About ‘bock beer’ – roots and history: An interview with Martin Deutsch

Bock beer is more popular than ever and became a top seller, especially during winter and spring. The Einbecker Brewery stands for bock beer since 1378 and has been using the HUBER party kegs since more than 20 years. We talked to Martin Deutsch, board member at Einbecker Brewery, about ‘Maibock’, party kegs and the fascinating history of bock beer.

It is dark, easy to drink, malty and very strong – bock beer is very popular, not only in Southern Germany. Furthermore, its roots go back to before the Beer Purity Law was established and it became a not-so-secret tip amongst connoisseurs. Especially during winter- and springtime the bock beer brings joy to the cold season and makes Lent a little more bearable. What is not as commonly known as the beer itself, are bock beer roots and history. If you are familiar with the Bavarians and their love for bock beer, you will be surprised to find that the origin of this type of beer goes back to the North of Germany, the city of Einbeck. In this article we want to clarify how the bock beer made its way to Munich and why the name has nothing to do with a he goat (“Ziegenbock” or simply “Bock” in German). Also, why the Einbeck Brewery has been offering their legendary ‘Mai-Ur-Bock beer’ in 5-litre-kegs since more than 20 years. We talked to Martin Deutsch, who is a board member at Einbecker Brewery since more than 30 years and a true connoisseur of the German and international beer industry, about bock beer.

bock beer roots and history – an export hit from Northern Germany

Mr. Deutsch, you were born in Bavaria and after 30 years in the Bavarian brewing industry, you’ve been appointed to the management board of Einbecker Brewery. What was so special about this company that made you accept this new position?

Martin Deutsch: It is a big challenge for me to steer one of the ten oldest breweries in Germany. The oldest conservated invoice of our brewery is from 1378. That is to when the history of this enterprise dates back. Furthermore, the bock beer was invented here in the North of Germany. Did you know that?

No, really? We always thought it has been invented in Bavaria?

Martin Deutsch: Far from it! More than 400 years ago, the city of Einbeck was home to many, many brewers and their beer was so popular, that they delivered it to customers all over Germany – all the way to Bavaria and even beyond. During the 14th and 15th century Einbeck’s beer treks made their way towards Bremen, Hamburg, Luebeck, Landshut, Munich, Danzig, Koenigsberg, Riga, Denmark and Amsterdam. To make sure that the delicious beer didn’t go bad during the long journey, it was brewed a bit stronger – for conservation purposes so to say.

Why bock beer has nothing to do with a billy goat (“Bock” in German)

Bier aus Einbeck in Die Welt im 14. Jahrhundert

Martin Deutsch: That is how that type of beer, called “bock beer” nowadays, came to Munich. The people there liked it that much, that later on, Elias Pichler, the brewmaster from Einbeck, was poached to work at the now famous Hofbräuhaus. That’s how they learned to brew the original “Ainpöckisch beer” in Munich. Mispronouncing the name “Einbeck” or “Einpöckisch” as “Oanpock” is how the name of the famous “bock beer” was created. Thus, the city of Einbeck is after whom the beer was actually named. This is how the saying “There wouldn’t be bock beer without Einbeck” came into use. As you can see, we have rich history – and we are proud of it.

Did you know that even Martin Luther used to like our beer? Almost exactly 500 years ago, in April 1521, the Reichstag at Worms took place. At this event Martin Luther was handed a stein of Einbeck beer from the duke Erich of Braunschweig and he praised it as follows: „The best drink that I know is called Ainpöckisch beer”.

Bock beer – different varieties of it are loved all over Germany

That is truly a great story and a lot of history! Is bock beer still an essential part of your product range?

Martin Deutsch: Most definitely! We produce five different kinds of bock beer. Three of them are being made all year, the other two, our winter bock and the Mai-Ur-Bock, are seasonal. But since we are a huge brewery, we also offer any other kind of beer like Pilsner, cellar beer, dark beer and non-alcoholic beer. But we are most proud of our bock beer since we had the honor to be a crucial part of the origin of bock beer and the history of Einbeck.

Our Mai-Ur-Bock is the ultimate beer for spring fever. Just like the first warm rays of sunlight in spring, it shimmers orange-golden in your glass, topped off by a creamy crown. The smell is fruity and fresh, and it has a distinct grape must aroma to it. When you drink it, you can taste a moderate hoppy bitterness, that balances the alcohol and perfectly combines with the sweet malt aroma. The Mai-Ur-Bock is easy to drink and full-bodied since it’s mildly carbonated and has a hearty taste on the finish.

The “Mai-Ur-Bock” – origin and history of the springtime beer

Maibock läutet den Frühling ein

Is the Mai-Ur-Bock your most successful bock beer?

It is indeed our most sold one. Bock beer is in season from January until April. It marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, so to say. That is why we’ve been offering our Mai-Ur-Bock in 5-litre-kegs since 1998. Especially during February and March we deliver huge amounts to our customers. Selling bock beer in a party can is rather unusual. It is more common for breweries to fill their Pilsner or lager in mini kegs. The Das Mai-Ur-Bock, however, is just so successful that it simply makes sense to sell it in larger containers.

The 5-litre-party keg – a successful cooperation

Since you’ve been offering your bock beer in Envases party kegs since more than 20 years, it looks like you are very happy with you supplier, right?

Partyfässer im Getränkemarkt

Martin Deutsch: We are indeed! It was back in 1998, when Envasis Öhringen launched its party keg with integrated tap – a true innovation! Since then, Einbecker has been using Envasis kegs. We really like the party containers, especially because they offer a lot of space for advertising.Partyfass von HUBER Packaging

We use that space for our own branding, but also for our clients.  Our beer is being delivered to big local companies and it makes for a great advertising tool. There is enough space to easily place our own brand, but also the one of our clients. It looks just great. Even in specialized food or beverage shops our kegs have a great display effect.

Advertising impact, flexibility and service

What do you like most about your partner Envases?

Martin Deutsch: Two things come to my mind right away: Envases offers a lot of flexibility and great service. Flexibility is very important to us, because each end every single customer of ours, just like us ourselves, comes with unique requests and demand. Envases’ sales department always listens and tries to come up with flexible solutions. This is certainly not to be taken for granted, especially with such a big company like Envases.

Furthermore, Envases offers great service for keg design, layout and printing. Of course, we send the basic layout for the printing. But Envases has great tools for renderings of the final looks on the curved containers. We are very grateful for this support, because it makes out internal approval processes a lot easier.

We cherish our partnership with Envases Öhringen since 1998 and we are looking forward to market many more beautiful mini kegs filled with our high-quality beer in the future.

Mr. Deutsch, thank you very much for this interview!