Friday, May 1, 2009

Beer Review: Lakefront Imperial Maibock

I'll admit to two biases: 1) I'm not a fan of maibocks in general; 2) I do like Lakefront. Moreover, I don't really understand the "imperial maibock" tag. Maibock, to me, is a light (both in color and body), spring-time bock with moderate alcohol, low-to-moderate hops and malty aroma and flavor. The BJCP says:
Can be thought of as either a pale version of a traditional bock, or a Munich helles brewed to bock strength. While quite malty, this beer typically has less dark and rich malt flavors than a traditional bock. May also be drier, hoppier, and more bitter than a traditional bock. The hops compensate for the lower level of melanoidins. There is some dispute whether Helles (“pale”) Bock and Mai (“May”) Bock are synonymous. Most agree that they are identical (as is the consensus for Märzen and Oktoberfest), but some believe that Maibock is a “fest” type beer hitting the upper limits of hopping and color for the range. Any fruitiness is due to Munich and other specialty malts, not yeast-derived esters developed during fermentation.
So, an "imperial" version of this, seems, to me, to be a dopplebock. Maybe with a little more hopping. So, a blonde dopplebock maybe? But, I guess Lakefront can't call their beer a "Blonde Dopplebock" can they? Though, I suppose, one could argue that if "dopplebock" is a style and "blonde" is a color...then, personally, I don't see why not...but that's neither here or there. Anyway, this is what the BJCP says about dopplebocks: "A bigger version of either a traditional bock or a helles bock."

So, there you go, another name for "maibock" is "helles bock" and the very definition of "dopplebock" is "bigger helles bock". So, an imperial maibock, one would think, would be a helles dopplebock.

But so much for semantics.

Speaking of semantics. Anyone know why it's "lager beer" on the website (and the image to the left there) but my bottle says "Imperial Maibock" with "lager" in much smaller letters?

Lakefront Big Easy Imperial Maibock
Appearance:  A two-finger, dense, white foamy head; clear and finely carbonated, a deep "beer" color - not really amber, not golden, other reviews have called it strawberry blonde, but it's more "oakish" - served at 47 degrees.
Aroma: grassy, strong aroma out of the bottle as it pours; sticking a nose into this thing it has a strong malty, slightly alcoholic brightness on the back end; floral and grassy hops are definite but not strong
Flavor: not as huge flavored as I might have expected with the "imperial" tag, but definitely big and malty; a bit of a hop bitterness, but it is well-balanced, if a little one-note
Body: middle-aged white collar worker body - soft and unathleticly pudgy; a not-as-long-as-I-would-have-thought finish; probably cleaned up by the nice long, dry lagering period and the hops.
Drinkability: Two or three of these before and during dinner would be nice, so decent sessionability, and a nice, seasonal beer
Summary: I like this with a good pizza; I don't really get the New Orleans (presumably Mardi Gras) references, but it would probably work decently with a nice N'Awlins dinner of gumbo or po'boys. It's also a good drinker for a late-April Thursday night. Has it changed my mind about Maibocks? Not really, but I do like this one.

----------------UPDATE--------------
From Lakefront Head Brewer Russ Klisch:
We thought it was a more precise name, same recipe. If you say lager to people they think the beer will be more along the lines of big brewery lager. Since the beer has around 7% abv we thought the Imperial label was appropriate.

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