St. Nikolaus Bock Bier | Pennsylvania Brewing Company

very good
211 Reviews
St. Nikolaus Bock BierSt. Nikolaus Bock Bier

Brewed by:
Pennsylvania Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Doppelbock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 6.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
Munich and various roasted malts give it a very malty, rich flavor with a hint of burnt flavor. 100% imported Hallertau hops, moderate bitterness and aroma.

Added by SheepNutz on 12-03-2002

For Trade:
User Reviews
Sort by:  Recent | High | Low | Top Raters | Alström Bros
Reviews: 211 | Ratings: 408
Photo of lackenhauser
3.85/5  rDev -2.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Deep chestnut color. Off white, somewhat tan head. Malty, somewhat spicy aroma. Great, malty flavor. Slight hop bitterness. Has a soft, mellow spice flavor to it. Good, full body. Very, very drinkable brew. Wish I could have gotten this in years past.

 251 characters

Photo of jasonm
4.05/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

12oz bottle served in a Mad Elf chalice

A - Color is a medium reddish mahogony color. Fleeting head of off-white soapiness receding to a ring of lacing.

S - Sweet grain aroma along with some darker fruit esters, raisins, and a hint of alcohol.

T - Bittersweet chococlate, roasted malts, some mild grain astringency. A nice touch of hop spiciness and alcohol give it a nice kick midway through the palate. Finish is more roasted malts with a more green hop bitterness.

M - A little thin, dry, prickly carbonation.

D - Dangerously drinkable, goes down easy for %7.50. Really good flavor. Im glad to see the locals stepping up with some great seasonals.

 666 characters

Photo of Alkey
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz bottle poured a dark amber color with small foam white head and nice lacing on the glass. Smell of sweet fruits, and malts make up a mouth watering scent. Taste is a nice blend of some sweet fruit malt and hop bitterness That taste like fresh cut grass smells in the finish. A medium feel in the mouth is not to heavy or light with a touch of carbonation on the tongue. This is definitely one of my favorite Penn brews and very easy to drink.

 448 characters

Photo of flexabull
3.92/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a deep amber / brown color with a decent looking head.

Beer smells like malts, breads, and grains. A bit sweet too.

Flavors are crisp up front, and creamy on the finish. This has a very grain like quality to it, not much in the way of hops noted, but quite a bit of flavor from some sweet slightly roasted malts.

Mouthfeel is a bit lean, but not bad.

Not a bad bock. I'd have no problem having another. Not spectacular, but certainly solid and drinkable.

Thanks for this one MuenchenerKindl.

 514 characters

Photo of SwillBilly
3.95/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

12 oz bottle:

Appearance: First off, I love Penn's bottle labels. Everyone of their beers has a very class label with great artwork. That being said St. Nick (with old world style Santa Claus on the label) pours very dark, not quite black like a porter but way more brown than a brown ale with hues of ruby shining through. An off white head is relatively small and fades fairly quickly to a sheer lacing on top of the beer. A nice ring of lacing borders the beer.

Smell: Hints of chocolate, biscuits with a little caramel thrown in for good measure to give it some sweetness then the roasted, burnt malts hit your nose.

Taste: Starts off with a touch of bittersweet chocolate malt followed by a more bready and roasted malts with a hint of coffee in the mix, the middle is more malty goodness then finishes with more "burnt" and roasted malts but this is also where the hallertau hops give it a pleasant bitterness. Finish is rather short and dry leaving a lingering burnt taste in the mouth. Alcohol well hidden but definitely can feel its warming effects.

Mouthfeel: Medium bordering on thin with ample carbonation. Very dry and short in the finish.

Drinkability/Notes. St Nick is different than most bocks that I've had before. Not as sweet as some bocks and has a distinctive roasted/burnt flavor and aroma that makes it interesting. The meld of bittersweet chocolate and roasted malt plus the bitterness of the hallertau hops makes for a pretty well balanced, though malty beer. A cold weather sipper for sure, a beer to savor not just drink. Highly drinkable with the 7.5 % abv being hidden but noticeable on the face. Highly recommended, an interesting bock bier. Seek and enjoy.

