Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oshkosh Beer Sampler: Fox River Brewing’s Zinful Abbey

What: Zinful Abbey by Fox River Brewing Company. This is Fox River’s Abbey Normal, their Belgian-style dubbel, aged in an oak, wine barrel. The barrel had previously been used for Jack London Zinfandel of the Kenwood Vineyards, a Sonoma Valley winery. This beer has been in the works for just under a year. It is the first of the beers to come out the barrels nested at the entrance to the brewhouse inside Fratellos.

Where: Wax-dipped bombers (22 oz.) are available in the beer cooler at Fratellos in Oshkosh for $13.

Why: Because it balances complexity with drinkability in a wonderful way. The beer pours to a dark ruby color with a thin, tan lid of foam. The aroma is heavy with fruit; fig, raisin and blackberry most prominent. If you were blindfolded and put your nose to this beer, it’s likely that you’d guess it was wine. That vinous character continues in the flavor. Modestly carbonated for an abbey-style ale, the beer is more fruity than malty. A host of wild berry flavors come through on the front end. The blush of fruit is followed by an oaky tartness mingling with spicy black pepper that makes for a warm, pleasing finish. I’m guessing this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9% ABV, though it drinks much lighter than that. If you decide to try this, plan a meal around it. This is truly a food beer. Roasted chicken or pork would be an ideal pairing. À votre santé.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Plenty on Tap Tonight and Tomorrow...

The front end of the week has some good looking beer events going down in Oshkosh, let’s check them out.

Tuesday April 15: Central Waters Firkin Tapping at Gardina’s
Tonight, they’ll unbung a firkin full of Central Waters "Illumacolada," which is actually CW’s Illumination Double IPA seated on coconut and pineapple juice. This is rare beer and likely to be your one shot at tasting it. The firkin beings flowing at 6 p.m. For more info and tasting notes go HERE.

Wednesday April 16: 3 Sheeps Beer Dinner at Dublin’s Irish Pub
As of yesterday there were still a couple seats open for this one. The Dublin’s crew welcomes in 3 Sheeps Brewing of Sheboygan for a five-course meal with each course paired with a different 3 Sheeps brew. Dinner begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30. Contact the pub at (920) 385-0277 to confirm availability. See the Dublin’s Facebook Page for more.

Wednesday April 16: Kirby Nelson Visits the Society of Oshkosh Brewers
The storied brewmaster of Wisconsin Brewing Company stops in Oshkosh to visit with the SOBs and talk beer. This is a regular club meeting, but the public is invited to attend. If you’re curious about homebrewing and want to find out what the SOBs are all about; this would be the time to check them out. Plus, you’ll get to meet one of the doyens of Wisconsin craft beer. The gathering begins at 7 p.m. sharp at O’marro’s Public House.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beer Ads in Oshkosh No. 24: Unfunny Beer Cartoons of the 1930s

What we have here today is a good example of the lousy state of beer advertising in the 1930s.

When Prohibition ended in 1933, brewers generally resorted to the same sort of advertising tactics that had worked for them in the past. They spouted off about the quality of their beer, how pure and healthy it was, and how delicious it tasted. That approach no longer worked. Much had changed since 1920 and telling people that you made the sort of beer that their fathers used to drink wasn’t what they wanted to hear. Brewers needed something snappier to draw in those who had spent the previous 13 years swilling bootleg hootch in speakeasies. So they ditched the appeal to reason and went straight for the funny bone. And usually missed.

In the mid-1930s you see all sorts of these very unfunny beer advertisements dressed up as cartoons beginning to appear. Here’s one from Peoples Brewing that was in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of Saturday, November 19, 1938. If this raises a chortle, there may be something wrong with you. As always, click the image to enlarge it... if you dare

What in hell is that supposed to mean? First thing I thought was that the guy in the top hat was a pimp with a limp plan for drawing in customers. He certainly dresses like a pimp and the lady next to him looks none to happy about the situation.  Turns out I was wrong. A week later, Peoples came out with another ad that cleared up the confusion. This one is even less humorous.

See what happened here? Someone in the composing room added the wrong script to the first cartoon. I wonder if anyone even noticed. Or cared.

