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A malty brew of many hues

April 19, 2006|Charles Perry

THE original bock style is a malty, mildly hopped lager, typically 6% to 7% alcohol as against 5% for ordinary lager. This rich, comforting brew has spawned several varieties. Maibock is lighter -- less malty and, for the most part, less alcoholic with more noticeable hop flavor. Doppelbock is richer and maltier and usually more than 7% alcohol. Weizenbock is a strong, malty beer with the fruity-spicy taste of a wheat beer. The strongest of all, in flavor and alcohol, is eisbock, a beer to be sipped very slowly.

Most bocks are imported, meaning that they're less fresh than the best domestic bocks. Look for these beers on tap or from a cold box and beware of beer in green glass bottles (it's susceptible to light damage, which produces a skunky aroma).

Bock beers

Allgauer St. Magnus Heller Bock. This yellow amber bock from the far south of Bavaria has aromas of candy and some herb (mint?) and a warm malt palate but pales next to most in this tasting. 7% alcohol. At Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa, (949) 650-8463; Vendome stores in Beverly Hills, (310) 276-9463, Studio City (818) 766-5272 and Toluca Lake, (818) 766-9593. About $2 (16.9 ounces).

Einbecker Ur-Bock. Medium amber in color with a rich malty nose, heavy and faintly sweet palate, a bit hoppy; solid and satisfying. Made in the hometown of the original bock. 6.5% alcohol. At Hi-Time. About $2 (11.2 ounces).

Gordon Biersch Blonde Bock. This irresistible California-made bock lives up to its name with a yellow amber hue. Quite malty and mouth-filling, slightly sweet, with a crisp, attractive note of hops; . 7% alcohol. At Beverages & More stores, www.bevmo.com; Bristol Farms markets, www.bristolfarms.com; Gordon Biersch brewpubs in Burbank, (818) 569-5240, and Pasadena, (626) 449-0052. About $1.50 (12 ounces).

Maibocks

Anchor Bock. The plush malt nose on this reddish amber brew has a hint of cherry. One of the best bocks around, rich and sweet on the palate with minimal hops. Fermented with ale yeast. From San Francisco. Released in February; now in very limited supply. 5.5% alcohol. At Beverage Warehouse in Mar Vista, (310) 306-2822; Hi-Time. About $1.50 (12 ounces).

Einbecker Mai-Ur-Bock. Light amber color, middling malt with a bright hops flavor. Much less impressive than this brewery's Ur-Bock. Warning: Sold in green glass, keep away from light. 6.5% alcohol. At Hi-Time. About $2 (11.2 ounces).

Hofbrau Munchen Maibock. Medium amber. Surprisingly hoppy, malt mostly in the aftertaste. The Maibock that will be tapped in Munich next week; otherwise, not a great thrill. 7.2% alcohol. At Vendome stores. About $2.50 (16.9 ounces).

Reutberger Josefi Bock. Amber. Honeyed nose, slightly sweet malt palate, solid and enjoyable. Released for St. Joseph's Day, March 19. 6.9% alcohol. At Beverage Warehouse; Beverages & More; Hi-Time. About $3 (16.9 ounces).

Rogue Dead Guy Ale. Made by the well-known Oregon brewery. Pale amber. A bold American take on the style: fragrant apples in the nose, malty palate, medium bite of hops. Made in the style of a maibock (using ale yeast). 6.6% alcohol. Fortunately, this excellent brew is widely available on draft as well as in bottles. About $2 (12 ounces), about $4.50 (22 ounces).

Will-Brau Maibock. Straw colored, with a malty-bready nose. Medium body, sweetish flavor, mild hops; too much like a regular lager if you're in the mood for bock. From Motten in far north Bavaria. 6.2% alcohol. At Hi-Time. About $2 (16.9) ounces.

Wheat bocks

Aktien St. Blasius Weizenbock. A pleasant but rather low-key reddish amber wheat bock from Kaufbeuren in southern Bavaria with a mild banana aroma and a diffuse malty palate. 7.2% alcohol. At Hi-Time. About $2.50 (16.9) ounces.

Erdinger Pikantus Weizenbock. This well-known specialist in wheat beers makes a reddish brown weizenbock with an almost tropical aroma of bananas and clove, substantial malty palate and a little tartness. 7.3% alcohol. At Hi-Time Wine Cellars; Red Carpet Wine Merchants in Glendale, (800) 339-0609 About $2.50 (16.9 ounces).

Hopf Weisser Bock. An amber beer with aromas of bananas, clove, maybe a little mint. Mild maltiness; relatively light body. From Miesbach, between Munich and the Austrian border. 7% alcohol. At Bristol Farms markets; Hi-Time; Red Carpet; Vendome stores. About $3 (16.9 ounces).

Doppelbocks

Aktien St. Martin Dunkler Doppelbock. Red-amber. Malt and dried-fruit nose, medium body, a bit sweet, good balance. 7.5% alcohol. At Beverages & More stores; Vendome stores. About $2 (16.9 ounces).

Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. This red-amber, medium-bodied brew doesn't have much of a nose, but it has a very pleasant malty palate with a touch of sweet spice. 6.7% alcohol. At Beverages & More stores; Hi-Time; Red Carpet. About $2.50 (11.2 ounces).

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