We featured this can a couple of weeks ago and it caught my eye. With only a beer-drinking skeleton on the front, surrounded by black and an absence of branding, it’s quite odd looking… but quite striking too. On the back of the can, the branding kicks in with some cute word play on the theme of death, but there was one word amongst them all that made me flinch. The word was maibock and I flinched as, well, I wasn’t really sure what it meant.
Let’s keep this to ourselves right - I wouldn’t want my brewer friends hearing about it.
It got me thinking about just how we communicate to consumers and just how complex the world of craft brewing is these days and the implications of all of this.
To be fair, our Dead Guy Ale has a little description of the flavour profile, so it’s doing its darndest to fill me in on what I am drinking and this is a smart move, hopefully educating at the same time as informing. But I did wonder how many people would have read that word and put the can down feeling a touch alienated?
It reminded me too of the old days of French wine labelling. Back in the day, those cheeky Frenchies didn’t tell you what grape variety was in the wine and the result was one of exclusivity. You had to be savvy enough to know that Burgundy meant Pinot Noir (etc. etc.) to have any idea of what you were drinking. You had to be savvy to be in the club.
As the world of beer increases in complexity, there’s a danger of exclusivity creeping into what is, typically, a very transparent industry. We all like the feeling of belonging to something, but this doesn’t need to be at the exclusion of others, especially in an industry that prides itself on the notion of community.
I digress. So how does this maibock taste (a traditional strong, malty Bavarian lager in case you were wondering too).
It’s a beautiful deep orange in the glass with a cream coloured head. The nose is all about biscuity malt, ginger, citrus and herbs. On the palate I’m getting candied orange peel and toasty malt; the hop and malt balance is spot on and has you constantly trying to suss out whether it’s the malt or the hops that has the upper hand. A lovely light mouthfeel and just enough bitterness to clean things up on the finish and leave that note of freshness that is so important in beer.
It’s a clever little beer this one, which dances between aley-and-malty and light-and-lagery, keeping you guessing the whole time. And, now I know what a maibock is, and it’s a style I dig… maybe I’ll try and get some more.