Double Doppelbock Debacle

Okay, not really much of a debacle so much as a deliciously malty way to wrap up the day. The sun is shining, and nothing says sunny day refreshment like two hefty malt bombs.

Doppelbocks are a well established Bavarian beer style, originally brewed by Benedictine monks near the city of Munich. Bock beers had been brewed by locals for several decades by the times the monks in the village of Au began brewing their own version. Bock, the German word for ‘billy goat’, was named for its already hefty kick. The monks, requiring something with a bit more sustenance in order to fast through Lent, brewed something with the double (doppel) the kick.

While some variations exist, doppelbocks tend to be reddish brown lagers, and usually have a toffee or bready aroma, with a rich, malty, lingering sweetness on the palate. Some small amount of bitterness is present to provide a semblance of balance, but it would be the exception to find yourself quaffing a hoppy doppelbock.

The original, and most famous of the doppelbocks, brewed by the Paulaner monks from Au, is known as Salvator. Other brewers who adopted this style called their beers Salvator as well, until the 19th century, when the monks wised up and defended their trademark. Not wanting to lose too much tradition, most of the other brewers maintained the ‘-ator’ suffix in the their beer names, such as Animator, Impulsator, Triumphator, Maximator and, for today’s example, Celebrator.

Ayinger Privatbrauerei has brewed Celebrator since 1878, and one can expect that very little will have changed in their recipe over the years. Raised to the light, Celebrator is a very deep amber colour, clear, but so dark you’d be hard pressed to tell. It pours with a dense, pale tan head. It has a clear aroma of toffee, bread crusts and stewed plums. The bready flavour dominates, with a moderate sweetness, a gentle hint of bitterness chasing around the edges, and a refreshing yet mild carbonation.

For fun, I cracked open a bottle of Red Collar Brewing‘s doppelbock to compare. Red Collar, though quite young compared to Ayinger, is really quite old for British Columbia’s brewing scene. For 20 years, Annamarie and David Beardsell have been converting the waters of the Shuswap basin in the interior of BC into fine traditional style brews. Their Doppelbock shows just how well David’s training at the Doemens Brewing Academy in Munich has married itself with the brewing techniques of the west coast of North America.

This beer is also a truly deep amber colour, but pours with a slightly more energetic and lasting head. The aroma is where it sets itself apart. Instead of toffee and bread, I get faint notes of toasted bread crusts and a hint of herbal hops. On the palate, the bread crust and toffee return, but are fenced in by a much clearer hop presence, with a complex finish of both sweetness and bitterness.

Which is better? I’m not here to start arguments, and they’re both excellent brews. Pour a glass of each for yourself (and invite me over while you’re at it). Let the summer of doppelbock begin!

 

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