For the month of March we will spend some time exploring Bocks.  It seems only fitting to talk about bocks this month when you consider that traditionally the dopplebock was brewed to sustain monks during their Lenten fast.   Most bocks are a dark strong lager, generally at 6% alcohol and higher.

The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) has four subcategories for the Bock style of beer.

5A Maibock/ Helles Bock:  This is the lightest in color of the bocks.  Brewed for the spring (Maibock or May bock).  The malt profile will include more pilsner malt than other bocks.  They tend to be medium bodied and will show a stronger hop character than other bock styles (though they are still malt forward).  This is the youngest of the bock substyles.

5B Traditional Bock:  This bock tends to be a mix of Munich and Vienna Malts giving it a richer color than a maibock.  You can find flavor notes of chocolate (but not roasted or toasty) and dark fruits.  This style is believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck with the name bock being a corruption of the name (one bock).  The word bock also refers to billy-goat in German.  These beers will be medium to full bodied. There can be some warmth from the alcohol.

5C Dopplebock:  This does follow the path of the bock but intensified.  Bigger alcohol, richer flavors.  Flavors can include prune, plum, and grape as well as caramel from kettle caramalization. Again there should be no roasted notes.  These have also been found to be stronger versions of the Helles bock, allowing for paler color and more hops.

5D Eisbock:  The original “ice beer.”  The story goes for this one that an apprentice had left a keg outside one winter and the beer froze.  Trying to fix the mistake he had brought it inside hoping it would thaw before his error was discovered.  It was found that the alcohol had intensified (since only the water froze).  This made a stronger more flavorful beer.  This beer will be more full bodied (since thinning water has been removed).  Again their will be similar flavors as others in the bock family but much more intensified.  Although the process makes for a stronger beer it is still possible to find dopplebocks with higher alcohol content.

For me personally, this is one of my favorite styles.  It makes a semi regular appearance in my brewery.

Time for a pint…

17 thoughts on “Bock

  1. You really know your stuff! Seems like people who want to get into brewing or learn more about the processes before trying it themselves should take some tips from you. These sound pretty cool to try and make.

  2. I think I would like this style. The eisbock seems really interesting, though probably not as sweet as the ice wines I've tried in the past… I never even paid attention to whether or not the alcohol content was higher in ice wines, but if it happens with ice beer, I will deduce the same will happen with wine?

  3. They are classic styles that you won't find as much in the US (aside from imports). The bock style is a lager style and craft brewers have been primarily ale brewers until recently.

  4. Ice wine is somewhat different. For ice wine the grapes are left on the vine longer than normal ensuring a higher amount of sugar than you would find in grapes picked earlier. This sugar content does not get completed fermented, ensuring a sweeter finish in the wine. The process for eisbock happens after fermentation.

  5. I LOVED this post. I learned more about Bocks then I ever knew (which wasn't much to begin with). The Eisbok was my favorite story. It reminded me of some of the mistakes that happened with some wines thar became a best seller. 🙂

  6. Awesome post, Jon! I think I'd enjoy the Dopplebock with those flavors. Years ago, I remember drinking Amber Bock. I'm assuming, by the name, that it's a bock. If I can recall correctly (I'm not sure because I was drunk), it was a darker beer. It was good and strong.

  7. I wanna say that the Amber Bock you had was probably from Michelob (so Budweiser) unless you had one from Germany and that was what they wanted to call it. That would give it a resemblance to a real bock but only kinda. If you did some looking I bet you could come across some really good bocks in your neighborhood.

  8. I've never really gotten into different beers. I tried different beers while I traveled the Mediterranean and every once in awhile state side I will try a new one, but there is just so much to learn and know. You do a great job breaking it down and making it understandable.

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