How did Bockbier get its name?

The story of Bockbier does not begin in Munich, but rather in the Lower Saxony town of Einbeck when, in the middle of the 13th century, Einbeck was an important member of the Hanseatic League, an international trading empire which included hundreds of powerful medieval merchants.

Einbeck’s specialty export within the League was a strong dark ale made from wheat and barley. Just about everyone in the town of Einbeck was involved in the brewing trade.

What was terribly embarrassing, however, was that one of the biggest customers of Einbeck beer was the House of Wittelsbach, residents of Munich and the ruling family of Bavaria. The Bavarian dukes and their entourage drank so much of the Einbeck ale that their drinking habits became a noticeable factor in the budget of the Bavarian state.

So the ruler of the day, Duke Wilhelm V, felt he had to take action to keep the Bavarian money supply from leaking north.

So in 1590, he had an Einbeck-like, strong brown to red beer brewed in his own brewhouse in Landshut, and a year later he completed another brewhouse for the new beer in the center of Munich. The beer started to make money for the state coffers.

Wilhelm V’s successor, Duke Maximil-ian I, went one step futher. He enticed an Einbeck brewmaster, Elias Pichler, to come to Munich as an employee of the Wittels-bachs to brew a beer even closer to the real thing.

This soon-famous Einbecker strong ale metamorphosed into a strong lager, the kind of Bockbier we know today.

The first strong Munich lager brewed the “Einbeck way” was dispensed at the Hofbräuhaus in 1614.

The Bavarian dialect soon mangled the name Einbeck to “ayn pock” and, eventually, to “ein Bock” (one Bock).

In German, Bock means goat, and so the dialectical change in pronunciation of “Einbeck,” to “ayn pock,” and then to “ein Bock,” has led (up to this day!) to signs, advertisements, labels, – all sport

Types of Bockbier

• Doppelbock: Brewed with a larger proportion of grain to water; extremely malty. First Doppelbock was Paulaner Salvator (patented) . Bocks reminiscent of the original Salvator end in -ator (Triumphator, Celebrator, Maximator).

• Dunkelbock: A regular Bockbier, but brewed with an addition of roasted malt for extra color

• Eisbock: Soft, smooth, and malty; reduced water (removed as icy slush) raises concentration of alcohol.

• Fastenbock: “Lenten bock,” specially brewed for Lent. Paulaner Salvator is the historical model for all Fastenbocks.

• Frühlingsbock: “Springtime bock,” another name for a “Maibock.”

• Maibock: A Bavarian specialty, a pale version of standard Bockbier. A seasonal offering for the transition between Starkbierzeit (the strong-beer season of Lent) and the opening of the beer gardens in early summer, when the Helles Bock (pale bock) makes its comeback.

• Urbock: (Ur=original). Often referred to as a Bockbier from Einbeck, where Bockbier was brewed since the mid-13th century – in those days an ale, not a lager, as is common today.

• Weizenbock: Brewed with at least 50% malted wheat instead of 100% malted barley. While all barley-based Bockbiers are lagers, Weizenbocks are ales.

• Weizendoppelbock: Super-strong wheat-based ale, analogous to the barley-based Doppelbock lager.

• Weizeneisbock: Like a barley-based Eisbock. Water content lowered during freezing, for beer with about 11% alcohol

• Weihnachtsbock: “Christmas Bock,” made from dark malts, brewed for Christmas season

• Winterbock: Winter special often brewed at Doppelbock strength

Note: Bavarian brewers consider the seasonal roll-outs of their strong beers (Christmas Bockbiers, Lenten Bockbiers, and Maibocks) the highlights of the brewing year