Want more non-funny beer funnies? Allow me to oblige your demented sense of humor. HERE’s one for the Oshkosh Brewing Company from 1938 featuring the holy trinity of comedy: racism, imminent death and cannibalism. And HERE’s a 1935 ad from Rahr Brewing that is absolutely levity free, though it does recall those grand old days when “Petting Parties” were all the rage. Enjoy.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Couple of Good Beers from O’so Brewing

For the April edition of the Oshkosh SCENE (find yours here), I wrote about O’so Brewing and a few of the new things they’re doing up there in Plover. Luckily, we don’t have to just read about it. A couple of the specialty beers that O’so has recently produced are now available in Oshkosh. If you’ve already made up your mind about O’so, think again. Here are two beers that will have you looking at the brewery in a different light.

Winds Of Change
Since I covered it when it first hit town, I won’t go too deep on this one, but here’s a quick recap. Winds is a blend of fresh and aged pale ales fermented with brettanomyces then matured in oak barrels. It’s an especially refreshing, sour ale that merges the American Pale Ale style with the Belgian sour-beer tradition. The two work together wonderfully. And at 5.5% ABV it’s eminently drinkable. Winds is available in the packaged beer section at Gardina’s, where it’s sold in 750 ml bottles for $12.99.

Convenient Distraction
This is a beauty. They started with O’so’s Night Train Porter and built it up with coffee and vanilla to produce one of the best dessert beers I’ve come across in ages. It pours nearly black with a frothy tan head and an aroma so fragrant you’ll notice it before you raise the glass. Caramelized sugar, vanilla and coffee are prominent in the nose with background notes of roast and chocolate. The mouthfeel is soft and creamy; the flavors intensely rich. Sweet caramel wrapped around coffee and boozy vanilla are followed by firm, roast-malt tannins that keep the beer from becoming cloying. The flavors are so beautifully integrated that I could even see a non-coffee drinker going for it. I liked Winds of Change quite a bit, but this might be the best beer I’ve had from O’so. It would be the perfect dessert after a spicy meal. Then maybe a nap; it’s just over 10% ABV. Don’t miss this one. Convenient Distraction just hit the shelf at the retail store in Gardina’s, where they sell it in 750 ml bottles for $12.99.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Beer for Homebrewing Keggers

If you’re a homebrewer who kegs their beer, here’s a brew that might pique your interest if not your palate. Mississippi Mud is nothing special, but the 32-ounce howler (half a growler) they sell it in is fantastic. It’s the perfect jug for those times when you want to take some homebrew along with you, but don’t want to pull a full, half-gallon growler off your keg.

The gimcrack label is just plastic wrap that takes about three seconds to tear off. Drain the beer and you’re all set: you have yourself a nice little howler that’s about a buck cheaper than those sold at homebrew shops. Festival Foods in Oshkosh sells these for $3.99. The low-end price at a homebrew shops would typically be about $4.99... and that’s without the beer.

I suppose as long as we’re here, we ought to taste some beer. They’re calling it a Black & Tan, which in this case amounts to a blend of porter and pilsner. It pours dark brown with a light, fluffy head. The aroma is neutral with a hint of roast malt peeking back at you. The beer is easy drinking and light with a faint sweetness. The roast comes up as it warms; as does an unpleasant metallic note. Drink it fast and don’t worry about it. You just picked up a nice little howler and maybe a wee buzz. No point in analyzing that. Just feel good.

Monday, April 7, 2014

A Beer, a Glass, and a Bar

If you had walked into August Witzke’s Oregon St. saloon one hundred years ago and ordered a bottle of beer, you would have met with this attractive label. In 1914, the Oshkosh Brewing Company began bottling their beer under this label to commemorate their 50th year of making beer (actually they were off by a couple of years, but we’ll let that slide).

The bottle would have been handed over the bar to you by August “Fuddy” Witzke who just that year had become proprietor of the saloon. He would have given you an “Oshkosh” because it was the only beer Fuddy sold. His saloon had been built by the Oshkosh Brewing Company in 1902 and in 1914 the brewery still owned the property. Fuddy Witzke’s place was a tied-house, meaning he had an agreement with the owners of the property to sell no beer other than theirs. Fuddy would have probably offered to pour that beer into a glass that looked something like this.

