From the Bottle Collection: Bock to the 70s

Written by Ken Carman

Without intent, I have collected well over 1,000 beer bottles since the early 70s. When something finally had to be done about the cheap paneling in this old modular, I had a choice. Tear down the walls while, oh, so carefully, replacing the often rotted 1X3s. Or: cover them with… The Bottle Collection.

My first experience with true dark beer was in Montreal; a little second story Irish pub called Finnegans; probably named after the Irish song most notably made famous by Tom Makem and the Clancy Brothers before they broke up and followed another cliche’d Irish tradition… had a brawl over the rights to songs that in many cases were odes to drunkenness. Common guys, great way to confirm our often wrong preconceived notions about certain heritages.

That was Guinness Foreign Export.

But I was headed that way already. You see: I thought I hated beer. Pretty much all that was available at the timm in Upstate was the lighter fare: lager clones of Bud, or Bud itself. Same style, ever so slight variations. Even Cream Ale… as in Genny Cream for example, while being an ale, is a stylistic attempt to create a more lager-like beverage out of an ale yeast.

I didn’t know at the time that not all Bocks were dark. That’s just all that was sold locally. Never heard of Blonde Bock back then; or Eisbock, or Doppelbock. But Bock; even the only Bock we could buy in the early 70s, while still a lager, has a bit of a more complex malt bill hiding a sulfur-like lager yeast tang that annoys me. It also seems to limit the DMS taste that’s a bit like drinking water out of a can of unsweetened/”low sodium” corn. In almost every other style it’s called a defect at the high levels that especially corn-adjunct brewed lagers have. Rice is problematic too, in my opinion. Body suffers where there was little body to begin with. Make it thinner? Oh boy. Like going out of your way to make Twiggy-like creatures seem voluptuous.

While I drank a lot of these back when we were closer to the days of Marilyn Monroe than Marilyn Manson, I’m not sure they were real Bocks. I suspect these days I’d be repelled because what was available in Upstate NY was probably more food coloring-driven than a beverage brewed with a more complex, malt bill. But at the time it actually made beer worth drinking as long as “other” was occasionally available too. Previous to that I spent more time in a place I never visit anymore: mixed drink land.

Bocks that I remember were available to mid-Upstaters at the time include…
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Club Update: Music City Brewers

Nashville area

November meeting at Cool Springs Brewery for Saturday, November 14 at 2PM.

The directions from Nashville are:
Cool Springs Brewery
600A Frazier Drive
Suite 135
FranklinTN 37067

Take I-65 South toward Franklin and exit at the Cool Springs Blvd. WEST exit (Exit No. 68B). After entering Cool Springs Blvd., merge to the outside left turn lane to turn left (South) onto Mallory Lane. Turn on the first street (not named) to the right in front of the FedEx store. Drive down the unnamed street in front of the strip mall where FedEx is located until you see Cool Springs Brewery on the left. If you see Sperry’s and Thomasville Furniture, you’ve gone too far.

Note: article to follow in a few days.

Mid South results…
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Brewing During the Civil War Era

Regulation Problems During the Civil War

The USBA claimed that they could not have removed beer brewed before September 1st without destroying it. To substantiate this, the brewers continually explained, to anyone who would listen, the manufacturing process of lager beer. Brewers made lager in winter; they stored this “stock” beer in underground vaults, preferably directly below the brewery, attempting to maintain as cold a temperature as possible through the summer season. St. Louis had natural limestone caves; brewers used ice from the from the Mississippi…

-From Brewing Battles, a History of American Beer by Amy Mittelman

Rise of the Malting Plants

…malting tended to become separated from brewing proper. Malting became a distinct industry. Even in colonial times there seem to have been independent malting plants. In Oneida County, NY we find a malting plant not connected to any brewery in the year 1910. In Albany (NY) the first one was established in 1823. In the sixties (1800s) there was everywhere noticeable, in addition to the expansion of the brewing industry, a general separation of the malting from the brewing business.

Scroll to pg. 68-67

by Herman Schluter (First published in 1910)

Beer Ad Is Given a Legal Mickey

SYDNEY, Oct. 16 (UPI) — An Australian beer company has landed itself in Disney’s cross hairs with an ad campaign featuring the likeness of Snow White in bed with semi-nude dwarves. The Foundry, brewers of Jamieson’s Raspberry Ale, said the “Ho White” campaign, based on characters from Disney’s 1937 animated film, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” is designed to convince consumers the beverage is “anything but sweet,” The (Sydney, Australia) Daily Telegram reported Friday.

