German bocks come in a variety of shapes and sizes (well, maybe colors and strengths), but are generally defined by their classic Melanoidin flavor, typically referred to as bread crust, and associated with springtime. The name itself is German for goat—which is why some bocks come complete with goats on the label—and many versions, like doppelbocks, deliver a warming kick. If you’re tired of hop-driven beers and have a passion for malts, the umbrella bock lager style might just be the perfect cure. From Maibocks to traditional bocks (check out this one from Anchor!), to doppelbocks and beyond, here are six varieties worth seeking out right now.
The Tap Scape Goat
The traditional bock: It’s one of the most criminally underappreciated styles this side of the Atlantic, but Scape Goat neatly executes its malt-centric, no-fuss appeal. A swell of bread crust (you know, the stuff your kid wants you to cut off a PB&J) defines this smooth beer’s profile; muted dried grains and caramel lace through the sip. A clean finish and relatively easy 6.6%-ABV keeps you going back for more.
Hacker-Pschorr Hubertus Bock
As perfectly straightforward as they come, this Maibock (a paler version of a regular bock traditionally served in May) is a delight: Doughy malt scents greet the nose; a fluffy wash of sweet corn and bread crust carries just the faintest hint of Old World hop spice; a sessionable drying finish leaves behind light traces of dough. Knock this back with a brat for pure pairing bliss.
Fort Collins Maibock
This Colorado-born Maibock pours a few shades darker than the pale Hubertus from Germany, and that translates right into the flavor: Like Hubertus, this Maibock’s laced with delicious sweet, bready malt flavors, but it trades out corn for a smooth toasted malt note and subtle fruity esters; hop bitterness lends a pleasant twang to the swallow.
Samuel Adams Double Bock
Doppelbocks—or double bocks—are exactly like they sound: Traditional bocks turned up a few notches (think, stout to imperial stout; IPA to imperial IPA). Here, just a touch of chocolate underscores a rich, creamy sip that pairs sturdy bread crust flavors with pronounced sweet caramel; just a suggestion of prune weaves through the sip. Although this big pour clocks in at 9.5%-ABV, you’d never guess.
Meantime Weizen Double Bock
Wheat-based weizenbocks, like this one from the London brewery, merge two German styles: The strength and body of a bock or doppelbock with the spicy clove phenols of weizen yeast (technically, they fall into their own category of German wheat ales). Meantime’s version is packed with dark fruity flavors: Figs and dried cherries wash through a Wheaties-like malt base, while pepper and clove connect with the 8%-ABV for a spicy kick—break out the snifter for this bad boy.
Backpocket Wooden Nickel
A peat-smoked bock? Sure. Using peat-smoked malts in the recipe, the oh-so-identifiable flavor of earthy peat (think single-malt Scotch) weaves through a sessionable wash of toasted bread and toffee; despite the big flavor, a snappy lager finish caps off this smoldering bock with ease.