tap and was an amber brown color with not much of a head. The smell was very sweet and malty.
As far as taste goes, this one had a lot going on. I picked up caramel, brown sugar, a ton of malt and some rye bread. There was a little warmness on the way down that made this one pretty pleasant to drink. What kind of ruined it for me was that the beer was pretty syrupy and a little too sweet to be enjoyable for long. It wasn't bad by any means, but it didn't deserve the number 1 spot on this list.
Bell's Brewery, Inc. - Bell's Consecrator Dopplebock
One of the breweries I was most looking forward to trying in Cincinnati was Bell's, a brewery based out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Sadly, Bell's doesn't get out to San Diego and I had never had the opportunity to try any of their offerings. Consecrator was my first. The beer poured a deep amber color with a cream colored head that lasted the entire beer. I picked up a lot of malt in the smell along with some brown sugar.
This beer tasted the way I think a good dopplebock should- plenty malty with some brown sugar, caramel and freshly baked bread. The beer was sweet without being overly so and rich without being syrupy. Probably the best dopplebock I've ever had.
Spaten Maibock: C+
Hudepohl Bock: B-
Moerlein Emancipator: B
Bell's Consecrator: A