Culture Keepers | ABV 7.0%
BJCP Style: Helles Bock
CraftBeer.com Style: German Maibock
CraftBeer.com Sensory Style: Malty & Sweet
Malts: Epiphany Ursprung Fest Malt, Munich Malt
(A quick note on Sensory Style: A recent, very thought provoking article from CraftBeer.com (It’s Time to Rethink How We Talk About Craft Beer Basics) by Mirella Amato introduced the idea that separating beers into Ale or Lager categories really doesn’t help newer craft beer consumers determine what beers they may or may not like to try. Sensory Style is actually more informative. I tend to agree with this, so I have introduced CraftBeer.com’s Sensory Style categories, in addition to beer style, to help someone reading my reviews get quicker understanding of the overall experience they should expect from the beer. Sensory Style is divided into six broad categories: Sour/Tart/Funky, Crisp/Clean, Dark/Roasty, Malty/Sweet, Hoppy/Bitter and Fruity/Spicy. If you would like to explore these more on your on, you’ll find them here: CraftBeer.com Beer Styles. Go ahead and explore, you’ll find they work quite well.)
Appearance: Clear, brilliant light amber, fluffy off-white head with good retention, slow carbonation
Aroma: Floral and herbal hops. Bready malt.
Flavor & Aftertaste: Mostly spicy hops with some floral notes. Medium sweetness. Moderate bitterness.
Palate: Soft, medium body. Moderate carbonation. Finish is medium length with a moderate bitterness that trails off.
Collaborations between breweries has become a big way that craft breweries expand their knowledge, support each other and support community projects. These collaborations often create unique partnerships that accentuate the strengths of the breweries involved. Creature Comforts Brewing Co. has been on a real roll lately with partnerships. Early this year they teamed up with the highly regarded Allagash Brewing Co. to produce Get Comfortable. The Belgian Style IPA combined the Belgian style beer prowess of Allagash with the creativity and a marketing strengths of Creature Comforts to make a beer to support community projects in Athens, GA. Culture Keepers is most recent collaboration in which they partner with Burial Beer Co. out of Asheville, NC to make a German style Maibock.
Maibock, also referred to as Heller Bock, is a pale, malty German style beer that has traditionally been drunk in the spring months. It falls between the lighter Helles and stronger Doppelbock styles. They are typically a little more bitter and range in ABV from 6% – 8%. Traditional examples will use Pilsner or Vienna malt with some added Munich malt to adjust color. Hops feature German noble varieties. As is typical of Lager beers, these are technically challenging to make because they are malty and sweet and utilize noble hops, which accentuate spicy/herbal notes. You shouldn’t use hops that are strong with citrus/tropical fruit characteristics if you are trying to adhere to style. They need to be well balanced between bitterness and sweetness.
Maibock is one of those styles that is underrepresented in the U.S., so it can be difficult to find good examples. Fortunately, I was able to find Hofbrau’s this spring also, which is an excellent benchmark. Culture Keepers, while not quite reaching Hofbrau’s level, it is pretty darn close. My pictures capture the essence of it’s inviting color, clarity and head retention. It has a heavenly malty, floral aroma I enjoy in so many German style beers. While I like the fruity/tropical aromas that so many beers exhibit these days, I don’t need them to trigger anticipation of that first satisfying gulp that comes from a well crafted German style lager. Drinking the beer easily unveils the high quality of the ingredients used to make it. But just a little bit of investigation confirms it: imported German specialty grains malted by Epiphany Craft Malt, Munich malt combined with Saaz, Hallertauer Hersbrucker and Santiam hops. The combination of high quality ingredients and well executed brewing process produces a beer with a soft, medium bodied mouth-feel and slow natural carbonation.
As of this writing, there are still four packs of 16 oz. cans of Culture Keepers floating around the Atlanta area. If you enjoy the pleasures of a soft, balanced lager this a good one to look for. Quality ingredients, attention to detail, and patience result in a high quality, well-crafted beer.
Thanks for reading, until next time…Let Us Drink Beer!