By Gregg Smith
A beer with one of the more intriguing origins, all agree that bock it first
appeared in the area of Einbeck, Germany. But there are many explanations for
how it came by its name. One of the most believable is the corruption of the
area's name to Beck, which then became Bock. The German translation is "goat"
which accounts for the symbolic billy goat used so freely on the labels of
Bocks are full bodied brews with a prevalent malty sweetness that can include
some chocolate undertones. A common bock is usually a dark beer. Like other
styles there are several sub categories, but all are brewed around the
general traits of low hops that places the flavor emphasis on malty sweetness
and high alcohol in the neighborhood of 7 percent.
Helles (pale) Bock - These possess the same general characteristics of Bock
except that in the Helles style the brewers forgo the chocolate under taste.
Full bodied, it has a predominant malty taste with the gold color found in
Munich style Helles beer. Enough hops are added to balance the sweetness with
no aroma. Once again alcohol levels are high.
Dopple Bock - is a stronger version of Bock, but don't be confused by the
name, it's not twice as strong. The original Dopplebock was brewed by monks
of St. Francis Paula, later to become Paulaner Brewery. In those days, while
observing their religious holiday of lent, there were mandatory periods of
fasting. But since beer was not included among the items forbidden they made
what was a "liquid bread" to carry them physically (and spiritually) through
this period. They must have been very happy fasters. In fact, the Paulaner
Dopplebock was named "Salvator" in homage to the Savior and to this day it is
released for the Easter season. Other dopplebocks continue this tradition by
ending their names in "ator". They are typically very full bodied with
intense malty sweetness and alcohol in the taste and aroma. Color is dark
amber to dark brown with low hops leaving the entire emphasis on malt.
Eisbock - The strongest bock, its name comes from the use of ice in the
production. A regular dopplebock is brewed and then lowered to temperatures
cold enough to freeze out part of the water (but not the alcohol which
freezes at a lower temperature than water does.) The ice is removed leaving a
concentrated alcohol level. This beer is very full bodied with increased
sweetness and alcoholic warmth. Eisbock is amber to dark brown and once again
hops are added to balance, leaving the emphasis on the malt.
© Gregg Smith