Tag Archives: handcrafted beer

Beer Review: Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock

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Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock

Before I begin sprouting my opinion, I find it necessary to mention that I am very uncultured in the world of bocks; I’ve only had two. The first bock I had was from Shiner. Shiner Bock was one of the first beers I enjoyed drinking, but as I sample it now I do not care for it. The other bock I had was from a brewery I cannot recall, though I do remember not being a fan of it. So I will note that I was a bit apprehensive about trying Gordon Biersch’s Blonde Bock, but I’m always up for experiencing new brews.

The appearance of this beer was quite standard. Most bocks are generally darker in color, but this one was definitely golden blonde in hue. It poured a 1-finger white head that dissipated within a couple of minutes and left next to no lacing on the glass. Again, it was average looking. It just did not seem to have anything going for it. It sits even on the scale at a 2.5/5.

The nose on this beer was incredibly malty right out of the bottle. I popped the cap and my nose was hit with a fresh bready/biscuit aroma. I was also getting small hints of fruit, maybe pears? It was very faint, but was a nice touch. There was almost no hop presence at all on the nose. While the aroma wasn’t a complete knockout, it wasn’t displeasing by any means; just very underwhelming which gives it a 2.75/5.

As with the nose, the taste was definitely bready, which was exemplified as the beer warmed. There wasn’t much of a hop profile to this brew. It was hard to pick out exactly what flavors the hops were trying to produce or enhance. I know bocks are more malt-driven, but you really got only a taste of hops at the back end. I found that my choice to snack on pretzels while drinking this was an excellent decision as the saltiness of the pretzels balanced the sweetness of the malts and provided a nice sweet taste. The taste was fine, but not extraordinary. I’d give it a 3.25/5.

Generally when drinking beers the mouthfeel has a tendency to change throughout the tasting. Blonde Bock, however, maintained a refreshing and crisp feel the entire session. It was so crisp, in fact, that it felt almost brittle. I don’t know if a liquid can be described as brittle, but that was the first word that came to mind when drinking this bock. It does not coat your mouth or throat; it just passes right through and does not sit in a heavy fashion. For me, this was enjoyable. I usually like my beers to feel somewhat thicker, but for its taste I think the feel matched it quite well, earning it a 3.75/5.

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Overall, this was by no means a bad beer, but I probably would not go out of my way to seek it out and would likely pass it by if other options were available. I’m glad to have tried an interesting bock variation, but it was simply not my cup of tea. No doubt this is a fine representation of the style, but it does not fall within my wheelhouse. Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock is alright, but not great. Final score: 3.1/5.

Ryan Moyer

Ryan is a graduate of Indiana University.

Note: Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock has an alcohol by volume (ABV) content of 7%. Gordon Biersch began its brewing activities in Palo Alto, California. The Gordon Biersch brewery and bottling plant is located in San Jose. Gordon Biersch is now headquartered in Broomfield, Colorado.

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Beer Review: Red Trolley Ale

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I recently had the pleasure of tasting Karl Strauss Brewing Company’s highly acclaimed Red Trolley Ale. This Irish Red boasts gold medals from the 2010 and 2013 Great American Beer Festival as well as the 2010 and 2012 World Beer Cup, and 14 medals from various other beer festivals and competitions. The brew’s website claims Red Trolley Ale is a “medium-bodied beer with heavyweight malts” and their description does not mislead.

This beer poured a beautiful deep copper/toffee color with a barely present tan head. The head barely lasted a minute as it dissipated into nothing. There was also an absence of lacing. Maybe I gave it a subpar pour, but I doubt that was the case. The color was very pleasing, but the lack of a head and lacing severely reduces its appearance rating down to a 2.5/5.

When smelling Red Trolley Ale, you get nothing but malts on the nose. It doesn’t boast an overpowering aroma, yet there is an obvious caramel backbone with hints of toffee. It’s pretty simple on the nose, but that does not diminish the quality. It’s smell is a solid 3.5/5.

As promised, this beer definitely prides itself on the “heavyweight malts.” It is much more complex on the palate than the nose, however. Red Trolley is predominantly caramel and toffee flavored beer, though there seem to be no bittering hops, but that’s to be expected for the style. Instead, there is a hint of some dark fruits on the back end and after taste, perhaps a bit of San Diego influence into the Irish Red style. As the beer warms you really begin to appreciate the density and the complexity of the play between the subtle fruit notes against the strong malt base. There also seemed to be some hidden spice characteristics that began to remind me of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Christmas Ale. This brew definitely takes the palate for a ride – 4.5/5.

The mouth feel was no surprise for an Irish Red. There was low to moderate carbonation and the beer coats the back of the mouth and the throat in a velvet blanket upon first sip. It was a little much for me, but not terrible and definitely on point for the style, so I’m giving its mouth feel a 4/5.

Red Trolley

Throughout my tasting I was pleasantly surprised. I’m usually not a fan of malt driven beers and I’m not entirely familiar with Irish Reds, but compared to the ones I’ve had, this is definitely near – it not at – the top of my list. The only thing that really hurts the beer is its appearance, which – though aesthetically pleasing, isn’t entirely important in the tasting. In my opinion, this malt driven brew with its hidden spices and subtle dark fruits would make an excellent winter warmer; great for a snowy evening next to the fire.

Though the Irish Red isn’t my go to style, I highly appreciate this beer and understand the respect it has garnered in the brewing community. When averaging out the numbers, this beer comes out to a very respectable 3.63/5.

Well recommended.

Ryan Moyer

Ryan Moyer is a graduate of Indiana University. Red Trolley Ale is brewed and bottled in San Diego, California; thus making it an imported beer for most of the country.

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