Fresh from a dash 'round downtown on his Suzuki 125, our intrepid beer correspondent Stu from SOBA continues his survey of the world's best beer styles...
The bock family of beers are a group of relatively strong lagers originally hailing from Germany. The fact that bocks are all lagers is completely missed by the people at DB, who have labelled the annually-released Monteith's Doppelbock a ‘Winter Ale.’ DB’s snub of tradition (and good beer) doesn’t end at this beer's name, but my study of DB's beer lists does. The Doppelbock is not their worst beer.
Genuine bocks are unfortunately not widely available in New Zealand, but a few of the regional craft breweries do make strong lagers that they name doppelbock - Harrington’s in Christchurch and Tasman and Bays breweries in Nelson definitely brew the odd batch. Bays even follow the age old doppelbock naming tradition with their Exclamator Doppelbock (naming your doppelbock with an ‘ator’ suffix is a homage to the monks who brewed the original version: Paulaner Salvator). Brewer’s Terminator, a rare ‘helles’ (pale) style from the Brewer’s Bar in Mt Maunganui, may well be the only regularly produced bock in the North Island.
On the import front, and probably only available from the best beer off-licences, are a couple of hidden gems: Hansa Urbock is a nice traditional style dark bock from that most untraditional brewing location of Namibia, while Hofbrau Munchen Maibock is a nicely hopped pale version that is absolutely superb when fresh (and is sometimes available on tap). Keep an eye on the newest player in the beer scene – www.beerstore.co.nz – to see if more bocks begin showing up there.
Schloss Eggenberg Samichlaus and EKU 28, at 14% and 11% respectively, are a little stronger than your average doppelbock and may go by the name Eisbock. These beers are occasionally seen in New Zealand and should be treated with caution – more like sherry or port. Share a bottle with a friend or two, they will change your perception of beer. Alternatively, cellar a few bottles for running your car in the future, it may well be cheaper than petrol soon.
Perhaps it is the lack of availability of this beautiful beer style that drove Dan Boyce to brew a traditional bock that was judged the best beer at 2007’s SOBA National Homebrew Championship. Whatever Dan’s inspiration, Hallertau Brewbar are about to release a commercial interpretation of his beer. Its official launch will be at The Malthouse, in Wellington, on International Brewers Day (July 18th). Come in, hug a brewer and enjoy this collaboration of home and commercial brewers (there will be a couple of American Style IPAs there for people like Neil ‘Hopheadache’ Miller too). If you can’t make it to the release, you should be able to taste it at Hallertau Brewbar in Riverhead from mid-July on.
Next time: 'Beers for the Ladies of the World: Wits, Wheats and Weizens.' Stay tuned.
Slainte mhath, Stu