Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bocking Up the Right Tree

I've tried to stay out of the craft versus crafty conversation. Personally, I'm content to drink any beer from any brewery—big or little, mega or mom and pop—if the beer is good. Although, I would like some of the macro-breweries to own-up on their "non-traditional" brews and put their name on the label—if Anheuser Busch decides to make something other than light lager—like a dunkle or schwarzbier. It would be nice if the label said Bud Dark, or something to that effect, rather than the token, made-up brewery name they tack on to those beers.

Big doesn't always mean bad and little doesn't always mean good. Aside from the marketing schemes, and loyalty conditions, if any beer disproves the idea that only a craft brewery can make good beer—that beer would have to be Genesee Bock Beer.  

Yes, that Genesee—the North American Breweries conglomerate-owned, Rochester, New York makers of Genny Ice and the much maligned and infamous Genny "Screamer" Cream Ale*.

First brewed in 1951, Genny Bock has become an early March tradition, not just in Rochester, but  recently across the state, as well. Sixty-years ago, just about every regional brewery in the U.S, brewed a bock beer in celebration of the vernal equinox. Unfortunately, that idea waned in later years—mostly because those regional breweries don't exist any more—not the way they used to, anyway.

Genny Bock is now one of the rarities.

This copper-hued lager is fantastic stuff. Goodness in a green can. Rarely do I anticipate the release of an annual beer, but this bock is that exception. What I like about this brew is that it's not trying to be something it could never be. It's the whole of the package, too—from its carmel sweet, mildness to its goat-kid mascot, hopping behind the retro-styled, san seriffed GENESEE logo, emblazoned on its can. Like AB, and Miller, and Coors, Genesee Brewing Company does have a family of brews marketed under another name—Dundee Ales and Lager. A trend kicked-off in 1994 with J.W. Dundee's Honey Brown fad. The brewery could have very easily slid this bock into that line-up, rebranding it under the Dundee moniker—but they didn't. Genny Bock is all Genny, and it's all good.

That's all that matters.

*Truth be told, I'm a fan of Genny Cream Ale, too.


  1. Back in the day [1962-6] at college in west Texas, I drank Pearl Bock Beer every spring.
    .. Pearl Brewing Co., San Antonio, touted both its artesian water from 'The Country of 1100 Springs' and its authentic 1886 recipe brought by its founder to America.
    .. I drank Pearl Bock Beer more because it was different/unique than anything about the particular taste to a then callow youth.

    Researching for a Boulder History Museum exhibition on the history of the beer in Boulder, I found references in historic newspapers to the spring release of buck beer circa 1869. I want to be misreading 'buck' for 'bock'; but, the digital images did not lie. Dave Thomas reports on Buck Beer ['buck', not 'bock'] from Tivoli Brewery, 1866-69, in his fascinating book 'Of Mines & Beer! 150 Years of Brewing History in Gilpin County, Colorado, and Beyond'.
    .. Buck Beer may have been a colloquialism of Colorado Territorial German immigrant braumeisters; don't know. Someday, I will put my best man on the topic.

    1. @ Jack R.

      "Buck Beer" was a pretty common alternate spelling of Bock Beer in much of the 19th century all over the US. For one easy example, there's an ad for Newark, NJ's Schalk Bros' Buck Beer from 1872 on my Schalk page


  2. Oh you know I have to leave on comment on this. I look forward to Bock season every year, and this year I found it on tap in Rochester. Very tasty!

    1. Plus, it's $7.99 a 12-pack. That works out to $.71 a can—including deposit!

  3. I am glad Genesee keeps up this tradition, I remember too when many breweries issued a bock at spring. They did in Canada as well, e.g. Labatt Superbock. The beers were good, not great perhaps by today's standards but they had more taste than the regular offerings (usually) and some neat labels. It is an era that has almost come to a close with the disappearance of most old-line regional breweries, but a few still keep it going clearly.