In Montana, signs of spring are subtle. The icy waters start swelling and cracking open, the melt/freeze patterns of the snow intensify as the sun melts and the nights freeze. It’s the corn harvest (we’re not speaking agriculturally here) on our ski hills, it’s the sudden need for sunscreen and sunglasses, and it’s the opening of Going to the Sun Road to cyclists and hikers.
At Kalispell Brewing Company, spring starts in late February. Deep within the blurry days of late winter, a true sign that we will make it out alive is our bock brew day. This is the day we brew and store our spring seasonal, the Bearhat Helles Bock. To us, it brings the same feeling of planting the first hearty seeds in the ground. The excitement of watching and waiting for our bock to be perfect enough to harvest and share with our customers is palatable.
History of Helles Bock
It’s not just us, you know. Helles (Pale) Bock (also known as Maibock (May Bock)) is traditional spring beer in Germany, made to bridge the gap between dark winter brews and lighter summer offerings. The name Bock essentially derives from a messy game of telephone between German dialects. The first bock originated in Einbecker, Germany, and over time “becker,” of Einbecker, became “bock,” a word that means “Billy Goat” in German (hence the goat on many bock beer labels).
Bocks come with a strong kick to wake us from our winter hibernation (6.3 to 7.2% ABV – some as high as 12% in Germany). The true measure of the style would be to drink them fresh in a biergarten amid a perfect spring day.
But What is a Bear Hat?
It’s one word, folks: Bearhat. Bearhat Mountain is an iconic peak in Glacier National Park, named after Chief Bear Hat of the Glacier Kootenai tribe. It rests behind Hidden Lake, next to Reynolds off of Logan Pass. It’s a difficult climb to get to the top (from Hidden Lake Overlook it looks darn near impossible), but the views are well worth it.
Logan Pass and the peaks that define it are some of the first terrain accessed in the spring by a wider range of recreators, and brewing up the spring bock makes our heart yearn for the higher ground of these sleeping giants.
Photo of Bearhat Mountain via SummitPost.org
What to Expect
Our Bearhat Bock is medium bodied with a golden amber in color. It’s brewed primarily with Hallertau hops, the hop aroma taking a backseat to the malt in this double decoction beer. With equal parts Pilsner and Munich malts, the taste delivers bready and slightly sweet flavors. It’s a super enjoyable and smooth Helles Bock (34 IBU, 7.1% ABV, 7 SRM) and can’t wait to share it with you! Stay tuned for release updates this spring.