Fearful Symmetries

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25 November, 2015

Taurus to the Left of Me, Cancer to the Right: The Twins by Lake Louie Brewing



Last year Lake Louie Brewing overhauled its line-up. Beers were shuffled around into various series and new brews were introduced as well. The transformation continued into 2015 and included the introduction of a maibock back in the spring called The Twins. The name is a reference to Gemini, a sign in the zodiac, but both the beer and Lake Louie gained a measure of infamy back in April when a Madison Craft Beer Week event featuring the brew was held at the Silk Exotic strip club and promoted with the catchphrase, "Grab hold of a pair."

Puerile humor aside, the maibock is a potent pale lager. Brewed and lagered over the winter, it's tapped in the spring and serves as a liquid transition between the dead of winter and the rebirth of life in the spring. Although associated with Munich these days, the bock was invented in the north-central German city of Einbeck. The brewers of Einbeck were renowned for their quality beers and legend has it that Duke Maximillian of Bavaria recruited an Einbeckian brewer by the name of Elias Pilcher in and brought him to Munich in 1614 to demonstrate his mad skills for the poor, backwards southerners who took the northern style like a junkie to the needle. They are the ones who bestowed the name "bock" onto the beer as a corruption of Einbeck.

The modern maibock came about in the mid-19th century when Hofbräuhaus took advantage of then-new malting techniques which allowed for paler malts. The result was the pale (helles) bock we enjoy today each spring. I've never traipsed around Munich in the springtime so I am unsure of what an authentic maibock tastes like. These lighter bocks are generally hoppier than other iterations of the style but there is disagreement as to the malt character. Should it be sweet or more bready? At the end of the day I suppose it's irrelevant and that there is likely a fair amount of variation.

Although released back in the spring, it is once again Starkbierzeit (strong beer time) and it seemed appropriate to pull a bottle of The Twins out from my cellar last week.

The Twins pours a lovely golden hue. I got a small off-white head that went away all-too quickly. Being clear, I could see that there were many a bubble going up inside the beer. The aroma was distinctively sweet with honey and apricot scents standing out. As befitting a style that is hoppier than your average bock, there was also some grassy hop aroma to be had which became more pronounced as the beer warmed.

Whatever may or may not be the "authentic" taste of a maibock, sweetness prevails here. It's a clean sweetness, though, with it coming from malt. I tasted a stonefruity flavor primarily, although there was also a bit of toffee in there. Those grassy hops made a welcome return from the nose into the taste. While not a particularly hoppy beer, the hops were definitely more pronounced that in other types of bocks. All those bubbles I saw translated into some bite. Not enough to really challenge the malt sweetness but, in tandem with the hops, the carbonation made for a nice little distraction.

The one thing which did throw down the gauntlet before the sweetness was the alcohol burn. The Twins is around 8% A.B.V. but it tasted even headier. While Galen would have lauded the sanguine properties of The Twins, Matt Kenseth would recognize this beer's ability to fuel his car. I suspect that one's interest in feeling the burn on the tongue is going to go a long way in determining whether you enjoy this beer or not.

At the finish the malt sweetness gives way to some hop spiciness and its attendant dryness. And there's the omnipresent vital heat from the alcohol as well. Schaumhaftvermoegen was sparse with only a few dots around my glass.

As I noted above, this is a boozy-tasting beer and I was surprised by the heat. Once my tongue became acclimated, I enjoyed it quite a bit. I am not a hophead. My preference for malt-forward beers was certainly satisfied here but I appreciated the extra hops too. Bocks are usually quite lean on them but I thoroughly enjoyed the additional bitterness and the grassy/spicy flavors in The Twins.

One of, if not the, first microbrews I ever had was Capital's Maibock. Not only did it serve as an introduction to quality beer but also to the concept of seasonal suds. And so I have to admit that the style has a special place in my heart. It's nice to have another local maibock to indulge in come spring.

Junk food pairing: The Twins is a big beer with very intense flavors. With such brews I prefer not to try and counter the beer but to complement it with other intense flavors. Bleu cheese and chilies are favorites. Dip some Buffalo Blue Cheese Pretzel Combos in a blue cheese dips. Or find a nice spicy potato chip like the Spicy Thai ones from Kettle Brand. This mélange of flavors is guaranteed to keep away the chill.

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|| Palmer, 9:19 AM

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