There are two types of beer connoisseurs: malt heads and hop heads. I’d consider myself a member of the latter, so if I’m not crazy about a malty beer I’m not sure how much stock you can put into my opinion. That being said, I still was able to drink Samuel Adams’ new Imperial Series Double Bock and genuinely like it (but not love it). It’s rich and flavorful and for an imperial beer, it carries itself very well.
POUR, COLOR AND AROMA
I’ve noticed that thicker beers tend to pour more smoothly than thinner beers and that’s certainly true of this brew. It forms a dark copper/mahogany color without a trace of carbonation. The head is perfectly-proportioned, off-white color with a creamy composition not unlike those beers with a nitrogen widget. The aroma is surprisingly subdued with a slight grainy scent and some fruity notes as well as malts.
There are a lot of ways to describe the taste of this beer, but mild is definitely not one of them. Not only is this a double bock, but it’s also an imperial beer, which to some beer geeks is the best of both worlds - intense flavor and intense body.
Samuel Adams Double Bock is indeed a beer that throws its weight around. The flavor is rich and malty with a mostly sweet taste of plum, raisin, caramel and butterscotch. But all these ingredients take a back seat to the sheer volume of malts (a half pound of malts are included in each bottle according to the label). There is a distinct taste of alcohol and a warming sensation as the beer finishes. Honestly, I think this would’ve worked much better as a standard brew, rather than increasing the potency (which, to me, seems a bit arbitrary).
Still, the malt intensity at least means there’s real flavor to be enjoyed here. Perhaps it’s an acquired taste, but even the casual drinker will be floored by the palate here.
One of the reasons I’m not a fan of imperial beers is their inability to mask their potency and this beer is a good example of that. While there is certainly a lot of flavor to Samuel Adams Double Bock, there’s a little too much of a dry alcoholic finish and subsequent aftertaste. With a thick, chewy body which is actually tepid in the mouthfeel, this beer isn’t all that difficult to actually drink.
Hungry? Perhaps you should try using this beer as a meal substitute. It is 320 calories per bottle, after all. Combined with a potent ABV of 9.5%, this is a beer that makes itself known. That could explain why it’s only sold in 4 rather than 6 packs, but after just one bottle the average drinker will notice the density here. In that regard it works well as a sipping beer and as an indulgence, but I think that’s the point to begin with.
I think Samuel Adams Imperial Series Double Bock would work best as a winter warmer on a cold night, so it’s odd this is now sold as a year-round brew. Those who have been intimidated by imperial beers (myself included) would do well to give this one a try as an entry into the genre. Even if you haven’t acquired the taste for a niche beer like this, in this case you’re likely to be at least content with it and that’s what matters.