Bock to the Hills| A German lager from the Triad
Originating in the northern city of Einbeck, Germany in the 14 th century, bocks were strong, hearty beers and were renowned across the land. The style was adopted and slightly modified by brewers in the beer Mecca of Munich. As history has it, stronger beers were typically brewed by monks to sustain them during the fasting times. This is a “liquid bread” of a beer, and the Munich variety is the standard for the style of beer we call bock today. Bock is a lager beer of strong flavors, rich amber colors and higher alcohol content than many of the other styles of German brews. Bocks are full-malted brews. Malts dominate the flavor, with sweetness to varying degrees, but they offer little or no hop presence. Alcohol is often present in bock, in taste and smell, but blends well with the strong malt content of the beer. Although the color, taste, mouthfeel and alcohol level may make these beers seem like an ale, bocks are bottomfermenting lagers, and they require quite a bit longer in the cold storage than your typical yellow lager. The bock family contains quite a few different varieties, including pale, amber and copper. Specifically, while there are many different styles related to or similar to traditional bock, three stand out: maibock, eisbock and dopplebock. Whereas maibocks are lighter and hoppier, dopplebocks are double-malted, rich beers. Even stronger are eisbocks that employ a method of freezing off a portion of the liquid, mostly water, from the beer to concentrate the remaining product. While I would not typically recommend most of the bock beers for the sweltering summer months, maibocks definitely work during these hot days. Although maibocks usually roll out in spring, they are a welcome reprieve from wheat and other thin summer brews. This style of lager is showing up more and more from fine craft brewers. And, a somewhat surprising addition to the everincreasing list of maibocks comes from the creative and excellent beer minds of Foothills Brewing, right in your own backyard. Foothills continues to push the bounds of craft brewing with their outstanding selections, and they do not make a bad beer. One of their spring and summer seasonal offerings, Gruffmeister 8, is no exception. This German-style maibock pours up golden orange in the glass with a medium sized white head that leaves rings down the sides. This is not your average lager, as evidenced by the smell. Complex aromas are tangy and somewhat malty and fruity, but there is a presence of alcohol that underlies every whiff. Malts dominate this beer, and sticky caramel stands out, with a hint of grass and grain to match. Alcohol does not overwhelm, but it does not hide from the tongue either. A slight hint of bitter hops bring a crisp finish to a medium-bodied beer. Gruffmeister 8 is a balanced and tasty beer, but after two pints, I began to feel the effects of the high ABV. Still, a great lager from a fine local brewery.
Enjoy the brews. Cheers…
Beer: Gruffmeister 8
Brewery: Foothills Brewing Co.
ABV: 8 percent
Pairing: German food and hearty meats