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5 - Bock
5 - Bock

Bock beer styles

How are a goat and a beer related? Do you know how a Doppelbock is turned into a different type of beer? Read on to find out…

Previously we examined Dark Lager beer styles, in this article we will cover BJCP Category 5, Bock, which includes the following Beer Styles:

First we will cover the history of the category, then take a look at the specifications of each style highlighting the similarities and differences. We then sample commercial examples of each style.

History

5 - Bock
5 – Bock

Bock beers are dark, rich malty beers originally from the town of Einbeck in central Germany and started being brewed in the 1300’s. In the south of Germany ‘Einbeck’ is pronounced as ‘ein bock’ which means ‘a goat’ and hence the use of goat images on Bock beer labels – tenuous but true.

Traditionally Bocks were seasonal beers that were brewed by Monks for festivals to help them with fasting. Bocks as a style are Lagers and improve with lagering over time.

Overview

According to Jamil Zainasheff in his book, Brewing Classic Styles, these beers should all have a malty richness and range from the clean malt character of a Maibock to the huge malty flavors and intense melanoidins (see here for an explanation) of the Eisbock.

The following table* shows how the 4 styles of Bocks vary:

Characteristic Maibock/
Helles Bock
Traditional Bock Doppelbock Eisbock
Original Gravity: 1.064 – 1.072 1.064 – 1.072 1.072 – 1.112 1.078 – 1.120
Final Gravity: 1.011 – 1.018 1.013 – 1.019 1.016 – 1.024 1.020 – 1.035
ABV (alcohol %): 6.3 – 7.4 6.3 – 7.2 7.0 – 10.0 9.0 – 14.0
IBU’s (bitterness): 23 – 35 20 – 27 16 – 26 25 – 35
SRM (color): 6 – 11 14 – 22 6 – 49 18 – 30

The above table shows that Maibocks (aka Helles Bocks) and Traditional Bocks have very similar starting and finishing gravities and hence alcohol strengths. The differences are that the Maibock tends to be more bitter as shown by the IBU’s and also much lighter in color.

Eisbocks are made from a Doppelbock recipe and once fermentation is complete the beer is lowered in temperature to below freezing which concentrates the beer after the ice is removed. In general Eisbocks have a slightly higher starting and finishing gravity in comparison to Doppelbocks. Eisbocks also tend to be higher in alcohol and also have more bitterness whilst Doppelbocks have a much larger range of color from very light to extremely dark.

In the following sections we will look in more detail at each of the above Beer Styles.

Maibock/Helles Bock

Mahr's Brau Bock-Bier
Mahr’s Brau Bock-Bier

Commercial examples of this style include Ayinger Maibock, Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock, Capital Maibock, Einbecker Mai-Urbock, Hofbräu Maibock, Victory St. Boisterous, Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock, and Smuttynose Maibock. We decided to try Mahr’s Brau Bock-Bier and Rogue Dead Guy Ale.

Mahr’s Brau Bock-Bier has the following characteristic which is below style for alcohol content:

  • ABV = 6.0% (min for style is 6.3%).

This beer is golden in color. Flavor is more caramel & rich than malt. Aroma is light with a thick creamy head. There is plenty of mouthfeel and the taste lasts so one is enough.

Rogue Dead Guy Ale has the following characteristics which is within style for alcohol content but high for bitterness:

  • ABV = 6.5%
  • IBU’s = 40 (max for style is 35)
Rogue Dead Guy Ale
Rogue Dead Guy Ale

This beer is amber in color and the head goes quickly. Flavor is caramel with average mouthfeel. Noble hop aroma.

Typical ingredients used when brewing this style include:

  • Pils and/or Vienna malted barley.
  • Some Munich malted barley to add character.
  • Noble hops.
  • Lager yeast.

Decoction Mash is typical, but low and restrained boiling to ensure low color development. See our previous article on European Amber Lagers for an explanation of Decoction Mashes.

