The spring tradition of bock beer is here as people look forward to Fitger’s annual bockfest in April
DULUTH, MN. (Northern News Now) - The German tradition of Bockfest in the spring is several hundred years older than the tradition of Oktoberfest in the fall. However, Northlanders seem to prefer the fall fest and attend those events in bigger numbers. But, bock beer still has its devoted adherents. In other parts of our country, bockfest means a celebration of spring’s arrival. Here, it’s a hope that someday spring will eventually arrive. Earth Rider Brewery in Superior held its bockfest just a few weeks ago. Bock beer has been a spring tradition since the 1300′s according to brewery historian Pete Clure.
“It originated in Germany in a village called Einbeck that depending on who you talk to who speaks German that translates into billy goat.” said Clure who is co-author of “Naturally Brewed, Naturally Better: The Historic Breweries of Duluth and Superior”.
There’s a rumor running for decades that the dark lager called bock is made with what’s left in brewing vats before they’re cleaned.
“It’s not that they’re cleaning out the vats or anything like that. It’s its own unique style, it’s a lager beer and it originated in Germany and it’s nothing left over, it’s a style you brew deliberately.” said Clure.
Clure says bock’s heyday was before the 1980′s. While Oktoberfest brews are becoming increasingly popular in the fall, long-time beer seller Kent Hendrickson says bock customers fit a much narrower demographic.
“It’s a guy about 40 to 45 years old. The younger generation is into IPAs and all the new craft beers.” said Hendrickson.
Peter Clure tells us all the Twin Ports breweries of old made bock. He reports only a few of our modern craft breweries do. But that won’t keep Fitger’s from holding their annual bockfest in April.
“You can actually go down there and I don’t know what brand of bock beer they’ll be serving but you can get your stein poked with a red hot poker and that caramelizes the beer and infuses a nice flavor into it and I think it’s just a nice excuse to have a party.” said Clure.
Clure feels there’s a chance that bockfest may someday rival oktoberfest.
“Is bock beer going to become a huge seller again like it was? Maybe someday but not this year.” said Clure.
This year, Fitger’s Bockfest starts Thursday, April 13th and lasts through Saturday, April 15th. The fest opens with the Blessing of the Bock Beer at 5 that Thursday evening at the Fitger’s Courtyard.
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