Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring is coming!!!

Usually, the sure-fire sign that spring is here is the unmistakable smell of defrosting dog shit permeating the air. However, that *oh so lovely* smell was absent this past weekend. But by my standards, two tell-tale signs that spring is approaching are:
1)  I got out for 2 consecutive road rides, and
2) Seasonal spring beers are starting to hit the shelves.

On Saturday, I took advantage of the (barely) above freezing temps to get out for a ride to the middle of nowhere. "Nowhere" was actually "somewhere" north west of Dunrobin, exploring some roads I've never ridden before. The nice thing about the middle of nowhere is that the country roads are clear and dry. By constrast, the city roads are covered with runoff, dirt, snowbanks encroaching on bike lane space and spray from cars. Sunday was a shorter ride, but higher in intensity due to stronger winds. The bottom line here is that roads on the Ontario side are great for riding.

And now, on to the good, and a seasonal beer to look for, Amsterdam Spring Bock. Bock is a German term for a strong beer; variations include doppelbock and urbock. Doppelbock translates as "double bock", and is traditionally very malty, with little bitterness and an alcohol content ranging from 7 to 13% ABV.

Amsterdam Spring Bock..."respect the bock".

I haven't had many encounters with Bock style beers, and I tend to avoid them...I was turned off by Creemore Springs Urbock which I found to be too bitter for my liking. However, I decided to give this offering from Amsterdam Beer a try.

As you can see, VERY dark for a lager. And check my new drinking vessel!

This beer did not disappoint. It lives up to the expectation of a traditonal dopplebock, very malty, slightly sweet, with no bitterness whatsoever. The bottle stated this was a "2010 vintage", so it was a year old, and well worth the wait. For me, the basic measure of a beer's worth is would I buy it again, and this beer gets a resounding yes.

For an interesting read about the origins of doppelbock, check out the following (from
"Doppelbock emerged in the late eighteenth century as a powerful lager variant of the old monastic strong beer, the monks' "liquid bread," which they traditionally brewed for the Lenten season. Living by the strict rules of their order, the monks were regularly required to castigate themselves by periodic bouts of fasting, when next to no solid food was allowed to pass their lips. The longest and most taxing of these periods of culinary abstinence was, of course, Lent, the 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Because the monks believed that liquids not only cleansed the body but also the soul, they would make plenty of liquid instead of solid bread from their grain, and then drink it in copious quantities...the more, the holier. Because the monks were society's role models in those religious did the monks so did the common folk. The secular verson of the sacred strong bier was called a Bockbier."

So for those of you who give something up for Lent, it would be sacrilegious to give up beer!

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