St. Nikolaus Bock

Review Date 7/4/2013     By John Staradumsky

Christmas came a little late this year. Still, it did come, and in a six-pack, too. It came in the form of Penn Brewing’s St. Nikolaus Bock, a beer I’ve been hunting down for quite some time. I can’t even remember when St. Nikolaus Bock first hot the market, but I can tell you I wanted to try it as soon as I found about.

And why wouldn’t I? Bocks and doppelbocks, after all, are my favorite beer styles. The German penchant for brewing them for the holidays is a quaint notion to me, and I can’t tell you how much I used to enjoy Wurzburger Hofbrau Holiday beer in the late eighties and early nineties. It was, of course, a Christmas bock. Finally, who can resist the jolly cherubic portrait of old St. Nick on the label of Penn St. Nikolaus Bock?

I just couldn’t even find the beer, though. Pittsburgh’s Penn Brewing Company was founded in 1986, and I used to buy their beers (most notably the delightful Penn Pilsner) in the nineties. My dad lived in Philadelphia then, and that meant bringing home cases of Penn beers, though never the prized St. Nikolaus Bock.

In 2012, though, Penn beers started showing up on store shelves in Georgia. When I spied the St. Nikolaus Bock in January of 2013, I gladly forked over my $9.99 for a six-pack. Here are the specs on the beer from the Penn website:

Style: Winter Bock Bier

Alcohol content: 6.5% ABV

Availability: Seasonal - Holiday Beer (November - January)

Specs: OG/plato: 15

FG/plato: 3.5

IBUs:  25

Hops:  Perle

Malt:  Two-row, Munich, Chocolate, Dextrin, Caramel, Black

Penn St. Nikolaus Bock pours to a rich dark brownish color with a moderate rocky head of tan foam and a luscious sweet nutty malt nose. Taking a sip, the beer has a thick, sweet and viscous body of delicious dark toasty nutty malts. Do you get melanoidin laced Munich malt here? I know that I sure do. Molasses, chocolate, and a gently balancing, herbal grassy hop finish leaves the beer slightly sweet, but keeps it from being overly so.

Penn St. Nikolaus Bock is everything a good bock should be, and with it’s body, maltiness and alcohol content straddles the line between a bock and doppelbock. Did I mention they also make a 9% ABV version called St. Nick’s Brewer’s Special Reserve? Looks like I’m off on a beer hunt again…..

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned