The annual seasonal releases at Marble Brewery have become staples in the craft beer community for many years now, from Reserve Ale and Imperial Stout at the end of the year to other big hits like White Out and Pumpkin Noir. This year, however, a number of new additions to the seasonal menu have taken center stage.
We reviewed Cerveza Oscura when it came out in April, and with luck we will be able to hop on Zoom again to review Heller Bock, the new canned seasonal that comes out Wednesday at all three Marble locations.
To learn a little more about this German-style beer’s origin, we caught up with Marble 111 production manager John Heine over email.
“The production team came up with the recipe for the Heller Bock as a group, during a sensory panel,” John wrote. “We were tasting a number of European and American Pilsner beers, including our own, when the subject came up. We were aiming for something in between our Pilsner and a Helles-style lager, but at bock strength. It was a matter of getting things written down and calculating weights and volumes, and all of a sudden we had a recipe in our hands. We did this in mid-April, just before we were supposed to be attending the World Beer Cup, and we brewed the beer almost immediately after writing the recipe.”
This blonde lager lands between a normal Helles and a stronger bock beer, checking in at 6-percent ABV.
“We are all pulling out the leather shorts and getting the pretzels ready now that we have tried the finished product,” John wrote. “Being that the release is paired with triple-digit temperatures, we are extremely satisfied with the drinkability of this beer.”
We can confirm that John does indeed own some lederhosen, so just be prepared if you go downtown for the release.
Shaking up the annual seasonal menu has been a fun bit of experimentation for the brewing team at 111.
“As far as the new releases this year, we made that choice last year as we were planning the expansion to the canning line, and seeing the end of the road for our bottling line,” John wrote. “We thought that some new beers might be in order, as well. The Oscura and Rita releases were planned for what ended up being ‘the shutdown,’ but we went ahead with them and they helped drum up taproom sales when we were surviving on to-go sales (only).”
Overall, the brewing team has stayed plenty busy, even during the shutdown portion of the pandemic.
“The brewing staff has never been busier,” John wrote. “Our production output saw a spike with everyone stocking their shelves, because let’s face it, you can’t drink toilet paper. We started to see six-packs and 12-packs fly off the shelves like it was the 4th of July in April. Luckily, our canning line expansion was completed in early March, so we’ve been able to keep up with demand.
“Now that our taprooms have opened back up, we’ve dusted off our kegging line and started to fulfill those needs as well. It’s always hard work, and it’s always hot at a brewery, but we were lucky to be set up with all the right tools and practices for sanitation and cleaning when COVID-19 hit. Along the way, one practice that never changed for us is the strive for continuous improvement. Whether it’s how to make the workplace even more safe, or how to make the best German-inspired lagers, Marble has been hard at work, treating every day like it’s the most important day.”
Sounds good to us. Thanks to John for the info, and to Geraldine Lucero for connecting us, and for the advance samples.
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