Sometimes We Have to Savor the Different
A Review of Fallenbock by Erie Brewing Company
Posted on 10/1/2011 by Brew's Your Daddy
                   
Fair
A few reviews back, I wrote about names of beer and how they can influence a persons perception of how a beer is going to be, as well as their opinion of the beer throughout the session with it. Sometimes you see a beer with a catchy name and you think that it is going to be the greatest beer you have ever had, only to get it in front of you and end up totally confused and disappointed. Other times you see a simple name like ''Brewery XYZ Lager'', and decide to try it with no high expectations, only to end up blown away by it. And then there are the rare times where you decide to try a beer based on its name, and it's nothing like you expected it to be, but it still turned out to be an enjoyable beer. A good example of this is the Fallenbock by Erie Brewing Company.

I want to begin by telling you that this beer, contrary to what the name might suggest, is not meant to be any type of traditional bock. According to their website, Erie Brewing Company describes Fallenbock as follows:

''Keeping up with Erie Brewing's German brewing influence, our brewer creates Fallenbock, a classic Oktoberfest lager that is a harmonious marriage of classic malts and hops that has a wonderful clean and crisp flavor to celebrate Autumn and Oktoberfest.''

Now while I have no idea why Fallenbock was the chosen name for it, this beer is brewed as a classic Oktoberfest lager. And while the ABV would place it in a high enough range to be considered a doppelbock, it isn't one. While the name might suggest it as being a bock, it's not. Now I know we could have a technical debate on what is a bock and what isn't a bock that could last for days. Yes a bock is a strong lager. Yes a doppelbock is a strong bock. And by those standards, one could argue that this beer is a doppelbock. Guess what though? A doppelbock was not the brewery's intent here. They set up to make a classic Oktoberfest, and it just so happened to have a bit more of a kick than normal. Are you really going to complain about a little bit more alcohol in your tasty beer? Didn't think so.

Alright, now I have an idea. How about I actually get into the actual review of this beer? When you pour it, it has a dark brown, almost black coloration to it. You need to hold it up to the light to actually get a feel for the dark brown, but when you do, it really shows. The head starts out with a nice two fingers worth, but recedes quickly until it almost completely disappears. The aromas are very malt heavy, consisting mostly of roasted nuts, chocolate, and some faint toasted bread. If you let it warm for a moment or two, you can pick out a bit of a fruity layer falling somewhere between figs and cranberries. All of the aromas are very enjoyable, even though they are skewing slightly from what a typical Oktoberfest offers.

When you go in for that first taste, you may have to take a moment. Your brain ends up having to process a lot of information all at once. First off, the mouthfeel lends itself more to a barleywine or a quad rather than a lager of any sorts. It is very thin and sticky in your mouth. Not what you are expecting, but still not totally offensive. Then, the flavors start to come through and make themselves known. There is an overall maltyness that is quite nice, and the chocolate, while very faint, is quite tasty. Then the questionable fruit layer noticed earlier in the nose comes in dominated by the cranberries. And at the very end, there is a double tongue bite from the hops and alcohol that bring everything back down to a reasonable and brain tolerable level.

So after all that, I sit here torn. From strictly a reviewers standpoint, this beer is a miss. The name suggested it as being a bock. The research claimed it as being an Oktoberfest. And the session resulted in it being a ''quadtoberwine'' frankenbeer. Based on those facts, along with its claimed intent, I couldn't recommend this beer. Remember, when reviewing these beers, I do my best to grade them on a ''It claims to be this. Is it what it claims to be?'' system. However, sometimes styles and classes need to be tossed out the window in favor of something simply being a tasty glass of yummy beer nectar. Erie Brewing Company may have very well created one of those cases. The Fallenbock has some really good flavors. Chocolate? Good. Toasted nuts? Good. Sweet fruit? Good. And I have never complained about a beer feeling like a quad or barleywine in general. It just so happens that this beer falls into several different categories at once. So here is a time when I am going tell everyone to try this beer if you find it based on that very fact. Ignore the grade. Is it a head scratcher? Yep. Is it totally confusing? Yep. Is it still pretty delicious? Absolutely. Strangely enough, I think the only thing I would change about it would be the name. If it were called ''We Don't Know What It Is Other Than Tasty'', this beer could possibly be one of the greatest beers ever made.

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Fallenbock by Erie Brewing Company
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