There’s nothing bittersweet about the end of a miserable football season. What little hope we’d had was dashed by the end of September, and talk of new coaches inexorably led not to cries of, “wait ’til next year!” but rather murmurs of, “so when does basketball season start?” Such has been the life of a UVa football fan for the last decade, with two overachieving teams sandwiched by a run of mediocrity rivaled only by the infuriating incompetence with which these teams have been led. Don’t get me wrong, the last few years have at least been marked by a team of which we could be proud of its off the field accomplishments – even if we weren’t getting wins we at least were no longer cringing at the police reports. Off the field, as well, the tailgates are marked by a camaraderie in no way linked to gridiron success. So after a two month hiatus to focus on our little ones, I finally made it back down to Camp Wahoo re-energized for one last shindig for this season.
Tailgate Throwdown: Virginia Tech vs. UVa, 11/28/15
Featured Style: Bocks
Featured Beers: Old Ox I’ll Be Bock, Starr Hill Snowblind, Heavy Seas Yule Tide, Hardywood Give Bock, Sunken City Nachthexen, O’Connor Doppel Debockery
# of Tasters: 9
I’m not apologizing for the terrible puns involved throughout this post. The style itself is appropriate to late Fall, with all Bocks being a form of heavy Lager. The lighter, more hoppy form, Maibocks, typically makes an appearance in the Spring, whereas apropos to a lot of the seasonals you see above Doppelbocks and Weizenbocks are bigger on roasted, Earthy flavors that feature malts. Of course, when planning for a potentially cold tailgate by focusing on cold weather beers, in this screwy football season we end up with a 70 degree, picturesque day. It being the last tailgate, and with lots more suds and competing libations flowing through the crowd, we did things a bit more informally and walked the beers around to share among friends rather than interrupt the flow with a staged tasting. The scores and notes, as a result, are mostly mine this time this time around but our crew did generally agree on the top beers.
Beer 1: Starr Hill Snowblind
Tasting Notes: “very heavy malts” “a lot more color than you’d expect”
Overall: A very good exemplar of how to elicit caramel from your beer. In a Doppelbock, even more so than a Märzen, the caramel you’re tasting isn’t exactly sweet but rather more indicative of the Earthy flavors sugar can take on after experiencing high heat (caramel, in its most basic form, is water + sugar + heat). The Snowblind is also quite drinkable so one shouldn’t be afraid of a six pack of this particular brew.
Beer 2: Old Ox I’ll Be Bock
Tasting Notes: “light caramel smell” “almost tart but still smooth”
Overall: While actually a Bockbier (or single Bock), I actually couldn’t get many roasted notes from this one. I was at Old Ox for other reasons the day before the game, and was ecstatic to stumble across another Bock for our purposes. The main thing to note is that a Doppelbock will be maltier than a beer like this, but I still couldn’t place a singular flavor. Simply okay.
Beer 3: Heavy Seas Yule Tide
Tasting Notes: “rum!”
Overall: The rum characteristics here are a welcome departure from the typical Bourbon barrel aging of so many beers, it was at once both sweeter but more robust. You get the caramel malts indicative of the style but also some raw sugars which really make this one unique. Do share with a friend though as it hits you hard.
Beer 4: Sunken City Nachthexen
Tasting Notes: “like one of those Baskin Robbins flavors”
Overall: It took me a few minutes to put the one comment in its place, but after a few determined sips I picked out what seemed like a minor chocolate element, and it just so happens that Gold Medal Ribbon (vanilla + chocolate + caramel sauce) is one of my favorite flavors, too. As a Weizenbock, or strong wheat ale, this one is comparable in flavors if not entirely in style to the Doppelbocks elsewhere here. With the malts being such a strong component that just makes the Nachthexen all the more complex. I think it’s a fantastic attempt at a complex German style, even if it can’t quite reach the high notes of some of the superlative versions.
Beer 5: O’Connor Doppel Debockery
Tasting Notes: “more coffee than caramel”
Overall: Part of a special series by O’Connor, one could make a clichéd reference to some holiday lattés, but this is still a flavorful entry. I enjoyed the first handful of sips but the flavor began to dominate the palate before too long, so I’d suggest sharing if at all possible.
Beer 6: Hardywood Give Bock
Tasting Notes: “crispy”
Overall: As with the Old Ox, we were very excited to get our hands on the Hardywood on short notice. Being canned just this week, Ben was happening through Richmond the day before the game and stopped by Hardywood for a tasting and to place my order for the Give Bock. What I experienced was delightfully balanced and, perhaps owing to its Bockbier variation, by far the most drinkable of the bunch.
So the tailgate was a blast, and the game was at least watchable. For the past few years this rivalry game has played at least up to that billing even if the outcome was never all that much in question. The title pun was needed given the fact that neither head coach for the game (Beamer or London) will ever be coaching at Scott Stadium again. As of Monday Tech already had their new head coach and UVa was still “searching,” go figure. The point of being a UVa fan for many years was that with our reputation as a party school, we knew we’d own the tailgate and be better dressed than just about anyone in the country. Sure we were going to lose (and in many years, lose bad), but damn if we weren’t going to be the balls while doing it.
That does it for another season. I know we enjoyed drinking the hell out of some of the best beers the Commonwealth has to offer, and I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the styles our breweries have in common!
Overall Winner: Hardywood Give Bock
Special Shout-Out: Sunken City Nachthexen (for degree of difficulty)