A Look at The Bock Beer

Posted by BeerMaven | Beer | Posted on February 21st

If you ever wondered why you were always unable to find bocks in the stores before or after spring; the answer is in the stars. Originally, the bock was a stronger lager that was only served in the time of Capricorn— the astrological sign of the goat— in coordination with lent. These darker lagers come with a picture of a goat somewhere on their containers and are malty and slightly sweet, with just enough hop presence to balance the sweetness of the malt. Generally, the tradition surrounding the bock is that of celebrating the end of a hard winter and trying times while looking forward to the prospect of good times to come.

The history behind the bock is interesting, to say the least. Historians tend to disagree on whether the style originated out of pagan festivals during the time of Capricorn or the Bavarian monks who drank the beer for nutritional purposes during the Lenten fasts leading up to Easter. I personally believe that it is a combination of many factors and traditions, and I find it all to be entertaining and enlightening each year when I pick up new historic facts about the style.

Bocks are generally flat, containing little carbonation and they usually remind me of caramel with a roasted malt presence. The color of bock beer generally varies, but usually ranges from brown to copper, and I’ve seen some bright red colored bocks as well. Hops really don’t jump out at me when I drink bocks, so these beers are great for any beer drinker looking for something with more character than the typical lager; without the bitter kick of hops. This is definitely not a session style of beer however, due to its higher alcohol content.

Beer of the Month clubs usually send out a variety of bocks during the season and microbreweries also tend to make vintage bocks that can vary from year to year. During the bock season, I tend to check all of the different beer online to see which bocks are highly rated and which ones are flops. I generally try to review a few bocks myself during the bock season as well. After all, what better way is there to observe the Lenten traditions of fasting, reflection and sacrifice than to replace your entire diet with beer? I think all of those Bavarian monks were onto something.

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