By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Dec 15, 2021 at 12:06 PM

In November 2020, Leinenkugel returned to an old tradition – bock – launching its seasonal Toasted Bock, an easy-drinking, creamy and sweet lager with toasted malt. Now, the Toasted Bock is back for a limited time.

“Jacob Leinenkugel brewed his first bock beer in 1888,” says sixth-generation Leinenkugel, Katie. “Since then, we have brewed a few bock beers throughout the years.

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“In 1996, we came out with a new bock-styled beer, Leinenkugel’s Big Butt Doppelbock, featuring the traditional symbol of bock, the billy goat, butting heads in their springtime mating ritual.  And in the early 2000s, we brewed the 1888 Bock, a tribute to the first bock brewed. But, Toasted Bock is the first bock we’ve brewed in a while.”

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Bock originated in Einbeck in Saxony in the 14th century as an ale. Bock means goat in German, which is why goats are often featured on the labels, but – the story goes – the name derives from the fact that Bavarians pronounced Einbeck as Einbock.

Those Bavarians transitioned bock to a lager when the style arrived in Munich in the 17th century. The beers were traditionally brewed for celebrations and holidays like Christmas and Easter and were often fairly strong brews (around 6-7 percent ABV).

Leinenkugel’s first bock was introduced during Lent (leading up to Easter, of course) in early spring and that remained a tradition at Leinie’s – and other American breweries, too – for years.

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There was a time when Leinenkugel's boasted that its bock had so much "bod" that if you stuck a pencil in it the old No. 2 would "stay put."

We haven't tried this yet, but the recipe for this new copper-colored bock, however, is not the same as Leinie’s first foray into the style, according to Leinenkugel.

“The recipe for Toasted Bock was loosely inspired by the 1888 bock,” she says, “but the toasted malt character is what makes this one very unique.”

Another ingredient also adds a different twist.

“The beer is a traditional bock style, but what makes it distinct and special is that it is brewed with oak flakes which give it a creamy smoothness and mouthfeel.”

With just a hint of hop character – courtesy of Cluster, Leinie’s preferred hop variety – the Toasted Bock notches just 21 IBUs and has 5.1 percent ABV, making it much more sessionable than a traditional bock.

“The body of the beer is not extremely heavy, but the flavor of the beer is intensely malty with notes of chocolate, toffee, caramel and rich roasted nuts,” says Leinenkugel. “It has a rich, malty flavor of roasted caramel barley, with some woody quality to balance the moderate bitterness.

“There are slight hints of dried dark fruit – raisin, date or currant – combined with the smoothness of the liquid to provide a surprising contrast on the palate. It is medium-bodied with a balanced smoothness that makes this beer very drinkable.”

According to Leinenkugel, this seasonal is brewed both at the Chippewa Falls brewery and at Tenth Street Brewery in Milwaukee.

According to Molson Coors, Toasted Bock replaced Cranberry Ginger Shandy as Leinenkugel’s’ secondary winter seasonal beer when it launched in 2020.

“The idea was to really get back to our beer-brewing credentials. We wanted to make a beer-flavored beer, something that was more traditional in style, hearkening back to our German roots,” said Leinie’s President Dick Leinenkugel at that time.

“We knew since we didn’t have this style of beer in our portfolio, our fans were looking for this style of beer from Leinenkugel’s. Something that was a little bit more maltier and substantial in terms of its body and yet really drinkable.”

Toasted Bock will be available through the end of January in 12-ounce cans and bottles. So, bock – I mean stock – up now.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.