KC Bier Co.’s Winterbock warmed up our winter nights

It’s funny now, but some worried that KC Bier Company’s Winterbock wouldn’t sell.

Before the Waldo brewery’s inaugural release of the beer in bottle in 2018, founder Steve Holle and brewer Karlton Graham heard from wholesalers hesitant to plug a boozy seasonal with winter in its name.

Those fears proved unfounded.

Winterbock hit shelves on November 1 and was sold out by Christmas.

“Since the day we opened, it’s been the one beer that seems to run out the fastest and the one beer people beg us for the soonest,” Graham says.

It’s not hard to see why. The dark doppelbock lager (8.25 percent ABV) is very malty with hints of caramel, coffee and molasses and enough hops to balance it out. It takes its shape from the beer German monks brewed in late winter to keep them warm and toasty while observing Lent during fastenzeit.

It’s also the brewery’s bell cow at blind judging competitions, taking a silver medal in the 2018 World Beer Cup. It’s a prime example of KC Bier sticking to what works best for them.

“We only make four year-round beers and four seasonal beers, so we spend a lot of time working on making the few beers we make as good as they can be and not always thinking about creating 10 new recipes,” Holle says.

Winterbock’s recipe is mostly set, but Graham and Holle are still tinkering to get more flavor and more in line with the beers of yore. New equipment and an earlier brew date to increase the lagern process means this year’s Winterbock will be, Graham says, “as close to old German-style beer as we’ve ever been.”

And don’t worry, KC Bier’s making more to last the whole winter.

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