3.5AROMA 6/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 14/20
I’ve never been a big fan of bocks no matter if they’re authentic imports or American [quasi] craft breweries’ take on the style. Bocks tend to be too mild, dry or heavy (or any combination thereof) for the average drinker to appreciate. But once in a while one will come along that shatters my perceptions like Samuel Adams 2008 Long Shot Traditional Bock. This beer was made by homebrewer Alex Drobshoff who probably wanted to make a niche style brew without the stigma of an acquired taste (that’s my theory, at least).
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
This beer pours to a mostly clear shade of medium brown. There’s a bit of haziness to the body but no sediment noticeable. Carbonation is minimal. The head is tan-colored and creamy/foamy in texture and proportional in size. It leaves a nice layer of lacing around the glass for every individual swig.
The aroma is slightly mild with a mostly sweet, malty scent. The label indicates notes of plum and cherry in the nose but I did not detect them. Perhaps there is a trace of dark fruit to be smelt here, but really only to the discerning drinker.
I wish my previous experience with bocks was something more along the lines of Long Shot Traditional Bock because I’ve been so unsatisfied with the style in the past. This beer is most definitely not an acquired taste. Sure it’s very malty and sweet, but even a hophead like me could appreciate it.
The flavor starts out with a rich, malty sweetness with notes of toffee and caramel present. As the label indicates, there is indeed a toasted malt taste to behold. It’s slightly bready or doughy and just a hint of dark fruit as well. I don’t detect much, if any, hops to the palate but that’s okay because the taste is quite inviting. However, I did notice the flavor mellows the more I drink and I also notice a dry, almost chalky taste in the back end. It’s nothing off-putting, and I doubt the average drinker would even notice it, but it’s enough to draw my attention.
While I would certainly describe the overall taste here sweet and delectable, what really sold me on Long Shot Traditional Bock was the mouthfeel. It’s thick and heavy, to be sure, but at the same time it’s velvety smooth like a stout. The dryness to the back end is limited to the palate and doesn’t effect the smooth finish.
Sometimes a beer’s statistics will surprise me and I think it’s sometimes better to not pay attention to them because they tend to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mistakenly assumed this beer was average in weight, but it wasn’t until I had finished it that I bothered to look at the bottle. It certainly doesn’t feel or drink like a 6.8% ABV beer. Even though it’s thick in the palate, it’s not heavy on the constitution and there’s certainly not alcohol noticeable in the taste. It’s one of the few beers with such a high ABV that I would consider session worthy.
I wasn’t expecting to like Long Shot Traditional Bock as much as I did (if at all), which makes it all the more pleasant in retrospect. As sometime that doesn’t usually like beers of the style, take it from me – this is a very drinker-friendly brew (as are all the beers in the 2008 Long Shot winners six-pack).