Leinenkugel’s new Toasted Bock is a return to its roots

The chill in the Midwest air is a clear sign that it’s time to turn to brews that will keep you warm this winter.

For Leinenkugel’s that means transitioning to fuller-bodied beers like its Snowdrift Vanilla Porter – and a new seasonal entrant, Leinenkugel’s Toasted Bock, which is trickling into retail this week.

Positioned as the brewer’s secondary fall/winter seasonal beer, Toasted Bock is an amber-colored, malt-forward take on the German-style beer traditionally brewed to sustain monks over the Lent season.

“The idea was to really get back to our beer-brewing credentials. We wanted to make a beer-flavored beer, something that was more traditional in style, hearkening back to our German roots,” says Dick Leinenkugel, president of Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company.

The addition of Toasted Bock is the brewery’s latest effort to innovate within its beer portfolio. This year it also introduced Leinenkugel’s Spritzen, its beer with a splash of seltzer, about which Dick Leinenkugel remains excited (“It’s a really nice success story,” he says.)

But the brewery saw an opportunity to brew a style that appeals to a growing segment of discerning craft drinkers while at the same time ties back to the brewery’s roots.

“My great-great-grandfather, Jacob Leinenkugel, first produced a bock in 1888,” says Dick Leinenkugel. The brewery’s century-and-a-half of German brewing tradition has yielded other, now retired, bocks, including 1888 Bock, Big Butt Dopplebock and Leinenkugel’s Original Bock.

Brewed first as a collaboration between Leinenkugel’s and fellow Chippewa Falls, Wis., beermaker Brewster Brothers, Toasted Bock will “surprise and delight” fans, Leinenkugel says.

“We knew since we didn’t have this style of beer in our portfolio, our fans were looking for this style of beer from Leinenkugel’s,” he says. “Something that was a little bit more maltier and substantial in terms of its body and yet really drinkable.”

The 5.1% alcohol-by-volume Toasted Bock has a medium-bodied malt backbone, offering flavors of caramel and roasted barley, accentuated by hints of dried fruit, raisins and dates. Brewed with Leinenkugel’s preferred hop, Cluster, Toasted Bock is low in IBU, has a smooth mouthfeel and finishes with a bit of malt sweetness “that makes you want to have another one,” Dick Leinenkugel says.

Toasted Bock replaces Cranberry Ginger Shandy as Leinenkugel’s’ secondary winter seasonal beer and will swap out Leinenkugel’s Harvest Patch Shandy, its fall secondary seasonal. It will be available through February.

Toasted Bock’s entrance comes as Leinenkugel’s has been bolstered by strong off-premise sales of Summer Shandy, the ubiquitous summertime beer that over recent years has served as its flagship. And it’s outperformed craft competitor New Glarus in its home market of Wisconsin, according to Nielsen data.

The brewery also is launching several new beverages in the months ahead. In early 2021, It will introduce Lemon Haze IPA. A new Spritzen flavor, Blood Orange Cranberry, also is on the way. Then next summer, it will debut another German-inspired beer: a full-bodied, but sessionable Helles lager that will replace Orange Shandy.

Fans of the brewery have a lot to look forward to, Dick Leinenkugel says.

“They’re going to say, ‘Wow, Leinenkugel’s is doing something that’s not a shandy and not a Spritzen, but getting back to its Germanic roots with these fabulous, well-balanced beers,” he says.