Written by Buffalo Grove beer associate Brian Cieslak

It may not seem like it outside, but in the beer world, winter has passed and spring has begun. This means its time to pick up a dark, high-alcohol Bock.


The history of the bock beer goes back to Roman Catholic monks in Germany, who would brew this beer to drink during Lent. Since this beer is higher in food energy and nutrients than lighter-style lagers, this truly satisfying beer was made to replace meals while the monks were fasting. The beer ranges from light to dark brown and has an alcohol level around 6-7%.


The name comes from the town of Einbeck that was shortened to beck and then to bock. The time of year this beer was traditionally brewed fell under the sign of Capricorn, so most bock labels will feature a picture of a goat. Some of the finest beer labels out there are on bock beers. Because of the higher alcohol and dark grains used in this beer, it takes longer to ferment than regular lagers.


There are many variations on the bock style. Doppelbock has around 7-9% alcohol and a much maltier body than regular bocks. One of the most well-know Doppelbocks is the infamous Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. It smells of molasses, caramel and is also a little bready. The mouthfeel is chewy and has a small hop presence and a hint of alcohol. The body is perfectly carbonated and creamy.


Another variation of bock is Eisbock, in which the temperature of the beer is brought down low enough to freeze some of the water out of the beer in order to increase body and alcohol. An excellent example of this style of bock is the Schneider and Sons Aventinus Eisbock.


The final traditional variation of bock is Hellerbock or Maibock, which tends to be lighter in color than a regular bock and has more of a hop presence. Some American craft examples include Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, Capital's Maibock, and Capital's Blonde Dobblebock, which is a higher alcohol version of the Hellerbock.


A new arrival to the store is Glissade, a golden bock from Sierra Nevada. A more traditional beer from Sierra Nevada, Glissade has a nice bready, malty aroma with hints of pine and lemon from the German noble hops used in this beer. The taste is grainy and bready with a nice piney, citrus hop presence that does not overwhelm but complements the beer perfectly. A very crisp and clean example of the style.


Bock beers are great for the spring time because they are a very satisfying style because, unlike the heavier ales of winter, you can enjoy more than one without falling over.


-Brian Cieslak