This week will be dedicated to different styles of German beer: specifically Bock, Kölsch, Weissbier, and Dunkel styles. This was inspired by a school “discovery” project for a German Culture and Society course. I chose to research German beer because I didn’t know much about the history or the different styles and thought this would be a fun topic to discover on my blog as well. A little less than three years ago I traveled to Germany where I visited Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Lüneburg and Bremen but unfortunately I had not acquired my strong thirst for beer and I was on a tight budget :-/ Now this class has inspired me to explore the long history of German beer and then, well, I will have to go visit again soon :)
Munich is a fun and exciting city filled with the Bavarian style. Both of these pictures were taken while I was walking the streets of Munich…
Bock is the first German-style beer to discover and though it did not originate in Munich it was brought back to life in Munich and is now highly brewed there. “Bock” means goat in German. This name came about from its origination from the town of Einbeck in Lower-Saxon in northern Germany. Starting in at least the 14th century Einbeck was a large export of a strong dark ale. Bavaria was a big customer of Einbeck’s ale and their dialectic pronunciation of Einbeck was “ein bock” which translates to “billy goat.” Bock beers are now commonly accompanied with a picture of a goat.
My parent’s neighbors happen to have goats so luckily I could get a couple pictures of them! Goats are quite entertaining to watch as well but I won’t get into that :)
Bock beers are traditionally brewed for the winter season. Brewing begins mid October before Oktoberfest has ended. The Bock beer is brewed with the new harvest of malts and hops and is usually ready for enjoyment by the holiday season.
Overall, Bock beers are strong, malty, smooth and rich but there are variations with the range of color being from a gold or amber color to dark brown. The Doppelbock, Eisbock and Maibock are the three common variations. The Doppelbock is a double bock making it a stronger and darker version of the regular bock. It is sometimes referred to as the “Lenten beer” due to the history of monks drinking this beer during fasting. There will be more in depth on the history of the Doppelbock so check back.
The Eisbock means “ice bock” which refers to the brewing process. This beer is frozen near the end of the maturation period causing the Eisbock to have even higher alcohol content than the Doppelbock because it loses 7-10% water content during the process. The Eisbock is usually more malty and smoother than the Doppelbock. Barely seems possible! :)
The Maibock translates to “May bock” which is a strong golden lager. It has been traditionally favored during the transition between winter and spring. Commonly it will contain more hops and be less dark than the Bock. In the time of the seasonal beers this would probably be the last bock before the summer beers.
Alright, now to the good stuff…the Spaten Optimator is a Doppelbock. This is an option for a Doppelbock from Germany that is distributed to the U.S. It is transparent dark brown in color. It is malty with hints of chocolate and caramel making it a creamy dark beer.
Though these are the main bock variations, the word bock may be accompanied with other beer types to refer to the strength of the beer.
Check back to learn more about the Doppelbock and other German-style beers.
Also see: Maibock
Have you heard other stories about the bock beer?
Have you tried any bock beers you would recommend?