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Captain Ahab Spencer Contracts Out for Mobi

Courtesy (Illustration by Joe Ciardiello)
Courtesy (Illustration by Joe Ciardiello)

“AP–Robert Spencer, a tall former college basketball player, looks up from his table in a busy Charleston, SC, restaurant.”

“‘Do you have any Mobius beer?’ he asks, but only gets a quizzical look from the waitress. Spencer, who began selling his new ‘energy beer’ earlier this month, isn’t fazed. ‘In a year,’ he says, ‘I think we’ll be worldwide.'”


Profile for Mr. Spencer…

“Job Description: Founder of Mobius Beer, the company that produces and distributes the first ‘energy-infused’ microbrew, containing taurine, ginseng, caffeine, and vitamin B1.”


Contract Brewing

Here are excerpts and links to several articles on contract brewing…

“Some companies called beer marketing companies are not breweries at all but contract out all their brewing operations. They have no formal corporate facilities beyond an office, if that, but present themselves as a traditional brewery like any other. Examples of these marketing companies are Pete’s Wicked and Pabst Brewing; there are no longer any physical breweries for these companies.”

“For many brewers, contract brewing is a means to establish a brand and actually generate revenue before embarking on a fundraising and building program for a new brewery. With a larger brewery handling the brewing labor as a fee service, the brewery-to-be can better test the market and attract investors before committing hundreds of thousands of dollars to a new building or renovation program.”

“For some brewers, it is simply a logistical necessity. Hawaii’s Kona Brewing finds it more cost-effective to contract their U.S. beers on the West Coast rather than ship everything produced from the islands. For others, it is a legal requirement: Due to a hindrance of Texas state law, Houston’s Saint Arnold Brewing brews all the beers for the Texas locations of California’s brewpub chain BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.”

-From Craft Beer USA

“Homebrewers are a lot like amateur musicians. Sooner or later, they begin thinking how much fun it would be to take their hobby to a professional level.”

-Article by Karl Bremer at

And finally with a Beer Wars (the movie) twist…

“It turns out that New Century is based in Boston, but contract brewed by Lion in Wilkes Barre PA (nothing wrong with contract brewing per se, Sly Fox brews some fantastic beers for Southampton). New Century makes two beers, Edison, is a 4% ABV light lager sold in clear bottles and Moonshot ‘69 a caffeine infused golden lager (which has a 1.44 score on Beer Advocate). Are these really great examples of ‘creative and passionate’ craft beer? I have nothing against a light/crisp lager on a hot summer day or a rich caffeinated coffee stout on a cold winter night, but a light beer in a (skunk prone) clear bottle and a pils with 69 mg of pure caffeine added? Come on.”


Beer Facts

This column is dedicated to things The Professor discovers along the way to researching other things related to beer. It will appear randomly, depending upon when material presents itself.


Slo Brewing: you may remember quite a while ago this was distributed throughout the U.S. One of the major styles disributed at the time was Blueberry Ale. What you may not have know it that it was contract brewed by August Schell, also out of New Ulm. It also seems to have a connection with Downtown Brewing: a small chain of brew based pubs in California.

Perhaps our California-based writer, Mr. Becham might enlighten us regarding the confusion here?

If you spend time on the net researching this you’ll find it quite confusing. Apparently Schell was contracted to brew Slo which has somehow, sort of, yet sort of not, morphed into Downtown. The Slo brand hasn’t been seen on the east coast for quite some time. Mr. Carman, one of our writers, informs us he has one of the Blueberry Ale bottles in his collection and remembers it being good, but not outstanding by any means. Here’s a quote he sent The Professor…

“Somewhat unremarkable base with a decent amount of blueberry juice or extract. Compliments must be paid since blueberry is one of the harder fruits to keep in the bottle until it’s poured. But the base could have been more substantial, and less of a slightly fizzy blueberry quaffe. No hops, but few expected, blueberry being the focus.”

Apparently Schell does other contract brewing, as other breweries do or have done in the past, including (But by no means limited to…) F.X. Matt, St. Croix Brewing Co., Shipyard (which has also had their beer contacted brewed in the past) and Lion. This doesn’t even cover the major brewers who sometimes brew under labels under than their own as if they were micro-brewers or brewpubs packaging their own product. There will be more on contract brewing in the next post.