For the month of March we will spend some time exploring Bocks. It seems only fitting to talk about bocks this month when you consider that traditionally the dopplebock was brewed to sustain monks during their Lenten fast. Most bocks are a dark strong lager, generally at 6% alcohol and higher.
The BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program) has four subcategories for the Bock style of beer.
5A Maibock/ Helles Bock: This is the lightest in color of the bocks. Brewed for the spring (Maibock or May bock). The malt profile will include more pilsner malt than other bocks. They tend to be medium bodied and will show a stronger hop character than other bock styles (though they are still malt forward). This is the youngest of the bock substyles.
5B Traditional Bock: This bock tends to be a mix of Munich and Vienna Malts giving it a richer color than a maibock. You can find flavor notes of chocolate (but not roasted or toasty) and dark fruits. This style is believed to have originated in the town of Einbeck with the name bock being a corruption of the name (one bock). The word bock also refers to billy-goat in German. These beers will be medium to full bodied. There can be some warmth from the alcohol.
5C Dopplebock: This does follow the path of the bock but intensified. Bigger alcohol, richer flavors. Flavors can include prune, plum, and grape as well as caramel from kettle caramalization. Again there should be no roasted notes. These have also been found to be stronger versions of the Helles bock, allowing for paler color and more hops.
5D Eisbock: The original "ice beer." The story goes for this one that an apprentice had left a keg outside one winter and the beer froze. Trying to fix the mistake he had brought it inside hoping it would thaw before his error was discovered. It was found that the alcohol had intensified (since only the water froze). This made a stronger more flavorful beer. This beer will be more full bodied (since thinning water has been removed). Again their will be similar flavors as others in the bock family but much more intensified. Although the process makes for a stronger beer it is still possible to find dopplebocks with higher alcohol content.
For me personally, this is one of my favorite styles. It makes a semi regular appearance in my brewery.
Time for a pint...