 1,702 characters

Photo of Luchman
3.88/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to akorsak for this

Poured into a pilsner glass

A: Dark, but not murky, ruby red color with a one finger off white head that calms down pretty quick, but never seems to fully dissipate. Clumps of lace can be found down the glass.

S: Malts, dark fruits, and some spice. Subtle hops and alcohol can be found too.

T: Sweet malts and toffee! Spice and the dark fruits can be found towards the end, all mixed up with a nutty, earthy tone. Finishes pretty crisp.

M:Medium body that goes down smooth and refreshing.

D: I like it. Nothing really mind blowing to me, but I could drink a couple of these and enjoy every bit of it.

 649 characters

Photo of tugdriver7
3.13/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

I eagerly bought a whole case of St. Nick yesterday, so I may be modifying this report as it grows on me a bit. I bought the last case in the store. The box looked a little worse for the wear, so I hope it's a new (2006) batch and not something that had been sitting around for a year or more. I found out later that it was at least a year old; so this review is a bit off the mark, so-to-speak.

The beer poured into the glass very dark amber, with a gorgeous head that left a nice lace as it disappeared. In the smell I caught hints of roasted malt (as I expected) and a slightly fruity (hops?) odor that seemed a bit stronger than I had expected. The mouthfeel was thinner than I thought. The taste, however, was confusing. I hope that the complexity of the brew is the reason (and not a year's worth of sitting in a warehouse). It tasted not bitter, not tart, but something akin to sour. I didn't expect that. Perhaps that's what it should be (from the other reviews I've read that cite "raisin" or "berry" or "fruit" in the taste). Even so, no matter how good the product, I couldn't give this batch (or this bottle) a high rating. I'll amend when I find it fresh.

 1,171 characters

Photo of jcdiflorio
5/5  rDev +26.6%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Poured into a tall slender pilsner glass from a 12oz.brown long neck bottle with crimped-on cap. 20 years on top label.

Beautiful clear ruby red color,thick/rocky off-white towards tan head.Good retention with chunks of lace sticking on the sides of the glass,lots of strings of tiny bubbles racing towards the top of the glass.

A delightful fruity and spicy aroma,woody,very malty with a sweet carmell/roasty/light burnt,smoke and hints of chocolate,very complex and inviting.Can't seem to keep my nose out of this beer.

A delicious,complex taste,very malty with sweet carmell/toffee tastes, also
chocolate,a bit nutty,a nice tartness,finishes crisp,clean with a lingering spicy/woodyness.

A medium mouthfeel,very creamy,slightly cloying a treat for the palate.
Very robust,tasty and enjoyable.Could drink all night,and have done it many times over the last 20 years. The beer gives me something to look foward to every Christmas season. Here's to another 20 years.
Everybody need to try this Christmas jewel !!!!

 1,029 characters

Photo of guinnessfan
4.07/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

12 oz. bottle from variety pk at Breski's poured into Das Festhaus pint

A: Light brown, amber color with a slight cloudiness. Tan head disappears into a thin ring within the glass.

S: Malt, light sweetness like molasses or brown sugar.

T: Initial sourness, perhaps darker fruits, tamed by malty sweetness and a darker roasted or burnt flavor.

M: Smooth, rich, yet not too thick. Clean with perfect carbonation.

D: Good beer, full bodied flavor, easy to drink. Too strong to be sessionable, though.

This is my first Penn product and I am excited to try the others in the variety pack.

 601 characters

Photo of Imstillthegman
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours a beautiful ruby brown color with about two fingers of creamy tan head.

The smell is a mixture of roasted nuts, dark fruits, brown sugar and spices, with a faint hint of hops. This one is all about the dark, sweet malts.

The taste is delightful. Dark fruits and roasted nuts up front with a bit of a light roasted coffee flavor in the middle and a spicy hop bite towards the end. All of that wrapped in a warm alcohol blanket.

Good mouthfeel, but a bit thinner than I thought it would be. Crisp, slightly dry finish. I find myself wanting to grab another one of these on this cool night. The Bigfoot I had first was a bit too much, but this seems just right.

 673 characters

Photo of akorsak
4.1/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A 12 oz bottle from a mixed case purchased at Westy's.

