(7.2% German make from 500ml bottle) In a continuation from a post in April about Einbeck Ur-Bock, in which I outlined the impressive history of this brilliant German beer style, I now introduce part 2 in my series. The Hofbräuhaus Brewery’s Maibock weighing in at a stellar 7.2% helps us continue the story. First though, how does this one stack up against the Ur-Bock?
This devilishly strong maibock or helles bock (helles = pale) beer is a seasonal lager, and that much is imparted on you from the first smell. Taking a look at it upon the pour, it had an amber colour to it with an off-white/beige head capping off a bubbling body. On the taste, it was completely unlike the Ur-Bock, or the soon to be reviewed Ayinger’s Dobblebock. It delivered a well-crafted lager taste, smooth, though a touch sweet. The taste is assuredly refreshing, hence its enjoyment in the month of May, and still packed a serious punch at 7.2%. The taste did dry out on the back to something almost acidic. Overall, an interesting and surprising beer with a nice balance of sweetness and hoppy bitterness to make it a worthwhile purchase.
What does one think of when they think the brewery, the Hofbräuhaus? Something like massive beers, buxom waitresses, and singing tourists… well that’s not exactly how it all began. As mentioned in my previous post, in the 17th c when the massive trading consortium known as the Hanseatic League began to fall into disarray, the beer which had seen itself enjoyed all over its vast trading empire had a seemingly dire future in front of it. However, by the simple delicious nature of the delectable bock beer, it persevered.
For Munich, and the Hofbräuhaus, this was largely due to the thirst of the ruling ducal family of Munich. Wilhelm V was the first in the late 16th c to build a brewery there (hence the term Hofbräuhaus meaning ‘brewery of the court’ in German) after developing a taste for the beers of Einbeck. His son, Maximilian I, had not only a different taste for beers but also a cunning business mind. He began brewing wiessbier at the ducal brewery he father had established, and then forbade all other breweries from making the wheat based beer. Politics interfering with trade? Never heard of that… smooth move there Max.
Due to the increased demand (seeing as they were the only ones allowed to make weissbier), they had to relocate the brewery to where it is today in 1607 on the Platzl (Bavarian/ southern German dialect for ‘platz’). Building a new brewery means big expenditures and cash, and for that he tapped (literally) the people by allowing the beer of the Hofbräuhaus to be sold to the masses. However, after having developed a taste for the stronger, barley based (as opposed to wheat) beers from Einbeck the people grumbled for something different to be produced. So the head brewer from the Einbeck came south, and produced what was to become the first Maibock, the Hofbräuhaus Maibock. Why Maibock? Well simply put, it is drank in May (mai = May) for spring festivals. I would not want to have too many of these and then try to dance around the May pole…
Though considerably lighter in color and sweetness, the potent Maibock was such a hit that it literally saved the city when according to the Hofbräuhaus,
When the Swedish army occupied the town in 1632 during the Thirty Years’ War, they only refrained from plundering and burning once they had been paid tribute of 344 pails of Maibock beer brewed in the Hofbräuhaus brewery.
Whether it will save you from being plundered is another thing, but it is a beer well worth savouring. Well enjoyed in its season, this is a pleasantly strong beer whose history only makes it more enjoyable.