Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Bock in Four Movements

by Mikoli Weaver

 

From the doppelbock of 16th century monks to today’s light-hearted helles, here are four popular bock beers.

Bockbiers are steeped in tradition and have long been revered as special elixirs that evoke the start of a new season of life and of vibrant experiences. Historically, bockbiers are strong beers of Germanic origin that date back as far as 1250 according to some records. They were originally spontaneously top fermented, dark beers made primarily of wheat. They were produced in the winter, when fermentation temperatures were accommodating, and stored for drinking in the summer.

Its name, in spite of the many goat tales (bock is German for goat), came from the Hanseatic League town of Einbeck, where bock was first brewed. The Hanseatic League was a trading organization formed by free cities in the late 13th century, marking all of the beer barrels with a bold H supporting a crown.

By the late 1300s Einbeck had 600 brewhouses producing the town’s beer. Citizens participated in the brewing process as needed, and even the mayor of Einbeck served as the principal brewmaster. Bock was later exported in great volume to Munich and eventually proliferated all over Europe and even as

far as the Holy land.

Eventually, trading and religious divisions between the north and south as well as the decline and fall of the Hanseatic League created a large demand for the beer in Munich. It was being imitated with fair success, but it became far more prolific after the Einbeck brewmaster was brought to Munich in 1612. The officials of Munich held him there with no chance of release, and from then on the rest of bock’s history was basically made in the south.

Bock was introduced to the United States around 1840 as a spring seasonal. It gained popularity as an import and as adomesticd product until Prohibition. In 1933 when Prohibition was repealed, bock saw a short-lived renewal but eventually declined into virtual nonexistence until the 1970s. It was not until recent years, perhaps as late as 1985, that the microbrew revolution brought the style back to America.

Bock to Bock

There are many variations of the bock style. Five of the most popular include traditional bock sometimes known asdunkels bock; helles (pale); maibocks (May); weizenbock (wheat); and doppelbock, a completely different beer altogether. Like other German beers, bocks fall under the Reinheitsgebot. This is the well-known law of purity established in 1516 by dukes Willhelm IV and Ludwig X of Bavaria stating that beer may be made of water, malt, and hops only. Yeast, of course, was allowed but not included because it was naturally occurring and little understood. The Reinheitsgebot existed in a simpler form as a law passed by Duke Albert IV in 1487.

In addition to the purity law, bocks also fall under various Munich Brewer’s Guild laws that designate style guidelines to ensure consistent quality. Under these laws bocks are now all brewed with lager yeast (bottom fermenting) and are usually pale mahogany or dark copper. They must be brewed from wort of at least 16° Plato (1.064 specific gravity) and contain an alcohol by volume of 7.5 percent or higher.

Bocks have a pleasing malty character that finishes slightly sweet, showing caramel and roasted flavors. Hops for this variety are of noble type, typically from the Hallertau region of Germany, and are employed only to create balance in the beer.

The Beers of Spring

Helles bocks are light gold to light copper in color with a slightly dry finish. They exhibit little hop character, and the malt profile is similar to that of pale and lager varieties. This beer is not reflective of original bock styles, being much lighter and more delicate, somewhat like a strong pilsner.

Maibocks can be thought of as a distinct style, especially because helles varieties are sometimes produced for fall consumption. Maibocks should be a bit darker than their helles counterparts, using more caramel malts and possessing a distinctly spicier hop character. In fact it is not uncommon for maibocks in the United States to have a perceptible hop presence and aroma, although this is not the norm for most of the continental beers. Imported versions of this style include, among others, Ayinger Maibock, a wonderfully flavorful lager exhibiting deep malt flavors and a dignified yeast flavor, and Hacker-Pschorr Bock, an all-barley-malt beer laced with abundan amounts of fragrant Hallertauer hops. The Hacker-Pschorr Bock is very pale in color with a marked dry finish.

Weizen...Bock?

During the genesis of bockbier, most brewers included some amount of wheat malt in the grist bill, and some still do today. Weizenbocks now resemble dark hefe-weizens. This beer is listed as a separate style because the Great American Beer Festival, World Beer Cup, and other competitions have a specific weizenbock category, which by accident or design creates entries in that manner. Also, there seems to be a trend in American craft bocks to include wheat, occasionally even noting it in the name.

