Bock is an old, traditional style originating from Germany in and around the town of Einbeck. Bock is believed to have been first produced in the 14th century and was most definitely a top-fermenting ale at that time. (The use of bottom fermenting Lager yeast was not common until the 19th century.) Traditionally, Bock was made in the months following the harvest taking advantage of the current crop of barley and hops to create a strong beer that would lager (age) and improve until tapped in March.
Today, Bock is produced across the globe. Bock can be light in color or as dark as Stout. The style is noted for its rich, malty flavors with a very mild hop impression (although I have had a few US west coast versions with loads of hops that were just awful.) Not all strong Beers are Bocks but all Bocks are strong and should be enjoyed in moderation as many Bock Beers have twice the strength of the typical commercial Lager. The Bock style has spawned several variations most notably, Doppelbock, Maibock, and Eisbock.
Variations of Bock Beer:
- Maibock (May bock) – A pale colored bock traditionally brewed for consumption in spring.
- Doppelbock (double bock) – A strong Bock conceived to provide substance during times of fasting or lent. The names of Doppelbock brews commonly end in “ator” in honor of the original, Paulaner Salvator.
- Eisbock (ice bock) – The strongest of bocks, this Beer is brewed to be a doppelbock but is partially frozen in order to concentrate the beer’s flavour and alcohol.
- Weizenbock (wheat bock) – A very strong Weizen named a Bock because of its strength. This is not a true bock, but rather a heavy wheat Ale.
Bock Beer for Strength During Lent
Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel – Bavaria’s famous bock is sought by serious beer lovers. The color is deep copper with touches of red. The aromatics and flavors are redolent of caramel, toasted nuts, fruit cake, and cocoa. It’s bottled at just above 7% ABV so drink slowly.
Salvator Doppel Bock – This bock is made by Paulaner and is fairly easy to find and available year-round. It is very rich and spicy (brown baking spices) with hints of gingerbread. It’s quite powerful at nearly 8% ABV.
Erdinger Weissbier Pikantus – Bavaria’s and the world’s largest dedicated wheat beer brewery offers their own fortifying bock. This lovely beer is a fusion of refreshing weissbier with a rich, dark bock but don’t be fooled, it’s bottled at 7.3% ABV so proceed with care.