Bock Beer

Strong in alcohol with a clean, smooth, malty-sweet character. The idea is to balance the big, warming, alcohol with a quenching touch. It is the water and the malt that give this style some special characteristics. The Bock beer is medium to full bodied with a malty sweetness in aroma and flavor that can include some toasted chocolate-like undertones. The dark flavors of chocolate and black malt is not appropriate for Bocks. They get their color and flavor from dark Munich malts. It is traditionally dark amber to dark brown and uses just enough "noble-type" hop flavor (low) to balance the malt. Bitterness is low. There is no fruitiness and there should not be any butterscotch taste. The beer that we call bock today has its origins in the north-German town of Einbeck. As early as 1325 the beer of Einbeck enjoyed a good reputation and — for that time — widespread distribution.

Bock was created before the days of specialty malts when things such as chocolate malt, roast barley and even crystal malt were unknown. As a result, most beers were made from a single type of malt. The flavor and color of the malt, and therefore the finished beer, were determined by the conditions during malting, especially the kilning temperatures.

During the 1500s Historian Heinrich Knaust described the Einbeck beer: "Of all summer beers, light and hoppy barley beers, the Einbeck beer is the most famed and deserves the preference. Each third grain to this beer is wheat; hence, too, it is of all barley beers the best … People do not fatten too much from its use; it is also very useful in fever cases." Thus the original bock was made from at least one-third wheat malt in addition to barley. Other sources tell us that it was top-fermented and well bittered.

Prior to the 16th century, the beer made in Munich was not highly regarded, even by the local folk. Many imported beers were enjoyed and the beer from Einbeck was highly favored. As the 17th century dawned, the Munich brewers "bent all their energy to brewing a beer as good as that of Einbeck." This effort failed until a brewer from Einbeck was drawn to Munich in 1612, and lent his skills to the cause.
Of course, the original recipe could not be reproduced precisely. The malts made in Munich were darker and wheat malts could not be used by regular breweries, thus the Munich beer was darker than the Einbeck original. Although the Munich copy of the Einbeck beer bore little resemblance to the original, the resulting beer was still named after the city that inspired it. In the Bavarian dialect, it was called "Ainpoeckish Pier." The beer was enjoyed by the citizens of Munich and soon replaced the original. Not long after, brewing ceased in Einbeck as a result of the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the name of the Munich-produced beer began to drift from "Ainpoeckish" to simply "Poeck" and ultimately to the "Bock" we know today.

"Bock" does mean "goat" in German and its not surprising that someone drinking this beer would feel a "kick" and make the verbal connection. Once this was done, a strong association formed between bock beer and the goat, an association that continues even today.

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