Witzke’s is still there at the corner of Oregon and 17th street and the name of the original owner of the property remains on the building. Fuddy Witzke died in 1969. Two years later, the brewery that put him in business failed. After all these years, it’s good to see that their names remained tied together.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Trio of American Belgians to Drink this Weekend in Oshkosh

Ommegang Glimmerglass Saison
Here’s one of the best American-brewed Saison’s I’ve had in a while. This comes to us from Brewery Ommegang of Cooperstown, New York where they’ve made a name for themselves brewing Belgian-style beers. In fact, the brewery is owned by Belgium-based Duvel Moortgat. This beer has all the marks of a classic Belgian saison. A hazy, light-golden beer with a ripe, fruity aroma, Glimmerglass pours a massive head that’ll keep you waiting to get to the liquid under the suds. When you finally make it through the gate, you find a soft, bready malt character under bright, floral hop notes complimented by a dash of peppery spice. It’s a slightly sweet beer, but very crisp and refreshing. This would be a great ale for a warm day. At 5.4% ABV, you’ll want a couple. Glimmerglass is available in 4-packs at Gardina’s in the packaged beer section for $10.99. By the way, the next time you’re in the beer store at Gardina’s, check out that shelf full of Belgains. There are some amazing bottles of beer there.

New Glarus Thumbprint Series Dubbel
You don’t see many Wisconsin breweries attempting Dubbels. Every now and then you’ll find one at a brewpub, but it’s a style our production breweries seem reluctant to tangle with. That’s odd. You’d think that with it’s big malt profile, a good dubbel would be just the sort of beer Wisconsinites would cotton to. Anyway, here we have one from the vaunted, not-so-little brewery in New Glarus. Like a good dubbel should, this pours to a brilliant, deep amber with a rocky, tan head. The yeast character informs the aroma with generous amounts of dark fruit backed by caramelized malt. The beer is highly effervescent with a surprisingly light mouthfeel. The flavor amplifies the aroma: raisin, apple, toffee and maybe just a hint of funk hanging around in back. The beer finishes dry with a warm spiciness. Take your time with this beer and don’t drink it cold; you’ll miss what’s so good about it. This 7.8% ABV ale is available, among other places, at Festival Foods where it’s sold in 4-packs for $9.49.

Avery Salvation
Let’s bring out the big gun. Avery’s Salvation is a 9% ABV Belgian strong ale that’ll put your stamina to the test. At first blush this bright, golden beer seems easy going with a playful aroma of juicy pineapple and baseball-card bubblegum. The beer has a soft texture delivering a sweet and creamy malt flavor mixed with apricots and pears. After a few good draws, though, the beer begins to show its heft. A candy-like thickness comes around and an interesting alcoholic bite appears in the finish. By the end, it takes on a cough-syrup like texture and after one glass you’ll have had enough. Or maybe not, depending upon what you’re aiming for. Definitely a beer to check out and it’s nice to see Avery's beers back in our neighborhood again after a three-year hiatus. Avery Salvation is available at Festival Foods in Oshkosh they sell 22oz. bombers of the beer for the sweet price of $6.99.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Into Some Beer

We have a good crop of beer events hitting town in April and May. Get your beer calendar out and let’s fill ‘er in.

Tonight, Wed, April 2: Barley’s Beer Sampling Series
Part four of this go-round of Barley and Hops' Beer Sampling Series starts at 7 p.m. You can get tickets at the pub right up until they ring the bell. All the details are HERE.

Thursday, April 10: Oblio’s Alaskan Brewing Company Sampling
Oblio’s Lounge will welcome Alaskan Brewing Co. from 9-11 p.m. They’ll be handing out samples of Alaskan’s Hopothermia Double IPA, Amber Ale (Alt Beer), Freeride American Pale Ale and Summer Ale (Kölsch).

Tuesday, April 15: Central Waters Firkin Tapping At Gardina’s
Chapter 9 of Gardina’s Beer Bar Series will feature a firkin of Central Waters Illumination Double IPA racked onto coconut and pineapple... an Illumacolada, if you will. The firkin starts flowing at 6 p.m.

Wednesday, April 16: 3 Sheeps Beer Dinner at Dublins.
Sheboygan’s 3 Sheeps Brewing and Dublin’s Irish Pub are teaming up for a beer dinner at the pub. 3 Sheeps beer will be paired with gourmet food prepared by the Dublin’s crew. Dinner starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $30 and available at the pub. Checkout Dublin’s Facebook page for updates.

Saturday, May 3: Big Brew Day with the Society of Oshkosh Brewers
The SOBs will host their annual communal brew in front of O’Marro’s Public House. The public is invited to see how beer is made and find out what the SOBs are all about (and don’t be surprised to find a few homebrews passed around). The brewers will set up around 9 a.m. and the brewing will run until approximately 3 p.m. Visitors are free to wander in, out and all about at their leisure.

Thursday, May 29: The Wisconsin Premier of Beer Hunter: the Movie
Beer Hunter, the documentary about the life of beer writer Michael Jackson, will make its Wisconsin debut at the Time Theater in downtown Oshkosh on Thursday, May 29 at 7 p.m. Adam Carlson of Gardina’s is driving this event. There’ll be more info to come in the near future.