The competition guidelines are so nebulous that virtually any beer resembling a strong wheat beer could enter and possibly win a medal. In fact their definition of weizenbock is a wheat beer brewed to bock strength. In truth, however, the two beers have completely different histories and should have different characteristics. If you are really interested in creating a weizenbock or emulating the original Einbeck beer, try the following procedure:

1.Start with a proper strain of lager yeast, not German ale, and work from there.

2.Decide how much influence you want the wheat to have. The original Einbeck bock had 30 percent. This is sufficient. Most Bavarian wheat beers contain at least 50 percent wheat, usually upward of 60 percent. This seems like a bit of a stretch for a bock. The best thing to do is taste several brands of wheat and barley malt bocks and decide for yourself based on the evidence.

3.Choose the style you are going to create. If it is going to be a maibock, for example, then adhere to those color parameters.

This is not to completely discredit weizenbock as a style altogether, particularly when marketing is considered. It sounds pretty good; at least it has a good German resonance to it. Besides, it seems that anything with weizen in the title is still selling well across the country. This, coupled with boasting a high alcohol content, could possibly make for a popular item. Two area beers exemplifying a traditional idea of the style are Pyramid’s Wheatenbock, which had a fair amount of success during its run, and Scuttlebutt’s Weizen Bock, which had a good showing at a local Oktoberfest. And, interestingly enough, the Back Bay Brewing Co. in Boston won a GABF bronze this year for its Wheat Bock in the doppelbock category.

In the Old World the style is a bit more festive. Almost all breweries have a weizenbock that is released as a strong, warming Christmas seasonal. A well-known example is the Aventinus, named after a Bavarian historian (not the Bishop of Rome as commonly thought). The Aventinus took the gold position as one of only two entries in the World Beer Cup in 1997. No silver was awarded, and the bronze went to Wild Pitch Weizenbock brewed by the Coors Sandlot Brewery. Quite a difference in those two products.

An Age-Old Monastic Gift

The background of doppelbock is quite a different matter than the rest of the beers in the family. During the Protestant Reformation there were several Catholic monasteries established in southern Germany as Counter-Revolution period strongholds. These forts stood not only as religious bastions but as symbols of tradition.

One of these was the cloister of the Franciscans (St. Francis) from Paula, Italy. The Paulaner monks, as they were known to the Germans, would ritually brew a strong beer to carry them through the two holy fasts during Lent and Advent. The brew was a dark liquor brewed with more grain than that used for bock but not fermented as thoroughly.

This left a sweet finish and lots of residual carbohydrates. The monks named it Salvator, or savior. Appropriately named because the total days fasted are 70. To this day the Paulaner brewery calls its doppelbock Salvtor. The beer was most likely made dark because the more acidic dark malts will naturally lower the pH of the mash. The water in the south was very basic, so acidifying the mash would serve to provide better conversion and a better product with more sugars. With this said, there must also have been some sort of sensory influence as well, for there is nothing like a rich and dark beer in the middle of the coldest months. Even the aroma is warming.

It seems that although the beer was produced from the 16th century, it was not introduced to the public until 1780. The people of Munich, comparing it to the immensely popular bockbiers of the time, noticed the difference in color and strength, subsequently giving it the moniker doppelbock (double bock). During the Napoleonic wars the monasteries were shut down, but the Paulaner brewery remained in operation through other families. Several other breweries then began to copy the style, adopting the -ator suffix, attempting to align themselves with the Salvator they were emulating.

According to current German law, doppelbocks must have an original gravity of 18° to 28° Plato (1.074 to 1.112 specific gravity) and an end alcohol content of 7.5 percent to 13 percent by volume. Munich Brewer’s Guild laws are typically strict for this beer, stating that it may only be pitched with pure, new yeast each time and must be filtered. This information helps to lay to rest the preposterous notion that any bockbier, especially doppelbock, is created from the dregs at the end of the brewing year or from the leftover parts in the brewing vessels. Popular imported doppelbocks are produced by Ayinger (Celebrator). This widely acclaimed beer is a dark tawny brown, almost like port in appearance. Its bold, malty flavor is delicately laced with warming alcohol, caramel, and yeast character. Spaten Optimator, another popular doppelbock, is a richly vinous drink that shows plenty of alcohol esters and fruits. EKU "28," a huge doppelbock from Kulmbach, possesses an OG of 28° Plato (1.112 specific gravity).

 

Bock Brewing

Malts and Mashing Techniques

Producing lager beers is not nearly as complicated as it was in the past, primarily because of advances in malting technology and to some extent mashing equipment. The malts of the Old World were poorly modified, high-protein varieties that required special handling and mashing techniques to yield the desired extraction.

