I finally got around to trying the spring installment of the Smuttynose big beer series — “big beers in big bottles, released seasonally in very limited quantities” — the Maibock, over the weekend. First, some background for people unfamiliar with the style (which included me, before yesterday): according to Wikipedia, a Maibock (or Helles bock),
is a pale version of a traditional bock. It is a fairly recent development compared to other styles of bock beers, frequently associated with springtime and the month of May. Alcohol content ranges from 6.3% to 7.4% by volume. The flavor is typically less malty than a traditional bock, and may be drier, hoppier, and more bitter, but still with a relatively low hop flavor, with a mild spicy or peppery quality from the hops or alcohol content. It is a clear lager, deep gold to light amber in color, with a large, creamy, persistent white head, and moderate to moderately high carbonation. There is some dispute as to whether the Helles (“pale”) bock and the Mai (“May”) bocks are the same style, but they are generally agreed to be the same.
While this didn’t sound all that appealing to me (a pale, peppery bock? I was skeptical), the Smuttynose version quickly changed my mind. According to the side of the 22oz bottle,
Maibocks are traditional Teutonic seasonal specialty. We brew ours to be hugely malty & subtly finished with a variety of continental hops, with an eye-pleasing russet brown color.
The Smuttynose version pours with a pillowy, puffy off-white head which dissipates quickly, leaving behind intricate lacing and a few islands of bubbles. The nose smells of alcohol drenched spices and flowers, while the taste is enormously malty and sweet with a mouth-feel you can chew on (thanks to the nearly 8% ABV). The almost tangy spice notes from the nose come through in the finish, as well. While a TON of malt is used in the brew, the continental hops balance it nicely, lending to a nice round flavor.
The Smuttynose Label
With 127 BeerAdvocate reviews averaging an A- rating it seems like plenty of people agree – this is one great bock. I’m convinced. But if you want to find out for yourself, you better hurry; the next installment of the Smuttynose big Beer series — the Big A IPA — is right around the corner. cheers.