Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

1888 Bock

Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company
Chippewa Falls, WI

Style: Bock
ABV: 5.1%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Not good.)

I had high hopes for this one, I really did. One of my main complaints with Leinenkugel’s—and there are a lot of them—is their flagship brew, Leinenkugel’s Original. Are we supposed to believe that that watery piss is actually the original beer brewed by Jacob Leinenkugel back in 1867? No frickin’ way that is the beer that helped propel Jake to become the largest brewer in the region. Leinies is up in Chippewa Falls, which has some damn harsh winters. And back when Jacky boy was brewing his first batches of beer, the primary economy up there was stuff like lumberjacking, hunting, fur trapping, and farming. Do you think some burly lumberjack who just came in from a 12-hour day hacking down giant white pines in the dead of winter would want to drink some shitty ass light lager? Me either.

What the drinkers of the time and place would’ve demanded in their brews was something meatier. Like a bock. Bocks are strong lagers, and a typical example of the style would be smooth but malty, with a hint of sweetness. Traditionally they are warming drinks, perfect for drinking during the late fall and on into spring.

So when Leinenkugel’s recently released their 1888 Bock, I was more than a little intrigued. Although their seasonal and specialty brews—save for the Big Eddy series Imperial IPA and Russian Imperial Stout—have been absolutely abysmal in quality, I was actually a little (gulp) optimistic about this one. Maybe, I thought to myself, the bean counters and marketing wizards at Leinie’s would actually allow their brewers to reach back into the actual history of their brewery and create something that tastes like, I dunno, beer instead of the usual shit those corporate dumb asses mapped out in a Powerpoint slide.

Hopes officially dashed.

The pour actually held those hopes up. It’s dark ruby with a generous head, thick-bubbled and barely tan. Despite the lack of lacing, this is one gorgeous looking beer.

Which is just a setup for massive disappointment. The nose has a faint bready malt aroma behind a wall of DMS. The first sip reveals a light, soft, downright watery body. The sole flavor at the front of the sip is carbonation. That’s it. Once that fades, then there’s … uh. Malt? Nope. Hops? Are you fucking kidding me? Water? I guess that’s what it is, so we’ll go with that: The middle and finish of this beer feature strong notes of water.

This is just shit. It’s not that it’s undrinkable—it is, after all, just glorified brown water—but the fact that the folks at Leinenkugel’s had the nerve to call this liquid a bock is galling. If a brewery is going to make a bock, it needs to go all the way, otherwise not even bother to try. Apparently, what Leinenkugel’s did is just dump food coloring in some fermented sugar water and slap a pretty label on it. This beer is absolute fucking crap. Don’t drink it even if someone were offering it to you for free.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on January 5, 2009.
Agree with this review?