Big on Bocks: Ancient German lager has many different styles, flavours

Also available in Monday Magazine, originally posted on March 16th, 2019.

Spring is here, and along with it comes a local tradition at the Beacon Hill Children’s Farm: Goats! For beer lovers though, it’s time for another type of goat, or as it’s usually referred to, the Bock.

This historic style began as an ale in the 14th century in Einbeck, Germany and was once brewed in Munich. It morphed from ale to lager, went from Einbeck to Einbock and is now referred to simply as bock, which happens to be German for goat. It also has a special place around this time of year, as it was typically consumed by Bavarian monks who were fasting during lent.

Bocks are a great choice in early spring, especially when the weather can’t decide what to do. These stronger lagers offer a variety of shades and styles, leading to a different experience with every brewer’s influence, with paler versions coming off a little bit sweeter, and darker versions using their roastiness to provide a nicely rich, not too sweet character.

Locally, there are a few bocks available to try out, with Axe & Barrel having just released Ride the Bock, a paler doppelbock (double bock) that has nice, rich malty notes of raisins and molasses. This beer just begs to be paired alongside a rich ham at Easter dinner.

Otherwise, there is the Venerator Doppelbock from Swans Brewery that shows off what a dark doppelbock can be. Rich and dark, it drinks like a stout with more body, but less roast character, and pairs well with everything from a nice steak to a decadent dessert.

Finally, local bocks can’t be discussed without a nod to Hermannator from Vancouver Island Brewing. This eisbock, or ice bock, is partially frozen with the ice skimmed off to increase the alcohol content and concentrate the beer into a fuller bodied, strong beer that has become a tradition over the holidays.

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Speaking of Swans Brewpub, they have recently reopened after a two-month renovation, and the place looks nicely updated. The space appears more modern, while still showing elements that reference the building’s roots as a railcar warehouse. Expect to see an amazing selection of beers, with an expanded 58-tap setup at the newly redone bar.

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On the retail side, Cascadia Liquor has just moved into their newer, bigger location in Quadra Village, just across the parking lot. They will be having a Grand Opening Celebration April 5-7, with plenty of fun and prizes, so don’t miss out.

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