A: The bock is deep, dark ruby red. When held to light, the reds are accentuated and highlighted. The initial pour was busy and thick but the glass retains little evidence of that.

S: The aroma is very grainy with a slight hint of smokiness. The grainy malts are very concentrated, giving the beer a sweeter scent.

T: The malts are nicely done here. They are strong, giving the beer a malty sweetness, but they are accentuated by a subtle smokiness. That smokiness has roasted malt notes that are not quite chocolatey but definitely a toasted malt character.

M: The mouthfeel is a mixture of sweet and roasted malts, resulting in a smooth mouthfeel that has a nice long toasted grain finish.

D: Very drinkable. The last time I had this beer, I was graduated from the Pennsylvania State University a whopping seven years ago (for anyone questioning it, the verb 'graduated' is correct in this sentence). It is as good as I remember and worth a purchase if you can find it.

 1,041 characters

Photo of Phatz
3.9/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a dark mahogany plum color with a beige head that fades to a halo.

Smell: Malty with a smell of ripe fruits, brown sugar a hint of hops and alcohol.

Taste: Very over ripe dark fruits, plums cherries and raisins, sprinkled with spices and drizzled with caramel; a heavy malt feel and a zippy hop alcohol blend in the finish with a bit of cocoa in the aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Smooth rich medium body feel that is a bit barley chewy but not cloying.

Drinkability: It is rich and malty and thick and heavy in the stomach, but tasty. It is a beer for sipping and it is one that caps the night. Certainly *not* a session beer but a tasty sipping bock.

Hope this is helpful.

 709 characters

Photo of mjc410
4.06/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

This has been in my cellar for overy a year, the very last bottle from a case bought Iast summer, already on the bargain shelf (this is a Winter 04-05 bottle).

The pour into my trusty La Moneuse tulip, which has been able to hold the entire contents of every 12 oz bottle I've had for weeks, could not contain the massive two inch puls head this monster put up, so I had to wait for it to settle to finish the pour. The head is a nice light tan, and leaves incredible lacing. The body lets through just a bit of ruby light in an otherwise jet body. The nose is very vinous, of apple cider and cinnamon as well, very sweet. It reminds me of smelling Old Stock Ale, but more intense. The beer certainly didn't smell like this last summer, so I'm noticing that it's breaking down quite a bit. Still, this smell is wonderful. The taste is smooth, slightly acidic, a bit fruity in an apple way, and has a nice rich malt flavor in a pretty thin body, with very low carbonation. A subtle milk chocolate flavor works its way into the flavor profile eventually, too. A fairly mild taste, but quite unique.

This experiment resulted in a beer that is arguably better than the fresher samples I've had.

 1,196 characters

Photo of laintringulis
3.91/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a pub glass. Dark burgundy color with a little pinkish head that turned to a film quickly. Quite stunning color.

Smell yeasty with a citrus backbone. Light spicy nutmeg, cinnamon, earthy, grassy smells.

Initially, nicely malty, sweet with a brief nutty-caramel taste, without being too sweet. Very spicy, citrus, middle that finishes with a drier citrus taste and light alcohol presence.

excellent mouthfeel, not oily, finishes with a nice dryness and crispness that leaves you wanting more. Highly sessionable, easy to drink. Just the right amount complexity in flavors and drinkability. The alcohol is balanced well in the beer.

 649 characters

Photo of Foxman
3.98/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It came to me a moderately hazy but lustrously soft brwon amber, light passing warmly at the edges. A finger-plus of frothy tan head sustained some time before passing to the ether. Lacing was plentiful and fine.

The aroma carried a dense wave of roasted malt, earthy and dark sugar sweet, along with a spice note notable for cinnamon. A very mild and vague hops presence toys with an equally soft alcohol touch.

Upon sipping, a wash of well-toasted malt sweetness came on board, with black cherry, dark berry, and sloe fruit combining with molasses and caramel to fill the palatal void. A more mellow spice presence subsided in the middle ground, with a more viable strain of alcohol, and a slight hops bitterness. The finish was gradual and dominated by residual malt, with a dading sweetness countered by a gentle bitterness. Malty and fruity and sweet, it's a nice holiday flavor profile.

