I’m glad we’ve gotten away from the stuffy old days when certain beers were strictly seasonal.
But, on the other hand, there was something to be said for the anticipation that built for the annual spring bock release.
I recall a beer bar in Oshkosh that in late March/early February would release all the Wisconsin bocks the same week.
Or one of the great Wisconsin parties, Capital Brewing’s annual Bockfest in late February, which marks the release of its delicious Blonde Doppelbock and allows brewery workers to blow off steam by throwing fish from the brewery roof. I haven’t been for a few years.
The last time I went on a bus from Menasha that was filled with a troublesome bunch of people. Police were called at one point during the day when one of the Menasha visitors started a barroom brawl at The Great Dane, after the Menasha crew had been treated as honored guests by being allowed to drink from the breweries storage tanks, which were all named after Frank Zappa songs. It was a day to remember, if only so that it is never repeated. Thank god a blizzard was happening and we were able to disappear in our bus before the cops arrived.
Bock beer stories always seem to have a twist.
Back in the day when every Wisconsin brewery had a spring bock release, a rumor got started that bock beer was the result of a sort of spring-cleaning at the breweries. Bock, so the rumor went, was from the bottom of the tanks when the brewery cleaned the tanks.
Total nonsense of course. The tanks are cleaned after each brew. Sanitary brewing is the key to all great beer.
Bock is a lager style of beer, brewed a little stronger and often darker than your average lager (except, of course, the maibocks such as Capitol’s Blonde Doppelbock). That is accomplished with a larger grain bill than your typical lager.
I thought I’d had just about every bock available, but, only within the last year or so I was introduced to what may be one of the world’s finest examples of bock beer, the delicious Korbinian, a doppelbock from Weihenstephan, the world’s oldest brewery (since 1040, the label says).
Doppelbock, as the name suggests, is a double bock, or an even larger grain bill than regular bock. More grains means more alcohol in the final product.
Korbinian is a soft, smooth and rich strong lager (7.4 percent), and a really fine beer.
One of my all-time favorite econo-beers is a Wisconsin-made bock, Huber Bock. Back when I first moved to Wisconsin from Maui in 1990, you could get a case of Huber Bock in returnable bottles for $5.39 a case. A visiting friend once left with so many cases of Huber Bock in his economy hatchback that I thought the back end would fall off.
Returnable bottles were phased out some years ago by the brewers of Huber Bock, but you can get it in 12-pack bottles for about 12 bucks, or a buck a bottle.
And if you can find it on tap somewhere, enjoy. It has a depth of character that you just don’t expect from an inexpensive beer. The brewery in Monroe, Wis., has undergone many changes, but you can always count on Huber Bock delivering a great econo-bock experience.