Maibock / Helles Bock


Maibock / Helles Bock



"I brewed a half batch (6 gal) of it last February and cracked the keg the beginning of May. Delicious beer! Wish I had brewed more." - kwdriver



Also called Helles Bock or Heller Bock, Maibock is a strong, rich and malty lager of German origin. Think of it as a cross between a Munich Helles and a Bock, brewed to Bock strength (6.3 to 7.4% ABV) with more hop presence to balance out the higher alcohol and maltiness. It is a balanced beer with toasty malt flavours, and a spicy or peppery taste coming from the hops.

While the basic Bock style originated in Germany in the 13th century, Maibock is a fairly new updated offshoot created to conform to the popularity of Pilsner (Lager) beers in the mid to late 1800s. Typically brewed in the late fall or early winter and allowed to age and condition until consumption in spring ("Mai" is German for May), Maibock was originally a seasonal beer brewed for special occasions and festivals. It is a transitional beer that fits between the heavier beers of the winter and the lighter beers that are favoured during the summertime.

The light amber to deep golden colour sets it apart from the darker winter Bocks and explains the secondary name 'Heller' (German for pale or bright). Maibocks also tend to present a drier finish with more hop bitterness and flavour than a traditional Bock.

Recipes generally feature all German ingredients including Pilsner malt and/or Vienna malt, Munich malt, along with noble hops and lager yeast.

With a finishing gravity of 1.011, our Maibock is purposely brewed to the lower end of the typical attenuation range for the style in order to enhance drinkability through a clean and crisp beer. To attain this proper finishing gravity ensure that you pitch enough yeast and oxygenate as per our recipe/process below. The yeast pitch rates may seem extremely high but remember that is a lager (lager pitch rates tend to be twice that of ales) and a high gravity one at that (yeast density needs to be higher for high gravity beers). We started with a single pack of yeast and made an appropriate starter over two iterations.

Brew up a batch and let us know how you like it!


Shop heating elements made for brewing


Maibock / Helles Bock

Size: 12 US gallons (post-boil @ 68F)
Mash Efficiency: 95%
Attenuation: 83%
Calories: 217 kcal per 12 fl oz
Original Gravity:
1.066 (style range: 1.064 - 1.072)
Final Gravity: 1.011 (style range: 1.011 - 1.018)
Colour: 9.1 SRM (style range: 6 - 11)
Alcohol: 7.2% ABV (style range: 6.3% - 7.4%)
Bitterness: 34 IBU (style range: 23 - 35)

16 lb German pilsner malt (1.5-2.1L) (65.3%)
8.5 lb Dark Munich malt (9L) (34.7%)

1.25 oz Magnum hops (13%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min [25.4 IBU] 
1 Whirlfloc tablet (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15 min
2.25 oz German Hallertau hops (6%) - added during boil, boiled 10 min [8.4 IBU]

Wyeast 2487 Hella Bock Lager yeast or White Labs WLP833 German Bock Lager yeast
(~1466 billion cells [14-15 fresh packs] or an equivalent starter)

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Notes / Process

  • Add 500mg potassium metabisulfite to 20 gallons water to remove chlorine / chloramine (if required).
  • Water treated with brewing salts to our Balanced flavour profile: Ca=50, Mg=10, Na=16, Cl=70, SO4=70. (Hit minimums on Ca and Mg, keep the Cl:SO4 ratio low and equal. Do not favour flavour / maltiness or bitterness / dryness. For balanced beers.). For more information on how to adjust your water, refer to our step by step Water Adjustment guide.
  • 1.5 qt/lb mash thickness.
  • Single infusion mash at 152F for 90 mins.
  • Raise to 168F mashout temperature and hold for 10 mins.
  • ~90 min fly sparge with ~5.6-5.8 pH water (measured at mash temperature).
  • Boil for 90 minutes, adding Whirlfloc and hops per schedule. Lid on at flameout, start chilling immediately.
  • Cool the wort quickly to 50F (we use a one-pass convoluted counterflow chiller to quickly lock in hop flavour and aroma) and transfer to fermenter.
  • Oxygenate the chilled wort to a level of 14 ppm dissolved oxygen. Given the high starting gravity and the fact that more yeast is used as this is a lager, a second dose to 14 ppm is recommended approximately 12-18 hours after the yeast has been pitched. For more information refer to our Aerating / Oxygenating Wort guide.
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 50F (wort temperature). We use modified stainless fermenting buckets in wine fridges.
  • Ferment until approximately 5 points from final gravity and then raise the temperature to 70-72F until finished. In our case we simply turn off the fermenting fridges and allow the beer to naturally rise to room temperature. Assume fermentation is done if the gravity does not change over ~3 days.
  • Before packaging you may optionally rack to a brite tank (we use 5 gallon glass carboys) that has been purged with CO2 to avoid oxygen pickup, add 1 tsp of unflavoured gelatin dissolved in a cup of hot distilled water per 5 gallons of beer, and allow to clear for 2-3 days. In most cases we recommend skipping this step as the less you handle the beer and potentially expose it to oxygen, the better. The beer will drop brilliantly clear on its own during the conditioning period.
  • Package as you would normally. We rack to kegs that have first been purged with CO2 and then chill to near freezing while carbonating at the same time in a 6-keg conditioning fridge. After ~1-2 weeks at serving pressure the kegs will be carbonated and ready to serve. In a hurry? Feel free to raise the CO2 pressure temporarily to 30-40 PSI to carbonate fast over a 24 period, and then turn back down to serving pressure. 
  • Carbonate this beer to around 2.5 volumes of CO2.
  • This beer will improve greatly if conditioned just above freezing for at least 4-6 weeks before serving (8+ weeks is better). Avoid keeping the beer unrefrigerated for extended periods. It will remain clean and crisp for months if kept near freezing.

For detailed brewing instructions, see our Brew Day Step by Step guide.


Questions? Visit our Maibock / Helles Bock forum thread


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Pictures / Videos

Interested in seeing what we're brewing right now? Follow us on Instagram for pictures and videos of our brewing activities as they happen.

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Step 2 of 2 of a yeast starter for a Maibock (strong German lager). 700 billion cells made in the first step, resultant ‘beer’ chilled for 2 days for the yeast to settle out on the bottom, then the beer on top is poured off. All that’s left is ~700B cells of happy yeast slurry at the bottom of the first flask. A second flask with wort is now made and is chilling on ice. It will be pitched on top of the first and run on the stir plate for ~2 days to take the count to over 1400 billion cells which will be used on the actual Maibock beer. Cheaper and more accurate than buying 14 yeast vials. High gravity lagers need big starters for the best quality beer. Want to know how and why? Read my ‘HOW-TO: Making a Yeast Starter’ guide on my website. . Visit 👉 👈

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