Decoction mashing was one of these techniques. Mashing by fraction, or decoction, is a long and laborious process used to break down excess beta-glucans and other large proteins present in undermodified malts. Currently, the two-row and some six-row malt varieties are low in protein and so lend themselves to single-infusion mashes. For American, Canadian, and some European malts, consider using a simple single-stage mash at 149° to 155° F. The mash should be allowed to convert for about an hour or until a starch conversion test indicates negative.

The sparge program is the same as with all other beers, about 168° to 172° F to yield 168° F water in the grain bed during run-off. Lower temperatures allow the alpha amylase enzyme to continue working, slowly breaking down dextrins, which help with body and head retention.

Temperatures higher than 170° F tend to leach polyphenols (tannins) from the husks of the malt (which is one reason the thin-husked, two-row variety is often chosen). The tannins eventually combine with proteins to form colloidal haze in the finished product. In addition to haze, there is a small flavor issue involved due to the brash tannic profile.

The Boil

Boil for 90 minutes to volatilize (vaporize) the sulfitic compounds and precipitate a proper protein break. Some brewers only boil grain beers for an hour, which works to some extent but does not sufficiently reduce the S-methyl methionine. The SMM in the kettle is the precursor to dimethyl sulfide (vegetable or corn flavor) in fermentation, and DMS is not a desirable flavor in lagers. The half-life of SMM is 45 minutes, so a 90-minute boil helps to eliminate it, although it is true that SMM continues to form from the heat in the kettle while it sits in wait for the heat exchanger transfer into the fermenter. And of course, longer boil means concentration of flavors and better hot break (trub knock out).

Hop Varieties

As with any style, consider using the traditional hops required and spare no expense doing so. Hops in many respects make a beer, and classic styles demand care by the brewer. For bockbiers German Northern Brewer work well as bittering hops, although Perle, Spalt, and Spalt Select are also good choices. Hallertauer is a widely accepted hop to use, as is Saaz and to a lesser extent Tettnanger. The point is to emphasize delicate noble flavors and aromas over stronger varieties in the finished product. Hersbrucker also works very well for finishing and middle characteristics, although not technically a true noble type. Using hop flowers during the whirlpool or in the hop back is a good way to achieve this noble character.

Remember that the role of hops in these beers should be to balance and add perhaps a small amount of aroma, no more. Bock is a study in subtlety and craft, defining an art of patience.

Yeast, Fermentation, and Lagering

Yeast selection is a relatively simple process. The main factors to consider are: 1) What flavor profile do you want from your yeast? 2) Does the strain produce the lowest levels of undesirable diacetyl? 3) Look for yeast that is capable of reproduction in high-gravity environments. 4) Look for a yeast that is as flocculent as possible to expedite lagering.

Fermentation temperature also has a major effect on diacetyl production. Higher temperatures produce more diacetyl but also reduce it more quickly. Alternately, cooler fermentation temperatures produce lower concentration but do not reduce it as much, which inevitably leads to longer storage times required to bring the diacetyl below the flavor threshold. Large amounts of sugar create lower concentrations of water outside the cell and by osmosis will draw water out of the cell, debilitating it. Tolerance to alcohol is also important, particularly if you like your bocks big. Ethyl alcohol is a waste product of fermentation and as such is poisonous to brewers yeast. In addition to flavor maturation, the lagering process is employed to allow the yeast to settle out of suspension.

Most lager yeasts perform best at 45° F and more generally 41° to 50° F. One program for a fermenting maibock of 17° Plato (1.068) is as follows:

1.Cool the initial wort to 45° F and oxygenate the solution well. Oxygen is crucial for the first generation of yeast to divide without scarring and for the sterols to be passed on, among other reasons

2.Make a starter. Ample lager yeast should be pitched, in fact much more than ale yeast.

3.Allow the temperature to rise to 50° F as the yeast grows over three days and to 55° F over another three. At this time the yeast will begin to reduce some of the diacetyl and sulfitic compounds being produced. Maintain this temperature until the beer is about 5° Plato (1.020 specific gravity).

4.Cool the beer to 40° F or lower, and transfer to a conditioning vessel. Cellar until the beer has cleared, the volatile compounds have subsided, and the gravity has reduced to 2° Plato (1.008 specific gravity) or desired balance and finish.

