So my plans for a beer style of the month for May, which was going to be maibock/helles bock, ended up being a pretty big fail. There were a number of reasons for this including lack of readily available examples of the style, getting distracted by other reviews and articles and not having the time to really plan out the month. The last one was a biggie, I am in the process of buying a home (closing this week!) then tackling a few home improvement projects and eventually moving, so my time to peruse the selections of a local bottle shop and carefully plan out my blog posts has been cut short. I am not going to do a recap of maibock month, but I do encourage you to check out the style, a summary of the maibocks that I’ve reviewed can be found here. I am going to take a couple months off from the style-of-the-month and try to tackle it again in August. One final review to wrap up the month is Slue’s Maibock from Berkshire Brewing Company. This beer is either new or just a new packaging of the maibock that BBC has produced for a while, I can’t tell because it appears that their website is down. Slue’s Maibock is available on draft and in 750 mL bombers.
Berkshire Brewing Slue’s Maibock pours a deep copper with a small off-white head. The scent is a mixture of malted grain along with some noble hops. The malts lead the flavor, notes of crusty bread, biscuits and honey. This is balanced by the hops, touches of grass, earth and herbs. The beer is medium bodied and easy to drink. The finish is what you’d expect from a lager, crisp and clean with minimal aftertaste. Slue’s Maibock is a very solid version of the style, worth a try to celebrate the end of winter! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous BBC Reviews:
BBC Steel Rail, BBC Brewer’s Choice Blonde IPA, BBC Coffeehouse Porter
The Hoppy Boston style of the month for May is actually a combination of styles, Maibock/Helles bock and Helles lager. I felt the need to combine the two because there were a limited number of examples for each style that I could easily obtain, especially when you factor in the beers I’ve already reviewed. Maibock and Helles bock are synonyms for the same style of beer, a paler and more heavily hopped version of the traditional German bock. Maibocks are brewed for spring festivals, particularly for the time between the last melt of snow and when plants start to bloom. It makes sense that many of the American breweries who make Maibocks brew them as spring seasonals. Troegs Brewing’s spring seasonal is Cultivator, a Helles bock brewed to celebrate the beginning of hop growing season. Troegs Cultivator is available in the spring on draft and in 12 oz. bottles and cans.
Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock pours a clear deep gold with a small white head. The scent is a mixture of bready malts and floral hops. The flavor is also very balanced. A full dose of malts contributes notes of whole grain bread, crackers and honey. This is complemented by a solid hit of Old World hops that add touches of grass, herbs and earth with just a hint of bitterness. The beer is medium bodied and very smooth but packs a little punch at 6.9% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with a very mild and balanced aftertaste. Overall Troegs Cultivator Helles Bock is a very nice version of the style, tons of flavor and very easy to drink, perfect for warm spring days (that I hope are coming soon)! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Troegs Reviews:
Troegs Nugget Nectar, Troegs Mad Elf, Troegs Troegenator, Troegs Sunshine Pils
I am a frequent participant in a craft beer chat on twitter that takes place most Thursday nights at 9 PM EST. Everyone is welcome, you can follow along/participate in the chat using the #beerchat hashtag. Last week one of the questions was about potential emerging trends in the beer industry, and I opined that more small brewers would add lagers to their menus. There are many great lager beer styles that American brewers haven’t fully explored due to the longer fermentation times and added equipment needed to produce lagers. One response I got was “I can see lager making a comeback, not a fan myself”. I didn’t argue at the time, but that seems like a ridiculous statement. Too many people equate lager with pilsner only, and specifically with the mass-produced flavorless pilsners, but there are diverse lagers that cover the complete spectrum of beer flavors.
I think MA residents take the idea of full flavored lager beer as a given due to the regular availability of Jack’s Abby Brewing Company beers in the state. Quite possibly the most innovative lager-centric brewery in the world is right in our backyard, Jack’s Abby Brewing Company in Framingham. This week I am going to post my newest brewery overview article featuring Jack’s Abby. For my lead in review I sampled Maibock Hurts Like Helles, one of their spring seasonal releases. Maibock Hurts Like Helles is a traditional German lager style that can be called a Maibock or a Helles Lager. Maibock’s are lighter in color than traditional bocks, but still pack a little alcoholic punch. Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like Helles is released every spring on draft and in 0.5 L bottles.
Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like Helles pours a clear gold with a mild white head. The scent is a subtle mixture of bready malts and earthy hops. It is immediately evident when you first taste the beer that this is a lager, the flavor is crisp and very clean. There are distinct pale malt flavors, touches of crackers, toast, and just a little honey. This mingles with some old-school hops that add notes of lemon and cut grass. The beer is light bodied and very smooth, the 6.5% ABV catches you a bit off guard. Overall Jack’s Abby Maibock Hurts Like Helles is a very well made spring/summertime beer, perfect to sip while grilling or relaxing outside. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Jack’s Abby Reviews:
Jack’s Abby Hoponius Union, Jack’s Abby Barrel-Aged Framinghammer, Jack’s Abby Bride Maker, Jack’s Abby Brewery/Hopstitution BAM, Jack’s Abby Copper Legend, Jack’s Abby Session Rye IPL, Jack’s Abby Mass Rising, Jack’s Abby/Evil Twin Jack’s Evil Brew, Jack’s Abby Wet Hop Lager, Jack’s Abby Pro-Am Pilsner
Rogue Brewing Company was founded in 1988 as a 60 seat brewpub in Ashland, Oregon. From there they have grown into one of the most widespread and well known craft breweries in the US. Rogue is a unique operation, their website (HERE) is full of statements, rules and missions outlining their “revolution”. The basis of this revolution is their line of hand crafted ales, lagers and spirits (Rogue had its own distillery as well as their brewery). While Rogue had gained notoriety for some of their off-the-wall creations like the Voodoo Doughnut Bacon Maple Ale, their most well known beer is probably Dead Guy Ale. Rogue Dead Guy Ale is a Maibock, a German style lager that tends to be lighter in color and hoppier than a traditional bock. Originally brewed to celebrate the Mayan Day of the Dead in 1990, Dead Guy Ale quickly grew into one of Rogue’s most popular and widely distributed beers. The art on the label also attracted the interest of Grateful Dead fans (due to a coincidental resemblance to some of the bands artwork), who adopted it as their beer of choice. Rogue Dead Guy Ale is available year round on draft as well as in 12 and 22 oz. bottles.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale pours a clear deep amber with a minimal off-white head. The smell is pretty mild, some sweet malt and a touch of earthy hops. The malts lead off the flavor, whole grain bread, caramel and a touch of sweetness. The hops are present, notes of forest floor, grass with a little bitter bite that provides a suitable counterpoint to the malty flavor. The beer is medium bodied with a slightly sweet finish. The beer is smooth and easy to drink, clearly a lager. This is a solid version of a German Maibock, a style that is underrepresented in American craft beer. Worth a try, and I would like to see more brewers take a crack at the Maibock style. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
One popular trend in craft beer is single hop brews, which highlight the flavors of a single variety of hops. Many brewers make a series of single hopped beers, typically using the same malts/yeast/water and hop schedule and just switching the variety of hops used to brew. Brewmaster Jack of Northhampton, MA has a slightly different approach to their Hop Essence series of single hopped beers. Each entry in the Hop Essence series is a completely different beer, with the malt and yeast selected to complement the unique attributes of the hop. One of the recent releases in the series uses Motueka, a descendant of the Saaz hop grown in New Zealand. To highlight this hop, Brewmaster Jack constructed a beer with the malt bill of a German Maibock, but fermented at higher temperature with an ale yeast. The final beer is probably more of an IPA than a Maibock, but I’ll stick with the classification provided by the brewer.
Brewmaster Jack Motueka pours a clear bright orange with a solid but quickly dissipating white head. The smell is all hops, mostly resin and dank notes with just a touch of citrus. The taste is also very hop-forward, again favoring woodsy flavors like pine and cut grass followed by a little lemon. There are some malts in the backbone, just a touch of biscuit and caramel, but the hops sing here. Brewmaster Jack Motueka is solidly bitter but goes down smoothly. At 8.3% ABV it has a bit of kick, but the alcohol doesn’t come through in the flavor at all. The finish is very clean with a lasting bitterness on the tongue. Overall this is a great way to showcase a lesser known variety of hops. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Brewmaster Jack reviews:
Aquila Pale Ale