Bock Until The End Of The World

A brief respite from winter found myself recently sitting in neighbors’ backyard, where I said: “Of all the beer recipe styles, I think bock might have the most spiritual dimension.”
Part of this of course, was due to the Lenten Monk’s ‘liquid bread” connection. But that is only part of it. Another aspect is the connotation of bock being a celebratory, arrival-of-spring libation, designed to leave behind the heavy physical and emotional lifting of winter. All of this will do. Just seeing the return of these seasonal beers is a reminder that even before the so-called craft beer revolution, all American lager was not bland in taste.
In my own neck of the woods, Hudepohl-Schoenling, part of Christian Moerlein, has brought out Hudepohl Festival Bock, a pure beer recipe using Munich and Vienna malts, beautifully constructed by The Lion Brewery of Wilkes Barre, PA, for the Cincinnati based company. Complete with graphics of a beer goblet holding silhouette of Pan, America’s Great Small Brewery announces “Bock To Our Lips Spring In Our Souls”.
And a very tasty bock it is. Fresh and bright
, the malts are given ample hops support, making this a lively, pleasant drinking experience.

At this time of year, it would not be spring forward without the arrival of Genesee Bock. Always a shocker to those who never saw the funky green Ball aluminum can, with a young goat springing about in a patch of yellow flowers. An American classic, nearly 60 years old, modestly priced for abundant enjoyment, I have often realized: My God what a beautifully made recipe.

Another tradition being established is the annual arrival of Sierra Nevada Glissade, a Mai Bock (golden colored) presentation, uually associated with late spring, this is a very fine take on the style, with the nectar-like quality found in Munich versions such as the one made by Hacker Pschorr. The depth of brewing skill is revealed here, demonstrating that Sierra Nevada, despite a hop-centric personality as a brewer, has enough respect for brewing history to produce this great traditional style beer.

One of the great surprises this week, was not a bock, but the surprising appearance of Stevens Point Brewery’s 2012 Black Ale. This is a tribute to the end of the Long Count Calendar (1 year, 10 nonths, 2 days… as of this writing) from the Mayan Civilization, scheduled to end on December 21, 2012. As the label on the bottle states: The ancient Mayans developed a “Long Count” round calendar that ends ominously on December 21, 2012. This date is the inspiration for the name of this ale.
An incredibly smoothly balanced black beer. So easy to drink it is almost scary. Point well made.
Cheers and of course thank you.

The Strange Train: Transition

The new year has no-so-gently reminded that winter has taken a bite and appears to not want to let go. Somewhat unusual in Southwestern Ohio, where mild winter days are usually common, but such is not the case (so far) this year.

Blame it on the end of The Long Count of the Mayan Calendar (1year, 10 months, and days), or maybe it is just Cincinnati (where sometimes the clocks seem to run backwards) but change is certainly happening and it is both abrupt and baffling. What I mean is that a local grocery store, Keller’s IGA in Clifton, closed its doors in early January, due to (I am told) a failure to pay state sales taxes. With its demise, the neighborhood residents are deprived of a source for groceries, but worse for myself, this brings to an end the store with the finest beer selection in the city.
How many beers had I purchased and sampled from Keller’s? That would have to be in the hundreds. An incredibly large assortment, both domestic and foreign, they were often ahead of the curve. Bell’s Hopslam, which so many are so gaga about now, appeared there seasons ago, when it was still a ridiculously high priced six-pack, only a couple of dollars cheaper.
Thanks to Keller’s I was able to experience Dogfish Head Miles Davis Bitches Brew without having to travel to Fairfield, Ohio’s Jungle Jim’s. From Saranac to local Mt. Carmel and Rivertown, Keller’s IGA had an entire range of beers to accommodate nearly any taste.

What makes this even sadder is when I think of the good friendly people who worked there who have lost employment. Being known as the beer doctor, there was often humor and passionate discovery when I visited the store. Now, all of that is gone.

The train of transition requires adjustment. Keeping a good supply of beer on hand is not a problem. My local store, a convenience gas station two blocks from my house, orders up whatever I request. Because of this, the annual return of Genesee Bock continues. But it is not the same as visiting that brewery smorgasbord once known as Keller’s IGA. Buying beer there wasn’t really about shopping, but much more about exploring possibilities.
A toast to the little store that could!
The Beer Doctor