Among the earliest to arrive is Uff-da from New Glarus Brewing, a solid, unpretentious example of the style.
Few things bring warmth in the doldrums of winter like the arrival of bock beers. These wonderful, deep gold- and copper-colored lagers are like rays of sunshine in February.
Traditionally brewed in fall and drunk in late winter, to celebrate the coming of spring, bock beers are lagers. They're commonly clean and well-balanced, with emphasis on smooth maltiness and caramel flavors. The word "bock" derives from the name of the German city where the style emerged, Einbeck.
Locally, among the earliest to arrive is Uff-da from of Monroe makes Berghoff Bock, another respectable bock that is darker in color, with bronze tints and a little lighter flavor than Uff-da. Berghoff is among the best values for the cost of a six-pack.
For those who really enjoy the sweetness of malt, the doppelbock, or double bock, style is something special this time of year. The style is believed to have originated in Bavaria, where monks got by with it during times of fasting. It's thought to have first been brewed in Munich by the monks of St. Francis of Paula. Historically, what the monks drank, in color and sticky caramel flavor, is similar to what we find today.
A perennial doppelbock from marks the bock season on Feb. 5 with the release of four different versions of bock. You can get an earlier preview of at least one of them, Velvet Hammer, with a visit to the Great Dane's Fitchburg and Hilldale locations. Velvet Hammer's deep reddish-copper body and smooth maltiness make for an above-average beer in flavor and balance.
But I'm looking forward to the Great Dane's aggressive Dominator Doppelbock, one of the four to be unveiled downtown. If you go, the Great Dane will "bless its bock" around 7:30 that evening in its downstairs rathskeller. It's Fat Tuesday, so expect crawfish and King Cake. A Great Dane key ring will be substituted for the traditional King Cake baby, and whoever finds the ring in their slice gets to tap the first keg of this season's bock beer.