So you’ve been wandering the liquor store’s beer aisles looking at all the fancy labels and wondering why so many breweries are obsessed with goats. Well, it’s not so much that they love a good can-eater, it’s that they’ve created a visual pun for the German style lager, bock. I’ll get to that story in a second because if you didn’t know that’s the reason for the goat, I’m guessing you’re probably unsure of exactly what a bock is. Furthermore, you’re probably having a tough time understanding the difference between a bock and a doppelbock or an eisbock and so forth.
A Brief History of Bocks
Here’s a quick history of the bock to satisfy your confused mind. Bocks are a German style of beer, it’s a strong lager with several sub-categories associated with it. This style of beer was originally brewed in the German town of Einbeck, and later adopted by surrounding areas including the much larger city of Munich. However, the Bavarian’s accents of the Munich people mispronounced their neighbor’s city name and, rather than calling it an Einbeck, they pronounced it “ein Bock” which translates to a billy goat. The people of Munich had a good laugh and then forever referred to the beer as a bock (So there’s your goat).
Bocks are a great cold weather, holiday beer. They have often been associated with German festivals and religious holidays such as Christmas, Easter, and Lent. As well, it is known that monks consumed Bocks in times of fasting. This is because Bock beers are seriously heavy and strong, so they can fill you up. The characteristics of Bock beers start with a somewhat high alcohol content, they range from a copper color to a dark brown, however they are quite consistent with an off-white, almost cream-colored head. One will find notes of toast and malt without much fruitiness ever. This is a great solid beer for anyone who isn’t ecstatic about sweet beers that have too much flavor (if you can’t stand summer shandies and blueberry beers), and enjoy a lower amount of carbonation (if you hate the bubbles).
Types of Bock
There are several types of bock beers. A lighter, paler version of the bock is often referred to as a maibock or a helles bock. Often the helles bock has a much hoppier flavor and better for warm weather. The alcohol content is much similar to a typical bock but with a much lighter color. However, again, the head is a consistent off-white. What one might find in a helles bock that’s pleasing is a mildly spicy, peppery flavor. This comes from a mix of hops and increased carbonation.
Here’s another lesson in German language, dopple means double. So, subsequently, dobblebock, means double goat. Well, double bock, really. Doppelbocks are often referred to as a “meal in a glass,” or “liquid bread” for their heavy flavor and strong alcohol content. Doppelbocks are often very sweet yet intensely malty. The high amount of alcohol typically keeps the head of the beer quite low, while the color can range from a pale brown to a dark amber and even near black.
If you think a doppelbock is heavy, you may want to avoid the eisbock. However, if you like a good challenge, this extremely heavy and dark beer is for you. This beer is made by partially freezing certain doppelbocks while in their brewing state and removing any water that freezes. The result is highly concentrated flavor and alcohol content. The colors range from deep copper to dark brown with very little of its typical off-white head due to alcohol content. Eisbocks have the highest amount of alcohol ranging between 9% and 13%. Within an eisbock, you’ll find much more fruity notes including plum, fig, and raisin.
There’s your quick lesson in Bocks, a strong German beer with a set of brothers and sisters to satisfy a wide range of beer drinkers. Next time you’re cruising your local liquor store, look for the goats, that’s how you know you have a classic German beer.