WRITTEN BY MATT BRASCH
For Digital First Media
April showers brings May flowers, but in Phoenixville and Pottstown it also brings Maibock beer.
On May 3, Sly Fox Brewing Company will hold its 15th Annual Bock Fest and Goat Race at its Pottstown production facility, and its Brewhouse and Eatery in Phoenixville will begin serving a spring seasonal favorite, the Bock beer. The origin of Bock beer explains why goat racing and Bock beer have become such a great Sly Fox springtime tradition.
Records about Bock beer can be found going back all the way to the 14th century. It was brewed as a dark, malty, lightly hopped ale in the town of Einbeck in northern Germany. The style moved south and brewers in Munich adopted the “Einbeckisches” style in the 17th century. It is said that the people of Munich, with their southern Bavarian accent, shortened the name to “Bock” which translates to “goat” and so the connection of goats to Bock beer began. In addition to its association with goats, because Bock was originally brewed during Lent, the style was seen as a sign of spring and of better things to come.
Bock beer today is a strong lager that includes several sub-styles including Maibock (a paler, more hopped version generally made for the spring; “Mai” is German for “May”), Doppelbock (stronger and maltier than the Maibock; “Doppel” is German for “double”), and Eisbock (a strong beer that is made by freezing the beer and removing the ice, which increases the alcohol content; “Eis” is German for ice).
As a salute to the style’s origin story, most brewers today incorporate a symbol of a goat into the labels of their Bock beers.
Sly Fox will offer six varieties of Bock beer at this year’s event, including a Maibock that will be tapped immediately after the goat race and named in honor of the winner, according to information at www.slyfoxbeer.com/index.php/front/bockfest. Currently there are 20 contestants registered with names ranging from Fifi to Moonshine. Fans from last year should be excited to know that 2014 champion “Jixxer” will be competing again. If you can’t attend the festivities, visit Sly Fox’s Phoenixville Brewhouse and Eatery and try a Bock during the season for which it was created.
In addition to goat races and Bock beer, the month of May could also bring a new brewery to Phoenixville — Stable 12 Brewing. While no opening date can be officially announced until the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board gives final approval, the founders of Stable 12 — CEO Richard Wolf, COO/Brewmaster Tyler Fontaine, and CFO/Assistant Brewer Chris Carbutt — have been putting the final touches on their brewpub in a renovated auto parts store on Bridge Street in Phoenixville. According to Public Relations Manager Nicole Cianciarulo, “Stable 12 will be a place to relax and enjoy time with friends, family, colleagues and the like, all while enjoying great food and of course amazing craft beer!” For more, check the brewery’s website at www.stable12.com.
They can’t brew under the Stable 12 name yet, but upon the PLCB’s approval, their website indicates that they will craft eight different beers, including two India Pale Ales, an Oak Aged Ale and a 10.5 percent Belgian Tripel. Richard, Tyler and Chris chose to brew in Phoenixville for several reasons, but especially because it is “an up and coming area. There is a wide variety of people in Phoenixville, from young adults, to families and long time community members,” Cianciarulo explained. Stable 12 is dedicated to being a “local” brewpub. “We want to join a community that will continue to thrive, and especially one in which we can grow alongside — Phoenixville is absolutely that place!,” Cianciarulo said.
So as April comes to an end and May begins, get out and enjoy what our local craft brewers have to offer. Cheers!
Columnist Matt Brasch is a Souderton Area High School graduate and a beer enthusiast. For more, check his blog at http://thebrewholder.com.