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!

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