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Capital Brewery
Middleton, WI

Style: Maibock

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Ah, spring in the Midwest- it's a great time of year. Freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and wind. April is just sooo f-ing fantastic. Ok, while this has been an exceptionally shitty few weeks here in the Midwest, it's not a total loss. After all, the calendar does say spring, and that means it's time to roll out the most popular spring seasonal brew, the Maibock. Maibocks are to spring what Dopplebocks are to late fall, only reversed- an annual right of passage marking the tranistion from darker, heavier, higher abv, warming winter brews to the lighter, lower abv summer brews that are easier to drink and refreshing on warm days. Dopplebocks usually appear in late October and November, following the early autumn Ocktoberfest/Marzen style brews, which are a bit lighter. Maibocks tend to follow the very dark, thick winter brews such as Stouts, Scottish Porters, dark Ambers, or high abv beasts like Imperial Stouts and IPA's. The Maibock, while still powerful at typically 6 to 7% abv, offers a lighter and easier drink than Dopplebocks, Stouts, Imperials, et. al, getting us all in a celebratory mood for the impending warm weather. Personally, Nigel doesn't celebrate the impending warm weather until he gets his first 18 holes in, which has not yet happened yet. Much like the Cleveland Indians, Nigel refuses to play a summer sport in a snowstorm.

I have to say, in the interest of full public disclosure, that the Maibock is not high on my list of favorite styles, but I chalk that up mostly to some unfortunate experiences. Like any quality craft beer style, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch. I actually went into last spring thinking Maibock was perhaps one of my three least favorite styles. I was so down on Maibocks that I refused to accept that one of my favorite brews, Rogue's Dead Guy Ale, actually fell into that category (I tried to convince myself that Dead Guy Ale was a new style- you know, like we were going to see Samuel Adam's Dead Guy Ale advertised on tv during golf tournaments). This changed after sampling a few Maibocks last spring, including Tyranena's Fighting Finches Maibock, Sprecher Maibock, and a German imported version from Spaten. While I'm by no means ready to put this style in my top 5, I do now appreciate the style and was excited to see Capital Maibock on store shelves upon returning from my Southwestern sabbatical.

Somehow, spring '07 was my first ever taste test of Capital's take on the Maibock, and I was very hopeful. Capital makes THE finest Dopplebocks out there, Autumnal Fire and Dark Dopplebock, and their winter seasonal, the dark amber Winter Skal, is pretty good (see earlier Nigel reviews of both Autumnal Fire and Winter Skal). In my not-so-humble opinion, Capital doesn't do as well with their summer release, Fest (also known as Summer Fest) and early fall Oktoberfest, both of which are Oktoberfest/Marzen offerings. This is surprising, considering that Capital tends to specialize in authentic German-style brews that are quite good (let's NEVER mention Island Wheat, ok?- damn sellouts!). I was a bit dissapointed with the Maibock, though this is partially due to overly high expectations. Not nearly up to the standards of Capital's Dopplebocks, Maibock reminded me alot of Winter Skal- solid, but not overly impressive.

Capital's Maibock pours nicely. A good deep golden brown color, slightly darker than a Marzen, but much lighter than a Dopplebock. Decent carbonation on the pour that quickly settles, leaving a nominal white trace that lingers throughout the brew. The smell is decent, with a good mix of Munich pale malt and darker, toasted malt giving it an aroma that is both smokey and somewhat sugary. Not much of a hop aroma at all, which was very disappointing to me, considering that Maibocks often have a noticeable hop addition (nothing overwhelming, but usually nice). The taste is solid. Not too dark for a Maibock, it goes down smooth, with a flavorfull malty taste. The roasted malt is mixed well with the sweetness of caramel and molasses, and a nice bit of spiciness enhances the overall flavor. Again, very hard to detect any hoppiness, which would have significantly added to the overall flavor in my opinion. There is a very mild hint of alcohol, but it's very tolerable. In my not-so-good past experiences with Maibocks, my main gripe was that they were overly acidic- hence, the alcohol taste was overwhelming, making for a beer with little or no detectable flavor. Clearly, a quality Maibock avoids this. Capital's version is certainly flavorful, but has the potential to be even more so. It goes down smooth as a medium bodied brew, and could possibly be considered a session brew, though definitely not in Nigel's book. Should any of you Beer Dorks be looking for a quality Maibock to help celebrate the arrival of spring, Capital is certainly worth a try, though better choices are likely available. Now, if I could only get that 18 in...


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on April 14, 2007.
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