Bock is a strong lager which has origins in the Hanseatic town Einbeck, Germany. The name is a corruption of the medieval German brewing town of Einbeck, but also means "Bock" (male deer or goat) in German. The original Bocks were dark beers, brewed from high-colored malts. Modern Bocks can be dark, amber or pale in color. Bock was traditionally brewed for special occasions, often religious festivals such as Christmas, Easter or Lent.
Bocks have a long history of being brewed and consumed by Roman Catholic monks in Germany. During the Spring religious season of Lent, monks were required to fast. High-gravity Bock beers are higher in food energy and nutrients than lighter lagers, thus providing sustenance during this period . Similar high-gravity Lenten beers of various styles were brewed by Monks in other lands as well (see Trappist beer). It was rumored that Martin Luther drank this beer during the Diet of Worms.
Bock beer originated in the Northern German
city of Einbeck
in the 14th to 17th century, and was recreated in Munich
in the 17th century. Alcohol content ranges from 6.3% to 7.2% by volume. It has a complex malty
flavor dominated by the richness of Munich and Vienna malts
, which contribute toasty flavors. It has a low hop
bitterness, usually enough to not overwhelm the malt flavors, allowing a slight sweetness to linger into the finish. It is light copper to brown in color with reddish highlights, with good clarity despite the dark color. It has a large, creamy, persistent off-white head
, and moderate to moderately low carbonation. Examples include Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Lakefront Bock, Aass
Bock, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, Huber Bock, and Berghoff Bock.
Maibock, or Helles bock
The maibock style is a pale version of a traditional bock. It is a fairly recent development compared to other styles of bock beers, frequently associated with springtime and the month of May. 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 or alcohol content. It is a clear lager, deep gold to light amber in color, with a large, creamy, persistent white head
, and moderate to moderately high carbonation. There is some dispute as to whether the Helles ("pale") bock and the Mai ("May") bocks are the same style, but they are generally agreed to be the same. Examples include Hubertus Bock, Einbecker Mai-Urbock, Augustiner
Maibock, Gordon Biersch
Blonde Bock and Abita
Mardi Gras Bock.
Doppelbock or double bock is a Bavarian specialty beer that was first brewed by the monks of St. Francis of Paula. Alcohol content ranges from 6% to over 10% by volume. Historic versions had lower alcohol content and higher sweetness, and was considered "liquid bread" by the monks. Most versions are dark colored, but pale versions do exist. The color ranges from deep gold to dark brown in color, with a large, creamy, persistent head ranging from white for pale versions to off-white for darker versions, although doppelbocks with higher alcohol content may not display good head retention. It has a very strong malty aroma, with some toasty aromas. Some alcohol aroma may be present, and darker versions may have a chocolate-like or fruity aroma. The flavor is very rich and malty, with toasty flavors and noticeable alcoholic strength. Most versions are fairly sweet, due to little or no hop flavor. Paler versions may have a drier finish. Examples include Spaten Optimator, Tucher Bajuvator, Troeg's Troegenator, Augustiner Maximator, Weihenstephan Korbinian, Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock, EKU 28°, Eggenberg Urbock 23, Samichlaus, Abita Andygator, and Birra Moretti La Rossa. The Minim monks who originally brewed Doppelbock named their beer "Salvator", which today is trademarked by Paulaner. In homage to the original, it is traditional for breweries to give their Doppelbocks names that end in "-ator".
In Estonia, "Double Bock", which has 8% alcohol by volume is especially popular among the youth.
Eisbock is a traditional Kulmbach
specialty beer that is made by freeze distilling
a doppelbock and removing the ice to concentrate the flavor and alcohol content. Alcohol content ranges from 9% to over 14% by volume. It is deep copper to dark brown in color, often with ruby highlights. Head
retention is frequently impaired by the higher alcohol content. It has a rich, sweet malty flavor, balanced by a significant alcohol presence. It has a clean, lager character with no hop flavor. Examples include Schneider Aventinus Eisbock, Kulmbacher Reichelbrau Eisbock, Eggenberg
Urbock Dunkel Eisbock, Niagara Eisbock, and Southampton Eisbock.
In Austria, Bockbier is traditionally brewed only around Christmas and Easter, when nearly every brewery brews its own bock.
The Italian Birra Moretti Doppio Malto
(also known as Moretti La Rossa) is very similar to the Bock style, and some consider it intermediate between a light Maibock and a dark bock.
American brewing authority Charlie Papazian
claims to have once done a beer tasting where a malt liquor
was slipped into a tasting of Maibocks and placed rather highly, indicating possible affinities between the two styles.
Shiner Bock is the flagship beer of Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas. They formerly held an annual Bocktoberfest in Shiner, Texas to celebrate the German history of Bock beers. However, it should be noted that the Beer Judge Certification Program's Beer Style Guidelines classifies Shiner Bock as an American dark lager rather than a bock beer.
The city of Cincinnati, Ohio, USA has hosted a Bockfest celebration since 1993 celebrating its German-style brewing history and the coming of Spring.
Bocks are also brewed in Norway
, where they are known as "bokkøl" (bockbeers) and available during the whole year. Notable examples of bock brands are Aass
A variation of bock called 'bokbier' is also brewed extensively in the Netherlands
and occasionally in Belgium
. Most larger Dutch breweries, such as Heineken International
, market at least one variety. Most bokbiers tend to be seasonal beers (traditionally autumn, although there are currently also spring, summer and winter boks). They are among the only few specialty beers that existed besides lager for a long time. Microbreweries may prefer to seasonally brew a bokbier, such as the eco-beer biobok, made in autumn by Brouwerij 't IJ
in Amsterdam. The city of Amsterdam
also hosts a well known festival in honour of bokbier in its former stock exchange organised by P.I.N.T . Belgium
produces Artois Bock, which is exported internationally and can be found in areas where bock is not traditionally available.