A bock beer or a ‘bock’ is a strong lager that has a German origin. However, nowadays many countries are known for their versions of bock beers. In our home country, The Netherlands, we have our own specialty: ‘herfstbocks’. We’ll dive into the world of bock beers and explain the difference between types to you.
Bock beers are the perfect beer to have during fall and the beginning of the winter. A bock beer isn’t as heavy as a stout or a porter, but it sure does retain a smooth mouthfeel for the colder days. The traditional bock is a sweet, relatively strong (6.3% – 7.2% by volume) and lightly hopped (20-27 IBUs) lager. The color can range from a deep, dark brown to more copper and reddish shades. The flavors can also vary from sweet caramel to more traditional malty versions. The aroma is almost never fruity, but will most likely be malty and toasty. In any case, a bock beer will almost always have a bountiful and persistent off-white head. Nowadays we have many different variations to this traditional style, which we’ll get in to.
Doppelbock might be the most known style of bock beers. It’s a stronger version of the original bock that finds his origin in Munich. Historically the doppelbock was sweet and high in alcohol. Back in the days, they used to drink doppelbock during times of fasting (when solid food was not permitted). Dobbelbock’s are still strong today, ranging from 7% – 12% ABV. The aroma is usually very malty with some toasty notes and noticeable alcohol strength. Darker versions might have a chocolate-like aroma.
Many Dutch breweries – major and micro – offer their take on the original bock beer at the start of these seasons. These ‘herfstbocks’ are only a ‘herfstbock’ according to beer consumer organization PINT when they are brought on the market between September 21 and December 21. However, this is only according to PINT. In most cases, the beer will be dark brown and have an average alcohol percentage of 6% – 8%.
The heller bock is also known as the ‘maibock’ or the ‘helles bock’. While this is still a relatively strong beer (6.3% – 7.4% ABV), it is a lot lighter than the doppelbock and more similar to the traditional bock, except for the fact that it has a lighter color and more hop presence. The color ranges from deep gold to light amber. The flavor is less malty than the traditional bock. A heller bock might be drier, hoppier and more bitter.
Last but not least we’ve got the Eisbock. This is a traditional specialty beer from the Kulmbach district in Germany. It’s special because it is made by partially freezing a doppelbock and removing the water ice. This process concentrates the flavor and alcohol. Eisbock is pretty strong compared to its sibling styles. It has 9% – 13% ABV. The color is mostly deep copper to dark brown with ruby highlights. Expect a rich and sweet flavor from this one that will always be balanced by a significant alcohol presence.
We love to drink a bock beer during this time of the year. Whether it’s a more heavy doppelbock or a lighter heller bock. Keep an eye out on our menu, as we’ve got different kinds of bock beers on tap each month!