Monday, March 31, 2014

A History of Bock Beer in Oshkosh

“Oshkosh’s beer-thirsty souls will soon rejoice... We invite all Oshkoshers to visit us on Saturday and the following days in our brewery, and we promise to give them a pleasure like never before. Come, come all to Fischer and Köhler.”
– Oshkosh Deutsche Zeitung; April 28, 1858

The pleasure that Tobias Fischer and Christian (Kaehler) Köhler promised “Oshkosh’s beer-thirsty souls” was in the form of a beer they had made named Salvator. The German immigrants had brewed it on the coldest day of winter at their Busch Brewery near the southeast corner of Algoma and Vine streets in Oshkosh. After months of aging, it was now ready. On Saturday, May 1, 1858 they opened their brewery to the public and tapped the beer. Oshkosh’s love affair with the strong, brown lager known as bock was underway.

Fischer and Kaehler’s Salvator was probably not the first bock served in Oshkosh, but its very public unveiling would help set the tone here for what would become an annual ritual: the spring release of bock beer. Today we would recognize the Busch Brewery’s Salvator as a doppelbock or double bock, a dark and very malty lager that is especially potent at 7-10% ABV. It was a German specialty beer offered for a brief time each spring and as German brewers made their way to Oshkosh they brought their spring-tonic tradition with them.

Early on, bock beer in Oshkosh remained something of an open secret shared among those with more than a passing interest in beer, i.e, persons of German extraction. The 1858 advertisement that Fischer and Kaehler placed in the German-language newspaper  the Oshkosh Deutsche Zeitung was a rarity. Throughout the 1850s and 1860s most brewers in Oshkosh were not so forward in their promotion of the small batch of special beer they offered each spring. News of the brew usually spread by word of mouth or by saloon keepers who placed signs in their windows featuring a goat’s head, the customary symbol of bock beer.

But by the 1880s, this liquid rite of spring was no longer the exclusive provenance of Oshkosh’s German immigrants. The Deutsch beer habit had bled over into all segments of the city’s population. As Oshkosh’s thirst for beer grew, so did its breweries. Small neighborhood brewhouses like that of Kaehler and Fisher gave way to larger enterprises such as Horn and Schwalm’s Brooklyn Brewery and John Glatz’s Union Brewery. With increases in production came an emphasis upon advertising. Brewers here saw bock beer as an opportunity to boost business during a time of year when sales typically lagged. A cryptic sign in a saloon window was no longer enough to get the job done. An 1892 newspaper advertisement for the new bock of the Glatz brewery shows the characteristic pomp that now often accompanied the release of the strong, spring lager.
J. Glatz & Sons' Munich Bock beer, the finest beer of the season equal to any in the state for age, strength and purity. Will be delivered to our customers May 7, 8 and 9 only. This beer is brewed from the best malt made in the United States, and the finest hops grown in the world.
– Oshkosh Daily Northwestern; May 6, 1892
Oshkosh Daily Northwestern; February 27, 1896
John Glatz’s claim that his bock was the equal of any in the state was something beer drinkers in Oshkosh could now put to the test. In the early 1890s, bocks from beyond Oshkosh were flowing into the city. Schlitz, Pabst, Miller and other brewers were shipping bock in by train and the “foreign beer” began to influence the hometown brews.

Traditionally, the bocks of Oshkosh were served from wooden kegs made of white oak. But as brewers from outside the city began bringing bottled bock to Oshkosh, local brewers followed suit. During the first decade of the 1900s, Oshkosh’s two remaining breweries - Rahr and the Oshkosh Brewing Company – began selling bottled versions of their bock. After the Peoples Brewing Company of Oshkosh began production in 1913, their annual bock was released in both kegs and bottles with the glass-package label featuring the familiar goat’s head.

The Milwaukee brewers were also influencing the release date of bock in Oshkosh. Prior to the 1900s, it was unusual to see an Oshkosh-brewed bock appear before the latter half of March. By the late 1890s, though, Pabst’s bock was arriving in Oshkosh sometimes as early as February. Ever wary of their big-city competition, Oshkosh brewers began to move up their release dates. By 1910, both Rahr and the Oshkosh Brewing Company were making their bock available by late February.

