Bock beer is a rich, complex, malty, low-hop style of lager. There are many varieties of bock that can be very different. Understanding the basic styles is a start to understanding what you may like best. Maibock (pronounced my-bock) or Helles (pronounced hell-ess) are paler, and a little more hoppy. Maibocks are traditionally brewed later in spring, but there is typically a good representation or two of this style at some of the Bockfest venues. Doppelbock is maltier, stronger, and typically darker in color. Eisbock is stronger than Doppelbocks and can have a pronounced alcohol taste. Although there are degrees of strength and color, no bock is light. Different Maibocks and Doppelbocks can range in alcohol content from roughly 6.3% to about 12%. By comparison, mass-brewed light beer is typically 3.5% to 4.5%, so even the lightest bocks should be handled with care. Some Eisbocks can have an alcohol content as high as 43%. We want you to remember Bockfest, and the higher alcohol content is often unapparent in a well-brewed Doppelbock. It can be helpful to ask the bartender about the strength of what you’re drinking if you want to avoid falling off your stool after two beers.
Bock typically has a higher nutritional content and alcohol content than other beers. It is traditionally brewed for celebrations and holidays. Because of the higher nutritional content, bock was used by German monks during Lenten fast – a liquid substitute for food. We celebrate Bockfest on the first weekend of March because of this historic association with Lent.
Although it is now almost always a lager, bock was originally an ale that was brewed by German monks in the Fourteenth Century. The word “bock” means goat in German. The beer most likely gets its name from Einbeck, Germany. Einbeck is believed to be the origin of the beer and the name comes from a Bavarian dialectic pronunciation of the town that made it sound like “ein bock,” meaning “a billy goat.”
Although this is the scholarly, accepted origin of the name of the beer, we prefer to believe a more colorful story about the beer’s name. According to ancient tale, the name came from a legendary Renaissance-era drinking contest between two beer-brewing monks. The bock beer’s high alcohol content is said to have caused the loser of this competition to fall over, which he blamed on an errant goat that had entered the tavern. The winner laughed at his fallen friend and told him that the only goat that knocked him down was in the beer. Regardless of whether this story is true, countless Bockfest attendees can testify to encountering that goat.
Bockfest is the only time of the year when you can get real, locally brewed Bock Beer, and Bockfest is the only place where you can get the limitedly-brewed Schoenling Bock. Bockfest Hall will be host to these and a select number of other local Bock beers, while many participating venues will have these and additional Bock beers on tap.
Christian Moerlein’s Emancipator Doppelbock is a German-style Doppelbock featuring six varieties of uniquely blended malts creating a robust dark lager with a toasted character and complex hints of caramel and toffee. Brewed in celebration of the repeal of prohibition in Ohio, Moerlein Emancipator continues to be a celebrated seasonal brew leading in to Bockfest in Cincinnati.
7.0% abv, OG: 17.5, IBU’s 27
The Emancipator Doppelbock is being tapped at the Beefsteak Club Dinner (tickets are required).
This year’s Schoenling Bock recipe was the winner of the 2012 Bloatarian Brewing League Home Brew Competition, and was created by Tim McKee. Schoenling Bock is a full flavored, dark lager. This is a light brown beer with bold malt flavors and a caramel sweetness that lasts through the finish.
The Schoenling Bock is being tapped at the Bock Tapping event at Mecklenberg Gardens on February 27 (open to the public).
The brewers used generous amounts of Munich and Vienna malts to achieve a rich caramel flavor with just enough German hops to balance the malt.
“Music to our lips, Spring in our souls”
The Schoenling Bock is being tapped at the Bock Tapping event at Japps on February 8 (open to the public).