Label from a doppelbock beer I brew (soon so can you!)
Springtime is Bock…
In a big way.
I have a special nook in my heart for bock beer. The first “dark” beer I started regularly drinking was AmberBock. While the Michelob/A-B product wasn’t really a true bock-style beer (it’s more appropriately termed “dark American lager”, ShinerBock and ZeigenBock also fall into this category) it piqued my interest in bocks.
I would later try a true German doppelbock called “Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock” at a small Aussie-style pub in Gainesville, FL called “Stubbie’s”. This was one of the first “good” beers I could appreciate. It was malty, smooth, and a bit sweet. When I first became intrigued by craft and import beer I could never stomach hoppy beers. Naturally, the malty-sweet bocks were some of my favorites back then.
I was recently asked to write a piece for a fantastic beer magazine out of Portland, OR called “Beer Northwest”. Being a quarterly magazine, I felt it was important I write about bock beer and its ties to the spring season. In this issue I speak to the history and defining characteristics of bock beer, pitch some homebrewing advice, and offer a recipe from my personal collection for a doppelbock I call “Liberator”. What follows is an excerpt from the mag:
A Brief History of Bock Beer
The name “Bock” derives from a mispronunciation of the German city of Einbeck, where bock beer was first brewed. A less common explanation, but amusing nonetheless, states that bocks earned their name because drinking the strong beers feels like getting kicked by a goat! Coincidentally, “Bock” is German for billy goat and many modern-day bocks have labels adorned with goats.
The bocks of Einbeck were quite different from what we now term “bock”. Einbeck bocks were lighter and hoppier than modern bocks. They also contained 1 part wheat for every two parts barley. The beers of Einbeck were coveted throughout Germany and Munich was no different. Much of the beer consumed in 17th century Munich was imported from Einbeck, locally brewed beer was frowned upon. Munich brewers began attempting to replicate the bock beers of Einbeck using local ingredients. After repeated adjustments and tweaking (darker malts and lower levels of hop bitterness were better suited to Munich’s hard water) a darker, maltier beer was born. These brews are the bock beers we know today.
Ever wondered about:
- the bock-monk connection?
- lagers vs ales? Are all bocks lagers?
- what the different styles of bock beer?
- the secret behind the “-ator” naming convention behind doppelbocks?
Learn more in the Spring issue of Beer NW magazine! Issues can be found in watering holes and brewpubs through the Pacific NW region, they are also available for purchase at the magazine's website.