No matter the date, the arrival of bock was still seen as harbinger of warmer days just ahead. Each spring, the beer was omnipresent in Oshkosh and its coming was ripe fodder for the local press. During the bock season of 1905 the Daily Northwestern reported on March 5 that, “The early spring robin may be a trifle late in arriving, but the joyous bock
Oshkosh Daily Northwestern; February 23, 1914
beer has already put in its appearance.” Two weeks later the paper included a limerick that spoke to the popularity of the beer.
"Of May the gentle poet sings, the month of blossoms and of roses. 
Likewise, the month that always brings the bock beer blossoms on our noses."

The bock tradition in Oshkosh appeared as if it were unimpeachable, but the celebration came to a screeching halt with the onset of Prohibition in 1920. Though the production of beer was made illegal, there was no shortage of it in Oshkosh. Homebrewing was widespread in the city and it’s highly likely that Oshkosh’s homebrewers kept the bock flowing during the dry years. In fact, the Oshkosh Brewing Company released a series of hopped, dark-malt extracts during the period that were ideally suited for homebrewers unwilling to give up their traditional spring repast in observance of an ill-conceived law.

But the loss of locally produced, commercial bock was lamented by many. When spring would roll in, the Daily Northwestern often reminded its readers that something was missing. On March 25, 1926 the paper reported that Oshkosh had spring fever, but that, “One old sign of spring is lacking, the bock beer sign which brought a glint of gladness to the eyes of many thirsty souls in pre-prohibiton days.”

The happy glint returned when Prohibition ended in 1933. And the brewers of Oshkosh, picked up exactly where they had left off. Peoples Brewing celebrated the return of bock with a party at Clute’s Tavern, next door to the brewery, where they served 5¢ draughts of the beer in the traditional manner, “Drawn direct from the wood.”

But there was now an entire generation of beer drinkers in Oshkosh who Prohibition had deprived of the authentic bock experience. Brewers here sought to remedy that through advertising that explained that this was a more robust and darker beer that went through an extended aging period. The Oshkosh Brewing Company said of its Chief Oshkosh Bock, “It's got that Old-Fashioned full body, full flavor and zip.” That may have appealed to those old enough to remember the pre-Prohibition brews, but with each passing year younger drinkers were showing less and less interest in any beer that a brewer might be proud of describing as “old-fashioned.” Still, bock remained a reliable spring treat in Oshkosh well into the 1960s.

The undoing of the bock tradition here occurred gradually. The customs of an earlier era began to fade as drinkers who came of age after Prohibition became the dominant consumers. To younger generations, beer implied one thing: pale, highly carbonated, light lager. A hearty, dark bock aged in a wooden barrel would never fit within that narrow framework.

Though bock limped along through the 1960s, it had become a relic of the past. The March 1971 beer list for Ray’s Beverage on New York Ave. tells of the sorry condition bock had reached in Oshkosh. The only bock on the ledger is that of Chicago’s Meister Bräu, which was on the verge of bankruptcy and would be taken over by Miller Brewing in 1972. Though the beers of the Oshkosh Brewing Company and Peoples Brewing were included on Ray’s list, neither brewery offered a bock. The Oshkosh Brewing Company would cease operations later in 1971. The demise of Peoples came the following year.

Other Wisconsin breweries would continue to pay homage to the bock tradition, most notably Monroe’s Huber Brewing, but it would be years before locally brewed bock would return to Oshkosh. As it has been with most other aspects of the beer culture here, bock was revived by the city’s homebrewers.

After Steve Rehfeldt moved to Oshkosh from Colorado in 1995 he joined the local homebrew club, the Society of Oshkosh Brewers. Rehfeldt was struck by the local taste for rich lagers. “I was in a club in Colorado that seemed to have more of a California influence, with very hoppy beers,” Rehfeldt said. “The Oshkosh folks brewed a lot of lagers and malty, dark beers.”

The torch was picked up by the Fox River Brewing Company after its launch in December 1995. The Oshkosh brew pub did not include a bock among its first flight of beers, but bocks of different stripes eventually made their way into the line-up. Fox River continues to produce seasonal bocks in addition to Tanjanator, a doppelbock it produces throughout the year for the Old Bavarian Brewing Company of Appleton.

Today bock is easy to come by in Oshkosh. If you wish, you can drink it year round. But that convenience has rendered the brew less special. The annual bock was a warming promise of brighter days just ahead. That has been lost.

