For the annual PINT bock beer festival, the favorite bock of the year is chosen. The winner in 2004 was Twels Bock from the Friese Bierbrouwerij. Café Morshuis in Albergen, 40 minutes by bicycle from the tiny village where I live and an oasis in beer desert Twente, was the scene of one of the 2005 semi finals. Some 20 inhabitants of Albergen of varied ages, regular guests in Café Morshuis with some taste for beer had to choose the best bock beer from six contestants in a blindfold test. I was included as a special guest because of my so called beer knowledge (yes, I did mention Ratebeer!).
Eduard, proprietor of Café Morshuis opened the evening with a glass of Grolsch “to clean the palate”, presented baguette, nuts and salted crackers and the served the first bock bier: number 6 on the list.
I saw the beer was pretty light colored for a standard bock, noticed an yeasty aroma and tasted milk chocolate, licorice and caramel in the slightly herbal flavor. Was it Mommeriete bock?? Probably not: I scored it only 2.3 on the Ratebeer scale. It was Burg Bok. The average score in café Morshuis was 3.0, the average in all three beer pubs (Morshuis, De Beurs in Oosterhout and De Boom in Alkmaar) and the first round together was 3.3 (I have translated the panel score to Ratebeer score by halfing it: it was a scale from 1 to 10).
The second was beer number 5: I noticed caramel in the aroma. The beer had a firm body and hints of roasted malt and caramel in the flavor. I even tasted some hops in the background and, surprising, almonds. Amaretto liquor, said one of the younger men in the team, and he was right. La Trappe Bock was my guess, 3.2 my rating. The beer turned out to be Budels Bok. The average score in Café Morshuis was 3.0, the average total score (surprise!) 3.2.
The third beer was beer number 2, and proved to be my (but not everybody’s) favorite. The beer had a vinous aroma, mixed with caramel and grapes and a sweet, even a bit sugary, malty, herbal flavor, again with grapes. A full bodied, rather alcoholic beer it was. I noticed some hopbitterness in the aftertaste. Ezelenbock was my guess, 3.4 my rating. It was Hoeksch Bok, a beer unknown to me so far. The average score in Albergen was 3.3, the average total score 3.4. The beer went through to the final!
Beer number four carried the number 1. For some reason this beer reminded me of my grandmother. I noticed hops and licorice in the aroma, but also Buisman: a mix of caramelled sugar and cinnamon older Dutch people like my granny used to boost the taste of their diluted coffee. Not surprisingly, the beer was very sweet and sugary, with some roasted malt. It tasted like the apple flaps the Dutch consume in masses on new years eve. 3 Horne bock was my guess, but it turned out to be Hertog Jan Bock. My rating was a miserable 2.1. But the beer proved to be a winner: 3.2 was the average score in Café Morshuis, the average total score 3.4. Café De Beurs scored it a whopping 4.0 average!
The fifth beer carried number 4. A firm herbal, yeasty and sugary flavor and aroma, in which I also found pure chocolate and grapes. Not too well balanced, this beer, but it tasted really well. 3.2 was my rating. Probably Borefts Bock from De Molen in Bodegraven, I guessed, judging the massive use of spices, but it was La Trappe Bock.The average score in café Morshuis was a meagre 2.7, thus preventing this beer from reaching the final, with a average total score of 3.3.
The sixth in line, carrying number 3 had an abundance of yeast in appearance (cloudy), aroma and flavor. Perhaps I had the bottom of the bottle. Initial flavors of grapes, pineapple and hops were overwhelmed by the bitter tasting yeast. Not really good, this Texelse Bock (I guessed, but was wrong: it was Borefts Bock). Rating: 2.3. And indeed, this beer scored lowest in the semi-final with an average of 3.2 (Morshuis) and 2.9 (overall).
After this hard work I grabbed a Ettaler Curator Doppelbock from tap and discussed with Eduard and some remaining tasters about the beers. No, Eduard Morshuis couldn’t tell which beers I’d had. He had brought them in from Ermelo, without a label. One or two of them are welcome in my cellar, was his comment. A bottled Dulle Teve from the Dolle Brouwers followed the Ettaler and after that it was time to cycle home. The cold wind cleared my mind and my blood from the excess of alcohol and gave room for final thoughts. I don’t think I’ve tasted the winner that evening, but I will gladly repeat this exercise next year. And take on some serious training, because mentioning the right bock turned out to be a big failure.
By the way: the scores can be checked at www.lekkerstebockbier.nl. The overall winner proved to be Ezelenbock from SNAB.