Monday, March 24, 2014

Beer Ads in Oshkosh No. 23: Rahr’s Bock, the Treat of the Season

Click to enlarge
You’d never guess it, but this is spring, the time of year when you ought to be working some bock beer into the mix. Typically, a bock beer is a strong, brown lager – although there are pale and ale variants – and it’s the perfect beer to take you from the cold days of winter through the cool days of spring as you travel towards the warm weather ahead. Unfortunately, good bocks can be somewhat difficult to come by these days. American craft brewers, with their ale-centric leanings, haven’t repurposed the style as they have with so many other traditional brews. That’s sad. If ever there was a brew with some tradition dying to be toyed with, it’s bock.

The story of bock beer dates back to the Middle Ages and it’s shot through with all sorts of fabulous crap. But the most credible telling of it’s rise involves the German town Einbeck in Lower Saxony. By the 13th century, Einbeck was becoming well known as a brewing center thanks to the hearty ales it exported across Germany and as far as Russia, Sweden, Belgium and England. But by the 1600s, Einbeck’s trading partnerships had begun to breakdown and to fill the void, brewers in other regions began producing their own take on the Einbeck brew. The lager brewers of Munich were especially successful in imitating the beer, which was now being called simply bock, most likely, a corruption of Einbeck.

I guess at some point, I should actually mention the ad we have here. This is from 1937, a time when Oshkosh would see a flood of bock pouring from her breweries each spring. This ad appeared in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern on March 15, 1937 and it’s for the newly released bock from our old friends at the Rahr Brewing Company of Oshkosh. I like the look of this one. The beer looks delicious and it’s nice to see the Easter bunny having a drink. The goat’s head down at the bottom is the traditional symbol of bock, which in German translates to male goat.

Here’s the hard-to-read type near the bottom:
That sensational full-bodied, full-flavored Spring brew
that you expect from Rahr's each Easter season. If it
were possible for any beer to be better than good—
well — that's the way to describe this year's Rahr's
Bock Beer. Since only a limited quantity of this rich
beer has been brewed, may we suggest that you phone
now for a case.

I’m curious about something in there. It’s that line that includes “this year's Rahr's Bock Beer.” I wonder if they used a different recipe for their bock each spring; or did they just grind out the same damned beer year after year? I’d love to know. I’ve seen some ads for Peoples Brewing, that seem to indicate that their spring bock varied from one year to the next. Oh, and that phone number at the bottom. Don’t bother. I already called. Nobody answered.

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