Style Profile: Bock

Posted on 12.31.07 5:30PM under Bock, Style Profile

Hooker Liberator LabelThis week it is all about the Session for me. This week is Session 11: Doppelbock. For those of you not familiar, The Session is a group blogging day on a common topic. This month it’s Doppelbock. So I am going to learn a bit of history on the style, and taste a few Bocks and Doppelbocks. Ultimately, I’ll hopefully find something really interesting along the way to talk about on Friday. Until then, my first day of BockFest is a profile of the Bock style, including a diversion into Doppelbock.

One of the compelling things about Bock beers is the use of the goat imagery. The name “Bock”, according to Michael Jackson (and many others), is probably from the town of Einbeck, where German strong beers originated. Bock is simply German for Goat. Makes sense, like many beer name origins (think: Pilsener.)

Another thing that you see on Doppelbock beers is use of names ending in “-ator”. The German Beer Institute has an awesome set of pages all about Doppelbock and other German styles. While they don’t talk about Einbeck or the goat too much, the site says that the use of the suffix “-ator” originates from the first brewers of the beer: Paulaner monks. The beer had been specifically condoned by the Pope, and they started calling it “Salvator”. Eventually, this beer became so popular that copycats came out with beer of the same name. Once patent law came into existence the copycats had to change the name of their beer, but they still used the “-ator” suffix to remind the consumer what their product was most like. I suppose it snowballed from there. It is really irresistible to come up with an “-ator” name for a Dopplebock, like a mini crossword puzzle somehow.

Onto the flavor profile: Bocks are higher-than-average strength, in terms of alcohol. Even a normal Bock can reach 7% or even higher. The taste is generally focused on malts. I think of them as a higher-powered Oktoberfest style. You might also think of the Bock family as a German version of the English Barleywine. But don’t expect a lot of hop bitterness in your Bock, and especially not in your Doppelbock. The Doppelbock is, perhaps obviously, a bigger and stronger version of the Bock. This is probably part of the origin of the “Double” beers that we see all over now in many styles. Maybe we can have a face-off between the German Doppels and the Belgian Dubbels to see who most influenced American Doubles.

My Bocking schedule for the week:
I had a hoppy Bock from Rock Art Mountain Holidays In Vermont Rich Creamy Bock Lager 2007 (man that’s a long name) yesterday. Today I’ll have a Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René, since it is more like Champagne (Happy New Year!). Tomorrow I’ll have Aventinus Weizen-Doppelbock (which I guess is a Weizenbock, an ale, and apparently not a Dopplebock at all – go figure). I’ll write about homebrewing Lager. Then Wednesday I’ll have Thomas Hooker’s Liberator. I’ll write about the relative scarcity of lagers in the American craft beer scene. Thursday I’ll have Doppel-Hirsch. I’ll write about tasting the Liberator. Then Friday I should be ready to reveal my most Bocked up thoughts. I may get sick of Bock puns, but I may not.

So, stay tuned throughout the week! Bock on!

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