Dismiss Notice
Subscribe to BeerAdvocate magazine?

Learn more about beer and save over 53% with a 3-year subscription.

Subscribe now →

The Gift (WinterBock Lager) - Starr Hill Brewery

Not Rated.
The Gift (WinterBock Lager)The Gift (WinterBock Lager)

Educational use only; do not reuse.

66 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 66
Hads: 149
Avg: 3.61
pDev: 15.24%
Wants: 6
Gots: 7 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Starr Hill Brewery visit their website
Virginia, United States

Style | ABV
Maibock / Helles Bock |  6.50% ABV

Availability: Winter

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: Bierman9 on 11-19-2008

No notes at this time.
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
Reviews: 66 | Hads: 149
Photo of oberon
4.3/5  rDev +19.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A helles bock is probably my favorite lager style of beer,and this beer is everything I like in the style.Pours a clear lighter bronze color with a nice lacey,tight white head that settles slowly.Alcohol infused fruit,toasted grain,and a sharp spice comes through in the nose.Really nice flaovrs going on,somewhat sweet up front with some caramel and sweetish alcohol infused white grape flavors,melding into a crisp cracker-like finish.A decent amount of hops are used for the style and it gives it a nice finish.In my opinion easily Starr Hill's best brew,not overly heavy and or sweet,a good warming winter brew.

 615 characters

Photo of Kegatron
3.97/5  rDev +10%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle into a pint glass.

Pours a slightly hazy copper, with about a finger or so of bright-white head. This retains with a thin and fizzy, yet still sturdy, layer of froth, which leaves a smattering of spotty foam behind. Malts are thick and sweet in the nose (and a bit buttery), with a touch of fruit and just enough fresh spicy hop character to help pulls things back a notch.

The taste is beefy in the mouth with sweet, bready, and honeyed malts. There is a touch of fruity citric notes here as well, along with plenty of spice and earthy bitterness from the Noble hops. Buttery and sticky sweetness carries over in the finish, before a long lingering and steady dryness from the hops takes over. The mouthfeel is medium bodied with a big smooth creaminess to it that spreads out in the mouth and sits on top of all that beefy sweetness.

This was tasty little Bock from Starr Hill that had just enough hop character to nicely balance out all of those heavy malts. This was very smooth for the size which kept the overall drinkibility of this pretty good.

 1,071 characters

Photo of mactrail
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Sweet and simple pale bock.

Nice pale amber in the glass and a better head and mouthfeel than many. Clean and very drinkable. Fruity malt bomb flavors at first slurp. Pleasant nose of wintergreen and malt. Some sugary flavors that keep it from being really drinkable. A touch of hops but definitely the Maibock style.

Creamy and pleasant for a few sips, but perfumey flavor gets old. A little hot, a little touch of soapiness. Not one for a big glassful.

 456 characters

Photo of oriolesfan4
2.03/5  rDev -43.8%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Bought as part of a sampler pack. Pours a hazy golden color, not much head to it. Very little in the aroma department. Taste is light to medium bodied, sort of boozy, some honey and strong malts. Mouthfeel is not great, very low drinkability. I'm not a big fan of bocks/maibocks to begin with, but this one is just not good, even hard to drink even. Way too much of an alcohol taste for only a 6.5% ABV and the taste is just lacking... I'll pass.

 446 characters

Photo of WVbeergeek
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears honey golden with white frothing head fine speckled lacing left unevenly. Aroma sweet tart apples with hints of honey and biscuit malt sweetness. Herbal hops are minimal but evident. Flavors hit the sides of the palate with the sweetness, juicy fruit and honey tones. Ripened apples, spicy herbal background. Mouthfeel is medium bodied a bit of residual sugars could become cloying at times. Carbonation is soft even goes down easily. Drinkability overall is something I will look forward to each winter season, nice to see a Maibock that early in the season.

 567 characters

Photo of drabmuh
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served in a shaker pint. Beer is dark amber / brown and clear with a thin lazy head of tan bubbles, moderate carbonation, some lacing, low retention.

Aroma is grainy, mildly sweet, overall fine.

Beer is medium in body has a little roastiness at the end and an aftertaste that shouldn't be there. Not my favorite but it is fine I guess. I won't have more though.

 363 characters

Photo of tdm168
2.58/5  rDev -28.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

A - dark copper with a short, fizzy, bubbly head that fades fast

S - grainy, faintly metallic

T - caramel, grains, metal

M - medium bodied, crisp, a bit overcarbonated

This tastes much like an adjunct lager. It has off flavors presumably from poor temperature management during the lagering process. I definitely won't have this again.

