Monday, February 29, 2016

Oshkosh's Annual Parade of Goats

March was traditionally the time when Oshkosh brewers brought out their bock beers. The annual arrival of stronger, darker lagers was an occasion both brewers and beer drinkers looked forward to.

Here's an ad from 1940 that shares the sense of anticipation these beers were greeted with.

Notice that mighty goat at the ready, front and center. Bock is a German-style of beer. And bock is the German word for goat. Reason enough to present a horned beast. The goat also serves as an indication of the strength of bock beer.

For decades, Oshkosh brewers remained true to the tradition of adorning their bock-beer ads and labels with goats. Here's a herd of examples  from the last century.

Let's start of with a few more from Peoples Brewing.
Here's a bottle label that Peoples used before Prohibition arrived in 1920.

And here's a Peoples' label from the period following the end of Prohibition in 1933.

Jumping ahead a few decades, here's the label Peoples was putting on its bottles of bock in the 1960s.

Now over to Rahr Brewing of Oshkosh. This is a label for Rahr's Bock Beer, circa 1917

In 1938, advertising for Rahr's bock featured this anthropomorphized goat wearing a nice shirt and tapping a beer.

Here's a Rahr label from right about that same time.

A lot of the labels seen here were stock labels used by numerous, regional breweries. Other than the brewery name, the labels were identical. Here's a couple examples of Wisconsin bocks with the same label as Rahr's.

Can you imagine if Fox River Brewing in Oshkosh was using the same label on its beer as O'so Brewing in Plover? It's unthinkable in the modern age of branding. Then again, beer was a far more local product in the years before and just after Prohibition than it is today. Thankfully we seem to be returning to that. But I doubt we'll see brewers sharing labels again (though Bare Bones Brewery in Oshkosh does share a bottle labeller with other breweries in Northeast Wisconsin).

Moving on...  The Oshkosh Brewing Company always had an eye for design. This poster for their bock beer is one of my favorites. It's a lusty looking goat we have here.

Here's another stock label. This was appearing on bottles of OBC's bock in the 1940s.

These were the caps crowning those bottles of OBC bock beer.
Here comes a nice OBC tap handle. I believe this is from the 1960s.

One more. Here's a sign for OBC's bock beer that marries Native American imagery with that old German goat. Welcome to the new world.

With the closing of Oshkosh's production breweries in the early 1970s, bottles of Oshkosh-brewed beer with goats on them disappeared. Now that we have a couple of breweries packaging beer again, the revival of this tradition is due for renewal.

For more about the history of bock beer in Oshkosh, check this out.

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