Maibock Beer: An Ode To A Classic

Everybody loves a classic, and the Maibock is a classic.

Unfortunately, like other classics, the Maibock has gone largely forgotten, relegated to obscure tap lists the same way you might have to wait for Some Like It Hot to show up on Turner Classic Movies just to watch the final scene. It’s a shame.

Today, I want to explore the Maibock, praise the Maibock, and make a plea:

Return the Maibock.

What is a Maibock?

A Maibock is a type of strong beer from Germany. By strong, I mean that the Maibock is a hefty lager, usually darker in color than you’d get from a Helles or Pilsner. That being said, the Maibock is a lighter type of Bock and is popular in the spring.

Here’s a brief history of the Maibock and broader Bock family. So the beer style originated from the town of Einbeck and, in classic beer fashion, the style was named after the town — Einbeck. However, Bavarians had an accent, so the townsfolk of Munich pronounced it as ein Bock, which I guess means goat. So, people just started calling these beers Bock instead of Einbeck. I guess they also dropped the ein.

As a cute little nod to the past, many Bocks and Maibocks have goats on their labels. Pretty fun.

History aside, the Maibock is a Bock that’s much paler in color — so much so that another name for the beer is Heller Bock, meaning Light Bock.

Maibock vs Bock: What’s the Difference?

As Cold IPA is to IPA, Maibock is to Bock. A Bock is a general type of strong beer that’s best defined by the substyle brewed. The Maibock is a sybstyle of the Bock, which means that the Maibock has siblings.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Bock family:

  • Traditional Bock. This is the main Bock, the heart of the style that everything builds off. Most Bocks are fairly sweet thanks to the low IBUs and use of roasty toasty malts. These guys are usually in the 6.5%-7.5% ABV range.
  • Doppelbock. Doppel means double, so the Doppelbock is a stronger version of the Bock. These guys can get pretty boozy, reaching upwards of 11%-12% ABV. However, the added maltiness of the Doppelbock makes it pretty easy to drink.
  • Weizenbock. More German for you here. Weizen means wheat, so — you guessed it — this is a Bock made with lots of wheat. 
  • Eisbock. I honestly didn’t know about this type of Bock until I consulted my good pal Wikipedia, but an Eisbock is pretty wild. Basically you take a Doppelbock, freeze part of it, remove the ice, and enjoy a leftover beer that’s much more concentrated than before. This is the Eisbock. 

What Does a Maibock Taste Like?

While the traditional Bock has an incredibly malty flavor, the Maibock tampers this flavor down a bit, letting the hops shine through a little more. However, don’t expect the full-blown hop blast of an IPA when you sip on a Maibock. Maibocks are still malty, just not nearly as much as the traditional Bock. 

Most Maibocks have this awesome amber color that you just don’t find enough at craft breweries these days. In terms of booziness, expect something in the 6%-8% ABV range, though these can easily go higher in ABV.

Ode to the Maibock: The Final Verse

Openly lamenting the lack of Maibocks in my immediate vicinity is admittedly whiny and pathetic. And I don’t care. As much as I love a good pale ale, IPA, or crispy boi lager, it does get to the point where I crave a little more variety.

I know that most craft brewers don’t brew Maibocks because they don’t sell as well as and are probably harder to brew than a 7% Hazy IPA that’ll go gangbusters on Saturdays and Sundays with the 25-35 male demographic. 

But I can, at the very least, write this ode.

O! Maibock, how that art so tasty and cool 
How bad I wish to drink you by the pool 
When the sun beats down, and the wind is fair 
O, my sweet Maibock, you should also be there!

Thomas Short
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