The Bokbier season wasn’t quite the same as today. Originally it had been released for Lent, but as breweries tried to get theirs out first, the date had moved steadily earlier. By 1939, the date had been set as the end of November by Bond van Nederlandsche Brouwerijen and they policed their members to make sure they didn’t release it too early.
Bokbier had a gravity of around 17.5 Plato and sold for 40 guilders per hl. The amounts sold were quite small and had been falling throughout the interwar period.
|Bokbier output of the 7 breweries in Bond van Nederlandsche Brouwerijen|
|letter 7490 of the Bond van Nederlandsche Brouwerijen held in the Amsterdamse Stadsarchief, doscument number 204 - 35.|
The modern style of Oud Bruin only appeared in the mid 1930’s. It was a low-alcohol, sweet dark Lager of 3 to 3.5% ABV.
There had been an older style with the same, but there was no connection between the two. The older style was genuinely aged beer and was sour.
The new style was introduced to appeal to older drinker in the south of the Netherlands who were used to fairly low-alcohol top-fermenting beers. Oud Bruin was an attempt by the big Lager brewers from the North to find a beer which would appeal to this market. After WW II the focused moved to women as potential Oud Bruin drinkers.*
Amstel and van Vollenhoven, two Amsterdam breweries, were amongst the first to make this new style. Advertisements show both were already brewing it in 1937.
The style has proved remarkably tenacious, hanging on when most minority Lager styles have faded into extinction.
A minority style not brewed by every Lager brewery. Given that its price was the same as Pilsener, it must have been around 12º Plato in the 1930’s. As more full-bodied style than Pilsener, it’s ABV may have been a little under 5%.
It had been around for a long while: already in the 1860’s a Dortmund brewery was exporting the style to Holland.
Though never hugely popular, it has managed to cling on. Over the last 25 years, Gulpener Dort and Alfa Super Dortmunder are about the only examples I can think of.