I must admit I was a little worried when I picked up a six-pack of St. Arnold Spring Bock at my local Fiesta. Don't get me wrong, I love St. Arnold and am a fan of true Bock, with its middle-weight alcohol content and full-bodied maltiness. I think it must have been the bottle, whose label is overwhelmingly purple with bluebonnets, that -- while I'm sure they're meant to invoke spring -- made me think the beer was going to taste like perfume. Really sweet perfume.
Actually, that's not an entirely unfounded fear, as the predominance of malts in Bock-style beers does tend to lead them down that path. It is, of course, possible to flirt with the notion of sweetness without succumbing to it, and St. Arnold Spring Bock does this admirably.
After pouring mine into a glass emblazoned with the logo of a different beer, I tried to find an angle that would conceal the design, but to no avail. The clarity of this amber-colored brew made it impossible. I snapped my photo, and in the time it took the shutter to close, the beer's big, sudsy head had altogether disappeared, without even a hint of lacing to indicate it was ever there.
I bent down to smell the beer. Nothing. Thinking it must just be me (my allergies have been ramping up with the arrival of spring weather), I bent closer and wound up getting beer on my nose, but still no aroma, except to say that it's perhaps vaguely floral. I suppose it could just be the pollen in the air, but my wife smelled it and agreed.
Fortunately, the taste is much more forward than the aroma. Right from the get-go, the beer tastes toasty with some citrus zest highlights. Sweet-seeming (though not actually sweet, per-se) malts dominate, and change to a more rounded bready flavor toward the end. There's also a nice nuttiness, not unlike the slightly caramelized flavor of browned butter.
The beer tastes full and rounded from all that bready, toasty malt, but doesn't let that mire it in sweetness. There's also a little kick of balancing hops at the end, just to keep things clean, bringing in a gentle dose of bitterness, reintroducing that slight floral hint in the aroma, and further drying out the finish to ultimately render this a very crisp and refreshing beer, perfect for its namesake season, but with enough oomph to stand up to winter's last gasps as well.
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