Bock is Back
Most beer styles are marked by a signature characteristic (or two) that shape their profile. When it comes to bock beer, the personality can be boiled down to a single trait that is easily identifiable: malt. Lots and lots of malt.
The roots of bock beer trace back to the northern German city of Einbeck in the Middle Ages. During the 14th century, Einbeck was a major European trade center whose beers were highly regarded throughout Europe. Several factors contributed to the quality of Einbeck beer: it was located in one of the earliest hop growing regions in Europe, it was brewed with the palest malt available making for a more delicate than usual beverage and, at that time, it was brewed only in winter thus stored cold, making it cleaner and less prone to infection.
When compared to the generally murky, darker brews of the day, it’s no wonder that those of Einbeck won so many fans. And little wonder the town of Einbeck came to be known for bock beer. These strong, hearty lagers, ranging from 5.5 to 7.5 ABV, come in several substyles beyond traditional bock―the stronger doppelbock, the paler, springtime helles/maibock, and the fortified eisbock. While born in Germany, the style can now be found in exquisite examples brewed in Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Canada, The Netherlands and the United States.
These days, owing to its popularity, bock beer is brewed throughout the year especially for special occasions. It is very popular for the beer to be consumed around Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, possibly tracing back to the tradition of medieval monks consuming it during Lenten fasts. There is another German beer tradition where the Marzen is consumed in the spring and the Oktoberfest is consumed in the fall and these beers are made from the same grain.
Here at DuVig, we view bock as a great autumn beer. Ours is a Traditional Bock; a rich malty lager of fairly high strength at 6.2% ABV. This range of alcohol is appropriate for a bock but is considered high for most other lagers. The beer is brewed with a complex grain bill including many sweet malts that carry through to the finished beer.
While the beer is not cloying, the rich malt has some caramel and toasted bread flavors. The fermentation is kept clean with a lager yeast so there are no fruit flavors and no detectable hops. The pleasant bite on the palette comes from dark roasted malts. The beer is best consumed at cellar temperatures of 45- 50 degrees.