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Tuesday, September 23, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 48.0° F  Fog/Mist
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Beer Here: Jacked Maibock from Capital Brewery
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Credit:Robin Shepard

Capital Brewery is making a statement with its new line of big bottled beers. As bock season begins in earnest, the Middleton brewery just released Jacked Maibock in 22-ounce bottles. The beer is one of the last made by longtime brewmaster Kirby Nelson before leaving Capital last September to start a new brewery in Verona.

Jacked Maibock was tweaked by brewery production manager Brian Destree, and that little something extra makes a great beer even better. This brew is not only big and bold for its style, but even more interesting by the way it is made.

What is it? Jacked Maibock from Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin.

Style: Maibock refers to the early springtime version of bock beer. It's a lager traditionally brewed in the dead of winter and aged until spring. The maibock is medium-bodied with deep golden to clear copper color and moderate to strong malty aroma. Its flavor should emphasize the malt; hints of spicy tones are sometimes part of the background. Maibock commonly has a 6%-8% ABV.

Jacked Maibock is mostly a maibock, but it's stronger than many at around 9% ABV. What makes it unique is that it's blended with a special version of Eternal Flame just before bottling. This Capital brew has the qualities of a strong and malty doppelbock, and thanks to being barrel-aged, has hints of oak, vanilla and the sweetness of bourbon.

Background: This beer was initially brewed back in August with the intent of it being a bigger version of the brewery's spring seasonal Maibock. After additions of candi sugar and four months' aging, Destree started preparing to bottle it last December. Before doing so, he tasted it and decided it needed a bit more body to go with all of the spicy-alcoholic warmth. What he did was creative and resourceful. The brewery had some of its Eternal Flame aging for more than six months in oak barrels previously used by the Heaven Hill Distilleries of Bardstown, Kentucky, to make bourbon. Destree took a few of those barrels with Eternal Flame and added them to the new maibock.

Capital is releasing about 400 cases of Jacked Maibock, which sells in 22-ounce bomber bottles for around $7. No promise from the brewery that this beer will be made again, although Destree suggests that it may depend upon how well it sells.

Capital's regular seasonal Maibock is set to return soon, will be available in six-packs by mid-February. The brewery also holds its annual Bockfest celebration on Saturday, February 23. Attendance is limited to 2,500 in the beer garden. Tickets are $15, and buying them in advance provides early entry into the fest, beginning at 11 a.m. Beginning at noon, $15 general admission begins, provided there is room inside. Bockfest also features the annual release of Capital Blonde Doppelbock. This will be the 16th year for the festival.

Next up in Capital's bomber series is the March release of an Imperial IPA. But that's just a hint of hoppy things to come. In April, Destree plans to release an IPA in cans, six-packs and on draught as Capital's newest addition to its year-round line-up.

Tasting notes:

  • Aroma: Malty.
  • Appearance: Clear bronze with a ruby tint. A medium soft and tan head.
  • Texture: Full-bodied. Some warmth early and throughout.
  • Taste: Lots of malty flavor, with subtle tones of oak and bourbon-like sweetness in the background.
  • Finish/Aftertaste: The smooth caramel maltiness dominates throughout, both in flavor and how it complements the mouthfeel. The hints of barrel-aged bourbon are slightly stronger in the finish, and ever so lightly in the final aroma you get after sipping it slowly. You don't have to look hard to find this sweetness.

Glassware: The footed pilsner glass is great for the maibock because it focuses the malty aroma under the nose and shows off the brilliant bronze color. With Jacked Maibock, you might also consider small wine glasses when sharing a 22-ounce bottle among friends.

Pairs well with: Hard to go wrong when putting any maibock up against Louisiana Creole cuisine. The sweet tones of Jacked Maibock marry nicely with the sauces found in dishes like crawfish étouffée and shrimp creole.

Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four)

The Consensus: Jacked Maibock has not received enough ratings to be evaluated at either BeerAdvocate or RateBeer.

The Verdict: As this beer's name indicates, with a 9% ABV it qualifies as a jacked-up maibock. Its name might also be associated with "whiskey Jack," since it's aged in oak barrels. However, this is not an in-your-face, overly malty beer. Yes, Jacked Maibock is strong in alcohol and flavor, but its overall character is more classier than that. Purists might complain that blending and aging with bourbon barrels bends the rules of traditional German lager brewing and the Reinheitsgebot. However, this beer really works for me.

I like the caramel maltiness of the maibock combined with the body and richness of the doppelbock, layered with a smooth hint of bourbon sweetness in the aroma and finish. Blending two beers in this way, without ending up with a malt and/or bourbon monster, indicates a creative brewer, or in this instance two, Destree and Nelson. Jacked Maibock is smooth and inviting, and a wonderful late winter seasonal treat.

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