strong lagers and bocks

January Style of the Month-Strong Lagers & Bocks

“Whoever drinks beer, he is quick to sleep; whoever sleeps long, does not sin; whoever does not sin, enters Heaven! Thus, let us drink beer!” ­ Martin Luther, native of Einbeck.


When you hear ‘strong lager’ you probably think Doppelbock, (arguably the most popular of them) but the world of strong lagers also includes Dunkles Bock, Helles Bock or Maibocks, Eisbocks, and Baltic Porters! All of these beers are true malt showcases. Sorry, hop heads!


Bock beer, also known as Dunkles Bock is a stronger, dark beer style generally 6.3% ABV and above. It is believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck, Germany.  Einbeck used hops in their beer, instead of the more common gruit. They were not fans of the Church’s high prices on gruit, and were in one of the first hop growing regions in Europe; they used this to make a beer unlike anyone had ever tasted before. 
Doppelbock literally means “double bock” and while it isn’t truly double the strength, it is a bit stronger. Paulaner brewery in Munich claims to be creator of the Doppelbock style with Salvator. Brewed to help sustain the monks during fast, they are dark amber to dark brown and most in the range of 7-8.5% ABV. It is common to see other breweries making Doppelbocks with the -ator suffix for them, in homage.


Helles Bock or Maibocks are the lightest of these malty gems. Mai means “May” in reference to the fact these beers were often brewed in the Winter, and stored until they were tapped in the Spring. 


Taking a Doppelbock and using a special technique on it- freezing it- results in an Eisbock. Only the water freezes, the beer is concentrated when the ice is removed. Pronounced like “ICE-Bock”.


Often confused for an ale, probably because of the history and tradition overlaps with Imperial Stout. British porter (made stronger and hoppier) was exported to the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea. Soon the people in these countries started to make their own dark, strong beers, and thus we have the bottom-fermented Baltic Porter. Think of these like soup-ed up Schwarzbiers. 
So, why the goat iconography on bock beers? Bock literally translates to ram or billy goat in German. So it began as  a visual pun (and maybe a slight poke at the Northern Germans by the Bavarians) and has now become the symbol of bock beer. 


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