Great Dane Fitchburg bartender Chris Erickson writes "Maibock" on the beer board behind the bar.
If you are a fan of the Maibock style of beer, you must feel a certain pressure to enjoy one in the month of May. Great Dane Fitchburg brewmaster Pat Keller follows the annual spring ritual with the timely release of his version of Maibock. "I'd make this beer all the time if they'd let me, but then it wouldn't be so special," he says. This Maibock just went on tap in Fitchburg and the downtown Danes.
What is it? Maibock
Style: Maibock is a lager that is traditionally brewed in the dead of winter and aged until spring. The beer commonly has a deep golden to clear copper color with a moderate to strong malty aroma. Its flavor should emphasize the malt, with only light hoppiness, to create a well-balanced beer. There may be hints of spicy tones in the flavor profile. Maibock is a medium-bodied and overall very clean-tasting beer that commonly ranges from 6.5%-7.5% ABV.
Background: The Great Dane has made this Maibock since it opened its Fitchburg location in 2002. It's made with German Pilsner and Munich malts with a little caramel malt for color. Keller likes to keep the recipe traditional and simple, so he uses German Hallertaur hops. He made just one 15-barrel batch this year, so depending upon its popularity, it's expected to be on tap into mid-June.
Keller is a close friend of Capital Brewery brewmaster Kirby Nelson, and he's a fan of Capital's Maibock. The two like to pair off in a friendly comparison of their seasonal renditions every May while watching the Indy 500 together.
Keller's 2012 version of Maibock took about two months to make, of which it conditioned, or lagered, for about six weeks. It finishes at 7.5% ABV. The Great Dane sells its Maibock for $5/pint and $10/growler (refill).
- Aroma: A firm, medium, maltiness with a hint of biscuit-like aroma.
- Appearance: Clear, rich copper-bronze color with a medium bubbly tan head.
- Texture: Medium bodied and round.
- Taste: Smooth caramel flavor, not too sweet, very nice balance.
- Finish/Aftertaste: A slight sweet malty finish, but still overall balanced and clean.
Glassware: The Great Dane serves Maibock in a wide-mouthed English pint glass, which is great for appreciating the beer's color. However, when I take a growler home, I use the footed pilsner glass, which shows off the color and focuses the malty aroma.
Pairs well with: Try this Maibock with the Applewood Bacon Burger one the Great Dane's menu. The sweetness of the beer's malty profile complements the flavor of the broiled hamburger and the smoked applewood bacon. Add a little gorgonzola to the top of the burger and it's a wonderful pairing.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Consensus: Great Dane Maibock has not received enough ratings to be evaluated at Beer Advocate, and has received a 73/91 (overall/style) at Ratebeer. (Note: These rankings do not distinguish the beers among the different Great Dane brewpubs.)
The Verdict: This beer is what one looks for in a well-made Maibock, with tones of caramel and biscuit-maltiness. I like its medium body, balance and clean finish. For those familiar with Capital's exceptionally smooth and clean malty Maibock, Keller's version is similar just a bit darker in color, with a touch more flour and bread-like maltiness. I like them both -- in racing terminology, it's a dead heat.