Monday, March 26, 2012

Of Chicken Noises and Beer

This joke is corny, but I still love it.

What do chickens and beer have in common? Bock, bock, bock.

It's so dumb, it's funny. Besides, who doesn't love Bock and chickens?

The file name of this picture on Wikipedia
is Amberbock.jpg—I shit you not. 
During the 1950s and 60s, Bocks were a mainstay in the line-up of a good number of American breweries. Local and regional breweries could be counted on to release a malty, amber lager in spring, along side their normal fizzy, yellow stuff. Unfortunately, with the demise of the local American brewery, into the 1970s, also came the demise of that springtime tradition. When the craft beer movement gained momentum, in the 1990s, Bocks à la Vernal Equinox, began to reappear, with breweries like Anchor introducing its, now much sought after Anchor Bock. More recently, those regional breweries that made it through the dark times of the 1970s and 80s—like Genesee, Yuengling and Leinenkugel—have begun re-releasing their Bocks of yore. It seems the expression "what comes around goes around," holds true in this case. So, keeping in line with my bocky joke, and the re-insurgence of these beers, I figured I'd test drive a few American-made spring bocks—two craft and one, not necessarily craft, but dare I say legendary.

I'll admit, I was hoping to see more Bocks out this year—pickins' was slim. Out of the hundreds of beer available at Oliver's, I found only three Spring Bocks—Otter Creek, Mendocino, and Genny. This year's spring seasonals seems to be trending away from Bocks, to lighter, crisper offerings. In any case, the aforementioned three did me right. All three, basically, appear as the same beer, in fact, in the glass you might not be able to tell them apart—Clear, bright, rusty amber-red, with a foamy off-white head. They all exude that classic, cereal-like lager aroma—like honey mixed with an earthy must. Where these beers diverge, however, is in their taste—all are studies in fruitiness, each with it's own take on the theme—like beery jazz musicians riffing on the same tune.

The Otter Creek comes on citrusy—blending notes of mellow tangerine, persimmon and apricot. All of its citric flavors fall on the sweet side rather than tart and they marry well with the Bock's grassy and grainy elements. The Mendocino is thinner than the other two, and presents slightly more bitter, with a noticeable hop pineiness. Although, like the OC, it's its fruitiness that is again at the forefront—with flavors reminiscent of a fig, pear and red apple compote, topping a caramel drizzled busicut. Last but not least—the Genny. I'm going to be honest, I really enjoyed the OC and Mendo, but there's something special about the Genny. Maybe it's psychological. Genny has been so maligned, and the butt of so many jokes over the years, that's it nice to see them make such a phenomenal beer. From it's humble little green can—the one with the retro 1960s, flower-eating goat—comes a Bock that is full and fresh. It's drier, and slightly less sweet than either the OC or the Mendo. But, once again, it's the fruit that shines through—fresh strawberry and orange on the front, and a tart note of Granny Smith apple on the back end. Like the OC and Mendo, the Genny pairs its fruitiness well with its swirl of toffee, honey and a hay-like breadiness. I'll admit, I do really like this beer, but as I said before, maybe my love affair with it is more psychological than anything else.

So, whether you liked my chicken joke—or not—I think we can all agree that while spring is springing, it's worth crossing the road to pick up a Bock, or two.  

Yeah. I went there.


  1. Good post; entertaining, informative, and motivating

    Bock beer and I go back a long way, back in the early 1960's, Pearl - Bock was a sure sign of Spring and one of the few beers available in Texas that was not an 'American light' lager. Regardless I have had few bock beers in the last decade(s).

    Your post prompted me to look at availability of a local [Boulder, Colo.] world-class beer emporium with a useful online database. Thirty-three search results were returned; not all unique or true to style.

    Among [Bavarian] imports and American craft lager I found variants
    o Christmas Bock
    o Dopplebock / Double Bock
    o Hellesbock
    o Maibock
    o Weizenbock

    BMC was represented by
    Michelob - Amber Bock

    American craft bock lager were represented by
    o Anchor - Bock Beer
    o Boulevard - Boss Tom's Golden Bock
    o Breckenridge - Pandora's Bock
    o Mendocino - Bock Beer
    o Samuel Adam - Cinder [smoked double] Bock
    o Shiner - Bock
    o Tommyknocker - Butt Head Bock [BA#13]
    Your post inspires me to pick up a 6er of one of the above; most likely, Tommyknocker, Breck, or Boulevard.

    I would have selected the Genesee, if available; the only Genny was their iconic Cream Ale.

  2. Hey Hey Jack! Good to hear from you again!

    Oliver's has a good number of import Bocks—of all strengths and make-ups—and I did see Sam Adams big Chili Bock. I wanted to keep things on an even keel by going with American, un-adorned, Bock strength brews. I have gotten Abita's Mardi Gras Bock at Oliver's, but I didn't see it this week. Anything by Breckenridge is pretty tasty and, of course, so is Anchor Bock, but I'll have to wait until we get down to South Carolina for my Shiner fix!

  3. I am a faithful reader; your blog is on my Bookmark tool bar. I learn from your information / opinion.
    . . . I regret not taking time to comment on your 'Session #61: Is Local Beer Better?' post. Perhaps, I will after I complete my income tax . . . speaking of which, back to it.

  4. Ya' know, charitable contributions to drinkdrank are tax deductible.

  5. Unrelated to your post but a sign of synchronicity.

    Saturday, I picked up 03 bombers and a 6er of lagers at my local liquor store. Last night, head in frig, I realized I had a bock beer.
    Samuel Adams - Small Batch - Cider Bock, a rauchbier.

    Clever name that. It was very enjoyable; it is great to see Boston Beer Co. producing exotic beers. BBC have national distribution and the opportunity to education the masses.

    The rauchbier bock lager was little heavy for my last beer of the day . . . so, I topped it with a Mexican-style lager [from Upslope of Boulder].

    1. Yeah, I've seen that!

      I think Bock is a great platform for a rauchbier. The sweetness seems like it would play well with the smoke. How was it?