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Bock, 2010 and 2011

The Brewers Association made a few changes to its style guidelines for 2011. The most talked about likely will be renaming the beer formerly known as American-Style India Black Ale, now calling it American-Style Black Ale. The press release also notes several beer style descriptions have been significantly updated.

I thought you might be curious what that means, and probably don’t have your own copy of the 2010 guidelines lying around so you can compare to the old and new. Here are both versions of the description of Traditional German-Style Bock.

2011
Traditional bocks are made with all malt and are strong, malty, medium- to full-bodied, bottom-fermented beers with moderate hop bitterness that should increase proportionately with the starting gravity. Malt character should be a balance of sweetness and toasted/nut-like malt; not caramel. Hop flavor should be low and hop aroma should be very low. Bocks can range in color from deep copper to dark brown. Fruity esters should be minimal. Diacetyl should be absent.

Original Gravity (ºPlato) 1.066-1.074 (16.5-18 ºPlato)
Apparent Extract/Final Gravity (ºPlato) 1.018-1.024 (4.5-6 ºPlato)
Alcohol by Weight (Volume) 5-6% (6.3-7.5%)
Bitterness (IBU) 20-30
Color SRM (EBC) 20-30 (40-60 EBC)

2010
Traditional bocks are made with all malt and are strong, malty, medium- to full-bodied, bottom-fermented beers with moderate hop bitterness that should increase proportionately with the starting gravity. Hop flavor should be low and hop aroma should be very low. Bocks can range in color from deep copper to dark brown. Fruity esters should be minimal.

Specification unchanged from 2010 to 2011.

16 Responses to Bock, 2010 and 2011

  1. The Beer Nut January 13, 2011 at 10:16 am #

    What are these guidelines for? Is it just the awards?

  2. olllllo January 13, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    The name change will no doubt foster a new era of relations between India and Cascadia. No one wanted to see this war erupt and certainly no one wanted The Conch Republic to demand a Land Shark Category.

  3. Stan Hieronymus January 13, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Beer Nut – Those are the guidelines used to judge at the Great American Beer Festival and for the World Beer Cup. Of course there is no WBC in odd years, so I guess they could change before the 2012 competition.

  4. Alan January 13, 2011 at 11:49 am #

    So does this mean that I have undrunk the former beers or must forget their deleted characteristics. Will I get in trouble if I mention their former existence? Damn those anti-caramel and anti-diacetyl forces!!! Hopefully the battle will be full on against them in 2011 so that a retraction will be issued before 2012… even if we have to hold their pen gripping hand to the paper.

  5. Kristen England January 13, 2011 at 11:53 am #

    ‘Fruity esters should be minimal.’ Cherries, raisins, pruney, figgy character is not allowed, huh guys? Things that are typical in dark munich and dark crystal munichy ‘traditional’ flavors. Wow, another crap description. I wonder if Horst wrote this…

  6. Steve January 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

    Kristen — fruit esters have never really been characteristic in a “traditional” bock. More characteristic in a Doppelbock.

    Stan — Did the BA give any indication to their reasoning for changes? Nutty? Is that the new direction in German beers with the demise of decoction mashing?

  7. Kristen England January 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    My problem is about the word ‘minimal’. Which people will read as ‘none’. Point of fact all the ‘bocks’ that use Dark Munich will have this fruity, however you are correct that it will go up in correlation with the rise in its % volume.

  8. Steve January 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    Kristen — I’ve never experienced any heavy fruity characters from the likes of a (fresh, German) Traditional Bock, Dunkel, or Oktoberfest — and by “fruity” I mean the sort of esters that are often present from warm, top-fermented beers.

    To me, the beers with Munich malt as the backbone of their ingredients always tend toward bready or toasted bread. In a higher gravity beer using the same malts, I usually get a “minimal” of fruit character, but nothing rivaling some English (and English style) ales.

    But this just begs the question to the BA — why are they changing? Are the styles really changing that significantly across the board?

  9. Kristen England January 13, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Steve,

    Ah, I see what you mean. We are talking about different things. If this means light pomme fruit from fermentation it should say and not just blanket with ‘fruity’.

    But of course traditional beer significantly change year by year. What ever did you think ‘traditional’ means! 🙂

  10. Steve January 13, 2011 at 1:28 pm #

    Pomme fruit, Cherries, raisins, prunes, figs — never really smelled or tasted those in a Bock.

    And yes, how silly of me to take “traditional” so literally… :/

  11. Stan Hieronymus January 13, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Steve – The changes don’t come with an explanation, but they aren’t necessarily made to reflect a “change” in the style, but meant to clarify what judges “should” be looking for. In the case of bock, there might have been several German judges on a World Beer Cup panel who later suggested the change. To be clear, I don’t know that at all. Just guessing like everybody else.

  12. Matt, The Palate Jack January 13, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    After each event, GABF or WBC, judges are asked to submit quality forms in which they can suggest refinements in the style descriptions. Looking at the bock description, I would say that judges had too many beers that exhibited caramel and/or diacetyl, or at least enough to elicit discussion during judging. The descriptions are much shorter than BJCP, so it is pretty common for judges to suggest elaboration. As with amateur judging, judges can discuss beforehand what nuances they consider part of a world class profile, so they may well talk about malt-derived fruitiness, decoction color/flavor/mouthfeel, acceptable levels of hopping, etc. By the way, Charlie P. is the gatekeeper on the style descriptions.

  13. Ron Pattinson January 14, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    They could have tried removing the ridiculous styles:

    Robust Porter
    Brown Porter
    British-style Barley Wine Ale
    All the so-called Scottish styles (they still can’t get the colour of 60/- right)
    English-style IPA

    I could go on.

    No amount of tweaking will fix such a fatally-flawed scheme.

    Charlie Papazian in charge? No wonder they’re a load of bollocks. The bloke has no idea what he’s talking about.

  14. Stan Hieronymus January 14, 2011 at 7:57 am #

    Matt – You should have pointed out you judge at both GABF and WBC. Thanks for the input.

  15. Matt, The Palate Jack January 14, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    Thanks Stan. The less mysterious the process is the better. Style guidelines and competitions are what they are, neither right or wrong. If a brewer rejects the idea of brewing to a particular guideline they needn’t enter. No one’s holding a gun to their heads.

  16. Chad January 16, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    All this chatter and no mention of the most ludicrous style possibly ever created… American Style Brett ale. Since when does Mr. Brett become a style and how is it an ale? Other then that it can be any color, any taste, any alcohol, pretty much it can be anything but exhibiting oaky, sherry, or bourbon characteristics. Thats not a style thats a catch all for a yeast genus. Oh well

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