Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Bokbier season

has just started. What does that mean for me? That I go in search of a Heineken product. The wonderful Amstel Bock. My favourite bottom-fermented Dutch beer.

It's dirt cheap, too. There's a special offer at the suupermarket: 18 30 cl bottles for just 9 euros. A bargain. I admit that's also one of the reasins I drink it. Can't pass up a bargain like that.

But it's reminded me of something: season creep. The established Dutch breweries co-ordinate the relaease of their Bock beers. Each year, they all come out on the same day in October. Why do they do that? Because of what happened when they didn't.

In the late 19th century, Dutch Bock beers weren't an autumn seasonal, they were released for Lent. In the spring. So how come they now appear 6 months earlier? Because some breweries released their Bock earlier, to get a jump on the competition. Other brewers did the same, moving the release date ever earlier. By the time it got to October, the brewers organisation said enough was enough and they agreed on a date when all the Bocks would be released simultanaously.

The archive of the brewers organisation has newpaper clippings like the one above, outlined in red, presumably when a brewery had broken one of the rules, either by releasing their beer too early, or selling it a price other than that agreed.


Jeff Alworth said...

A year ago I was just arriving in Franconia for the first time. It was a bockanalia (sorry) that I am already missing this year. No Heineken, though.

A Brew Rat said...

Long time reader, first time poster (warning: I am an American homebrewer). I read this post while on vacation in Belgium, and was quite excited, knowing I had a week in Amsterdam coming up on my once-in-a-lifetime European beer vacation. I have been steadily going through the dozen or so on tap at tbe Arendsnest, and have found them to be quite tasty. As a long-time fan of bock beer (Norwegian Aas was one of my gateway beers from American factory beer in the mid 1980s), I had no idea that the low countries had a rich bock heritage. Thank you.

One poke in the ribs, though. I read your tale of your bet with your son on how many pubs you could hit, while I was hitting as many varieties fresh on tap myself. Then I come to Amsterdam, where those "bloody silly little kolsch glasses" of 0.2 l are now replaced by 0.25 l wine glasses. Really?