There’s good beer, and there’s ridiculously good beer.
Our Honey Maibock is one of those ridiculously good beers.
Rich and malty, Honey Maibock is a pale and classic lagerbier. With 13% of the fermentables provided by Jersey Fresh-certified honey from busy South Jersey bees, this otherwise big Bock is slightly dry with a clean finish, thanks to its many months spent lagering in stainless. Hopped with old-world Czech Saaz and new-world New Zealand Rakau, Honey Maibock has a delicate hop note that’s perfectly met by its distinctive malt profile.
Not only is it ridiculously good, but it’s also ridiculously, intensely German. German malts, German hops, German yeast… New Jersey honey.
And it’s now on tap now in our Beer Garden!
It’s rare that we do a beer that’s this intensely German. Most beers have at least a little German influence — those Germans loved their beer so much that they passed a lot of laws about them –, but our Honey Maibock is German through-and-through.
“A big, malty backbone, sweetness on the finish, crisp, clean, lagery flavor rolling all over,” says Innovation Director Brian Hink.
Lab Manager Lauren Appleman is loving this beer, too.
“Can confirm, this beer is fantastic!” she says. “If I had to describe this beer, I would say that it is like the lovechild of Biscuits and Honey and Cape May Lager, and it got the best qualities from both.”
Not everyone may be familiar with a maibock, but the name should suggest some similarities with other beers with which you may be familiar. You’ve probably had a bock at some point — it’s simply a big lager, like a Double IPA or an Imperial Stout.
A maibock is a bock brewed to be enjoyed in spring — mai being German for May.
“They’re also known as a Heller Bock,” Brian explains, “with Helle being German for ‘light-colored’, meaning a Heller Bock or Maibock is a very light-colored/pale Bock, as opposed to a traditional Bock which is much darker in color. You can think of those styles as imperial Vienna Lagers, big, sweet, amber-leaning darker lagerbiers. A Maibock is light, straw-colored, and a little less full-bodied than a traditional Bock.”
And, like any good lagerbier, our Honey Maibock is all about balance: the malt, the hops, the honey. The hops presence in Honey Maibock may be a little more than you’d expect for a crisp, clean lager, but, considering the relatively high ABV of 7.7%, the hops are well-balanced and not particularly assertive.
“The malt presence shines through,” Brian says, “but it’s not overly sweet because it’s a very traditional German-style beer, so it’s all about balance.”
“This beer is about the malt and the honey,” she says. “The hops add a needed bit of bitterness and the lager yeast produces a very clean profile, keeping everything in balance to allow the malt and honey to shine through.”
There are definitely some Very German Malts in this beer, as one might expect from a Very German Beer.
And we used some Very German Yeast: our Bohemian Pilsner.
“It’s our workhouse house lager strain,” Brian explains. “It’s clean, it’s efficient, it’s reliable, it brings a really nice character to the finished product.”
Essentially, it was because of our need to continue re-pitching this yeast between brews of Tan Limes that our Honey Maibock is even a thing. We were looking for a brew that would fit the bill, and, thankfully, tank space became available at just the right time.
“We had a tank available that we could tie up for a while so that we could give this beer some time to actually lager in the tank,” Lauren tells us. “Lager yeast can tend to be finicky, especially in its younger generations when it can be a notoriously slow starter, which is why we decided to brew this beer. We wanted to keep the current strain going rather than have to start a new prop for a future Tan Limes that may have taken a little longer than expected.”
In the hops bill, you’ll find that Noble German hop of Saaz combined with a decidedly not-German New Zealand variety, Rakau.
“We wanted the earthy, spicy, nobleness that the Saaz brings,” Brian says, “and Rakau has a nice, clean, subtle fruitiness to it that we thought would pair very nicely off the Saaz.”
If you expected everything about this beer to be all-the-way German, you’re barking up the wrong maypole. At Cape May Brewing Company, we’ll take a traditional style and give it a good, modern, CMBC twist.
“Last summer’s Wildwooder was a traditional Kölsch that was dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc, and our Other Half collaboration Jersey Shore Souvenir was a beautiful KellerPils with new-world hops shining through,” Brian reminds us. “So, with Honey Maibock, we wanted to add only a small twist that could help put a unique spin on this traditional style of beer.”
And we can’t forget the honey. Nearly 13% of the fermentable sugars come from very busy, Jersey Fresh, South Jersey bees.
The result is a true beer-drinking beer.
“You can thoughtlessly slug it back — and get pretty banged up in the process –, or you can enjoy it and analyze every bit of detail that’s meticulously placed in there,” Brian suggests. “All of the components are doing what they’re supposed to do, and, if you’re paying attention, you pick up on each note.”
It’s one of those beers that we take great pride in brewing.
“It’s not a sexy beer,” Brian says, “and certainly not going to get anyone lining up to buy a can drop of it, but it’s not trying to be either. It’s just trying to be an exceptionally well-made, true-to-style, traditional, beauty-in-its-simplicity kind of beer-drinking beer.”
And Lauren is loving every minute of it.
“I plan on getting growler fills of this one,” she says. “The perfect way to enjoy this would be grilling up some brats for dinner and then finish off the growler by a bonfire into the late night.”
Honey Maibock is on tap now in our Beer Garden. Be sure to check it out!