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The pope's connection to the origin of bock beer

It is bock beer time! But without the pope there might not even be bock beers. Why? Here's the answer.

Every year, a special time begins on Ash Wednesday – both for breweries and beer connoisseurs. Until Easter it is the so-called Starkbierzeit – the strong beer time. Historically, the Bavarian bock beers hearken back a few hundred years – at least to the 17th century. According to tradition, the monks had to come up with a good idea: during the time of abstinence it was of course prohibited to eat solid food. They brewed beer anyway – so why not simply make it stronger, more nutritious and wholesome? No sooner said than done: Starkbier was born.

Bock beer and the pope - a connection by accident

From what is said, the monks were plagued by a bad conscience. What if the Pope had something against it? What if it was not allowed? So, they decided to send a barrel of their beer to the head of the church for him to taste and then they waited for his judgement. The problem was that the “export“ to the Vatican took such a long time that when the beer finally arrived, it was spoilt and sour. The Pope tried it and found it terrible – anything that tasted so awful, must be a form of repentance! And this meant that Starkbier was blessed by the highest authority as a drink for the fasting time by mistake. At home, of course, it had lost nothing of its taste…

The definition of bock beer

But how are strong beers defined? First, strong beers can be dark and pale. Second, bock beers are guaranteed to have at least 16 percent original wort and double bock beers at least 18 percent. This results in alcohol values ranging between 6.5 to over 7.5 percent.

There are two strong beers in the Weihenstephan brewery – and one of them was often a prize winner: the Weizenbock Vitus. With 7.7 percent, it belongs to the stronger members of its kind. And the beauty of it is that its fruity taste and pleasant feel with the first sip mean that you are not really aware of the alcohol. Wonderfully quaffable!

And then there is the dark double bock that is named after the founder of the former Weihenstephan monastery: Korbinian. With 7.4 percent alcohol and a light, rusty taste, it is the perfect beer for game and an ideal accompaniment to dessert.

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