Maibocks – yet another example of how lagers can be amazing
Humans are often creatures of habit. Many of us lean toward a particular style of beer; some of us are even more narrow and lean toward a particular brand of beer. Whatever floats your boat.
I, for one, love to try to get out there and try wacky new (or just new to me) stuff and see what I might like. Exploring the unknown is part of the fun of being a beer nerd. This is how and why I was lucky enough to discover one of my favorite beer styles – the Maibock.
I’m eternally grateful for a happy accident that led me to the Maibock style. One day when I was hanging with the fam in Tyler’s Taproom & Restaurant, I noticed Tröegs had a beer on draft called “The Cultivator.” Anything that sounds like a character Arnold Schwarzenegger might play is going to catch my interest, so I had to try it. One sip and I was hooked.
I won’t bore you with the history of Bocks in general… there are tons of books and articles that can tell you more and better than I can. But let’s summarize with this about the Maibock style: Lagers have kind of a bad rep in the minds of some craft beer enthusiasts. We tend to associate the word “lager” with the American Adjunct Lager that drove many of us away from Industrial American beer. But just because it’s a lager doesn’t mean it’s bland or crappy. In this instance, Maibocks (also known as Helles Bocks or Heller Bocks) take the positive of lager beers — low taste/aroma interference from the yeast and crisp clarity — and mix it with attributes we normally associate with craft beer: emphasis on quality ingredients and rich, interesting taste profiles. Maibocks focus your experience on the glories of biscuit-y Pils malt with a dash of sweet Munich malt, balanced by the herbal aroma and sharp bitterness of noble German hop varieties. This style is, to me, what perfect brewing technique is all about.
Maibocks are a clean, crisp and boozy beer that often pops up as a spring seasonal offering for many breweries. So about this time of the year, I get all kinds of excited looking for examples. There are tons, but here are a few I know you can get around here… let me know if you find more! I’m always in the market for a good Maibock, obviously.
Rogue’s Dead Guy – Rogue is an industry front-runner, and their flagship just happens to be this amazing style. Great for an early spring fishing trip of the variety where you don’t mind not being able to fish quite as well after a couple of quality beers. Dead Guy uses Rogue’s proprietary “Pacman” yeast, and packs in plenty of malt for a rich, honey-golden-brown beer that’s luckily available year-round.
Tröegs Cultivator – This is the one that got me hooked on the style. In fact, when people tell me they don’t like lagers, I grab this and shove it in their hand. I am always thanked afterward. Going under the Helles Bock title, Tröegs’ Cultivator is a bread-y beer, with just the right about of hops to complement the more grain-foward malt flavors.
CBC Spring Bock – Carolina Brewing Company out of Holly Springs was an early proponent of the Maibock style and have been putting it out for some time now. The Spring Bock is a great example, and manages to take the beverage in a smooth and refreshing direction. Plus, you can feel super smug for buying local — and seasonal — so go getchoo some!