Vintage Brewing is pouring a Valentine’s Day treat you can drink. The already sweet doppelbock style is ramped up a bit in Vintage’s Bock’s O-Chocolates, which focuses on chocolate, with a more authentic bitter sweetness.
What is it? Bock’s O-Chocolates from Vintage Brewing Company.
Style: The doppelbock is a full-bodied, malty, sweet, strong lager. The style is typically amber to dark brown with an emphasis on caramel and chocolate maltiness. Doppelbocks can be quite strong at 7 percent ABV or higher.
Background: Bock’s O-Chocolate is a decadent take on the doppelbock. It has two additions of organic cocoa, one to the brew kettle and the second during aging. It’s also aged with cocoa nibs. “We take about 20 pounds of nibs and toast them in the brewpub’s kitchen oven, just enough to wake them up and make the whole place smell like chocolate chip cookies,” says brewmaster Scott Manning. Also adding to its sweetness is Manning's boozy vanilla addition. He takes a handful of vanilla beans and soaks them for about a week in 10 ounces of bourbon, which gets dumped into the aging beer about three weeks before it finishes conditioning. “Chocolate always needs a little hint of vanilla, and this is a way to bring the whole candy angle of this beer around,” he says.
Manning first introduced Bock’s O-Chocolate in 2011. However, three years ago he changed the recipe by using weizen yeast. That brought more fruitiness next to the chocolate. This year’s he’s returned to the original doppelbock formula, which features lots of German malts, a lager yeast and over six weeks of aging.
Bock’s O-Chocolate finishes around 7.3 percent ABV. It sells in the west-side brewpub for $5.50/snifter and $9/22-ounce bottle. Vintage also released about 20 cases to area beer stores. If you see it in your favorite bottle shop, grab one, because most of those venues only received a case each.
Aroma: Light yet firm chocolate and toffee.
Appearance: Black body with a thin, off-white head.
Texture: Full-bodied with softness.
Taste: A soft, semi-sweet chocolate, with sweet hints of toffee and caramel.
Finish/Aftertaste: The confectionary sweetness doesn’t get carried away, but the flavor and aroma of the cocoa does become stronger in the finish. There’s also just a hint of vanilla and warmth.
Glassware: Allow it to gradually warm; swirl it gently in a snifter, and allow the malt and toasted cocoa to emerge.
Pairs well with: This is a dessert all on its own.
The Verdict: This is a fun twist on an already malty, sweet doppelbock. Manning has achieved a smooth chocolate accent that’s more like the bitter sweetness of European candy. I like this subtle approach to chocolate, especially with the light aroma that comes from the extra step of toasting the cocoa nibs before adding them to the beer. This beer’s level of sweetness blends wonderfully with its alcoholic warmth and light notes of vanilla in the finish.