Erie Brewing Company Fallenbock

October 20, 2010

I’m a fan of hockey. Recently, I was watching another chapter of the battle of Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. While the Penguins steadily racked up the score against the Flyers (my apologies go out to Ice Flyers owner Tim Kerr… and Ryan at Sluggos’s) I found myself craving a beer from the Keystone State. In doing so, I believe I found my new favorite dopplebock.

There’s a little town in Germany named Einbeck where, it’s generally believed, the bock style of beer originated. Much like British IPA, Einbeck beers were being brewed to higher alcohol strengths to survive longer shipping. When the beer reached Bavaria in southern Germany, the north-central “beck” became “bock” under the regional accent. In Bavarian, “bock” means billy goat and the critter became the official symbol of the style.

Bock beer traditionally had a nine-month lagering period and used to be started to meet the equinoxes. Dopplebocks, literally “double bock”, were originally brewed by Bavarian Paulaner monks and, being sweeter and lower in alcohol, served as liquid bread during their fasting months. These days, the lagering process is down to as little as three months and the alcohol content is higher than it originally was.

The history of the goat and brewing style isn’t lost on the fine folks from Erie Brewing Co. Fallenbock, with its own fat, surly ram on the label, is Erie’s Oktoberfest release. Sporting a thick head of cream with little to no lacing due to the minimal hops, Fallenbock is a dark copper lager with hints of mahogany and ruby around the edges. Scents of hazelnut, caramel, cream and toffee provide most of the aroma with some breadiness underneath. The flavors, at least as far as I’m concerned, are some of the nicest and most balanced for any bock I’ve had this fall. Nutty and toasty, it boasts flavors of walnuts, bruleed sugar, Hawaiian bread and caramel with a touch of chocolate and maple. It’s rich in texture yet the carbonation gives it a crisp, dry finish. Be careful around the well-hidden 7.8% abv. Now, if only we could find good beer like this at a hockey game…