Brewing a Maibock

Its May so its time to drink a Miabock.

Maibock (pronounced my bock) is a strong Bavarian golden lager brewed with some of my favorite German malts.  German brewers produce different beers for different seasons.  This beer is all about the celebration of spring and the end of the brutal winter.

Bockbier is the name for a strong German Ale, or “Bock” as it is more commonly known has numerous supposed origins.  One involves the production of a beer similar in style in a small medieval brewing town of Einbeck.  The name has been corrupted over the several centuries to form the word bock.  And why you might ask is there always a goat on the beer label.

Bock also means billy goat in German.  This is the reason why so many bock beer featured goats.  But where’s the beer-goat connection?  One theory suggests that the traditional time to brew bock beer is under the sign of Capricorn, the goat.  Another tells an amusing story of drinking contest between a Bavarian duke and a knight from Brunswick. Each received a cask of beer from his opponent’s cellar.  After many drinks, the knight found himself on the ground while the Bavarian remained in his seat.  The embarrassed knight blamed a goat that had found its way into the courtyard.  The Bavarian, who also happened to be a brew master, laughed and told the knight, “The Bock that threw you over was brewed by me.”

STYLE NOTES:  Typically a touch less malty and more bitter than a traditional bock.  They tend to be a shade lighter as well, but I have brewed them with a touch of roasted malts to bring out the hue and make mine stand out from other pale lagers that I had on tap at the time.  But like all other bocks they are malty and alcohol levels can reach around 7%.  They have a sweet, rich toasty middle but a moderately dry finish with enough hops to make them refreshing in the warmer weather.

CHEESE PAIRING:  The malty depth and fullness of a Maibock complement cheeses with buttery and nutty scents.  Consider alpine-style cow’s milk cheeses like Beaufort.  Aged sheep’s milk cheese that has a brown-butter aroma will match the German malts nicely.  Tripple-cream cheeses and bloomy-rind cheeses such as Brie will hit on the malty notes of the beer.  Stay away from tangy goat and cheddars.  These high acid cheeses will leave the beer too sweet on the palate



I know a lot of you brewers that will not even try to brew a lager.  And I understand the problems you are confronted with during fermentation.  But I have a couple of home brewers that have made the investments and are brewing some great lagers.  So for you guys I wanted to let you know my thought pattern on recipe development on my last Maibock I brewed.

BJCP Style Guidlines
Vital Statistics: OG: 1.064 – 1.072
IBUs: 23 – 35 FG: 1.011 – 1.018
SRM: 6 – 11 ABV: 6.3 – 7.4%

I decided I wanted to my OG to be 17 degrees plato (1.068) with my finishing gravity to be around 3 degrees plato.  By finishing at this gravity you can achieved a slight honey note to the finish when using the appropriate yeast strain.  IBUs came in at 30 and I used sterling for all additions.  This decision was made strictly on the fact of inventory purposes.  This beer is all about the German malts and I did not want to muddy up the flavor profile.  But I did note on my facting sheet that I would bring different hops in next time to give some complexity.

Sterling hops can linger on the palate and it would be nice bring in some other flavors.  German Pilsner malt was used for %70 of the grist bill.  Vienna malt is where I got flavor and color from on this beer and was 25%.  Munich finish off the grist at 5%.  This was also an experiment since I just received a new shipment of premium Vienna malt and I wanted to showcase the flavor of the malt over the Munich.

Water chemistry is very important to this style of beer and you are attempting to keep it soft but hit the salts that are found in the Munich water supply.  Water to grist was 1.25 with saccharification temp of 155 degrees.

German malts have high levels of DMS pre-cursor.  So you are required to achieve a high evaporation rate which sometimes is not easy for you home brewers or you don’t want to evaporate away your product.  I understand, but I highly suggest you do or you might end up with a cream corn tasting bock.  I suggest a two hour boil for large scale systems and at least a one and a half hour boil for the rest of you brewers.

Yeast will change this beer more than any other ingredient.  As long as you are brewing in style guidelines.  I used WL830 which is clean and somewhat mild for this beer.  Fermentation temperature was 53 degrees with the cell count at 1.5 x 10-6  As with all lagers you need to age the beer on the yeast at cold temperatures.  All in all it was a great beer but next time I would increase the Munich amount to give more color and change out the hops.  I did like the well defined body of the beer and the lingering hop profile with the crisp clean yeast character making this beer perfect for spring.  Good luck and happy brewing.

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