Tuesday, November 28, 2006

St. Nikolaus Bock Bier - Santa's Little Helper?

I just love seasonal microbrews and craft beers! It doesn't matter the season or the reason. I love sampling what different microbreweries come up with and their interpretations of different styles of microbrews rotating throughout the year. Christmas-time is just another of my most anticipated times of the year (both for the presents, and for the craft beer...of which would make a great gift for the holidays if my wife is reading this "hint, hint")

Okay, enough rattling on. What I've tested out today is a perfect offering from a local brewery just down the road in East Pittsburgh, PA. I'm talking about the Pennsylvania Brewing Company and their St. Nikolaus Bock Bier in particular.

Now being honest and up front with you, I've tried several of Penn Brewing's other "craft beers" with not always the best impressions being left on my palate. Nothing against the brewery, just not my cup of tea I guess. But St. Nickolaus Bock Bier is a far cry from any other microbrew I've laid my lips to from this brewery.

First off, the bottle is a completely glorious example of what a Christmas beer label should look like with Jolly Old St. Nick right there smiling on the bottle, and I'm not talking about some chintzy, commercial rendition, but what seems like a Victorian era depiction of the "real Santa Claus". It really put me in the mood that I was about to embark on a true Christmas treat.

The beer was poured into my trusty unchilled pint glass with a dark, dark ruby appearance but only when held up to very bright light. The head only displayed only about 1/2 finger of a very light tan colored froth that didn't spend a whole lot of time lingering. It was completely gone in about 5 minutes. Gone! Aroma gave me a combined impression of sweetness, malt, chocolate and even just a hint of caramel (great description, I know!).

Now that it'd had a chance the breath, the first sip of this microbrew was impressive. I think just the drastic improved difference in the saturation of pleasing flavor, compared to the other Pennsylvania Brewing Company beers, really hit me with a better than average standing than normally would be rated. I enjoyed the flavor that seemed to match what was hinted in the aroma to a "T". There was a strong roasted maltiness, there was chocolate bouncing around, a little bit of caramel and twinges of something reminiscent of dates. Unlike some other "Christmas Beers" I've tried, this style being a bock didn't bring in the spices that alot of holiday craft beers or "winter warmers" seem to implement fairly consistently. There was a bit, just a bit of alcohol tinge to the beverage as it warmed toward the end of the glass, but not enough to be a turn off. The beer itself is listed at about 7.5 abv so it is around that range you'd expect to taste it a little.

In all, a well-crafted microbrew from Pennsylvania Brewing Company. I wouldn't classify it as the alltime perfect , but it really impressed me well beyond what I had maybe initially expected (judging from past experiences and not being a huge Dunkel Bock style fan). Packaging, labeling, appearance, aroma, taste and level of drinkability were all well above average marks and truly put me in the mood for the holidays (and another St. Nikolaus Bock!) I may just have to purchase a case of this for the upcoming festivities, if I can still even find it around anywhere here. I give it a thumbs up and recommend it for the holiday/winter season.

I'll vouch for a 7.50 rating out of 10.00 for Penn Brewery's St. Nikolaus Bock Bier. Ho, ho, ho!!

You can check out more reviews of new microbrews and fun microbrew and craft beer related info at Microbrew Review or My Squidoo Lens. Check out Summer Microbrew too!

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