This is the season of buck beer, or bock bier, as the Germans put it…
Bock, according to analysis, is a very strong beer, and makes its appearance with the first buds of young and verdant spring.
New Brunswick Daily Times
April 26, 1872
Bock is Here
Brew that Was Once Famous and in Demand
Interest Dying out Because Seen So Often
Bock beer has been on sale in Decatur a few days…Bock beer day usually is near the first of May and it is the time when bock beer is placed on the market…Bock beer has been sold in a few of the saloons during the past week, but it was out of season.
The interest in bock beer has been dying out for several years and this is due to the fact that the larger breweries have been making bock beer at almost any time. Consequently when bock beer day came around it was nothing new.
--Decatur Daily Review, May 1, 1900
Where’s Bock Beer Goat?
“Nobody wants bock beer now” ---NYC bartender
“The passing of the bock beer goat is due to two causes, …In the first place, brewers made bock too common when they perfected their refrigerating and malting apparatus so that they could carry on any part of the beer making process at any time of the year, regardless of natural temperature.
“In the old days, the bock was an Easter specialty…but the brewers were not content to let well enough alone; so they forced the season a little more each year, by putting their bock out ahead of time. To have the first drink of bock and tell your friends about it ceased to be a distinction, because likely enough, some other fellow had been drinking the dark brew since February.”
(Quoting a German born 2nd Avenue bar owner).
---New York Sun, April, 1906
“Ve don’t ged bock,” said a German bartender disgustedly. “It should gome out in May afder six monts in de vats. Dere vas more malt in de beer and it vas dark because de malt vas burnt already. It iss de fall brewing an should be kept until de spring. In Chermany beer got to vait six months pefore he iss sold. Here ve make today and sell tomorrow and id aind bock.”
---“What is Bock Beer?” San Antonio Light and Gazette, March 25, 1910
Strictly speaking, bock beer should not be set forth for sale before May 8 of each year. This rule is general observed in Germany, but in America the appearance of bock beer is a movable festival. The earlier the spring the earlier the advent of the bock beer signs and the drink they advertise.
---“Some Timely History” Los Angeles Times, March, 1917
There ain’t goin’ to be any bock beer this spring…You see the brewers had to stop brewing in October(Wartime Prohibition) and bock is usually brewed in December and the goat signs used to go up in the windows heralding the appearance of bock about March 17th.
---Syracuse Herald, March 16, 1919
Schulyer Patterson of the Brewers Board of Trade (the metro NYC/NJ brewers organiza- tion) estimated that 1,250,000 barrels of bock beer were brewed in 1936, out of a total industry barrelage of 56,134,000 bbl. He predicted that bock production would increase by 5% for 1937.
"Dark beers" he noted made up nearly 15% of all US brewed beer in the pre-Prohibition era, but by the mid-30s it accounted for only 3-4%.
BOCK BEER; ST. PATRICK’S WEDNESDAY
Brewers Announce Amber Brew Will Be Put on Sale Officially
Brewers of Indiana, and of 14 other states* entered an agreement to withhold sale of bock beer, a sure harbinger of spring, until St. Patrick’s day, so that it would be well aged.
* KY, IL, MI, WI, MO, MT, PA, NJ, NY, MA, MD, VA, DC
--- The Hammond Times, March 15, 1937
Bock, according to the brewers, is made from burnt malt and brewed and aged twice as long as light beer. Enough is made for about a ten-day supply before the tavern return to exclusive sale of the light beer. There were 4,500,000 gallons distributed to stores and taverns in New York City this week. ---March 11, 1949
Bock Beer Special Product
The bock beer season is about over...“Pure tradition,” said Edward J. Vogel, Jr., brewmaster of Griesedieck Brothers, “If enough customers demanded it, they’d get bock all year around.”
---St. Louis UP story, May 6, 1949
The major brewers have decided not to brew bock this year. Too expensive and not enough suds swallowers really give a hoot. ---Lowell (MA) Jan. 25, 1952
That Restriction On Bock Beer Sale
While bock beer has long been a traditionally spring beverage, there had been no specific date for state of its sale. Some years ago, however, brewers thought it would be a good idea to establish uniformity by fixing a definite date for opening the bock beer season and prevailed on the legislature to enact a law prohibition sale of bock before March 17.
---Mansfield Ohio, May 29, 1952
A Sure Sign of Spring - Liquor Board Sets Sale Date Feb. 15
(Lansing (AP)) When bock beer goes on sale, it means spring can’t be far behind. The State Liquor Control Commission has sent out a notice that the heavy, rich dark beer can go on sale in Michigan Feb. 15.
---Jan. 21, 1971
Click for full view of NJ-NY Brewers announcements of Official BOCK BEER DAY