Sham-Bock: Erin go Bock

An early spring seasonal, this doppelbock from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario pours with a creamy head that leaves ample lace and settles as a thick collar atop the dark brown and ruby-coloured brew. Sham-Bock smells mainly of dark fruits such as figs, dates and raisins, with notes of chocolate and butterscotch becoming more apparent as it warms.

This Hearty Lager Can Warm Up a Crisp Early Spring Day

The taste of Sham-Bock has a surprisingly strong bitterness for the style, though it is far from overpowering against the lager’s formidable sweetness. Flavours of red grape juice, chocolate, honey and coffee are met with a wallop of maple syrup that brings a mineral-like sharpness along with its inherently sweet tone. A full body and modest amount of carbonation yield a grainy and mildly viscous mouthfeel, while the lager finishes quite dry, leaving hints of chocolate syrup and lemon juice behind in the aftertaste.

Ayinger Celebrator: Celebrate Good Times

Ayinger Celebrator from Brauerei Aying (Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG) in Germany pours a deep chestnut-ruby colour with amber highlights around the edges when held up to light and a small tan coloured head that gets retained as a thin, but frothy collar without leaving much lacing. This doppelbock has a rich and complex malty aroma with a strong oak tone. Dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and molasses can all be found and a hint of alcohol comes out as you make your way through the glass.

Ayinger Celebrator
This Hearty Beer is Perfect for Sipping on a Cold Day

The taste of Ayinger Celebrator follows the aroma and is equally rich and complex. Dark fruits, chocolate, sweet malts, roasted grains, oak and a hint of vanilla are all present before a bitter and herbal finish takes over. The mouthfeel is creamy and hearty with a low-medium carbonation and a yeasty sensation on the tongue. The aftertaste is dry with oak and fruit tones. This heavy beer is surprisingly drinkable, with little trace of alcohol aside from a pleasant warming effect.

Doppel-Hirsch: Buck the Trend

Doppel-Hirsch from Der Hirsch Brau and Privatbrauerei Hoss in Sonthofen, Germany pours a clear, rusty ruby colour with a slightly small head that leaves little lace but survives as a collar. The aroma is slightly astringent or metallic at first, but after this hearty beer has had time to breathe it smells of fermented fruit, wet grains and dark roasted malt. A buttery toffee accent comes through as it warms.

This Heavy Beer was Originally Brewed as a Meal Replacement

The higher than average ABV really comes through in the taste of Doppel-Hirsch, even when it’s cold. The beer is quite sweet and fruity with a fresh grainy tone, a deep malt backing and a definite woodiness. The mouthfeel is a bit chewy and bready but smooth. Fruit and alcohol come through on the tongue and the beer has a surprisingly quick and tart, clean finish.

Amsterdam Spring Bock: Season of the Goat

This strong seasonal brew pours a very nice dark ruby-nut colour with a moderate, but thick and spongy tan head that leaves a thick layer of lace. Amsterdam Spring Bock from the Amsterdam Brewing Company Limited in Toronto, Ontario carries a subdued aroma even after warming. What is there is deep and malty, with a dark fruit tone and a hint of chocolate syrup.

Amsterdam Spring Bock
This is a Rich but Easy-Drinking Bock

Amsterdam Spring Bock has the taste of dark fruit and chocolate. It has a syrupy sweetness and a strong, but not overpowering bitterness. It carries a hearty, but creamy mouthfeel and does a devilish job of masking its ABV percentage. A subtle spiciness arrives as the beer warms and the fruity taste lingers in the finish along with a pronounced woody flavour.