“In the spring, a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of bocks.”
OK, that's not quite what Lord Tennyson said, but maybe if he had lived in Cincinnati it would have been.
With Bockfest this weekend, the malty and rich beer style is on every beer enthusiast’s lips. Literally.
Bock beers are thicker, richer and higher in alcohol content than standard light beers. They originated in the Middle Ages to help monks sustain energy to get through their Lenten fast. Of course, there are variants among bock beers, such as the lighter, slightly hoppier maibock, the darker, maltier doppelbock and Eisbock, which is often strong enough to knock you on your Eis.
While not every local brewery is bringing a bock to Bockfest, many are bringing either a traditional bock or a variant. Here's a look at what's available.
Give Listermann Brewing credit for ingenuity. Its bock offering is Friar Bacon Smoked Bock. The bacon smell is stronger than the smoky bacon taste. It’s a beer that appeals to inquisitive, adventurous beer drinkers, as well as those who turn Pavlovian at “bacon.” When I tried it in the tap room, the server described the beer as “love it or hate it,” and I leaned a lot more toward love. Interestingly, the server recommended trying some in cooking.
Triple Digit (Listermann) also has brewed Gravitator, a doppelbock that comes in at 10.5 percent ABV. It's sweet to the taste and a filling beer, really nailing the more traditional definition of a bock. The alcohol taste was strong at first sip, but as the beer warmed it smoothed out.
Blank Slate is offering Tank Bottoms, a weizenbock (or a wheat bock), this season. It’s a “more than” beer – more than a wheat beer, more than a bock beer. This beer is distinct and has the banana characteristics of a hefeweizen.
Christian Moerlein is offering Emancipator Doppelbock. It balances malty sweetness with an even hop profile for a truly enjoyable beer.
Ignitor is Braxton’s maibock, released last week. Dark in color for a maibock, this beer is on the sweet side and re-emphasizes the Covington brewery’s commitment to lagers.
The cleverly named Roadbock is Fifty West’s maibock. It is lighter in color than some of the other bocks, and despite having honey smells and flavors it’s not as sweet as some of the others.
Speaking of clever names, Bock, Drop and Roll is from Old Firehouse. The Williamsburg brewery’s offering is heavy and robust, yet smooth.
Bockaveli by MadTree is a dunkel bock that tastes of roasted malts and chocolate. On the lower side for ABV at 6.2 percent, this, like most of MadTree’s lineup, is a very drinkable beer.
Taft’s Ale House has made the interesting Strudel Bock, which is brewed with McGlasson Farms apple cider and cinnamon.
Cellar Dweller’s bock is malty and smooth at 6.9 percent ABV. Other bock beers available include Hudepohl Festival Bock, Schoenling Bock and Wiedemann's Bohemian Bock.