Friday, August 9, 2013
Boston Beer Company - Samuel Adams Triple Bock (1997)
Jack the Ripper. Joseph Stalin. Kris Jenner. Whoever the writer was of the song, "Who Let the Dogs Out." Throughout the history of the world, evil has appeared in many forms. But perhaps never have I come face to face with evil so ruthless as that which reared its head from an innocuous looking cobalt blue bottle a few days ago. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, really. It had been trapped in there since 1997. And it was very ready to be set free.
Before we get into the beer itself, let's think about how old a beer that was bottled in 1997 is. Simple math tells us that the beer is 16 years old, but do you remember where you were 16 years ago? I don't know about you, but 16 years ago, I was an awkward pre-teen puttering around Paul Revere Middle School with my wingman, a penguin Beanie Baby named Pengy, trying unsuccessfully (to your surprise, I'm sure) to get girls to talk to me. Actually, you know what... let's NOT go back 16 years. Who wants to relive ancient history? Let's talk about Sam Adams Triple Bock!
Sam Adams Triple Bock was first bottled in 1994 and, at the time, was one of the strongest beers in existence. For Sam Adams, it was the gateway to bigger, crazier beers like their famed Utopias beer (which I lovingly call, "Out of my price range"). Sam Adams bottled Triple Bock in '94, '95 and finally in '97, after which they decided to stop making it. From what I've heard, it wasn't bad when it was fresh. But as years have gone by, Triple Bock has turned into the stuff of legend.
When I was first getting into beer, I spent an obscene amount of time on the forums of beeradvocate. From the talk of Lost Abbey's carbonation issues to the beer-related abbreviations used in forums (PTE= Pliny the Elder, FBS= Founders Breakfast Stout, etc.) to the banter about which state made the best beer, I sat back and watched, filling my brain with beer knowledge I assumed I would need should I ever chance upon a fellow BA (that's Beer Advocate for all you non-BA's). And it was there (well, on the "Worst Beer Ever!" threads, to be exact) that I learned that Triple Bock existed. After reading scores of reviews of the stuff, I knew I had to try it. It took years to obtain, but I finally was able to trade for a bottle with my very generous friend from Pennsylvania, Frank. Thanks, Frank! I think...
Samuel Adams Triple Bock pours a dense and downright pond-scummy looking brown color with no head whatsoever. I swirled the beer in the glass a bit, only to find that it left my glass horribly stained with what looked to be pure tar. The beer was corked, but the cork was soggy and practically disintegrated into the bottle when I pulled it out. After the pour, bits of cork clung to the surface with what little buoyancy they had left after 16 years of saturation and had to be fished out with a spoon. Huge clumps of muck stayed behind like sulking teens on a family vacation (which makes sense because those clumps really are teens) and took multiple blasts of hot water to be loosened from the bottle. The rumors about this beer's vileness appeared to be true, and I hadn't even taken a smell yet.
My first smell of this beer was...regrettable. A sickeningly sweet aroma jetted down my nostrils and straight into the pit of my gut.
"Did you just gag?" my friend, Brian, asked.
I calmed my stomach the best I could and went back in. Bad idea. Triple Bock smells like a puree of soy sauce, molasses and raisins that's been trapped in a car on a 100 degree day for about six hours. Whatever drinkable matter was in that bottle smells to be about fifteen years deceased. It's really horrific. I don't think I've ever been more terrified to take a sip of beer than I was with this, but it was definitely too late to turn back. Triple Bock opens with a note of slightly sour plum that is sweet. Really sweet. "Port-like" could be a good description, but only if instead of being the byproduct of crushed and fermented grapes, that port was the byproduct of crushed and fermented souls. Prickly booze, heavily fermented raisin, and raisin cake all make nauseating treks across the palate before a finish that's a cross between sewage soaked prune and regret. While the beer is in your mouth it releases savory blasts that I swear taste like straight MSG. The mouthfeel is thick and uneven, almost chowder-like.
While I can't recommend the experience of trying this beer itself, I am glad that I tried it. I don't feel like you can truly appreciate the top beers the world has to offer if you haven't trudged through the bottom of the list as well. And I think it's safe to say, my friends, that Triple Bock is about as low as you can go.
Final Grade: F
Top 250 Beers Tasted: 129