Thursday, November 4, 2010

Oshkosh Beer of the Week: New Glarus Back 40 Bock

In May of 1885 the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern ran a weird little article complaining that Bock beer isn’t supposed to go on tap until May, but that “Americans force the season in everything, and so each year it gets on the market a little earlier.” I’d like to take the author of the article for a visit to Barley & Hops and see how he’d react to the two Bock’s that are pouring here in the early days of November. One is the trusty Shiner Bock and the other is the new lager from New Glarus named Back 40 Bock, which made its way into Oshkosh last week.

Back 40 replaces Uff-da as New Glarus’ fall seasonal bock and it’s quite a switch. New Glarus is calling Back 40 a “Wisconsin Bock” and though that may not exactly be a recognized style, it tells you what they’re shooting for. They’ve taken their cues from the long history of Bock brewing in Wisconsin, where Bocks were brewed with an eye towards balance and drinkability in comparison to the traditional German Bocks (such as Uff-da), which are heftier and marked by a rich melanoidin character. If you prefer your beer to be big, bold and boozy, Back 40 Bock isn’t going to make much of an impression on you, but if subtlety is more your style, then this mild-mannered beauty is going hit you where you live.

The beer pours to a dark brown with a nice creamy head and if you can let it sit for a minute or two the foam will settle into a beautiful, off-white meringue. The aroma is fairly rich, with caramel and some raisin leading you to believe the beer is going to be bigger than it is. The mouth feel, at first, seems somewhat slight and if there’s an argument to made against this beer it may be its lack of depth, but complexity isn’t what this brew is about. This is a phenomenally balanced and drinkable beer and though you’ll get light notes of bread crust and toffee coming through, that’s just background to the bright, clean flavor of malt. There’s a slight balancing bitterness that comes in near the end before an incredibly clean finish. This is a beer that begs you to drink three or four (or five or six) of them in a sitting. It gets better with each glass.

You ought to be able to pick up Back 40 Bock at all of the usual Oshkosh beer depots, but you’d probably have a lot more fun trying it out at Barley’s this weekend. This Saturday is the Main Street Grand Re-Opening (info Here and Here) and amidst the festivities you might want to slip into Barley’s for a beer... or four.


  1. hmmmmm.... sounds good... but Red Seal at Ob's has been reduced to $3....!!!

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  3. Whoops... I'm with ya on the Red Seal, but I've really had a jones for lager as of late.