Alaskan Brewing Birch Bock

Fresh of the plane, the latest in Alaskan Brewing’s Pilot Series is a take on the traditional dopplebock. Birch Bock features an infusion of syrup boiled down from the birch tree’s sap, which apparently yields an 80-1 ratio of gallons of sap to syrup. I read a bit about the history of this while letting the pours open up. Fascinating stuff.

Alaskan Brewing Birch Bock pours a ruby creme color, red undertones on a cream soda yellow; not unlike maple syrup. A fine, tight lace pours alongside, which is pretty common for a dopplebock. These warming, heavy-bodied beers tend to be malt forward and low effervescence and this was inline with that.

A faint earthy sweetness hits the nose, but the emphasis is on the faint. I’m still working on training my nose, but it has a hint of orange peel oil, like when you squeeze the skin of an orange. Aside from that and a brown-sugar undertone, there’s not much on the nose of this.

But then it hits the lips. Medium-bodied, tight bubbles and the delicious syrup comes forward. Citrus notes from the hops balance out the sweetness to keep this in check. Overall it’s fairly decent and I enjoy when an established brewery takes a small risk.

And that’s what this is; a small risk. Roasty malts and a dryness come through over the top of the hops profile, which is good, but sometimes a good, mellow desert beer is what you need. This fills that void nicely. I’m not rushing out to get a case of it, but go try it, let it warm up a bit and sip it slow. The label puts this beer at 8.5% ABV, but I’d imagine a year in the cellar would bring up the heat a bit. So buy two bottles. One for in front of the last fire in the fireplace and one to bring out next year for the first one.

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