Bock is the term for a strong lager of German origin. Several substyles are based on bock, including maibock or helles bock, a paler, more hopped version generally made for consumption at spring festivals; doppelbock, a stronger and maltier version; and eisbock, a much stronger version made by partially freezing the beer and removing the water ice that forms.
Originally a dark beer, a modern bock can range from light copper to brown in color. The style is very popular, with many examples brewed internationally.
The style known now as bock was a dark, malty, lightly-hopped ale first brewed in the 14th century by German brewers in the Hanseatic town of Einbeck. The style from Einbeck was later adopted by Munich brewers in the 17th century and adapted to the new lager style of brewing. The Bavarians of Munich pronounced "Einbeck" as "ein Bock" ("a billy goat"), and thus the beer became known as "bock". To this day, as a visual pun, a goat often appears on bock labels.
Bock is historically associated with special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent. Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Bavarian monks as a source of nutrition during times of fasting.
The styles of bock
Traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong (6.3%–7.2% by volume), lightly hopped (20-27 IBUs) lager. The beer should be clear, and color can range from light copper to brown, with a bountiful and persistent off-white head. The aroma should be malty and toasty, possibly with hints of alcohol, but no detectable hops or fruitiness. The mouthfeel is smooth, with low to moderate carbonation and no astringency. The taste is rich and toasty, sometimes with a bit of caramel. Again, hop presence is low to undetectable, providing just enough bitterness so that the sweetness is not cloying and the aftertaste is muted.
Maibock or helles bock
The maibock style is a helles lager brewed to bock strength, therefore still as strong as traditional bock, but lighter in color and with more hop presence. It is a fairly recent development compared to other styles of bock beers, frequently associated with springtime and the month of May. Color can range from deep gold to light amber with a large, creamy, persistent white head, and moderate to moderately high carbonation, while alcohol content ranges from 6.3% to 7.4% by volume. The flavor is typically less malty than a traditional bock, and may be drier, hoppier, and more bitter, but still with a relatively low hop flavor, with a mild spicy or peppery quality from the hops, increased carbonation and alcohol content. Examples include Augustiner Hellerbock, Hofbräu Maibock, Stevens Point Einbeck, and Rogue Dead Guy Ale.
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