A bit north of light bodied, it was thinner than the flavor would portend, and that was a shame, because the coating flowed away a bit too soon.

It might have been sprintime, but a winter beer like this would be welcome on my lips anytime. It's reasonably big, and quite malty, but it's also crisp and a joy to imbibe. The ABV is a warmer, and well integrated into the overal personality of the beer, meaning that does its part in maintaining a high quotient of drinkability. This is one brew that confirms that drinking a beer out of season should be pursued whenever possible.

 1,487 characters

Photo of ppoitras
3.68/5  rDev -6.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

12oz bottle from BeerBeing as part of UTBIF. Thanks for the opportunity. No month notched on label.

Poured into an imperial pint glass, formed a 3/4" tan head above the slightly cloudy dark amber brew. Frothy head lasts nicely, with lots of foamy lace. Aroma is creamy sweet malts, with dark fruits. Taste has a reasonable grain base, but seems to be more leaning towards the tart fruitiness than I would prefer. The tartness lingers, coupled with a somewhat chalky aftertaste. Mouthfeel and drinkability are both pretty good, but I had higher hopes here.

 558 characters

Photo of Vancer
4.01/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Ho Ho Ho, an fairly aggressive pour resulted in a clear caramel brew topped by a massive ivory head, great lacing.

Winter spices and malts in the aroma and tastes. Nicely balanced lil’ brew, enough malts to slightly sweeten the pot. There may be a couple hazelnuts in the barrel.

Full bodied, like the great label says – nice pic of St. Nic too. I luv good labeling, followed by a quality brew. This one has both.

Guessed 7.5% - right on, must be catching on to beer styles and tastes some.

Merry Ho Ho to BeerBeing for this striking bock.

 553 characters

Photo of tgbljb
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured a cloudy reddish-brown color with an initial tannish head. Head rather quickly fell to a thin coating with only sparse lacing to be found. Smell is richly malt with a nice touch of cinnamon present. I usually do not like cinnamon, but in this beer it compliments the malt nicely.Taste is fruity, spicy, malty and supremely enjoyable.Leaves a nice full and fruity mouthfeel. This is one of the finest beers I have had in a long time. Even though i am drinking it a hot spring evening, it really hits the spor. I am sorry I only bought one of these.

 554 characters

Photo of battlekow
2.78/5  rDev -29.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 2.5

I'm not a big bock fan, and this one really didn't do a lot to change my mind. The nose is dominated by diacetyl, huge butteriness. A little fruitiness in the flavor, but there doesn't seem to be a lot there. Hints of alcohol. I think the beer is overcarbonated and the mouthfeel suffers as a result.

Thanks for the effort anyway, BeerBeing.

 344 characters

Photo of BuckeyeNation
4.42/5  rDev +11.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Gauzy dark tawny with festive cranberry highlights and waxed orange trim. Christmas in a glass! Atop the liquid sits a splendid looking crown of lightly toasted gold. I mean that literally; the foam looks like a crown with ragged, raised edges of lace surrounding a humped 'head' in the middle of the glass. That particular look fades pretty quickly, but it was fun while it lasted.

One would think that after all these beers and all these years an original nose wouldn't be possible; but here it is in all its bockiness. St. Nikolaus smells like spiced pumpernickel bread pudding slathered in sweet, buttery, vanilla hard sauce. Is the Christmas theme going to my head? I don't think so. I think that Penn has simply crafted a lovely holiday lager.

This is good beer with a cherry on top and is, far and away, the best bock that I've had yet. It's wonderfully dark malty with a modicum of roasted malt that brings porter comparisons into play. It also tastes like sour, dark fruit, so lets add chunks of barely ripe plum to that bowl of bread pudding. I don't know if any spices have been added. I'm perfectly willing to attribute those flavors to the hops or the yeast.

Sweet, sour and bitter are all present and accounted for, especially the first two. Rather than conflict with one another, however, they add a dynamic tension that contributes a great deal of flavor interest. Warming brings a deepening and a more complete melding of the already deep flavor profile. The finish allows the bitterness of the hops to make a minor splash; yet another facet of this gem-like beer.

