Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Terminus of Bock Beers

Bayerischer Bahnhof -- or the Bavarian Station -- is the oldest railway station in Leipzig.  The station was built by the Saxon-Bavarian Railway Line and it opened in 1842.  Shortly thereafter, the station was taken over by the Royal Saxon State Railways, which used it as the "gateway" to the south.  At the height of the station, nearly a million people a year would board trains for destinations in Bavaria, Austria or Italy.  The station continued to operate until the Second World War when it, like most of Leipzig was damaged or reduced to rubble by Allied bombers.  

The station did arise again out of the ruin, but a lack of funding prevented the station from fully achieving its old glory.  It was not until the end of the twentieth century when efforts were undertaken to fully restore the old railway station.  The rejuvenation of the station also led to new things, including beer.

The new station included a new restaurant and brewery, Bayerischer Bahnhof.  The brewer specializes in Gose beer, which is a beer style that is brewed in Saxony.  However, it also produces other styles of beer, such as the Holzbock.   The name "Holzbock" is German for "Wood Bock," and it is also the German word for "tick."  Setting aside that last bit of information, the beer is brewed with 80% Vienna Malt, 20% Melanoidin and Carotid malts, along with hops from the Czech Republic and Pilsner yeast.  The beer has a 2 week fermentation, followed by a 6 week lagering. The last two weeks of the lagering are done with strong toast oak chips.

The Holzbock pours an orange color, with a large foam resulting from the substantial carbonation of the beer.  The beer has an interesting flavor, suggestive of grass, and hay.  These elements are a little interesting and, quite frankly, odd for an oak-aged or "oak-storaged" beer.  Some of these flavors, also carry over to the taste of the beer, along with flavors that suggest a little Brettanomyces or wild yeast.  Brettanomyces does not necessarily bother me (or most Belgians, for that matter).  It is just not what I would have expected in the beer.  Nevertheless, I also was able to detect what I did expect from the use of the oak chips, and that is a certain oakiness in the beer.  Overall, I think that the beer was good, but that it probably should have been aged in oak barrels, rather than adding oak chips.  The aging in the barrels would have allowed for a more refined oak flavor and also allowed for perhaps better control with respect to wild yeast.  Still, the fact that this review is being posted means that I liked the beer enough to share my thoughts.  

I found this beer at a store in Elkton, Maryland, which is the only place where I have seen it.  It had been sitting in our basement for a few months and I don't remember how much the beer cost.  Most likely, the beer was probably between $12.99 and $16.99.


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