In case it hasn’t been made obvious by my tendency to post event reviews and other things kinda late at times, I can be a bit of a procrastinator. I’m especially prone to putting things off when I need to write about something that I’m not overly familiar with.
Hence, my day-late post for this month’s Session, which was given the theme of doppelbocks by host Jay Wilson at Brewvana. Having had very few examples of the doppelbock style over the years, I don’t have the same memory and impression of them as I do for most other styles. Mention stout or witbier or IPA, and I can instantly see and smell and taste them in my mind. Mention doppelbock, and… well, I just remember the following:
- They’re strong and malty lagers.
- Most of them have names that end with ‘-ator’ in honour of the original doppelbock, the monk-brewed Salvator. (Hey, that would make “Procrastinator” a great name for a doppelbock! Someone should get on that. Oh, wait… never mind.)
One thing I do know from my stats on RateBeer is that I seem to really like doppelbocks when I have them. Of the eighteen I’ve tried, I’ve rated fifteen of ’em 3.5 or higher out of 5, which is quite a high proportion.
Salvator was, fittingly enough, the first doppelbock I tried. It was back in December, 2002 when the LCBO brought it in as a seasonal release. They’ve since added it to their general list, so I’m sure I’ve had it a few times since then, but I honestly have no recollection of what it’s like aside from the vague “strong and malty” descriptor. I planned to pick up a bottle to refresh my memory for this Session, but it’s currently out of stock at all of my local LCBOs, so I’ll have to go by the notes from my original tasting, which aren’t especially helpful:
Dark copper-amber with a frothy head that disappears quickly. Aroma of sweet malt and dark caramel. Initial sweet flavour gives way to bitter dirt and warm alcohol. The booziness becomes more prominent as the beer warms up. Not entirely unpleasant, but not ass-kicking either.
Another notable doppelbock is Ayinger Celebrator, which is the highest rated in the style and the #60 beer overall on RateBeer. I tried it back in November, 2005, when it was in the RB Top 50, and like Salvator, I don’t really remember it. But based on my notes, I didn’t seem to think quite as highly of it as most:
Dark ruby-brown with a small tan head. Aroma is rich and quite malty, with some dark fruit notes (especially grape). Body is pleasant, wth a mellow mouthfeel. Flavour is toasty and moderately bitter – nice, but seemed rather simple. Definitely a very good beer, but I find it hard to think of it as being worthy of the Top 50.
The one doppelbock that I do recall pretty clearly Fish Tale Detonator, which I shared with one of my tasting buddies just last week. It struck us both as a pretty unique take on the style, and one that we both enjoyed greatly, as my notes suggest:
Deep ruby-brown colour with a small tan head. Aroma is fantastic – sweet and roasty malt and big, herbal hops. Medium bodied. Flavour follows on the aroma – delicious maltiness up front, followed by a really nice hit of hops that linger through the dry finish. Reading the other ratings below, I feel like we got an extra-hopped bottle or something, as the hops were really out in front. No complaints, though, as it made this beer stand out. Nice!
So, there ya go. Not the most informative post I’ve written, but again, doppelbocks just don’t seem to resonate with me despite my apparent enjoyment of them. I’ll have to check the Session round-up to see of some of the other folks had more illuminating, in-depth thoughts to share.
At least it gave me a chance to use that Procrastinator joke.