wulfhere (218) - Billings, Montana, USA - DEC 17, 2003
I wanted to see why this beer has such a low rating, so I read quite a few ratings before I tasted the beast. I can see that this is maybe the most controversial beer on this site--it seems to be love it or hate it.
I guess I want to compare what Boston Brewing Co. says they were trying to achieve with Sam Adams Triple Bock, and what they claim it should be like versus what I get out of it.
First a couple of notes:
I believe that RateBeer.com saddled Sam Adams Triple Bock with the "Barleywine" descriptor in order to categorize it for those who would rate it. Boston Brewing Co. calls it "Triple Bock," and leaves it at that, implying that it's a new style of beer.
In response to a couple of comments indicating that Boston Beer Co. should tell you to cellar the Triple Bock-- they do. They claim "Age seems only to improve Triple Bock, making it more complex, and slightly dryer. This is a beer to hoard!"
I'd like to point out that traditional "bock" beers are lagers as well, although the Sam Adams Triple Bock is made using "top fermenting yeast." Someone claims BBC uses champagne yeast, and this would make sense given the OG. Given the ale yeast, I don't know why Jim Koch chose to call his creation a "triple bock" as opposed to "barleywine," especially when he makes a point of comparing it to port and sherry.
Now for the Tasting! 1998 vintage, I think--I've had it in the cellar for years.
The bottle is perhaps the coolest I've seen for a beer, rivaling some of the Belgian crock bottles for style. I'm a sucker for cobal blue too.
The beer has NO head--that's what BBC claims as well, so they ain't lying.
It pours a very dark, opaque brown, like a stout or dark porter, but with some serious red wine colors at the edges of the glass where the light can pass through. It resembles a very dark cabernet.
The nose is incredibly complex: huge malt, raisin, molasses, licorice, and I find myself comparing it to a very rich cognac, but without the same heat in the nose--and far more impact. The overall impression is more intense than port or cognac--there's more oomph behind this beer.
When I swirl the Triple Bock gently, it has in wine terms what you would call "good legs," that is, the beer clings to the side of the glass and slides very slowly down.
First taste: what the hell am I doing pouring this whole bottle into a glass? Drink it like you would cognac--put a shotglass quantity in a brandy snifter and let it warm up.
On the tongue it's very very sweet, with vinous character like a port or congnac--just like Jim Koch says it does. It's first very sweet with cherry/molasses flavor bursting into your mouth as the beer slides around. It's extremely flavorful, maybe moreso than any beer I've ever had.
After the initial burst of fruity cherry/molasses flavor, the alcohol heat hits hard, as does the odd, medicine like aftertaste.
Jim Koch wanted "a . . .single sip to do away with all preconceptions of the taste and flavors that can be found in beer," and I think that Sam Adams Triple Bock does just that. Has anyone out there tasted anything as outrageous a this beer?
I can't say that I love this beer or that it's my favorite--It's too over the top. But I do appreciate what it tries to achieve. I guess I have to admire Boston Brewing Company and Jim Koch for being willing to produce a beer that clearly has such a small target demographic. In this day and age of mass production and bean counters calling all of the shots in major American breweries, it's nice to know that someone's willing to stick their neck out and produce a massive, insanely bold beer.
So, love it or hate it--Sam Adams Triple Bock does everything Boston Brewing Company claims it does--they ain't lying.
I'm going to judge it as a "specialty beer," based upon Boston Brewing Companies claims about the beer. SledgeJr (3577) - Omaha, Nebraska, USA - MAY 14, 2004
UPDATED: JUL 7, 2010 Vintage 1995. Tasted at my own Barleywine tasting of May 2004. The cork broke, even though it has been stored on its side these many years in my basement. The ale is disturbingly dark. An opaque ruby glow in incandescent light. Dominant nose is chocolate. WOW!!! This is a fine port! When I exhale into the glass, the breath blows into my eyes and burns them. This is like drinking virgin’s blood. It tastes way better than it smells. I would compare it not to beer, but to chocholate cherry kijafa of Denmark. It burns not only the tongue, but also the duodenum. I tasted this for the first time in 1995 and found it to be an aggressive little bitch. Today, she’s quite the seasoned lover. I would like to think that if I were ever incarcerated, as a homebrewer, I would make an ale like this out of raisins and hide it in my toilet. Then, I would rule the cell block and be no one’s bitch. The tasting glasses were tobacco-stained and had to be not just rinsed, but thrown away. EVERYONE at the tasting loved this potion. I understand that half the Ratebeerians love it and half hate it, so I don’t think it would be appropriate to score this anything other than 0.5 or 5. For those of you who do not love this one, as Eric Cartman would say: "Screw you hippies, I’m going home."
UPDATE: In the bottle at my 2006 Barleywine tasting. 1997 vintage. Heavy Worscheshire sause. Soy, soy, I’m your boy. This is beer port with long long legs. There’s no discernable ethanol to this deceitful demon. Chocolate prune juice.
