ANATOMY OF … BOCK

There’s something so comforting and willing about a bock’s capacity to please the palate. It majors in malt, holds back the hop and summons up the sight and sound of an ancient Bavarian tavern whose regulars drink and sing deeply before sleeping the sleep of the just back in their neat farmhouse. Darkness is its friend, dark chestnut or dark amber, though Hellerbock is a light-coloured bock with a nod in the direction of noble hops (you could also argue that it is really a Maibock). It’s a beer you drink in half-litres, rather than thimbles. It’s also a noble beer, with which monks allegedly subsisted on during Lent (much better than water and crackers I suspect).  ATJ

STRENGTH

Traditional bocks usually flex their pecs between 6-7.5%, as do Hellerbocks, though a Doppelbock is a usually a beast of a beer up to 9%.

FLAVOUR

Given the use of Munich and Vienna malts, bocks are toasty, creamy, smooth and chocolaty, with a hint of mocha and/or caramel; hop bitterness is low and the finish can often have a subtle sweetness.

APPEARANCE

Aside from the gold-hued Hellerbock, traditional bock seeks darkness as its friend, ranging from a dark copper to a chestnut brown reminiscent of a well-aged sideboard that a relative left to you.

HISTORY

Einbeck in Lower Saxony is the place where it’s generally thought bock first emerged in the Middle Ages, though in the 18th century it become more associated with Munich and the beer for local monks.

AKA

Many of the stronger bocks such as Celebrator (see below) have a ‘tor’ added to the end of their brand name.  

FOOD

A very adaptable beer style, which can be swigged on its own, or served alongside a grilled sirloin; bock is also good with cheese, something like a well-aged Gouda or Gruyere.

WHERE TO DRINK

If you can find a pub or bar that treats German beer serious, then bock should be present in winter. A small but growing number of Brit breweries make a bock.  

WEIRD FACT

The best-selling Portuguese beer in the world is Super Bock, which as anyone who has been to Portugal knows is a – wait for it – pale lager.