The final gravities can be adjusted easily according to each bock type’s specifications, and in some cases it may be necessary to inactivate the yeast by colder temperatures so that a high finishing gravity can be achieved. If this method is employed, make sure that yeast is removed from the beer before bottling to avoid serious overcarbonation problems. If bottle conditioning for carbonation, you must take care to ferment well below the traditional residual sugar content. Especially a 5° Plato (1.040 specific gravity) terminal gravity doppelbock!

Water Treatment

Water chemistry can be fairly complex, and attempts to adjust some ions can lead to the corruption of others. Such is the case through the use of various softening salts. In most cases it is not necessary to worry about this. The main treatment concerns of a homebrewer are to remove any excess chlorine with an active carbon filter and, in bad cases, specially filter the water to remove some of the heavy metals and fluorides (although a small amount of heavy metals is essential for good yeast metabolism).

With that taken care of, it is time to attack an area that must be stressed, the pH of the brewing water. You can test your water and mash using pH testing strips available at homebrew retailers. Most water is pretty close to the neutral level of 7, which will raise the mash pH when mixed with the grain. The easiest way to lower the pH (acidify) is to add some CaSO4 (gypsum) or, in the case of dark beers, roasted grains will naturally achieve this process.

Just remember that you want the pH of the mash to be from 5.2 to 5.3 optimum, the beginning of the boil about 5.5 to 5.7, and the post boil pH to be 5.5 or lower. During fermentation the pH of the beer will reduce to about 4.2 give or take depending on the type of beer being produced.

Recipes

The following recipes have been formulated for single-infusion mashing, although they will work perfectly with decoction or step mashes. Note that there will be slight differences in color and flavor, however.

Annihilator Doppelbock

(5 gallon, all-grain)

One humorous tale of bock tells of a man in old Germany brewing an exceptionally strong beer that was consumed during the spring and summer. A friend came over to sample the brew and got so drunk that he fell on his way out the door. Flat on his face, in fact. Too embarrassed to relate the truth to the gentlemen at the local pub, he blamed his condition on a kick from a goat. This beer will make you feel the same. A variety of caramel and roasted grains will lend great depth and interest to the finished product.

Ingredients:

10 lbs. pale pilsner malt

2.5 lbs. Munich malt

1 lb. cara-pils or dextrin-type malt

1.5 lbs. carastan or pale caramel malt, 20° Lovibond

2 lbs. crystal malt, 60° Lovibond

1 lb. pale chocolate malt, 170° Lovibond

0.75 oz. Perle hops (7.3% alpha acid) for 90 min.

1 oz. Hallertauer hops (3.7% alpha acid): 0.5 oz. for 30 min., 0.5 oz. at end of boil

Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian lager)

2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Mash grains in 5.5 gal. water in a single infusion at 150° F for 60 min. Sparge with 170° F water to collect 5.5 gal.

Total boil is 90 min. At start of boil, add Perle hops. Boil 60 min. and add 0.5 oz. Hallertauer hops. Boil 30 min. more and add 0.5 oz. Hallertauer hops. Chill to 45° F and pitch yeast in a starter.

Ferment at 45° F for three days. Raise to 50° F for three days. Raise to 55°. Rack into secondary when gravity reaches less than 1.020. Cool to 40° F and ferment to 1.008 (about three more days). Age at 40° F until clear (seven to 14 days). Bottle and prime. Condition in the bottle as long as desired (30 to 60 days)

 

Maibock

(5 gallons, all-grain)

Ingredients:

9 lbs. pilsner malt

1.5 lbs. Munich malt

0.75 lb. carastan or pale caramel, 20° Lovibond

0.5 lb. crystal malt, 60° Lovibond

0.5 lb. cara-pils or dextrin-type malt

0.75 oz. German Northern Brewer hops (8.5% alpha acid) for 90 min.

0.5 oz. Hallertauer (3.7% alpha acid) for 30 min.

1 oz. Saaz (3.1% alpha acid) at end of boil

Wyeast 2124 (Bohemian lager)

2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Mash grains in 3.8 gal. water in a single infusion at 150° F for 60 min. Sparge with 170° F water to collect 5.5 gal.

Total boil is 90 min. At start of boil, add Northern Brewer hops. Boil 60 min. and add Hallertauer hops. Boil 30 min. more and add Saaz hops. Chill to 45° F and pitch yeast in a starter.