UPDATE 2/2007: At the 2007 Big Beer, Belgians, & Barleywines Festival in Vail. Tasted a batch that was labelled "Vintage 2003." All I have to say is "OUCH," the old girl still has it. My Five still stands.
UPDATE In the bottle on 11/13/09. Vintage 1994. Blackstrap molasses. I get a licorice aroma for what might be the first time! One can get drunk from just breathing the vapors of this beer. There’s a prebiotic soup in the bottom of the bottle. Huge prunes, no alcohol at all. There’s a mild aroma of a small amount of ethanol. I would score this a 6.0 if I could.
UPDATE In the bottle on 11/13/09. Vintage 1997. This is not at all like the 1994 vintage. The aroma has a slight burn to your nose. The flavor is oddly vegetable and perhaps Vegemite. This is liquid Vegemite. It’s not as tasty as the 1994. This is the first bottle of triple bock that I would not score a perfect 5.0. But still it has a huge soy aroma that I love. LooseCannon (938) - Norfolk, Virginia, USA - AUG 31, 2006
1997 vintage. Thanks to Immy. Soy Sauce Aroma outstanding Barley Wine. If you do not like this one, I will take it off your hands. lgklotet (437) - Stockholm, SWEDEN - APR 17, 2007
1997 vintage, sampled in early 2007. This was one of the first rare/big beers I procured early on in my drinking career and I’ve been holding on to it for 1,5 years now. I figured that the Triple Bock might be wasted on too inexperienced a palate. Man was I right. This stuff is absolutely marvellous! I should mention that we split a bottle between six people and were all satisfied.. I have one bottle left, maybe I’ll wait another five years or so. SudsMcDuff (8494) - .....Manchester United.........., Texas, USA - OCT 27, 2007
My first perfect 5!
georgekappus (296) - Brookfield, Connecticut, USA - APR 19, 2008
One of the best beers the world has ever seen!
I feel sorry for people who don’t like it, sometimes it gets me ticked off for a second but then i think, ’’hey, more pure gold for me!’’ .
..Pours thick and black, with a red golden tint on the edges---
smell is of god ---
amazing legs for a beer ---
taste is indescribable goodness, heavily sweetened and quite thick for a beer ---
I could die happy having tasted this and more so, i wish i had the money to buy the rest of the world’s supply... i love this beer!
If Mr.Koch ever reads this, e-mail me, I’ll do horrible disgusting things to get more of this beer!
1997 vintage. Pours a deep thick dark brown with no head. Aroma is thick full of alcohol and molasses. Flavor is a little bitter but thick and sweet as well. And obviously a strong alcohol presence. A thick and meaty beer to be savored slowly. coldmeat23 (232) - Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA - OCT 29, 2009
TEMP: Cellared @ approx 50 degrees
There is no ’neck tag’, so I’m unsure of vintage.
[In the interest of full disclosure, I like this beer alot. I’ve had quite a few of them, over the years. Don’t know why I haven’t got around to reviewing it before now. I haven’t had one in about 8 months now, let’s see how it’s doing, shall we?]
As always, this pours jet black. It is still (no carbonation). It is extremely viscous and oily. There is obviously no head or lacing. In lieu of lacing though, it leaves an ’oily’ residue on the sides of the glass.
I think that this is beautiful.
The nose is filled with a mammoth oakiness. It smells like there should be a few oak chips in the glass. There are huge, deep, notes of chocolate covered dark fruits. Milk and dark chocolates, both. Black cherries, figs, dates, raisins, and more. There is also a nice, mild touch of maple sweetness here. This also has a fair amount of booziness in the nose, but at 17.50%abv, that’s certainly no surprise!
Okay, this is an absolutely, monumentally, complex flavor profile. I know that I won’t do it justice, but I’ll give it a shot.
If you had a Cuisinart and filled it with chocolate covered cherries, dates, figs, raisins, Ghiradelli chocolate covered caramels, maple syrup, a handful of mixed, toasted, nuts, a few dark roasted coffee beans, and a bunch of oak chips that were drizzled with liquid smoke, then pureed it and served it in unfinished oak mugs, you’d come close to the flavor of this beer, I think.
There is so much going on in this beer, it’s hard to nail it all down.
Despite the lack of carbonation, I love the body of this beer. It’s full-bodied and almost thick. It’s more viscous than almost any beer that I’ve ever had (DL would be my first thought as possibly more viscous, but I’d have to do a side-by-side to know for sure). It’s smooth and very silky and completely coats your palate, in the most wonderful, delicious way.
Okay, for me, it’s looking like this beer is perfect. I, quite honestly, didn’t expect that to happen. I knew that my rating would be on the high end, for sure, but I’m as surprised as you that I’ve given it a perfect score.
I love this beer and I wish that they would make more of it. Either that or send me however much thay have left at this point.
If you have some, feel free to contact me for my shipping address, or to work out a trade. If there is some store in your area, selling them for a buck or two a bottle (I’ve scene this before), then please contact me and we’ll work something out.