When everything in the beer world seems out of sync, often with questionable nonsense being offered as the latest examples of superior beer, I only have to turn to Sierra Nevada’s Oktoberfest collaborations to remind me that are still breweries, as Carol Stoudt once famously said, that still remember and respect “the integrity of the beer”.
Sierra Nevada Oktoberfest 2017 is the latest German collaborative brew, this time with Brauhaus Miltenberger, known as Faust Miltenberger in Germany, but because the Faust brand is a trademark owned by AB-I it is not allowed in this context. So be it, this Oktoberfest 2017 is a malt forward recipe that is wonderfully complex and simultaneously quite drinkable using the finest German malts and hops. this is yet another outstanding example of Sierra Nevada collaboration project success. This from a very large family owned brewery, “owned, operated and argued over” now producing beer on west and east sides of the country.
But the true magic of these collaborative efforts is that each of these Oktoberfests are one time only. Enjoy this great 2017 Oktoberfest while it is available.
The Beer Doctor
Take me bock, take me all the way bock. There is nothing like the goat beer in the time before Easter. Of course there are other bock celebrations at different times of the year; Christmas and May bock come to mind. But it is the bock in the time of Lent that has the strongest roots in American beer culture, including myths and misinformation that still exist in some circles, even today. No, bock is not beer made from the bottoms of the tanks during spring cleaning, an urban legend that has persisted for generations. And no, the goat symbol associated with bock is not some pagan symbol of passage, but rather an iconic designation that this is a beer with kick. It all goes back centuries, to German monks who were encouraged to cut down on eating, as part of a pre-Easter fast. The malty rich beer was a pleasant way to imbibe nutrition. Such was the case with the Paulaner Brewery in 1634 in Munich, where the monks created the first trademarked dopplebock known as Salvator, still brewed to this very day. The use of the a-t-o-r ending has been adopted by many a brewery as tribute to this original style of beer. Thus you will find: illuminator, bajavator, optimator, celebrator, etc. In 1634, the first dopplebock or double bock was created. In 1643, the first Christmas dopplebock was created and it too is still available, it is known as Wurzburger Holiday Bier. But back to the bock at hand…
Bock beer was the one link to great beer when the United States was mired in pedestrian forms of pale lager. Spring bock was when for a short but blessed time, beer with full flavor became available. Many people who enjoyed these beers had no idea of its cultural significance… some folks associated with St. Patrick’s day! But one thing was certain, bock was always and will continue to be a wonderful style of beer.
With the craft brewing renaissance in the United States, bock as a style for serious consideration came into vogue. Soon, Samuel Adams offered their Double Bock, an 8 percent plus abv of full malt strength and character. Soon there were other takes on bock, including wheat brewed or weizenbock, made world famous by the global standard: Schneider and Sohn’s Aventinus. This is where bock ceases to become a bottom fermented beer and becomes an ale.
But it is with single bock that I am most concerned with here. Traditional American bock that was higher in strength than normal lagers, but not overwhelmingly so. Huber bock comes to mind, so does Berghoff Bock and Shiner Bock, and what is probably my favorite U.S. single bock: Saranac Black Diamond Bock, a beloved recipe from the Matt Brewing Company in Utica, New York.
I have experienced many wonderful bock beers over decades. There was Pabst Blue Ribbon bock, Augsburger bock, Point Bock, Genesee bock, Hudepohl Bock, and Schoenling Old Tyme Bock. All of these brews I have very fond memories of. And to be honest with you, I wish all these recipes and more would be revived. By all means drink some bock in the spirit it is intended, a celebration of life! As always thank you!