Traditional Bock

Commercial examples of this style include Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel, Aass Bock, Great Lakes Rockefeller Bock, and Stegmaier Brewhouse Bock. We decided to sample Penn St. Nikolaus Bock.

Penn St. Nikolas Bock Bier
Penn St. Nikolas Bock Bier

Pennsylvania Brewing St. Nick Bock has the following characteristics which are all within style:

  • ABV = 6.5%
  • IBU’s = 25

This beer has a liquorice & dark treacle flavor. Little aroma with a thick lacy head and is dark ruby in color.

Typical ingredients used when brewing this style include:

  • Munich and Vienna malted barley.
  • European hop varieties.
  • Lager yeast.

Doppelbock

Starr Hill Snowblind Doppelbock
Starr Hill Snowblind Doppelbock

Commercial examples of this style include Paulaner Salvator, Weihenstephaner Korbinian, Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel, Spaten Optimator, Tucher Bajuvator, Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock, Capital Autumnal Fire, EKU 28, Eggenberg Urbock 23º, Bell’s Consecrator, Moretti La Rossa, and Samuel Adams Double Bock. We decided to sample Starr Hill Snow Blind from the USA and Ayinger Celebrator from Germany.

Starr Hill Snow Blind has the following characteristics which is towards the lower end of the style for alcohol content and below style for bitterness:

  • ABV = 7.4%
  • IBU’s = 13 (min of 16 for style)

This beer is dark red in color with high CO2 on the tongue. Flavor is caramel balanced with maltiness. The aroma is light.

Ayinger Celebrator
Ayinger Celebrator

Ayinger Celebrator has the following characteristics which is slightly too low in alcohol for the style:

  • ABV = 6.7% (min of 7.0% for style)

This beer is very dark in color. Strong toffee and dark treacle flavor. Big caramel aroma with a thick head that fades. Low levels of CO2 and thick mouthfeel.

Typical ingredients used when brewing this style include:

  • Pils and/or Vienna malted barley for pale versions of this style.
  • Munich and Vienna malted barley for darker versions of this style.
  • Noble hops.
  • Lager yeast.

Decoction mashing is traditional for this style of beer.

Eisbock

Kulmbacher Eisbock
Kulmbacher Eisbock

Commercial examples of this style include Eggenberg Urbock Dunkel Eisbock, Niagara Eisbock, Capital Eisphyre, and Southampton Eisbock. We decided to sample Kulmbacher Eisbock and Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock.

Kulmbacher Eisbock has the following characteristics which is within style towards the lower end of the range for alcohol:

  • ABV = 9.2%

This beer has a dark treacle aroma with a thick coarse head that does not last. Strong caramel flavor with oily mouthfeel.

Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock has the following characteristics which is within style for alcohol content and below style for bitterness:

  • ABV = 12%
    Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock
    Aventinus Weizen-Eisbock
  • IBU’s = 15 (min of 25 for style)

This beer has a fruity aroma, almost Belgian-like. Pours thick and head does not last due to alcohol content. Flavor is sweet & syrupy with hints of banana. Towards the end the aroma was acrid with an off sweetness. Bottle tasted was from 2012 but should have lasted with 12% alcohol depending on storage. Some sediment was present in the bottle cap.

Typical ingredients used when brewing this style include (same as Doppelbock):

  • Pils and/or Vienna malted barley for pale versions of this style.
  • Munich and Vienna malted barley for darker versions of this style.
  • Noble hops.
  • Lager yeast.

Decoction mashing is traditional for this style of beer and concentration of between 7-33%.

Aventinus bottle cap
Aventinus bottle cap

What next?

Our next article will look at BJCP Category 6, ‘Light Hybrid Beer‘, where we will examine the four styles making up this category.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, please do not hesitate to contribute to the discussion below.

* Beer Styles’ data is courtesy of BJCP.org.

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