1888 Bock

Review Date 2/13/2009  By John Staradumsky


Apparently, 1888 was a good year for beer. Utica, New York's Saranac Brewery dates it's inception to that year, and for a time brewed an 1888 Lager to commemorate it. Now, the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chipewa Falls, Wisconsin, has an "1888" brew of it's on: Leinenkugel's 1888 Bock. The beer purportedly derives its name from the year when the recipe for it was conceived.

I'm a great fan of bock beers, and so was looking forward to this one with much anticipation. Leinenkugel's says it's made with "Munich, Pale, Caramel, and two-row Chocolate malts", is hopped with Clusters, and is cold lagered (aged) for 20 to 25 days. Some bocks are aged for months, so this does not seem to be worthy of bragging rights, but the finished product is clean enough that this seems sufficient.

Leinenkugel's 1888 Bock pours to a very deep and rich dark mahogany color with a thick but somewhat spritzy head formation and an appetizing nose of sweet nutty malt. A fine layer of Brussels lace clings to the side of my glass as I sip, too.

From the look of this one alone I'm getting excited, so I take a sip post haste. Like a good bock should be, this one is clean of fruity esters, but it is definitely "bockish" in flavor. Right off the bat, my tongue is bathed in a sinfully delightful melanoidin rush of dark nutty malt, bittersweet chocolate, and light molasses.

The finish is nicely balanced with just enough hop bitterness to dry out the malt a bit, though the finish is still a tad sweet. The downside here is the body, which seems a bit light I think for a classic bock. At 5.2% alcohol by volume (so the bottle says, the website says 5.1%), 1888 Bock also lacks the extra "kick" bocks are famous for. Bock, of course, is the German word for goat, and the beery version is sometimes said to derive its name from the fact that it, like its omnivorous namesake, packs an extra kick.

Certainly a four star beer, though with a bit more body and strength it would begin to approach a five. All the same, the delightful dark Munich malt flavors, so readily apparent, make this a decided treat, and a reasonably priced one at that for about seven bucks. Then too, this is an approachable beer that the novice can enjoy. Widely available, and well worth checking out, but drink it cool, not cold, to best appreciate its delightful flavor.

And just for fun, try a glass with a handful of M & M's.

Glad I tried it?  T

Would I rebuy it??


*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.

(B)=Bottled, Canned