In order to continue our style series and given that we just drank a Double Bock, I think that a discussion on Bock beers is appropriate. First of all, a Bock is still in the family of Lagers. Although top fermenting (i.e., Ale Yeast) can be be used in this beer at cooler temperatures, it is preferable to use Lager Yeasts in this style. So what does Bock mean? The thinking on the subject is that Bock beer originated in Einbeck Germany but began to be pronounced Bock as it moved geographically. Bock was simply intended to indicate “strong.” However, due to the corruption in pronunciation, it became associated with a Ram or male goat. This is why a goat is often pictured on the labels of this style of beer.
The reason that these beers had to be strong was because of their long storage periods, shipping times, and sustaining qualities. In fact, German Monks would often drink this style when fasting food. These beers are certainly strong in nature. They are rich and malty with little emphasis on hops.
What about Double/Doppel Bocks? Essentially the term means extra or double strong. So, if you wish to drink a Double Bock, expect a little extra. Sam Adams makes a Triple Bock that has little resemblance to a traditional German Bock. It emphasizes malts over hops and comes in at 17% alcohol. It even incorporates real Maple Syrup. There are other variations on the Bock Style, which includes Eisbock, Weizenbock, Maibock and Hellerbock.
Eisbock is an even stronger and more concentrated version of a Bock. Eis means ice. The method used to make an Eisbock is to freeze the beer to the point where some of the ice can be removed from the beer (since water freezes sooner than alcohol). This serves to concentrate the flavors and alcohol of the beer. Eisbocks are awesome!
A Weizenbock is one that is made primarily of wheat instead of barley. Maibock means May Bock. This is a lighter colored version of a bock beer that is specially made for summer months. And Hellerbock is a blonde and pale version of a bock. There are many excellent examples of bock beers out there, but Schneider makes some excellent examples (especially of the Wheat and Ice Bocks). Don’t turn your Bock on these beers.