Ferment at 45° F for three days. Raise to 50° F for three days. Raise to 55°. Rack into secondary when gravity reaches less than 1.020. Cool to 40° F and ferment to 1.008 (about three more days). Age at 40° F until clear (seven to 14 days). Bottle and prime. Condition in the bottle as long as desired (30 to 60 days).

 

 

Traditional Einbeck Bockbier (Dunkels Bock)

(5 gallons, all-grain)

Ingredients:

9 lbs. Munich pale

3 lbs. wheat malt malt

1 lb. crystal malt, 60° Lovibond

0.5 lb. black malt

0.5 oz. German Northern Brewer hops (8.5% alpha acid) for 90 min.

0.75 oz. German Brewer’s Gold hops (4.8% alpha acid) for 30 min.

0.5 oz. Hallertauer hops (3.7% alpha acid) at end of boil

Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian lager)

2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Mash grains in 4.25 gal. water in a single infusion at 149° F for 60 min. Sparge with 170° F water to collect 5.5 gal.

Total boil is 90 min. At start of boil, add Northern Brewer hops. Boil 60 min. and add Brewer’s Gold hops. Boil 30 min. more and add Hallertauer hops. Chill to 45° F and pitch yeast in a starter.

Ferment at 45° F for three days. Raise to 50° F for three days. Raise to 55°. Rack into secondary when gravity reaches less than 1.020. Cool to 40° F and ferment to 1.008 (about three more days). Age at 40° F until clear (seven to 14 days). Bottle and prime. Condition in the bottle as long as desired (30 to 60 days).

 

 

Aventinus Weizenbock

(5 gallons, all-grain)

Ingredients:

7.25 lbs. wheat malt

6 lbs. Munich two-row

0.3 lb. chocolate malt

1.25 oz. Hallertauer hops (3.7% alpha acid): 1 oz. for 90 min., 0.25 oz. at end of boil

Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian lager) or 3333 (German wheat)

2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Mash grains in 4.25 gal. water in a single infusion at 152° F for 60 min. Sparge with 170° F water to collect 5.5 gal.

Total boil is 90 min. At start of boil, add 1 oz. Hallertauer hops. At end of boil add 0.25 oz. Hallertauer hops. Chill to 45° F and pitch yeast in a starter.

Ferment at 45° F for three days. Raise to 50° F for three days. Raise to 55°. Rack into secondary when gravity reaches less than 1.020. Cool to 40° F and ferment to 1.008 (about three more days). Age at 40° F until clear (seven to

14 days). Bottle and prime. Condition in the bottle as long as desired (30 to 60 days).

*Note: To employ a step mash, the real Aventius employs a rest at 128° F and is stepped up to 152° F with hot water.

 

____________________________________________________________

 

Bock - Doppelbock

AROMA

Intense maltiness. Virtually no hop aroma. While diacetyl or esters should be low to none, a fruity aspect to the aroma often described as prune, plum or grape may be present due to reactions between malt, the boil, and aging. A very slight roasty aroma may be present in darker versions.

APPEARANCE

Gold to dark brown in color. Lagering should provide good clarity. Head retention may be impaired by higher-than-average alcohol content.

FLAVOR

Very rich and malty, infrequently a touch of roastiness. Invariably there will be an impression of alcoholic strength, but this should be smooth and warming rather than harsh or burning. Presence of higher alcohols (fusel oils) should be very low to none. Little to no hop flavor. Hop bitterness varies from moderate to low but always allows malt to dominate the flavor.

MOUTH FEEL

Full-bodied. Low carbonation

OVERALL

A very strong, rich, lager beer.

INGREDIENTS

Pale lager malt for pale versions, Munich and Vienna malts for darker ones and occasionally a small fraction of dark-roasted(burnt) malt in those. Continental European hops. Water hardness will vary. Lager yeast.

COMMENTS

Most versions are dark colored and may display the caramelizing and melanoidin effect of decoction mashing, but pale versions have also been made.

HISTORY

A Bavarian specialty invented in Munich by the brothers of St. Francis of Paula. Historical versions were less well attenuated than modern interpretations, with consequently higher sweetness and lower alcohol levels.

COMMERCIAL EXAMPLES

Paulaner Salvator, Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, Tucher Bajuvator, Augustiner Maximator, EKU Kulminator "28," Loewenbraeu Triumphator, Hacker-Pschorr Animator, Old Dominion Dominator.

VITAL

OG: 1.073-1.120 IBUs: 20-40 FG: 1.018-1.030 SRM: 12-30 ABV: 7.5-12%

More Recipes

PAGE 2