Welcome to Spring, people. Doesn’t quite feel like it here in the Philly area, so I haven’t packed all my full-flavored, high ABV beers into the cellar just yet. And with that said, this week, we’re helping March go out like a lion with the Doppelbock style.
The Doppelbock is a great transitional beer to take you from Winter to early Spring. Sometimes referred to as Fastenbier (“Lenten beer”), and Starkbier (“strong beer”), the doppelbock literally translates to ‘double bock’, in case you couldn’t figure that one out on your own, Skippy. Originated in Germany (did I need to mention that, too?), it is one of the country’s strongest styles of beer, typically weighing in between 6-9% ABV – with some maxing out on the deadlift at 13%.
Brief History Lesson
Doppelbocks have a cool history, emanating from its creation by the Paulaner monks in the 1600’s as a type of “liquid bread” to be consumed during the Lenten fasting period. In fact, here’s a really cool all-doppelbock fast being conducted right now by a gentleman in Iowa – J. Wilson – aka “Brewvana” – a blogger, home brewer, and newspaper editor. I’d recommend starting at the About page of his Diary of a Part-Time Monk blog, and then reading from Day 1 backwards through today.
To read more about the Doppelbock’s history, including how Paulaner’s famous Salvator fathered the hundreds of doppelbocks now ending with “-ator” in their name, check out this fantastic history lesson from the German Beer Institute.
What to Expect
The doppelbock will typically have a dark ruby-to-brown complexion, with a creamy head. The aromas will feature a strong malt presence, with some bready/toasty qualities. The body should be rich and fairly full, featuring flavors of rich caramel, toasted bread, with dark fruits and/or light chocolate notes in the background. Some will have a warming alcohol presence, and all should be pretty smooth on the palate overall.
Here is the Gateway Beers profile of the typical characteristics you can expect to find in the Doppelbock style of beer:
For a more in-depth expose on the characteristics of a doppelbock, check out the latest Style summary from the Beer Judge Certification Program.
Serve It Up
Like most good craft beers, you should never down a doppelbock from a bottle – just ask yourself, “what would the monks have done?” They would’ve poured it into a proper mug at cellar temperature – THAT’S how you enjoy a doppelbock.
Stick with foods that have substance… if you pair this beer up with some bland pasta dish or fish, you won’t even taste the subtle nuances the chef may have created for you. Instead, lean toward roasted or grilled gamey meat like goose & venison, or saltier meats like ham, or a burger with thick-cut smoked bacon. In the cheese world, swiss can actually compaire/contrast nicely with the creaminess and sweetness of the beer.
There are about 45 varieties of doppelbock that you can get here in Southeastern PA – about 30 of which are available year round, and ALL of which are rated in the ‘A’ or ‘B’ categories on BeerAdvocate.com. Below are 3 that will be generally available this time of year across our area’s top take-out beer stores and beer distributors:
– Ayinger Celebrator, 6.7% ABV (Aying, Germany)
– Weihenstephaner Korbinian, 7.4% ABV (Freising, Germany)
– Stoudt’s Smooth Hoperator, 7.2% ABV (Adamstown, PA)
For additional recommendations this week, connect with us on FACEBOOK for a different recommendation each day, and leave us a Comment below to let us know what you think.