Spring is just around the corner…
I say this as we are currently looking down the throat of a Winter Storm Warning. But still the 40°F days we had this week was a welcome break to the -20°F we have had since early December. While I am looking forward to Spring, I am also looking forward to the beer season that is represented by some of my favorite styles; Kölsch styles, Cream Ales, and Bocks. Today we are going to talk about Bocks, an often overlooked member of the Lager family. Bock style is actually a super style that encompasses many sub styles like Maibock, Dopplebock, Dunkel Bock, and the oft overlooked Eisbock.
First let’s take a look at the history of Bock Beers:
Bocks are a strong beer originating from Einbeck, Germany. In general true bocks are above 6.5% ABV. There are reports that Bock beer was being brewed prior to 1578 (Oliver, 2012). Bock beer is actually a superfamily of beers and the family includes Maibocks, Dopplebocks, Dunkle Bock, and Eisbock. Here are the general characteristics of each:
Maibock: Maibocks are generally around 6.5% – 8% ABV. They are rich and creamy, malty, with a slight bitter aftertaste (Mosher, 2009).
Dopplebock: Roughly the same ABV. The flavor is a big burst of Carmel that finishes with a roasty finish. A lot of Dopplebocks have names that end in “-ator” (Mosher, 2009).
Dunkle Bock: Dunkle being the German word for dark, this is one of the darker offerings from the bock family. It has a creamy malt taste with a soft bitter finish, with a hint of cocoa (Mosher, 2009).
Eisbock: This is a very strong version of one of the previous types of Bocks. Usually the beer passes the 7% ABV mark. It is a Bock that undergoes a process called freeze distilling. This separates the water from the rest of product. What is left is a stronger version of the beer that is more intense.
We have a lot of German Immigrants here in Minnesota. As many of you know, New Ulm is home to a large population of German Americans. August Schell’s Brewery from New Ulm specializes in traditional German style beers including Bocks. In fact hey host an annual Bock Fest to celebrate this awesome beer. If you are reading this before March 1st, 2014 check out the link to find out about details on Bockfest! Many places offer bus service to this big outdoor party including our friends at the Herkimer!
Here are examples of Minnesota Bocks:
Here are examples of other famous Bocks:
- Hinterland Maple Bock (Green Bay, WI)
- New Glarus Cabin Fever (New Glarus, WI) (Seasonal)
- Shiner Bock (TX)
Mosher, T. (2009). Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide To The World’s Greatest Drink. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.
Oliver, G. (2012). The Oxford Companion to Beer. New York: Oxford University Press.