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Beer Department: So What’s the Deal with Bock?

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It’s no secret that we love bock here in Cincinnati. The crazy Germans who settled here love it so much that Cincinnati even holds a bock festival every year in early March. Despite all the love, I find that a lot of folks really aren’t tremendously familiar with bocks. So let’s dive in!

The style originated a few hundred years ago in the northern German town of Einbeck. It is a rich and moderately sweet, amber to light brown lager with good clarity and moderate alcohol content. Expect flavors of brown sugar, caramel, biscuit, brioche, and a light herbal spiciness. Originally brewed to welcome the arrival of spring and now enjoyed to a lesser extent year round, there are also related substyles of bock that include the bigger and richer doppelbock and the blonde, easier drinking hellerbock or maibock.

As the beer gained popularity, Bavarians from southern Germany took a liking to the style. As Bavarians brought home more and more bock and even began brewing their own, they simply began calling the beer “Einbeck” after the town where it originated. Eventually, this was shortened to “beck” which, in the Bavarian dialect, sounds more like “bock,” so that’s where we get the name of the style. This has created confusion over the years since the word “bock” means goat in German. You might have even seen goats featured in marketing or label art for bock beers. Some people even erroneously believe that goats are somehow involved in the brewing process. Let me state, unequivocally and for the record, that no goats are involved in the production of our beloved bock beers.

Now that you’re a little more well-versed in bocks, I expect you to dive into the world of bocks with gusto! Sample many a bock and find your favorite! On our shelves at the Jungle, you’ll find great options including locally brewed Hudepohl Bock and, from further afield, Einbecker’s Ur-Bock Dunkel from one of the oldest bock breweries in Germany. Cheers!


Eric, Eastgate

Certified Cicerone®

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