Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ice Bock leads list of new bottles coming from Franconia

All images courtesy of Franconia Brewing Co.

We're just over a month into the new year, but if you know anything about the history of Franconia Brewing Co., you know that's when the wheels start turning in the mind of owner Dennis Wehrmann. That's because it's anniversary time for Franconia, which means it's time to talk about what's new and coming soon at the McKinney-based brewery.

Of course, over the past few years, Franconia's anniversary has become more or less synonymous with the annual release of some form of eisbock. This year will be no different, though there will be more to go around thanks to Wehrmann's decision to package this year's batch of Tripel Dunkel Ice Bock in bottles. It's a move, he says, that makes sense considering the beer's bold flavor and heightened strength (with an ABV of 17%) should compare favorably to specialty releases already on the market.

"This beer stands up to what some of the other breweries are doing out there," says Wehrmann, "so we thought it would be good for a limited release."

The label for Franconia Ice Bock tells the story of how this style of beer originated in Germany.
It's a tale that in some way mirrors how Franconia created its first version in 2014 (click to enlarge).

A total of 1680 12-ounce bottles will be produced, all of which will be relegated to single bottle sales. That's not a truckload of beer by any means, but it's certainly a lot more than has been available in the past. Fans of the brewery may recall that only 16 gallons of Ice Bock were produced when it debuted in 2014. That amount, which yielded from a starter batch consisting of only two 13.2 gallon kegs, is roughly a tenth of what was produced this time around. Naturally, Franconia's eisbock process has evolved, otherwise a wide release probably wouldn't have been possible.

"It was a challenge to get this done in volume," explains Wehrmann. "We had to change the way we make the beer quite a bit, but I'm pretty happy with the result."

RoughRiders Red Ale will be sold exclusively in Collin County for a limited time, while Franconia Lager will be
bottled year-round and available across the brewery's full distribution footprint (click each image to enlarge).

In related news, two other Franconia beers are also slated to get the bottle treatment for the first time, with both to be sold in six-packs. RoughRiders Red Ale, which debuted as a draft-only offering at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in May of 2015, will be released exclusively to accounts in Collin County for a limited time. Not limited, however, will be bottles of Franconia Lager. That beer, whether purchased in bottles or on draft, will maintain its status as a year-round standard.

As for when these products will arrive on local retail shelves, Ice Bock and RoughRiders Red Ale will be packaged and shipped once label approval is obtained from the TABC (expected by the end of February). Franconia Lager, on the other hand, will be bottled in the coming days. Initial allotments of that beer will be heading to Costco as early as next week, with deliveries to other retailers to follow thereafter.

Beyond that, be sure to follow the brewery's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter) for details on festivities related to Franconia's ninth anniversary. A celebration at the brewery is scheduled on Saturday, March 25, where Wehrmann is once again planning to serve multiple varieties of eisbock in honor of occasion.

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