Friday, March 30, 2007
Spring! Buds on the trees. Warm days with cool breezes. Dusting off the golf clubs. Ther re-emergence of billions of little bugs that can fit through your screen on the one day it's truly warm enough to open your windows and air-out your house.
But Spring also means celebrations (at least in Germany) of having made it through another winter. And how do they celebrate? With Maibock. Sure, Maibocks start with Mai (May), but it's never too early in the Spring for a Maibock.
Today's delicious selection is none other than Smuttynose Maibock, from Smuttynose Brewing Company in New Hampshire. Being a fan of many of their other beers, I figured I couldn't go wrong here.
And indeed, I was right!
Maibocks are lighter than regular bocks, and tend to have a more pronounced hop character and a more noticeable alcohol burn.
I will avoid smarmy springtime references in my description. I'll keep it clean, just like this beer.
The offering from Smuttynose is a basic Maibock: clean as glass with a great hop-to-malt balance.
It has a lovely clear amber body with orange highlights when held up to light. It is capped in a plush, foamy head of off-white froth that has great staying-power and leaves a very elegant lacing down the glass.
The nose yields a sweet, sugary, almost syrupy note up front. It is followed and complimented by a lightly toasted almost bready malt with a scant hint of light fruit, like melon. The hops give a floral scent, underlayed with that lovely German spiciness. And there, under it all, is that slow alcohol burn.
Medium bodied with a standard carbonation.
The flavor is rich with malt: big huge sweetness, sugary (from the unfermentable dextrins), and chewy-syrup. There is a light toasty, bready taste. Definitely some melon sweetness is in the mix (more from malt than the choice of yeast). There is a vague hop presence, spicey, which is enhanced by the alcohol tinge of the 7.5% brew. Just plain well-balanced and expertly crafted.
Maibock is a hard style to pull off. You could very well end up with a massive Oktoberfest and quash any hop character and balance. Conversely, too much hops and you have a standard Bohemian pilsner. Well, Smuttynose has pulled it off nicely. There are some better examples available on the market, but for an American version of a strong German tradition, this is very drinkable and I recommend it.