The style now known as bock began as a dark, malty, lightly-hopped ale first brewed in the 14th century in the town of Einbeck, Germany. This original recipe was credited as being the first to use hops in the brewing process. Brewing prior to this utilized a spice blend to achieve a similar profile.
The beer hailing from Einbeck gain notable recognition and brewers in Bavaria wanted to learn their secrets of success. For various reasons Einbeck was losing power and trade accessibility, so the master brewer from the town traveled to Munich to share his recipe.
The beer from Einbeck was later adopted by Munich brewers in the 17th century and transformed to a lager style. The Bavarians of Munich pronounced “Einbeck” as “ein Bock,” and thus the beer became known as “bock.” Bock literally translates to “goat” which is why so many Bock beers have a goat on the label. While Bock beer as we know it today are commonly the Munich adaptation, the city slogan of Einbeck remains, “Without Einbeck, there would be no Bock Beer.”
There are many different styles of Bock beers today and most of them are ways of marking different seasons. The most common of these are the Traditional Bock, Urbock, Doppelbock, Eisbock, Weizenbock, Dunkel Bock and Maibock/Helles Bock.
Traditional Bock beers are a lager style that were historically consumed from Christmas to Easter. They are smooth and slightly sweet. Hops are undetectable and are used solely to balance sweetness. Bocks are described as having a toasty flavor, but not roasted or burnt. This hearty beer is perfect pairing for smoked sausages, barbequed meats or crème brulee.
Dunkel Bocks are a stylistic variation. Dunkel translates to “dark.” In order to achieve a darker color extra roasted malts are added during brewing. Dunkel can be applied to any style of Bock. There are Dunkel Maibocks, Dunkel Urbocks and Dunkel Weizenbocks to name a few.
Urbock literally translates to “original bock.” Urbocks are ales, not lagers, and are made in the original Einbeck style. Try them with smoked brisket, jerk chicken or pecan pie.
Doppelbock or Double Bock was originally produced as “liquid bread” by Monks in Munich to consume during the Lenten season while fasting. The first commercial Doppelbock sold was by Paulaner in 1780. Most German Doppelbocks carry the suffix “ator” like Paulaner Salvator. Doppelbocks are stronger and maltier than traditional Bocks. They are noted for chocolate and caramel profiles with a low hop presence, similar to traditional Bocks. Doppelbocks are the perfect pair for Cajun style foods, bacon burgers or carrot cake.
Eisbock or Ice Bock beers are known for their high alcohol content. Eisbocks are made by taking a doppelbock, freezing it and removing the ice (water) to concentrate flavors and alcohol content. Eisbocks are the perfect accompaniment to venison steaks, lamb chops or chocolate cake.
Weizenbocks or Wheat Bocks are made using at least 50% wheat in lieu of barley. They are traditionally top fermented, classifying them as ales like an Urbock. Weizenbocks are stronger than most wheat based beers. They are a great companion to grilled chicken or vegetables and spiced desserts like pumpkin pie.
Maibocks and Helles Bocks are traditionally served in the Spring. Maibock, which translates to “May Bock,” was originally made to celebrate May Day (May 1st). They are lighter and paler than other Bock styles with more hoppy notes. Maiback is a specific type of Hellesbock. They are practically the same, but while some argue they are exactly the same, others believe that Maibock, being a fest beer, has a notable spicy hop flavor. Try these with roast pork, shellfish or banana pudding.