The original bockbier was a top-fermented dark beer made mostly of wheat. According to some
records, bockbiers date as far back as 1250 AD. They were produced in winter and stored in ice caves for summer drinking. The name “bock” is from the town where it was first brewed: Einbeck, Germany.

Maibocks, also known as “helles bocks,” are a pale variation of that original style. Like pilsners
and other beers, these lighter bocks were made possible over time through improved grain processing, better brewing equipment and more sophisticated techniques. German Brewer’s Guild law mandates maibocks be made with an original gravity between 16.5° to 17°
Plato with an alcohol content of 6 to 7.5 percent by volume. The bitterness is moderate, from 20 IBUs to 35 IBUs. These beers are a light gold or light copper color, with a dry finish.

The old country offers dozens of great maibocks. A few examples available in our country are Ayinger Maibock, a floral, bright bock from Bavaria; Hacker-Pschorr Bock, a clean helles brewed with abundant Hallertau hops all the way through; and Einbecker Ur-Bock Hell, which is the original pale bockbier.

The U.S. microbrew movement also offers excellent maibocks. In fact, there could be a national festival just for all the great maibocks brewed by American micros. Some to try: Maierbock by Rogue Ales in Newport, Oregon; the pioneering bock made by Abita Brewing in Abita Springs, Louisiana; and Garten Brau by Capital Brewing in Madison, Wisconsin.

For this and all other German styles, I’d recommend noble varieties of hops, and those of good German lineage for bittering. German Northern Brewer, Perle, Spalt and Spalt Select all make good bittering hops. Middle and finishing additions may include Hallertau, Czechoslovakian Saaz or Tettnang. Our recipe calls for Perle as the bittering hop at 90 minutes and Hallertau for
30 minutes at the end of the boil. Use hop flowers if they’re available.

This recipe uses pale pilsner malt, along with a little light crystal 10° Lovibond malt for color and flavor. There’s also a significant portion of malted wheat. This will make a nice full-bodied bock with a bit of residual richness. Our single-infusion mash will be performed at 150° F, for one hour or until the starch has converted to sugar.

My yeast selection is the Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian lager). More adventurous brewers can also get good results from Wyeast 2124 (Bohemian lager) and Wyeast 2308 (Munich lager). The
fermentation is a two-week step process followed by a week of settling at 40° F and aging in the bottle for at least four weeks at 40° F.

(5 gallons, all-grain)

• 8 lbs. Pale pilsner malt
• 3 lbs. Pale malted wheat
• 1 lb. crystal malt, 10° Lovibond
• 0.75 oz. Perle (7.3% alpha acid, 7.3 AAUs) for 90 minutes
• 0.50 oz. Hallertau (3.5% alpha acid, 1.75 AAUs) for 30 minutes
• 1 oz. Hallertau (3.5% alpha acid, 3.5 AAUs) at end of boil
• 2 pt. starter of Wyeast 2206 (Bavarian lager)
• 2/3 cup corn sugar for priming

Step by Step:

Mash grain in 3.75 gal. of water at 150° F for 60 min. Sparge with 168° to 170° F water to collect 5.75 gal. of wort. Total boil is 90 min. At beginning of boil add Perle hops and
boil 60 min.  Add 0.50 Hallertau, boil remaining 30 min.  At end of boil, add 1 oz. Hallertau to finish.  Whirlpool and cool to 45° F to pitch starter. Oxygenate-aerate. Ferment at 45° F for three days, raise to 55° over four more days then rack to secondary. Continue fermentation for seven more days until gravity is 1.012 (3° Plato). Cool to 40° F or below and let settle for seven more days. Prime and bottle. Age at least four more weeks at 40° F before drinking.

OG = 1.068 (17° Plato)
Bitterness = 30 IBUs
Color = 10 SRM
7.5% ABV

Extract with Grain Option:

Substitute 9.5 lbs. pale malt extract, preferably containing some wheat malt. Start with 5 gal. of 150° F water. Steep crushed grain for 30 min. Sparge grains with enough 170° F water to make 5.5 gal. Heat to boiling and add extract syrup. The total boil will be 60 min. At beginning of boil add 1 oz. Perle, continue for 30 min. Add 0.50 oz Hallertau. Boil for 30 more min., add 1 oz. Hallertau and whirlpool. Cool to 45° F and pitch starter. Oxygenate-aerate well. Follow fermentation schedule from above.

OG = 1.068 (17° Plato)
Bitterness = 30 IBUs 30
Color = 15 SRMs
7.5% ABV

Issue: April 2000