Carla Jean Lauter

The Beer Babe

Sam Adams – Double & Triple Bocks

Back when I was a beer novice, I picked up a pretty black bottle at Kappy’s and thought it was somehow exotic, rare, or interesting. It was made by Sam Adams, so I felt safe that at least it was local, and it was being sold at a store so it was at least relatively normal. And I was wrong, very wrong, on both counts. The bottle? A tiny sample of Sam Adams Triple Bock, actually in a cobalt blue bottle with a glass blue stopper, and it pours a disturbingly thick like fermented teryaki sauce. 

Did I also mention that the last time that it was brewed was 1998? That’s the best case scenario, an 11 year vintage. 

I was told by some friends that I should try it again… that I didn’t really have a palate then, and that I’d “appreciate” it more now. I picked up some Sam Adams Double bock – certainly not as “aged” as the Triple Bock, and decided to do a side by side comparison. 
The double bock pours a dark caramel, with a pleasing oaky smell. The triple pours a thick, viscous black with an acrid alcoholic, savory sweet aroma. 
I have to admit that I had a kind of visceral gut reaction to the smell of this. There’s something disturbing about staring into a glass filled with black liquid that you know doesn’t taste very good – I can only imagine what people at the turn of the century thought when staring down a spoon full of cod liver oil. 

After pouring them both, and pausing to take a picture, contemplating the upcoming sips, I dove in. The double was surprisingly tight. It was woody and sharply alcoholic, with lots of malt and some earthy undertones. I liked it, but I’ve also been told that the alcohol mellows with age. The triple, on the other hand, is not mellow by a long shot. It smacks the back of the tongue with sourness, malt, alcohol. It stings on the tongue and overwhelms but then, just then, you get a moment of something. Something different. Another sip, concentrating just on that little moment brings forth a different flavor. The malts – the strengthened and earthier versions of the double – are there. 
I wouldn’t doubt that the triple is past its prime, past what it was meant to turn into. Had I tried this in 2001, it could have been something exceptional. Sadly, its still being sold but is not worth it. But the bottle is beautiful, alluring and might even worth the conversation that ensues when tasting an 11 year old tiny beer in a blue bottle. If you want a great “I dare you to try this” beer, I suggest the triple bock. You at least get to keep the bottle and watch your friend’s noses wrinkle.
If you come across it, gather 6 friends around in a circle, don’t smell it, pour it into shot glasses and drink it simultaneously. Watch the faces, it’s priceless. Once everyone finishes reeling and making Popeye faces, bring out a six pack of the Double Bock. Their taste buds will thank you.


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  1. Anonymous

    Actual Gold Leaf lettering. I kept my 1997 bottle. We occassionally put daisies in it.

  2. HarryosStaff

    I’m a huge beer lover myself and I have to agree, Sam Adams Double bock is certainly worth trying if you’ve never had it before. I tend to like the dark caramel type of beer flavor so Sam Adams is a favorite of mine.

  3. Tim Hynds

    I agree, The years have not been kind to Triple Bock. The Double, however, is yummy.

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