The Beantown Brews blog has been a great supporter of Narragansett beer. Writer Andrew Ferro has reviewed just about every beer we brew. We just sent him some Bock and he loved it. Here is what he had to say.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a package containing two Narragansett Bock tall boys on my stoop this evening. Okay, maybe not completely surprised. I did email them desperately asking for a sample to review for this blog after receiving the press release earlier this week... But hooray nonetheless! Thanks again Haley!
I’ve reviewed a number of Gansett products previously and I have to say, I’ve been looking forward to trying their bock ever since I spied it on the Gansett site. So here is my take -
Gansett Bock comes in a metallic green tall boy bearing the iconic Narragansett Logo accompanied by the bust of a ram - the traditional symbol for bock beer, since the word "bock" means ram. Tall boys are always a win in my book.
The first thing you should note is that this is not your typical bock, nor is it the retired Narragansett Bock of yore. I was a bit surprised after I cracked open my tall boy and poured a light colored beverage from the can. This is a helles (German for "bright") bock - a light colored variety of the bock beer. I would have known this had I read the marketing material prior, but I like to dive in to my initial impressions of a beer without a lot of direction about what I should anticipate. It is funner that way; like a mini adventure. I immediately flipped the can over to see what it had to say for itself. Sure enough, there was helles bock printed out, clear as day.
What might you expect to be different in a helles bock? BJCP Style Guidelines have this to say -
[Helles bock] Can be thought of as either a pale version of a traditional bock, or a Munich helles brewed to bock strength. While quite malty, this beer typically has less dark and rich malt flavors than a traditional bock. May also be drier, hoppier, and more bitter than a traditional bock. The hops compensate for the lower level of melanoidins. There is some dispute whether Helles ("pale") Bock and Mai ("May") Bock are synonymous. Most agree that they are identical (as is the consensus for Märzen and Oktoberfest), but some believe that Maibock is a "fest" type beer hitting the upper limits of hopping and color for the range. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation.
So now that we know what we are working with, how did Gansett’s bock live up to the style guidelines?
Appearance: So Gansett is a light colored bock - A bright penny, copper colored beer to be exact. It is a great example of the helles bock style. Bright and clear, pouring with a puffy, almost creamy, off-white head. Gansett drinkers will notice that this is quite a bit richer in color to the Gansett Lager.
Smell: Rich, bready malt and a bit of hop spiciness.
Taste: Toasted, bready malt. Warm. A nice, subdued mix of herbal and slightly spicy hop that helps balance out this malt dominated beer.
Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, but not so much to weigh you down.
Drinkability: A great representation of the helles bock style. Very tasty. Very drinkable. Subtly higher alcohol content than Gansett Lager, and Fest, but not enough to knock you on your ass. This beer is great. Approachable enough for the light lager drinker, and authentic enough to satisfy the discriminating beer purist.
I think it was wise of Gansett to go with a lighter colored bock. I think this beer appeals to the Gansett crowd a lot better than a darker bock would, or could. Plus, helles bocks, or maibocks as they are also called, are traditionally brewed for May, making this a great spring seasonal release. If you are a fan of Gansett Fest, Rogue Dead Guy Ale (not an ale), or even Sam Winter (technically not a helles, but a bock) I think you are going to really enjoy this beer. In fact, Beer Advocate rates this beer on par with Rogue’s helles bock, giving them both an A- rating.
If you are a Gansett drinker looking to mix it up, a fan ofGerman beer, or just looking for a reason to try a great example of a wonderful style of beer - grab yourself some Gansett Bock and enjoy.