 339 characters

Photo of smakawhat
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle into a pilsner style glass. Good till April 2012.

A very foamy off tan head is presented but falls fairly quickly, not much retention on this. Lots of rising carbonation, and LOTS of cola sized bubbles sticking to the glass.

Nose is nice small sticky malts and fiant crispness. Some slight spicy character as well. Not too bad.

Taste is kind of flat. On the palate are some soft malts, but some syrupy sugars. Mouthfeel also feels quite syrupy as well. There is no sense of crispness or carbonation at all, which seems surprising since it looks so carbonated in appearance.

Overall I am usually not a big fan of this brewery, but the Platinum made me want to try them again. This is not a dismal failure, it is certainly drinkable, but nothing I would want to have again.

 798 characters

Photo of clayrock81
3.65/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a clear auburn gold with great carbonation that leads to a solid head. A veggie-hop like smell, pils-like, with hints of sweet malt. Nice, clean, smooth, light; passes with a hoppy bitterness and some minor malty sweetness. Good finish to an alright beer.

 262 characters

Photo of dirtylou
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz single, shipped by Bort - my source for winter lagers

appearance: poured into a great dane imperial pint glass - nice bright straw-copper body, frothy beige cap with some spotty retention

smell: fresh southern biscuits, lightly toasted malts, grain, sweet apple

taste: Haven't had a straight-up bock like this in a while - pleasantly surprised by the doughy biscuit and toasted malt flavor profile, sweet apple, barley provides lots of flavor

mouthfeel: creamy and medium body

drinkability: good

 505 characters

Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle poured into a nonic. 6.5% ABV, Purchase before May notched on label.

Thanks to Onenote81 for this winter brewski!

A - Totally clear golden yellow with a fluffy white head with superb retention. Thin legs left on the glass hover above a bit of clingy lace.

S - Strangely, this has a very pilsner-like aroma. Crisp and clean lager attributes with pilsner malt and a light honey-drizzled toast. Noble hops are unmistakable giving the aroma a crisp floral hint. Nothing about it signifies winter.

T - While not noticeable in the nose, the flavor carries an interesting light yeast hint and mellow but pronounced spice. A touch of nutmeg perhaps? The honey comes out a bit stronger with the pilsner malts. Noble hops add a little to the flavor but give the finish a nice light, dry and bitter touch.

M - Medium-bodied and smooth with a soft feel and sweet, lightly carbonated finish. Light dry and bitter hints give a small bit of complexity to this beer.

D - It pulled through with the winter feel. A good "lighter" winter beer in a season bogged down (not a bad thing most of the time!) by rich, thick brews. I could do a six-pack of this on a session beer night.

 1,179 characters

Photo of AgentMunky
3.67/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 12 ounce bottle into a pilsner glass. Best before April 2012.

A: Very short-lived head fizzes out atop a honey-golden beer that has light bubbles floating through it. Pellucid.

S: It smells almost spiced amidst the sweetness and light grain.

T/M: Tasty, if lagery and light. A beery sweetness isn't entirely pleasant, but only due to the grain. The mouthfeel is gentle and mostly smooth, but with a bit of carbonated kick. The aftertaste hints at fruit without quite managing to bring it to the fore. Oh well.

O: While this particular experience was mediocre, I know for a fact this is a great beer, even from the bottle. I bought four cases in one go when they went on sale and regretted it only slightly. Definitely recommended. It does not taste near its strength and is likely to be popular even with non 'beer geeks.'

 840 characters

Photo of blackie
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

a: deep honey-amber in color with a light head

s: cleanly sweet, malty nose, various lighter fruits, herbal noble hops

m: low-medium carbonation and a medium body, a bit flat and dull on the tongue

t: malts of slightly higher potency than your standard german lager with a light honeyed barley sweetness, light fruits, barley lingers with a crisp herbal and dried citrus finish

d: a simple yet flavorful malty lager, easy drinkability

pint at Taphouse on Queensway, Hampton, VA

 482 characters

Photo of Bierman9
3.98/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

My old "Bro" Artied2 scored a 6-pack of The Gift while recently down in Charlottesville, and he dropped it on my doorstep on my 50th.... Vielen Dank!!

I poured a couple of the 12oz bottles into an Imperial Pint glass... The Gift was a clear, medium golden offering, with a bit of steady carbo here and there... Head was thin and white, mainly just a simply layer of fine bubbles on top of things. Lacing was here and there at best. The aroma came across as part Maibock, part Munich Helles. There was some bready malt in there, with subtle hints of fruitiness. The body fell nicely in the middle of the medium range, and despite some bubbliness on the tongue, it was mostly smooth across the palate.

