By Malia Paasch for HR Growler
Lent for Christians is a time of repentance, reflection and self-denial. But what if I told you there is a beer you still can enjoy, and that hundreds of years ago it was a means for survival?
I’m talking about doppelbocks.
Bock biers, which predate doppelbocks, are German dark lagers. They’re bottom fermented and have an average ABV of about 6 percent.
The first bock is attributed to the Einbecker Brewery around 1348. The name is said to have originated because of the way Bavarians pronounced the word Einbeck. It sounded more like “Ein bock” which translated literally means a billy goat.
Doppelbocks got their name from their higher alcohol content. In 1627 Duke Maximilian I of Bavaria invited some Paulaner monks to move to his country. The Paulaners, a branch of Benedictine monks from Italy, relocated to Munich and began brewing for the public.
By 1774 they had crafted their own original beer recipe that was named SanctPaterbier, which later became Salvator, the Latin word for Savior. Father Barnabas was the original brewer and is the creator of what we now know as doppelbock.
This beer became the benchmark for the style, and many breweries tried to emulate it, even calling it by the same name. This spurred a lawsuit forcing the other breweries to rebrand, resulting in many of these beers carrying names than end with the suffix -ator. (Notice the following reviewed beer names.)
During Lent, the Paulaner monks restricted themselves to a liquid diet and that is how doppelbocks were given the name “liquid bread.” In addition to water, the monks would drink the beer to sustain themselves: The beer contains nutrients including selenium, vitamin B, phosphorus, folate, niacin, protein, fiber and silicon.
It became a custom that the first mug full of doppelbock for the Lent season would go to the Duke of Bavaria. He would be offered a toast, and while the Duke sipped on his strong brew, Father Barnabas would be allowed to speak his mind. This tradition is re-enacted today when the first keg of Salvator is tapped to mark the middle of Lent.
So, there’s no need to give up beer for Lent. Actually, you may need the vitamins. Cheers to liquid bread.