So you gave up dessert for Lent? Good for you, you wimp! Once upon a time, German monks ate nothing for the entirety of the Lenten fast. No bread, no salad, no fruit—nothing. Beat that.
How did they survive, you ask? By imbibing large quantities of heavy, calorie rich beer, of course!
Around 700 years ago, German monks in the town of Einbeck developed a specific style of malty, dark, high alcohol beer to help sustain them during intense periods of fasting. This beer became known as Bock, a corruption of the name Einbeck. Later, discontent with the strength of Bock style beer, monks developed an even stronger variant known as Doppelbock, meaning double Bock. This beer was so laden with nutrition that some dubbed it “liquid bread.”
Now, these beers were so delicious that the monks began to wonder if they were contrary to the spirit of Lenten penance. Being faithful sons of the Church, they decided to consult the pope. On the journey to Rome, however, the beer was subjected to extreme weather conditions, causing it to spoil and turn sour. When the pope tasted it, he was so appalled by the spoiled beer that he immediately deemed it an excellent Lenten penance.
Seeing as beer has a long history as Lenten fare, I thought I would suggest five Bock style beers to sustain you during the long dark days until Easter.
- Weltenburger Kloster Asam-Bock – Founded in the year 1050, the Weltenburger brewery is one of the oldest monastic breweries in the world. While it is sadly now a corporate operation, the brewery still makes a high quality Bock, which is no surprise when you’ve nearly 1,000 years to practice.
- Salvator Doppel Bock – Salvator Doppel Bock is one of the first monastic Doppelbocks, brewed by the Paulaner brewery in Munich. This beer is dangerously good—it was once banned by the government because villagers complained that it was causing drinkers to become too lively.
- La Trappe Bockbier – De Koningshoeven Brewery, commonly known as La Trappe, is a world-famous Trappist brewery founded in 1884. The brewery has grown heavily commercialized in recent years, but they still make an excellent Bock.
- Andechser Doppelbock Dunkel – The Andeschser Doppelbock is considered by many to be one of the best Doppelbocks in the world. Brewed in Andeschs, Germany by the Benedictine Monks of St. Boniface, it is one of the few successful monastic breweries still owned by monks.
- Weihenstephaner Korbinian – The Weihenstephan brewery is considered by many to be the oldest breweries in the world. Founded in the year 725 by St. Corbinian, Weihenstephan Abbey began brewing beer in the year 1040. The brewery is now owned by the state of Bavaria, but its Korbinian Doppelbock is one of the finest in the world.
There you have it: Five delicious Bock-style beers for the remaining weeks of Lent. If you’re really feeling brave, maybe next year you can imitate one brave soul who decided to imitate the monks of yore, subsisting on beer alone for the entirety of Lent!
What are your favorite Bock or Doppelbock style beers?The Catholic Gentleman.