Flavor has some bready malt sweetness laying a foundation here. The fruitiness present touches on a bit of apple, though it's a tad more sweetish than on the sour side, which I like here. Hoppage here is firmly entrenched in the floral category, lingering nicely down the throat. I found it somewhat odd that a bier in the Maibock/Hellbock category would be released as a "WinterBock", since it is not overly high in ABV, or not especially heavy or complex. Regardless, it's pretty tasty and eminently quaffable. Thnx, Bro!!

Zum Wohl!!

look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4.5


 1,306 characters

Photo of argock
4.15/5  rDev +15%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured from 12oz brown bottle into a Duvel tulip. Purchased as 6-pack at Harris Teeter (Charlottesville, VA) for $7.99.

A: Appealing chestnut brown with 1-finger light beige head which retains well and leaves a thin ring of lace.

S: Sweet caramelly malt aromas with a light herbal and spice edge. A little more sweet forward than most bocks.

T: The flavor could use a little more subtlety but it's still very enjoyable in its bold caramel maltiness. The light spice note and herbal hops work very nicely. No alcohol is detectable.

M: Medium-bodied with smooth feel and even carbonation. Aftertaste is cardboard malty.

D: A really good bock which, while a little two-dimensional, is still really enjoyable, especially if you like malty brews.

 746 characters

Photo of Chaney
3.75/5  rDev +3.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A: Wow, this certainly doesn't look like a 6.5% ABV brew. Poured a crystal clear gold color, with a 2 finger head and was pretty sticky.

S: Nice, fresh scent of grain and yeast. Pretty subdued, but I dug it.

T: Much sweeter than I was expecting... kinda cloying and detracts from its gulpability.

M: Like I said sweet, but I didn't get any booze. The carbonation was low, which was appropriate for this style, and the lacing was substantial.

O: Not the most popular style in the world, but I dig it on occasion. This was nice, but one was totally enough for me.

 566 characters

Photo of bubseymour
4.02/5  rDev +11.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Slightly copper appearance semi-clear. No head at all.

Smell - reminds me somewhat of a Belgian strong Ale is smell

Taste - This is one unique flavored beer unlike anything else I've sampled to date. Very well balanced beer with maltiness/hops cancelling out leaving just a pleasant flavoring aftertaste.

Mouthfeel - nothing noteworthy, kindy fizzy in the mouth

Drinkability - at 6.5% this is a very easy drinker and seems less than 5%

Overall - I am VERY impressed with this unique concoction. Starr Hill struck gold with this one. I highly recommend trying this one out.

 591 characters

Photo of CuriousMonk
2.5/5  rDev -30.7%
look: 2.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

From winter brew tasting notes (2010): pours a hazy amber orange with a foamy, off-white head. Decent head retention. The nose has notes of citrus, grass, wet paper, a bit of hay, and green apple. The flavor profile is light with notes of bread, a subtle fruity-honey sweetness, a bit of dough, and a slight earthiness. Not much in the way of bitterness. Medium to rich body that coats the mouth. The carbonation is minimal and soft. The finish is medium with a sort of odd maltiness lingering.

 494 characters

Photo of lackenhauser
3.5/5  rDev -3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Nice, somewhat orange in appearance. Some floaters going on in there. Malty, mild sulfur aroma. Decent malt flavor with enough hops to be noticed. Sulfury, bready with a mild lingering sweetness. Decent body-the malty sweetness really tends to hold this together. A decent enough beer. Maybe a tad to sulfury and yeasty-could be cleaner for my liking. Still worth a try.

 370 characters

Photo of ktrillionaire
4.47/5  rDev +23.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 5

This is an amazing beer. Grab one if you see it. It is so well-crafted.

A - Slightly hazy golden amber with a two inch white head, and good retention.

S - Clean, bready, with herbal aromatics.

T - Dank, resinous and herbal hops are the star of this wonderfully crafted beer. Slightly sweet pale malt, and succinctly flavorful hop.

M - Sharp carbonation counters medium-heavy body

D - As drinkable as it gets.

 414 characters

Photo of Onenote81
4.18/5  rDev +15.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured into a pint glass. This pours a murky dark honey gold. A good-sized white head rests on top. This leaves lots of sticky lace on the glass side. Scents of sugary malts, honey biscuits, and a light pop of lemon zest on the back end.

