AND so from the ashes of the bondage cow comes the age of the errant goat.
...it does feel as though you could be in Bruges or Paris or Prague
Folklore has it that, in the fourteenth century, two squabbling, beer-brewing German monks took part in a drinking contest. The high alcohol content of their respective home-brews caused one thoroughly pickled monk to tumble, blaming his fall on a kick from a goat that had wandered into the tavern. “The only goat that knocked you down is swimming in that beer,” laughed the victorious monk. And so the potent brew was hence known as ‘Bock’ – the German word (in some dialects) for ‘goat’. (Of course ‘Bock’ could be derived from Einbeck, the town where the beer was first brewed, but that’s no way near as jolly.)
Over to Tib Lane and the present day now where Iain Hoskins, a former Granada TV man and owner of the fine Ma Boyle's and Ma Egerton's in Liverpool, has opened a very handsome three-storey homage to the strong, rich, malty brew in the old Lounge Ten/Filthy Cow spot (hence the bondage cow).
Aware of Manchester's recent propensity to honour its own craft brews, Hoskins has instead focused on speciality beers of a Belgian persuasion, with ten taps and 50 bottles from the likes of Liefmans, Brugse, Mongozo and Le Trappe.
“When you peel off Cross Street into this warren of narrow streets and alleyways, it does feel as though you could be in Bruges or Paris or Prague,” says Hoskins, as we natter over a tart bottle of Boon Kriek. “I’d always had this desire to create a proper European-style neighbourhood beer bar so, when this perfect, charming, smallish townhouse came free in the city centre we leapt at it.”
Mercifully, Hoskins and business partner/architect Neil Dawson have done away with the compartmentalised farmyard chic of the departed burger bar, making way for a continental-style café of moody woods, classy leathers, marble tops, bare brick, flickering candle light, tightly-packed tables and stuffed goats.
“We didn’t want Bock to feel staged, we weren’t creating a museum piece,” says Hoskins, “but we’re not finished with it yet. I’ve more vintage knick-knacks and dusty mirrors to buy – that’s probably my favourite part.”
The pair are currently working on a food menu for Bock, which is likely to launch early next year and include solid beer fare, from ‘hot, melty fondue-type cheese’ to ‘porks for dipping’.
Also being mooted is a novel scheme for Bock’s loyal punters. “Once we announced our arrival on Twitter, we began receiving a load of requests to stock particular beers,” says Hoskins.
“We decided to run a ‘Customer of the Month’ scheme, whereby you tell us what you want and why you want it - you know, a good story - and, if yours comes out on top, we’ll track down the beer, go and get it for you, make it our ‘Beer of the Month’ and give you a free one each week of that month. We’ll even stick your mugshot in our menu.”
Bock Biere Cafe is open now at 10 Tib Lane, M2 4JB from 11am 'til midnight.