The body/mouthfeel is medium in heft, with an appealing lagery smoothness. I often wish for more of a full chewiness, especially in beer that tastes like this one, but I wouldn't change a thing in this case. The well-mannered carbonation combines with the lightly sinewy mouthfeel to render the beer impressively drinkable.

I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever drink a bock that was more than minimally pleasant and ultimately forgettable. St. Nikolaus Bock replaces that wonder with a new one... the wonder of Christmas morning when the present that brings the greatest amount of joy comes from the least likely of places. A true holiday treasure.

 2,236 characters

Photo of numenor1
4.47/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear orange hued light brown with a fluffy white head that leaves lots of lacing behind. Smell is malty sweet and deep, with some fruitiness and a deep aroma of brown sugar with a dusting of cinnamon. A slight noble hop character as well. Upfront it's initially sweet then widening with a caramel, slightly plummy flavor, becomes very spicy into the finish with brown sugar and slight diacetyl(which i find very nice) emerging. Again a stab of cinnamon. All of this happens within a framework of vague nuttiness, which becomes more assertive through the finish. There's a slight tartness to the whole flavor parade which lets everything linger on the palate nicely. Very very nice. Mouthfeel is exactly what i want in a bock, perhaps could be a touch beefier. Excellent carbonation and scarily drinkable. One of my new favorites, though I have no access to it. After the second bottle I can say this is absolutely the best beer I've had yet in 2006, and that's saying a hell of a lot.

Thanks to beerbeing for this bottle.

 1,033 characters

Photo of garymuchow
2.21/5  rDev -44.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 1.5

Bottle courtesy of SS '05. Thanks guys.

Aroma is softer than I expected and holds some interesting complexity. Seems like almost a vanilla quality.
Really nice red color when help up to the light, otherwise more brown. Head is kinda' small but it has a nice creaminess to it and some determination. Laces nicely too.
Flavor is not quite right. If it's a spiced beer than the spices dominate. I'm picking up too little of any bold maltiness. Is this bottle old? Flawed? Skunked? I don't know, but it's not right.
Feel is fine. As it should be for style.
Not really drinkable as presented in this bottle.
Dissappointing. I hope I have the opportunity to try another sample, as a solid bock can be real pleasure.

 717 characters

Photo of ski271
4.39/5  rDev +11.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a dark brownish copper with a small, light tan, creamy, slowly diminishing head. Some nice spotty lacing. The smell dominated by malts, big and complex. The taste is also quite nicely big without being overbearing on the palate. Damn this stuff is good. A wonderful malt bomb and something I look forward every winter.

 324 characters

Photo of weeare138
4.22/5  rDev +6.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

On tap at Ortino's Northside...
Appears a deep, dark brown that borders a light black. A 2 finger off white head that leaves streaks of lacing around the glass.
Smell is of caramel, raisins, roasty nuts, and a touch of cocoa.
Taste is of the same aromas that have been mildly toned down a notch.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with roasted malts with a small amount of carbonation running along the tongue.

 406 characters

Photo of rhoadsrage
4.08/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

(Served in an American pint glass)

A- This beer has a deep transparent walnut brown body with a medium head of off-white. The carbonation is one of gentle tiny bubbles.

S- This beer has a nice caramelized malt aroma with a hint of sweetness.

T- This beer has a smooth caramel malt flavor with some deeper roasted malts in the background. There is a soft sweetness with a hint of alcohol and smoky flavor at the finish. After the finish there is a faint bitterness from hops with some sulfur hints that balances the sweetness.

M- This beer has a medium-full mouthfeel with some nice light fizz quality to enhance the mouthfeel.

D- This is a smooth nice lager that has good balance and nice roasted malt notes.

 727 characters

St. Nikolaus Bock Bier from Pennsylvania Brewing Company
3.95 out of 5 based on 408 ratings.
  • About Us

    Your go-to website for beer (since 1996), publishers of BeerAdvocate magazine (since 2006) and hosts of world-class beer events (since 2003). Respect Beer.
  • BeerAdvocate Microbrew Invitational

    Join us June 2-3, 2017 in Boston, Mass. for beer, cider, mead, kombucha and sake from over 70 small producers.

    Learn More
  • Subscribe to BeerAdvocate Magazine

    No fake news here. Get real beer content delivered to your doorstep every month.