Brew Blog: Indian Wells Lobotomy Bock

Categories: Brew Blog

Indian Wells Lobotomy Bock.jpg
What's in a name? That which we call a Bock / By any other name would taste as malty.
The other night, I attended a business dinner held at the downtown outpost of the House of Blues. The meal was mediocre, but that wasn't really the point. This was a meet-and-eat event designed to smooth over some intra-office politics over some bites and, more importantly, some beer.

I was drinking on the corporate dime, so I'm not going to complain too mightily, but the beer selection at HoB left a lot to be desired. Most of my colleagues were sucking down aluminum bottle-clad light beers; one of them went with a non-alcoholic brew. The dearth of other options sent me straight for a Shiner Bock. I used to really enjoy Shiner Bock, despite the frequently lobbed accusation that it is not, in fact, a Bock. That night, it tasted disappointingly thin and weak, faults that were surely there all along, but went relatively unnoticed by my less-informed taste buds. This whole Brew Blog thing is ruining me.

The disappointing experience reminded me that I had a six-pack of Indian Wells Brewing Co. Lobotomy Bock stashed in the fridge. I wanted to see how it would compare to the wimpy Bock from Spoetzl, so I pulled one out the other night, in the name of research. While I'm not about to come out swinging for the greatness or authenticity of Lobotomy Bock, it certainly toed a closer line to what I'd expect from a Bock, in general.

The beer is a deep, blackish brown with some ruddy, almost purplish tinting at the edges, and when held to the light, it certainly looks the part. It did seem a bit flat, with very little carbonation resulting in no head whatsoever. A thin and sudsy ring was the only after-effect of a vigorous pour, with no hint of lacing as I emptied the glass.

The aromas were deep and malty, with a slightly sweet and savory undertone, like dark caramel. Aromas of fresh-baked dark bread were also evident, along with subtle hints of plum and just a dusting of cocoa. These are all pretty characteristic aromas for Doppel Bock, so things seemed to be going smoothly.

The first sign of trouble appeared in the first sip. Rather than having a full and slightly rich texture, this beer felt thin on my tongue. Though they were light and diluted, there were hints of bitter chocolate, dark raisin bread, and a high, clear note of slightly concentrated grape. A slight metallic twinge leads the finish, which is surprisingly brief but nicely rounded with a pleasant mild bitterness to counteract the slightly aimless sweetness that is fairly dominant throughout.

It's been a while since I took a real stab at beer-nerd frippery, so I hope you'll indulge me this time. As a cook, I'm deeply enthralled by the science behind the stove. As I learn more about beer, I find myself becoming similarly fascinated with the chemistry of fermentation, and the myriad factors that affect the final outcome of a beer. Bock provides an interesting bridge (there are, of course, many) between the science of brewing and the science of cooking.

In the kitchen, we talk frequently of the Maillard Reaction(s), a series of non-enzymatic browning reactions that occur, in very simple terms, through a combination of heat, time, and sugar-amino acid interaction. Bock beer derives its characteristic malty flavor from Melanoidin, a compound whose effects are amplified through a Maillard-type process. Bock beers are typically brewed with a high proportion of Munich and Vienna malts, which contain higher and more concentrated levels of the compounds, and the brewing method amplifies and brings these characteristics to the fore through specific temperatures and timing employed in the mashing process.

While an understanding of what, in large part, makes "Bock" Bock may not make up for the fact that this one ended up being a bit weak, I do find that my enjoyment of beer increases with my understanding of its mysterious inner-workings. I don't intend to make a habit of spouting off about my self-education in beer chemistry, but from time to time, I just can't help it. I find this stuff fascinating. It's just too bad I couldn't quite say the same thing about the beer that launched the investigation.



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30 comments
vijay patidar
vijay patidar

Lobotomy Bock is a good bear drink and enjoy it.

Jessica Merritt
Jessica Merritt

You know those beers that your dad/neighbor/beer-challenged friend recommends to you as The Best Beer Ever, but you've never even noticed it? Pretty much a sure sign it's going to suck.

For me, Lobotomy Bock was one, given to me and my husband by a well intentioned neighbor who "knows we love beer" and wanted us to try it.

Marcofromhouston
Marcofromhouston

I know I've tasted this beer before, but somehow do not remember when & where...

Kevin
Kevin

I have to dissagree, the Lobotomy Bock is a damn good tasting beer, I do agree that it doesn't fall in the Bock categorty but it does call itself a "lager" on the label.  O-well

SirRon
SirRon

Shiner Bock isn't a Bock at all, btw. That is why it doesn't compare at all.

H_e_x
H_e_x

I've tried it before. Must have been a skunky batch because it tasted like flat diet coke with no discernible alcohol.

Bruce R
Bruce R

My experience was similar.  The label proclaims it's something like 10% abv.  To its credit, it didn't drink its strength (although I have my doubts that it's that strong).  I found it to be flat, thin, and a big disappointment.

Kylejack
Kylejack

I have yet to like anything from Indian Wells, Lobotomy Bock included.

Bodl
Bodl

I had a lobotomy at Bombay Pizza Company a while back. It was the most interesting beer they carried. A high alcohol (10%) bock? Bring it on!

But I had the same experience as Nick. Watery - how can 10% be watery? It was also a little metallic. Not a good beer! Probably the best bock that can be readily found is Anchor Bock, while Sam Adams Chocolate Bock deserves mention too.

Shiner Bock is a routine amber, but much better than MBC swill.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I had to go back and check. Sure enough, the word "Lager" appears on the label. So do the words Bock and Doppelbock. The brewery's website refers to it as a doppelbock. I think that's legitimately what they're going for. Interestingly, in a squares v. rectangles formula, I think it could be said that all bocks are lagers, but not all lagers are bocks.

Bruce R
Bruce R

So you did not not find it flat and thin with a watery finish, like the rest of us did?

Kevin
Kevin

But the rest of their beers are all......well......less to be desired.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Yes, I know. I never said the oft-lobbed accusation was false.

SirRon
SirRon

A doppelbock is a bock. Shiner, however... not a bock.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Not a wheat bock.  Those would be ales.

SirRon
SirRon

Ok. I see you like oft-lobbed, but this is less of an accusation and more of an actual fact. It is exactly why the two don't compare.

If you respond back using "de facto"... that would be funny.

Great post, as always, NLH.

SirRon
SirRon

Dr Pepper... not a cola. *smiley face*

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Dude, "fucking nerds" is not the preferred nomenclature. Beverage enthusiasts, please.

SirRon
SirRon

I will destroy you... with mind bullets.

Wyatt
Wyatt

You guys are fucking nerds. I'm sure you're aware of this.

Bruce R
Bruce R

Right.  Doppelbocks, maibocks, and German beers simply called bock are lagers.  Wheat bocks are a delicious exception.  I suppose you could lager a wheat bock but I'm not familiar with any commercial examples of that.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Fair enough. I was just referring to the fact that bocks, in general, are lagered.

SirRon
SirRon

Can't be faint praise with all those slammers.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Ahh. I should have inferred the emoticon, and its appurtenant smoothing effect. My bad.

SirRon
SirRon

My bad.

I don't think a single Brew Blog has sucked since you took over!!!!!!!!!!1!

:)

SirRon
SirRon

I don't think a single Brew Blog has sucked since you took over.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Perhaps I was overly diplomatic.EoW Editors: please amend "frequently lobbed accusation that it is not, in fact, a bock" to "absolute and indisputable fact that it is not, and in no way resembles, a bock."

Thanks for the kind words, and the ever attentive eye for accuracy and diction.

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