Imagine yourself a beer lover living in Oshkosh in late March of 1890. As you walk into the wind pushing down Main, you can feel its bite, but there’s something different about it, too. It’s telling you that winter has ebbed. As you cross over Ceape and head for the bridge you see the sign with the goat head in the window of Charles Raasch’s saloon. Lorenz Kuenzl’s celebrated Bock beer has arrived. You step inside. Raasch draws you a foaming goblet of the dark lager. A delicious anticipation builds. You raise the beer to your lips. You drink. It will never be like that again.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Six-Pack of Bock to Drink this Weekend in Oshkosh

Monday, when I posted that old ad for Rahr's Bock Beer, I bitched about the lack of bock we've been getting around here lately compared to back in the day when Oshkosh's breweries were spilling it all over town. Turns out, there was nothing to complain about. Over the last couple of days I took a random survey of our local beer depots and unearthed all sorts of choice bock. Here’s a six pack of the goat beer currently available in Oshkosh. We’ll start local and wind our way out.

A bock by any other name... Fox River 2x4 Imperial Pilsner. Call it what you will, I know a maibock when I taste one. As with most beer styles born of the craft beer movement, the only thing new about this one is its name. Sure it may be hopped a bit more aggressively than a standard maibock, but if you’ve ever had a Czech maibock, you know these can be hop-forward beers. This beer fits firmly into the Bohemian camp. Czech hops and Bohemian style malts, result in a bold lager with a chewy malt character balanced by a very firm bitterness. Clean and crisp, you’d never guess the fluid rolling into your innards is 8% ABV. Available at Fratellos in Oshkosh in bottles, growlers and on draught.

O’so Dominator Doppelbock. This 8.5% beer warms my heart... and everything else. An honest, unfiltered, deep-brown lager with lots of pretty red highlights shimmering through its haze. It vents a big, caramel aroma wrapped around raisins and plums. The beer loads the palate with rich malt and stone fruits leading to a mildly bitter and dry finish. The carbonation is fairly subdued allowing the beer to wrap around your tongue. This lager has a rustic quality that I thoroughly enjoy. Available in 4-packs in the packaged beer section at Gardina’s.

Hinterland Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock. A deep-red beer with a fluffy, tan head, you’ll get a snoot full of toffee and bourbon drifting up from the pour. The flavor is shaped by a fat note of caramel cut through by the booziness of bourbon and the mild astringency of oak. Hinterland says they age this for 10 months in bourbon barrels giving the beer a silkiness you don’t normally encounter in lagers. Right about 7.5% ABV it tastes a bit stronger than it is. Take it in slowly to allow its complexity to unfold. Available in pint bottles at Festival Foods.

New Glarus Back 40 Bock. This is closer to the sort of bock they were drinking in Oshkosh 50 years ago. Subtitled Wisconsin Bock, this is a traditional, brown bock that’s unassuming and delicious. A clean, malt aroma flecked with caramel and biscuit leads to a slightly sweet and bready flavor. The hops are hidden, but do just enough to balance the beer. Ridiculously drinkable, this is a great beer to pair with something spicy, say a chicken burrito with a few jalapenos tucked inside. They don’t list the ABV, but I’d guess this is just a bit over 5% ABV. Back 40 Bock is available all over town, including the big-box grocery stores.

Dark Horse Perkulator Coffee Doppelbock. If you don’t care for coffee, skip ahead. If you do like coffee, get this beer. A brown lager that smells like coffee grounds, this may be what you’ll need in your Sunday morning coffee cup. A smooth, creamy mouthfeel with toasted bread and mocha flavors melding into the coffee. They haven’t forgotten that this is a beer first. Though the coffee flavor is there, they don’t beat you over the head with it. The beer finishes with an unusual spiciness that seems more and more appropriate after you grow acquainted with it. At 7% ABV there’s enough heft to make it worth your while without it being overbearing. Available in 4-packs in the packaged beer section at Gardina’s.

Paulaner Salvator. Here’s the grandaddy of  doppelbock. Coming in all the way from Munich, the birthplace of the double bock, this beauty pours to a burnt amber with a thick, ivory head. This has the prototypical aroma of doppelbock: burnt sugar, molasses rich malt and plums. It’s a sweet, nourishing beer that’s substantial enough to be filling. Flavors of plum, honey on toasted bread and even some tobacco pop up. I’ve loved this beer for years. At just under 8%, it’s a great way to end a chilly night.

And if six ain’t enough, check out the maibocks from Capital and Sprecher that they’re selling at the North Side Pick n’ Save. They’re both right on the mark.

I'm not done with this bock thing. Come Monday, I'll be digging into Oshkosh's bock-drenched past. I can feel your excitement!