Origin: Utrecht, Netherlands
My first visit to the Borefts Bierfestival at De Molen brewery in Bodegraven in September afforded me a chance to hang out in Utrecht for the first time in a few years – and unsurprisingly I kept bumping into beer bloggers and tweeters. This handsome cathedral and university city has a good few decent beer pubs, and Kafé België and Café Derat (the latter with an excellent lambic list, incidentally) were the ones that particularly drew us.
These outlets now also have a good new local brewery to support. Ewald Visser and Arend-Jan Van Dieën, former managers of Kafé België, first sold contract brewed beers under the Maximus name in 2011, but since early 2012 have been brewing at their own facility and tasting room in the city’s western suburb of De Meern, using a second hand 15hl brewhouse originally at the Hibernia brewery in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.
Maximus, according to its website, sets out to brew the sort of beers the brewers themselves like to drink – “drinkable but with a surprise in every mouthful”. Like several other Dutch breweries, the company also has social objectives, offering training to school leavers and people with long term health conditions.
Two stouts are brewed, at 6% and 8%, and I sampled the weaker one on keg at België following numerous recommendations from the assembled enthusiasts. This very dark brown beer had a foamy beige head and a notably smoky, leathery aroma with an oily chocolate note.
A smooth and very firm palate was slightly sweet, subtly balanced and gently fruity with pipe tobacco notes. A dab of ashy, roasty flavour offset things perfectly. Cherry and blackcurrant fruit showed up on a relatively short but well integrated finish, with more of that tobacco and ashy roast.
The brewers have certainly achieved their stated ambition with this one, which had lots going on at every stage, but all of it in perfect harmony.