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There are a few classic beer styles that we can’t help but admire for their simple yet perfect display of malt flavor and color. For example, Maibock—that delicious variation on Bock Beer dating back to the 17th century. (An interesting aside, Einbocks go back even further to the 14th century. Those who first brewed Maibocks had to wait for the Czech Pilsen malt to make its way to Munich!) Maibock is a straightforward German lager—liquid sunshine with a light, tangy hop infusion to remind us of impending summertime but with a hearty enough malt flavor to remind us that it’s the grain that builds the beer.
It’s also a strong German Lager that, through its smooth and sweet malt character, masks the higher alcohol level and allows the style to do its job: As an easy-drinking lager that celebrates malt flavor and keeps the chill of spring in check.
And the grain bill of a great Maibock is simple: A trio of Pilsen (or base malt), Vienna, and Munich, will provide plenty of extractable material for the 6.5% ABV, a nicely balanced deep-golden color and a rich, malty flavor with slight bready notes to carry you from April Showers through May flowers.
One rather bold approach to dialing in your unique Maibock color and flavor is to combine a conservative 40-60% Pilsner malt with 30-40% Vienna—and leave room for the Munich 10. You can experiment with balancing the Munich 10 and Vienna ratios—increasing the Vienna for a greater contribution to your yield and playing with Munich percentages until you get the perfect golden hue.
Targeting 30-40% Vienna and 10-30% Munich 10 alongside the Pilsen malt will create a more memorable malt presence that dominates—in a nice way!—the slight hop tang. With a slightly extended kettle-boil of about 105-150 minutes to encourage the Maillard reaction, you’ll get the rich golden color Maibocks are known for.
So go for it! Maibock is a classic malt-forward style. The basics are simple, but by experimenting with the Pilsen-Vienna-Munich malt trio, you can make it your own. Just in time for Spring.