In this year’s Samuel Adams Winter Classics 12-pack, Samuel Adams has expanded the scope of their Chocolate Bock. Previously, the Chocolate Bock could only be found in Limited Edition 25.9 ounce bottles.
The beer smelled sweet, with a scent of chocolate. With the taste, it was a smooth, malty bock that had a hint of chocolate flavor that comes from the Ecuador cocoa nibs that the beer is aged on. The chocolate was not too overpowering, and was subtle. It was just enough to let you know it was there.
I’m glad to see Samuel Adams added Chocolate Bock to the Winter Classics as a seasonal beer.
Have you tried the Chocolate Bock? What did you think?
Toward the end of the fall beer season, I like to look back and reflect on how great Oktoberfest beers are. They have a great malty, almost burnt-caramel flavor to them. This is because many of these beers use a process called “decoction”. This is when about 0ne-third of the resting mash is scooped out, boiled, then returned to the original mash. This raises the temperature to a specific level, achieving a higher resting temperature to activate different enzymes.
Decoction mashing was widely used in Europe, specifically Germany, before the use of thermometers because taking out a portion of the mash and boiling it (a constant temperature) successfully allowed the specific temperature values to occur. In addition to this, boiling the grains also made extraction of the starch easier by breaking the cell walls of the grain. Today, this is not as necessary, because most brewing grains are well-modified, so the starches are easily available for starch to sugar conversion.
Kind of a “side-effect” of this style of mashing was the introduction of complex, strong caramel flavors from the boiling, called a maillard reaction, producing melanoidins.
The decoction process is not used as much today because it is extremely time consuming (up to 3-4 times as long), and is logistically very difficult in large scale breweries. For the homebrewer, however, it may be a process worth exploring.
Have you heard of decoction mashing? What is your take on the process?