Great smooth and creamy body. Carbonation level is moderate. Flavors of honey, grass, some fresh bread, and has a finish of sourdough. Wow. I think this may be my favorite SH offering to date. I could drink this all year round. I like that it's not a typical spicy winter release. I like this style. Good work, Starr Hill!

 562 characters

Photo of CrellMoset
3.93/5  rDev +8.9%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Bottle from Whole Foods, Charlottesville, VA. Poured into a cervoise.

Appearance: Pours a filtered orange amber with a great deal of active, medium-bubbled carbonation. An aggressive pour yields a big, two-finger, fairly solid looking head of above-average retention that leaves fingers and dollops of lacing as it recedes. One of the better looking beers I've had from Starr Hill.

Aroma: Fairly pungent toasted malts make up the bulk of the aromatics here, with caramel, toffee, and an overarching breadiness all being detectable. Agitation releases a few spicy, grassy hop notes, but it's really just a pleasant collection of standard malt notes.

Taste: Similar to the nose, with a number of fairly subtle yet well-balanced malt notes. Caramelized, doughy sugars, faint toffee, perhaps a slight hint of something more roasted still. There's a splash of bitterness and a nice grassy, lightly citrusy twinge from the hop addition to top things off, and a few light spicy notes emerge as things warm. Doesn't go over the top - thoroughly pleasant.

Mouthfeel: This beer's best quality, in my opinion. Definitely the softest, best-carbonated beer I've had from Starr Hill. The thickness of the body and carbonation level combine very, very well to give a smooth, delicate, even, and creamy feel, and the creaminess works well in conjunction with the maltiness of this one. Good job.

Drinkability: This beer doesn't try to be anything that it's not, and in so doing succeeds at being precisely what it is and then some. Right up there with the Pale Ale as being my favorite Starr Hill brew, this one's simply a well-crafted, malty, winter brew that I could easily toss back a sixer of around the fire with family or friends. Cheers Starr Hill.

 1,745 characters

Photo of rangerred
2.98/5  rDev -17.5%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

12oz bottle poured into a pint glass.

Pours a hazy medium brown with a 1.5 finger head. Decent head retention.

Aroma is sweet grain. Pretty one dimensional.

The taste is much like the smell. Sweet grains dominate the palate with a bit of breadyness. Bitterness is fairly assertive but no hop flavors. Mouthfeel is medium to full.

This beer is just ok. I thought the flavor was lacking and could have used more maltiness.

 424 characters

Photo of Bouleboubier
4.35/5  rDev +20.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Ah, the helles bock. Seemingly a tough style for an American brewery to make well. I've had mostly bad ones over the past year. This, however, is one of the best.

Poured into a 16 oz glass mug, the head swells high, a gold-tinged white, before settling into a thin collar. Glowing hazy yellowish amber color. Looks alright to me. Going in for a whiff - appropriately and reservedly spicy and touch hoppy in the back, sweet light malt poking through and faint coppery scent as well. Decent depth. Alcohol? Hidden, transparent - thus appealing.

Malty sweet, delicately toasty, mild-moderately spicy flavors, and I swear a little bit of banana or pear fruitiness in the finish. All nicely balanced and situated at ideal intensity. Actually, the malt comes off an edge more toffee-caramel-cookie than I'm used to. But then again I've grown accustomed to having the strong presence of medicinal booze rudely cutting through the characteristic aromas/flavors of this style, so this overall taste is a much welcome thing.

There's no reason to go overboard with the ABV on this style, and Starr Hill did quite a magnificent job putting it in a safe range. The presence of alcohol in the taste, as in the aroma, is far in the background. It's effects though make this an inspired selection for a winter offering - wonderfully-gradually-deeply warming.

They hit a home run with this for sure. Great job!

 1,397 characters

Photo of beer2day
4/5  rDev +10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Copper gold pour with frothy unforced 2 and 1/2 finger head. Nice, thick lacing.

Honey comes through at first in the nose. Biscuit and plum are there too, but deeper. Also getting a little alcohol. Lots of malt.

Sweet, thick, syrupy hit on the tongue. Surprising for a beer this light in color. There is a slight tartness mid-swallow, but this beer really is all about malty sweetness. Not overly so, but very true to the bock style. Not much to report on the hop side, but that too is not surprising. A little alcohol burn develops after the first couple of gulps.

Feel is thicker than expected, but not disappointing.

The thickness might wear on some, but I find this a pretty drinkable beer on a cold night.

 716 characters

first ← prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | nextlast
The Gift (WinterBock Lager) from Starr Hill Brewery
82 out of 100 based on 66 ratings.