The Road to Beer Judging Certification: European Amber, Dark Lager, Bock

This week we worked our way through European Amber Lagers (3A. Vienna Lager, 3B. Oktoberfest), Dark Lager (4A. Dark American Lager, 4B. Munich Dunkel, 4C. Schwarzbier) and Bock (5A. Maibock/Helles Bock, 5B. Traditional Bock, 5C. Doppelbock, 5D. Eisbock)

The overwhelming attribute of these 3 styles is a prominent toasty, sweet, and complex malt aroma – like the crust of freshly baked bread (melanoidin). Still little to no hop aroma or flavor. Again the hops only job is to cut the malt sweetness and provide a dry finish.

Cumulative Statistics:
IBU: 8 – 35
SRM: 6 – 22 (gold to brown)
OG: 1.046 – 1.072
FG: 1.008 – 1.018
ABV: 4.2 – 7.4%
(notice all but OG & SRM are very close to last week's Light Lager & Pilsner styles)

While the Oktoberfests and Doppelbocks are still plentiful this time of year, the Maibocks are scarce, the Eisbocks are endangered. A visit to 5 of Twin Cities’ best beer stores (Four Firkins, Ale Jail, Merwins, SAV #1, and SAV #2) proved Traditional Bocks are extinct.

Even though my time in Germany introduced me to many of the beers from tonight’s selection, some pleasant surprises came up in the rankings. The Hofbrauhaus Maibock was an amazingly delicious and accurate example of a Maibock; pale, dry, malty, sweet, balanced, clean. Similarly, the Köstritzer Schwarzbier was an outstanding surprise; dark, clean, smooth, and roasty (just this side of burnt). Again, highly recommended. The biggest surprise came from Baltika #4 – this Russian interpretation of a Dark American Lager was clean, with a toasty rich malty aroma followed by a malty dark sugar taste and slightly sweet finish. Very enjoyable.

Tonight’s Ranking (using BJCP’s 0-50 scale)

  1. 49 – Hofbrauhaus Maibock (Maibock/Helles Bock)
  2. 46 – Paulanar Salvator (Doppelbock)
  3. 45 – Köstritzer Schwarzbier (Schwartzbier)
  4. 43 – Haacker-Pschor Oktoberfest (Oktoberfest)
  5. 41 – Ayinger Altbairisch Dunkel (Munich Dunkel)
  6. 39 – Spaten Optimator (Doppelbock)
  7. 39 – Spaten Dunkel (Munich Dunkel)
  8. 39 – Paulanar Oktoberfest (Doppelbock)
  9. 37 – Baltika #4 (American Dark Lager)
  10. 36 – Hofstetten GranitBock (Doppelbock)
  11. 35 – Capital Amber (European Amber Lager)
  12. 34 – Shiner Bock (American Dark Lager)
  13. 34 – Capital Eisphyre (Eisbock)
  14. 32 – Sam Adams Black Lager (Schwartzbier)
  15. 20 – Hofstetten HellenBock (Maibock/Helles Bock)