Ground Pup Double Bock Ale
Indian Wells Brewing Co.
I’m not a big “store brand” beer buyer, mainly for 2 reasons. 1, the beer is usually not that great, and 2, I’d rather support local or neighboring micro/craft breweries who didn’t go the sell-out route. I like places that market their beer the old-fashioned way, with a big bearded guy in a flannel offering a tasting and a handshake. Usually what happens is, a company like Trader Joes, CostPlus, or Fresh & Easy sends forth what they call “buyers” to seek out and acquire otherwise unknown mom and pop brands to add to their “store” brand of products. A good example of this is Charles Shaw wine (2 buck chuck), which was acquired from Fred Franzia (yes, the boxed wine guy) and sold exclusively at Trader Joe’s stores. Retaining ones own label and brand identification is sometimes practiced, and sometimes not, in these acquired brands. Vintage Press Cabernet (supposedly an expensive “excellent Napa Valley Cabernet”), for example, chose to have its label replaced with Trader Joe’s, thus allowing it to be sold much more cheaply and to a wider audience. In comparison, when Franzia sold Charles Shaw to Trader Joes, they chose to keep the Charles Shaw name. Don’t ask me why, but yeah, that’s how this stuff goes down.
With the continued growing interest in craft and micro brews over big-name table beers, the big stores are all kinds of game to gather lesser-known ales and stouts to beef up their beer aisles. Fresh & Easy, one of my new favorite places, with their super fresh produce, all-natural and organic meats, and easy to navigate store is now on the acquire-a-beer bandwagon. Are they any good? With their 12 for 12 wine deals, it’s hard to pay attention to the small beer section in a Fresh & Easy. But take notice, they aim to bring quality brews to the table, and here we have the Ground Pup Double Bock Ale.
First thing I noticed on the label, “…Bock Ale”. Bocks are not ales, they are lagers. Bock lagers are known to be sweeter, less hoppier beers which drink well in summer, while true ales are hardier and more bitter than their lager cousins and make for a wonderful mugful on a cold winters night. Hmmm, maybe Ground Pup is a hybrid? Anywho, here’s an example of a company that chose to keep their label upon distributing to Fresh & Easy. Good move. The 4 pack case is pretty cool looking with what looks like a bulldog riding an atomic bomb over retrograde vector art. At 7.2% alcohol by volume, Ground Pup will definitely tickle your brain stem, but not in a bad way. I found the initial taste to be bitter and hoppy, but not overpowering, and if anything, not quite fully developed. It’s almost like they didn’t let it get to its peak potential and said “screw it, let’s bottle this bitch!” But I digress, having said that, it’s not a bad taste, it’s just not much of a taste. It tries to smell, taste, and act like a big beer, when in reality it’s only still a teenager. I like what it tries to accomplish and for a moderately priced Ale, I enjoyed it and probably will again.
While not the best dark Ale I’ve had, it was definitely a bit different from the usual dark hop on the shelf. Drink this thing, cold, with a steak. Mmm good.
- Value: At $5.99 a 4 pack, it’s not bad. I didn’t see it in any larger quantity. Then again, at 216 cals ea., 4 is enough.
- Flavor: It tastes like it wants to be something much bigger, but can’t quite reach.
- Aroma: I seriously smelled wood chips
- Drinkability: Good, not overly bitter, but no overly great either
- Buzz Factor: At 7.2%, you’ll get that nice warm feeling. Nice!
- Final Verdict: It’s a decent ale, nothing crazy, and darker than Darth Vader’s helmet.
Not the best, but….it’s alright.