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A Little Bit of Texas in Alberta

Young contract brewer, Elbeck Brews, and Camrose brewpub Norsemen Brewing, recently released a collaborative brew. In and of itself not so remarkable. Collaborations happen all the time.

But this one offered something that Alberta beer drinkers have not experienced before.  Specifically, a Texas Bock.

What is a Texas Bock, you ask? Good question, and I don’t blame you for not knowing what it is. In short, it is a traditional German style hacked by German immigrants to the southern U.S. in the 1800s. It has the same malty accent and full body, but is tempered by American ingredients and an addition of corn to lighten the overall body.

Before you think this is just an adulteration, hear me when I say it is a legitimate historical style. It pre-exists prohibition and offers a unique take on the longstanding Bock style. The reference version is Shiner Bock, which was available in Alberta a few years ago for about 20 minutes. During that short window I was able to give it a try.

Recipe designer Bruce Sample (of Elbeck) says it is a longstanding homebrew recipe from his days in Texas. He designed it in honour of Shiner Bock, which means it is supposed to reflect the flavours of a true Texas Bock.

Does it?

Texas Bock pours medium amber with bright clarity and builds a bubbly white head with a moonscape surface. The aroma brings out light caramel, nuts, and a bit of earthy hop character.

In the taste I start with a deep caramel, some toffee and a brown sugar note. The middle brings out a bit of breadiness and a soft toast note. The beer is malty without being too full. The finish is surprisingly light and balanced. I get a bit of sweetness but with a light graininess that adds a sharpness.

I know there is corn in there, but it doesn’t really make itself known other than lightening up the overall impression.

As a traditional bock I would dock it for its light body and refreshing finish. But since it is a Texas bock, I appreciate those qualities. Some might say this is just an amber lager. Sure. But the subtle complexities suggest it is more than that.

It is a quirky beer, simultaneously sweet and dry. Offering big malt flavours and a light finish. Likely a good fit for the Texas weather.

I can’t be sure whether the Elbeck/Norsemen Texas Bock is what it is supposed to be. But from my memories of trying Shiner Bock, it seems like it is completely in the zone.

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