Review of a seasonal German lager made by Drotmunder Actien Brauerei
Lovers of fine, refreshing beverages are living in a golden age when it comes to the availability of great beer. For one thing, there are so many North American breweries making truly world class beers. What makes today even better is the production of seasonal beers by the world’s breweries. Many North American breweries have modern notions of what seasonals they produce (pumpkin beer anyone?). As great as these seasonals are, it is sometimes nice to find traditional old world seasonals such as German lagers like the Maibock.
Hailing from Germany, Maibock is one of the world’s classic seasonal beers. Before the invention of refrigeration, German lagers were brewed during cooler months. During the fall and winter for instance, brewers in the German city of Einbeck made a lager known as bock. Most bocks are fairly strong brews, known for their dark color and full, malty profile. These bocks are stronger than average, with some coming in at up to 12 percent alcohol by volume. Maibock on the other hand, served as a transition between the strong, malty winter bocks and the more refreshing summer lagers.
Maibock hails from Munich when local brewers wanted to emulate the bock beers being made in Einbeck at the time. As a style, Maibock is known for its amber color and malty flavors, edging towards soft breadiness and toasted malt qualities. Traditionally these beers carry more hop character than their darker qualities, giving them a more refreshing character. That refreshing character helps make the beer more enjoyable on a pleasant spring day when the beer is traditionally tapped.
Even though it is not springtime as this review is posted, the fall weather still seems to lend itself to this classic German seasonal. Produced by the Dortmunder Actien Brauerei, DAB Maibock is paler than expected, filling the glass with a honeyish, straw-colored beer. Light carbonation supports a rocky white head. Retention is okay, if not great.
The aroma starts off pleasantly bready or biscuity with a lightly toasted quality to it. Up front breadiness builds to a center giving both caramel and pilsner malts. DAB’s aroma also carries a scent reminiscent of white grapes. The finish has a slightly floral hoppiness.
DAB Maibock’s body is light and smooth, with only a little carbonation scrubbing its way across the drinker’s tongue. Instead of the up front bready qualities found in the nose, the flavor has up front flavors of pilsner maltiness. Moving into the center, maltiness is held up by flavors of apple and grape. Then comes a slightly alcoholic note, no doubt due to the beer’s 7% alcohol by volume. The finish is short and dry, coupled with alcoholic spiciness and just a bit of hops.
So, where does DAB Maibock sit among the world’s great beers? It only gets a 6.5 out of 10 from this reviewer. The beer’s flavors are not bad, but they just don’t come together in as harmonious a fashion as you might like. This is all the more disappointing given the beer actually had some halfway pleasant aromas to it.