The Session #11: Doppelbock

Posted on 01.04.08 5:30PM under Bock, The Session

Session LogoThis has been a fun week of learning about Doppelbock for me. I took the opportunity to also hone my Bock knowledge and my overall lager expertise. I planned to taste one Doppelbock each night (except New Year’s Eve, which was reserved for a Champagne-like Gueuze), and got some sense of the range of Doppelbock. I got to learn what was not Doppelbock, even though it said it was on the bottle. I got to review a bit more thoroughly the processes for fermenting a lager as a homebrewer.

As a recap, here’s my drinking schedule this week (wow, did I really have a drinking schedule? I guess I am a bit more structured than even I thought): Rock Art Holiday Bock 2007 (name too long to reproduce here), Thomas Hooker Liberator, Ayinger Celebrator, Doppel-Hirsch, and Samichlaus.

Rock Art was to be the baseline. As I was hardly acquainted with the Bock style, forget about Doppelbock, I figured best to start with a bock. Liberator is made in my home state, and known as a great Doppelbock. Ayinger is perhaps the most famous traditional Doppelbock, and comes with a cool little plastic goat thingy. Doppel-Hirsch was just a German Doppelbock I found. Samichlaus is a rare sought-after gem of the beer world.

I guess I better make a few points.

Topic One: Best Doppelbock I Tasted This Week
Hooker Liberator LabelThomas Hooker Liberator. By a long shot. Rock Art was pretty good, but a bit hoppy, or at least balanced towards bitterness. It was good, but not a Doppelbock, and can’t compete with Hooker. Ayinger was really good too, but just not as robust as Hooker. Unfortunately, my bottle of Doppel-Hirsch was flat. I guess the flip-top isn’t fool proof. Bummer. Samichlaus was the biggest disappointment of the week. Sure it has a lot of alcohol in there, but it is really just a sugar-alcohol bomb. If you had given it to me without telling me what it was, I would have guessed it was the latest Dogfish Head ancient beer that I had somehow not heard of yet. (Don’t get me wrong, DFH makes some stuff I really like.) But, oh the Hooker. Its smell was subtle, but the taste was deep, rich, smooth, balanced, just perfect. I could go on, but I already posted all the juicy details yesterday. It’s fun, tasting beers, you get to kiss-and-tell in a way, as you describe in the most romantic terms the experience of the beer you tasted.

Topic Two: Most Interesting Bock History Note I Learned This Week
SalvatorprobeThere are a lot of rumors out there about Bock history. Many know that most Doppelbocks are named using the suffix “-ator”. The origin of this is a cool fact from the German Beer Institute. To quickly summarize, the first Doppelbock was made by the Paulaner monks. It was approved by the Pope. They called it Salvator, in honor of religion. Eventually a bunch of copycat beers came out, but since there were no IP (intellectual property) laws at the time, they all named their strong dark liquid bread beer Salvator. Once they invented copyright, the imitators had to rename their beers. They used names ending in “-ator”, and there you have it. The GBI has tons of great information, while you’re there.

Topic Three: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda
Collaborator LabelOne regret I have is not about flat beer, or sweet beer. It is that I wasn’t able to include in my survey the Flying Dog Collaborator. I wasn’t looking for it when it was available here in CT, and I missed it. Looking back, I might have even seen it at one time while looking for Winter Warmers or something, but alas I never bought it. I don’t even know if it’s that great, but I just love the whole idea of the Collaborator project: open source beer. The recipe was made up by a collaboration of homebrewers and other experts across the country and even the world. It’s just a cool idea from a media, new technology, internet marketing savvy company. My silver linings: I will make sure I get this thing next time it comes out. I will make the Collaborator recipe as my first lager, hopefully this month.

Overall it has been a really fun experience planning to participate in the session and making a week out of it. It is a great idea, and a great way for readers and writers alike to learn a lot about any beery topic. Thanks for reading my session entry, and for reading all the others, too. See you next time, in February.

Read Comments

  1. Posted by Illuminating Roundup–The Session #11 « brewvana on 01.05.08 11:19 AM

    […] at Brainard Brewing kicks in with Rock Art Holiday Bock 2007, Thomas Hooker Liberator, Celebrator, Doppel-Hirsch and […]

  2. Posted by Brainard Brewing » Blog Archive » Free Beer! on 02.06.08 10:33 PM

    […] I got my package today from Flying Dog! I managed to catch their attention, which is exciting in itself. But then when I got the email asking “which of our beers do you wish you could try but haven’t been able to get?” I just about got all giddy. Even better is how Stephanie delivered the goods. I asked for Double Dog and K9 Cruiser. I hadn’t seen either at Gordon’s when I picked up a bunch of other Flying Dog beers. I also lamented the fact that I never was able to get Collaborator Doppelbock, which I really wanted to have for the session #11. […]