Origin: Ouderschild, Texel (Noord-Holland), Netherlands
With my slightly sweet beer tooth, I’ve got a soft spot for the Dutch interpretation of bo(c)kbier, which has become an institution in its own right in the Netherlands, a seasonal focus for drinkers and a rallying point for the country’s beer consumer movement, PINT.
It’s even the subject of two competitions and a festival. “Het Beste Bockbier van Nederland” – the ‘best’ beer in the style – is chosen by a panel of beer experts at the Bokbierfestival organised by PINT in late October in Amsterdam, while “Het Lekkerste Bockbier van Nederland” – the ‘tastiest’ beer – is named by ordinary drinkers at a separate event organised by the Arendsnest beer pub supported by the specialist pub landlords’ organisation ABT.
Almost all Dutch brewers now produce a bok at the relevant time of year: old established brewers usually produce theirs in traditional cold-fermenting lager style while the newer micros tend to make boks as warm fermented ales. Standard strength for the style is up to 7%, though stronger variants are now made. One of the most successful standard strength microbrewed entrants in recent years is Texelse Bock, from what’s now one of the Netherlands’ most consistent and enduring new generation brewers.
The original brewery was founded in 1994 by Maurice Diks in an old dairy in the tiny fishing village of Oudeschild on Texel (pronounced ‘Tessel’ in Dutch), the southernmost and largest of the chain of Frisian islands that dots the northwest coast of the continent from the Netherlands to Denmark. It’s notably expanded since falling under new ownership in 1999.
Texels Bock is brewed from pale and roasted barley malt and hops, some of which is sourced from the island. Though a warm fermenting yeast is used, the beer undergoes extensive cold lagering before being bottle conditioned. The resulting brew was named tastiest bockbier in 2009, best in 2010, and both tastiest and best in 2011.
I encountered a bottle of the 2010 version at De Hems, Soho’s famous Dutch pub, which despite its authentic atmosphere and expat following is often disappointing as a source of more adventurous Dutch beers, so I considered myself lucky. I soon understood why the beer had been so widely praised.
Texeks Bock pours a lightly cloudy deep reddish-brown with a fine yellowy head. Notes of roasted malt, tar, banana, grapes and refined grassy hops are evident on a slightly flinty aroma. A luxurious palate has notes of burnt sugar, liquorice and cherry fruit – it’s sweet, but kept interesting with light hops and a chewy roast character.
The gently lingering finish is very well balanced, smooth and satisfying, with more malt, a bit of hop bitterness and a toasty edge. A classic, comforting cold weather brew.
For more background on the style, see Proef/SNAB Ezelenbok.