Sunday, December 9, 2012

Advent Beer 8: Hubertus Festbock (+ Wings of War!)

A bock is a strong, seasonal lager from Germany or Austria, often associated with special occasions and religious festivals, and is the kind of beer that monks would sometimes sustain themselves with while fasting. There are a number of varieties, including eisbocks, doppelbocks and festbocks.

At 7.5% abv, if you are looking for a beer to party with, you may be on the right track with this Hubertus Festbock from Austria, but don't blame me if you don't like where that train ends up. This is a very smooth beer,with very little bitterness, but no cloying sweetness due to the higher alcohol content either. The aroma is very lager-like, but the flavour and mouthfeel more like an ale.

The Holsten Festbock has been in my batting order in recent months, but I couldn't tell you if it is a better or worse example of the style than Hubertus; if I come across the latter outside of the advent calendar, I may have to run some sort of Pepsi challenge...

Best of all, Mike T. also has the advent calendar, so he brought his over so we could share a Day 8 toast before imbibing. He also brought the WWII board game Wings of War, which he has been trying to get played for almost a year.

Combining elements of board, card and miniatures games, Wings of War made a fantastic diversion while we waited for the Festbocks to chill. My Messerschmitt 109 and Japanese Reisen (better known to most of us as a Zero), faced off against Mike's Grumman Wildcat and Supermarine Spitfire, which just happens to be his favourite warplane.


The placement of cards on the table in relation to your aircraft's base determine your position and firing arc, and cups of counters allocate the damage. In the basic version we played, the special effects like sticking rudders, smoke and flames or injured pilots, were left out, with the sole exception of the explosion counter (pictured above), which took Mike's beloved Spitfire out early on. He dispatched my Messerschmitt shortly after, but was unable to out-turn my Zero, so my damaged craft was able to eke out a victory, despite almost colliding with him at one point.

Like Robo Rally, you plot your moves ahead of time, and it can be possible to 'zig when you should have zagged' to an end that is either tragic or comic depending on your perspective at the moment.

I'm not sure if the advanced rules, which comprehensively covers not only damage effects but also altitude, ground attacks and a campaign system, will have the elegance and flow of the basic version, but I am certainly willing to try it to find out.

Every beer tastes better with friends, and I am grateful that Mike was able to come over during a season which can get ridiculously busy, and share a neat beer and even neater game!

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