June 27, 2014 by Justin Roczniak
The case said “Tastes Good” on the side. I couldn’t let a claim like that go untested, so I bought the last case of Yuengling Bock Beer from University City Beverage.
Yuengling Bock is brewed in the traditional German bock style. In general, bocks are dark, malty and sweet beers that aren’t highly hopped. Bocks run the gamut for alcohol by volume, from the 5 percent maibock, which is a nice, friendly springtime beer, to the freeze-distilled, 14 percent ABV eisbock, which was invented by Bavarian monks after they realized their religious vows didn’t expressly forbid them from getting wasted.
Yuengling, of course, makes the lager we all know and love. It has been there as long as anyone can remember, on tap at local bars and restaurants, proudly categorized as “domestic” next to Miller Light and Budweiser. It’s approachable, affordable, and American. They enjoy strong sales amongst all demographics: hipsters, western Pennsylvania coal miners, rich Republicans who own boats, Ivy League professors, the homeless, members of the clergy, and it’s even available in 40s for the high school kids!
Having what is objectively the best domestic macrobrew on the market is apparently not good enough for them, though, and they’ve made their entry into the craft beer market with this new(ish) seasonal bock, the Summer Wheat beer (review coming soon), and the Oktoberfest beer (review coming whenever that beer comes out).
The Bock went out of production sometime in the 1970s, and was brought back in 2010 so that Yuengling could pretend to be a trendy new craft brewery for their 180th anniversary. The labeling is based on packaging from 1941.
“Shut up and talk about the beer!” I hear you say. Fine.
Poured into a pint glass from a brown bottle, because someone at Yuengling finally realized green bottles are a stupid idea.
What hits you first is that it tastes a lot like Yuengling Lager. It also smells a lot like Yuengling Lager. And it’s only slightly darker than Yuengling Lager.
I decided that, for scientific purposes, I needed a side-by-side comparison, so I poured a glass of lager (pint glass, poured a copper color, from a can because it was cheaper than a bottle) and compared the taste. By then I had finished the first glass of bock, so I poured a second glass to make sure I could do a proper comparison. Then I looked in my fridge and realized that the beer collection was now uneven, so I had another lager to balance it out, for aesthetic purposes.
Indeed, once you’re three beers in, they do taste very similar. So does any other malt-based beverage with bubbles, in fact. I will say though, that the bock is slightly more malt-forward, and is definitely three or four shades darker. I will also say that it is the most drinkable bock I have had — you could easily throw back three or four of these on a lazy afternoon and not really notice. It doesn’t scream “malt!” in your face like a heavy German bock would, it’s much more subtly sweet.
This isn’t a beer that you use to show off how much more cultured you are for enjoying your expensive, imported, not-labeled-in-English, I-had-to-go-to-Delaware-to-find-this, monks-have-brewed-it-the-same-way-for-800-years, pretentious European beer. This is a beer that you buy because you said “Hey, I want a nice sipping beer that’s like Yuengling Lager, but isn’t Yuengling Lager, because I already have 12 cases of that sitting in my fridge.” My only real gripe about it is that it doesn’t come in cans, which are still the future of beer packaging. Otherwise, it is a solid, good-time drinking beer.
Price is probably like 25 bucks a case at University City Beverage or something; I didn’t check. I also bought the last case there so you probably should look somewhere else for it. Or wait until next year, because they’ve already moved on to making the Summer Wheat.