- Style: Wisconsin Block
- ABV: 5.5%
- Season: Autumn
- Ease to locate: New Glarus Brewing only distributes in Wisconsin. But their website does have a handy beer finder
- Color: Dark brown with hints of red
- Head: Moderate (one finger)
- Aroma: Bready yeast & dark fruit
- Mouthfeel: Smooth & dry
- Finish: Moderate to almost long
- Food friendly: Hearty Fall food, like Kielbasas with German Potatoes or Rueben sandwiches
Last week my connection passed me a six pack of the Back Forty Bock. It was my first time trying New Glarus' version of a bock, or as they like to call it, a Wisconsin Bock. Bocks are strong lagers. A lager is created by fermenting and conditioning the beer at very cold temperatures, as opposed to an ale which is created at higher temperatures. They're mainly German in origin and were once the main nutritional supply for monks during periods of fasting. I'm sensing some sort of Lenten loophole here that they didn't mention to me at Catholic school.
The Back Forty Bock poured a striking dark brown liquid, shimmering with highlights of garnet. It reminded me of an expensive newly stained piece of mahogany. There was a low to moderate head (maybe about one finger's worth) that sunk down pretty quickly to a shallow layer of foam for the rest of the pint. It produced pretty lacing on the side of the glass that slid into the beer almost immediately. The head had the homey aroma of bready yeast and dark, dark fruit. A bit sweet smelling, but all in all, it gave a very appealing first impression. But after all the foreplay, the initial taste was rather disappointing. I could distinguish the toasty malt right away. It possessed some molasses notes and an ever so slight almond flavor. I had no clue where the dark fruit flavors fled to, because I couldn't detect any at all. Honestly? Nothing really stood out to me taste-wise. It was, after a few studied sips, just alright. As the beer sat, it did warm up with a spicy note, and maybe a bit of earthiness, which did add some much needed character. It was a smooth, uncomplex, easy to drink beer. I noticed an abundance of effervescence that suprised me, but I grew to sort of enjoy the bubbly, dry mouthfeel. The finish stayed with me longer than I expected for such an uncomplex beer. A bit of a prolonged goodbye if you will.
With the easy going taste, I think Back Forty could benefit from a more flavorful food pairing. Spicy German sausage and vinegary sauerkraut spring immediately to mind. Cold cuts like pastrami and corned beef also would be perfect with this beer. Pick up some strong German mustard (such as Lakeside's Hot German Dusseldorf Mustard , which is also a Wisconsin only product that I pick up when traveling north) to spread on the rye bread. A less obvious idea might be to serve the beer with a lentil curry, thick with onion, garlic and ginger flavors. All in all, yeah, I'd be happy to drink this Wisconsin Bock again on a crisp Fall evening. I just wouldn't travel into Packer territory to do it.