Fearful Symmetries

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21 April, 2016

For the May Day is the Great Day: Bonfire Maibock by House of Brews



Earlier this year House of Brews proprietor Page Buchanan announced that he'd be brewing four lagers here in 2016. Back in the depths of winter he released the tasty Jailhouse Bock, a doppelbock quite adept at keeping the winter chill at bay. And last month saw the release of Bonfire Maibock to help ease the transition from having Jack Frost nipping at your nose to having mosquitoes suckling at your skin in oppressive heat and humidity.

I have a special place in my liver for maibocks, those malty brews that are lighter in color and in body than their other bock cousins and generally a bit hoppier than them too. With Lententide fasting over, they are not charged with sustaining life alone and so, while hearty, they are not as heavy as the doppelbock. It was through the maibock – a Capital Mindblock, er, Maibock, specifically – that I became introduced to seasonal beers back in 1991.

Full disclosure: I know Brewmaster Page personally but I will be brutally honest for your benefit, dear reader. And, besides, he's not paying me.

Bonfire pours a lovely clear gold. This is one of those biers that makes me wish I had the ability to take nice photographs and/or use Paint.net with something resembling skill because it is really pretty. My pour produced a small white head that dissipated quickly. There was, however, a goodly number of bubbles in the bier going up.

The aroma was sweetly scented and wonderful. Honey came first followed by a light, berry-like fruitiness, which I did not expect. I don't mean to imply it was fruity like one would expect from a Ballast Point Bilge Water Strawberry Maibock, but the malts just had this mild, non-specific berry scent. There was also a trace of grassy hops.

Bonfire had medium-lightish body and a rather rich taste. A nice honeyed sweetness was first on my tongue and, while it took pride of place, it was by no means cloying. Jailhouse Bock was brewed with three sweet malts; by contrast Bonfire only has one caramel malt, Carahell, with Pilsen and Vienna malts filling it out. And while not overflowing with decocted Maillard reactioned melanoidin flavor, the bier did have a really nice toasted malt taste behind the sweetness. Some of those grassy hops were to be tasted in there too.

On the finish the malt sweetness faded as a spicy/herbal Nugget hop flavor ascended. Both the flavor and the not insubstantial bitterness they brought made for a really nice contrast to the malts. Schaumhaftvermoegen was nowhere to be found.

Bonfire is a mighty fine maibock. While I thought it was just a touch on the thin side, I loved the malt sweetness. It had a really nice taste which was almost floral and was neither overpowering nor syrupy yet it was dominant. Some toasted flavors were complementary while a nice dose of carbonation and hops added contrast which helped keep the sweetness in check. Bonfire is smooth and goes down easily. Too easily, perhaps.

Junk food pairing: Have a box of Baby Swiss Cheez-Its on hand when you've got a Bonfire in hand.

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|| Palmer, 11:36 AM

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