The Bock And The Porter
By. Guy Lister
Another story that John would always tell would deal with a couple of Narragansett’s lesser known but very high quality products: Narragansett Porter and Narragansett Bock Beer. John would start by holding up a bottle of ’Gansett Porter to show its rich, dark color. He’d explain how it was sort of a health drink for beer drinkers who wanted to improve their body mass a little. He’d say, "This is the stuff that you ladies should drink if you’d like to have a more "voluptuous" body like Marilyn Monroe!" "Hoh boy!" Then he’d pass 4 jars of different types of barley malt around the room to show the malts that went into the famous Narragansett Bock Beer, made famous by the many Bock Beer Festivals that were held at the Brewery in the Spring for a good number of years. John would refer to Bock as a "Spring Tonic" and he told a story that I’d always wondered about and many other people had too. That story addressed why a "Billy Goat" was always associated with Bock Beer, and usually appeared on the label of the bottle. I will say here that I’ve told this same story all the years and all the miles since I first heard John tell it and never has anyone ever given me an argument about it, so it must be pretty close to the truth.
He’d explain that Bock Beer originated hundreds of years ago in the Bavarian Alps. It was a special brew that was brewed in the fall, after the grain harvest, that was intended to serve as a Spring Tonic to celebrate having made it through another harsh Bavarian winter. This special beer was brewed with the freshly harvested grains and then stored in casks or barrels that were stored in caves at the base of the mountains. The Mountain Goats that fed off the green grass in the Fall would follow the sun’s warmth up the mountain to enjoy the last of the season’s greenery. The goats would disappear above the clouds as they followed the sun, not to be seen again until Spring. It was when the village people once again could see the goats feeding on the mountainside below the clouds that the people could be assured that Spring was nigh at hand. This was cause for celebration and it was then that those barrels of now, well aged bock beer would be tapped to begin the celebration. That’s how the "Billy Goat" became synonymous with Bock Beer. That story was one that always brought a big reaction from the audience because it answered a common question that was always buried in the recesses of people’s minds. It brought out the, "Ah Ha!" reaction.
Be sure to check back next week as we conclude Guy Lister's Narragansett Brewery Tour!
This Story remains the intellectual property of Guy Lister and may not be printed, reprinted, edited, sold or published, conventionally, electronically, or by other means without the expressed written approval of Guy Lister. Copyright 2001.