Friday, January 4, 2008

The Session #11: Doppelbock

"The (Paulaner) brewery Has its origins...with a community of monks of St. Paul, who became well known throughout the city for the strong beer they brewed, call Salvator (Saviour) to sustain themselves during Lent...Most other double-bock beers echo the Saviour's brew by bearing names ending in -ator."

- Michael Jackson

With these words echoing in my head, I got off the train in Munich. Did I say I? I mean "we". It was the fall of 1996 and I was with my girlfriend (eventually my wife) K. It was my first proper stop in Germany and the day was going to spent hopping about the various biergartens and I was like a kid in a candystore.

Being on small budget during this backpacking excursion around Europe, many lunches were bought at local grocery stores in the form of bread, chesse and various suasages. Munich was no different and to go with lunch, I bought my first a .5 litre can! Barbarian that I was I drank it from the can as well! Even so, it had a profound effect (from both a spiritual and physical sense) on me and I spent most of the rest of the day trying to sample as many examples of the style as I could, as well as getting a proper serving of Salvator in a glass later that afternoon.

The day is quite hazy or I'd run down all the places we went. Let's just say a day in Munich is a marathon and not a sprint. K took a liking to doppelbocks too and paid to price for it by evening's end!

These days I tend to neglect the original doppelbock. Up in Helen, GA there's a little German restaurant called the Old Bavaria Inn. Sometimes, you can get a bottle of Salvator on special for $1.50. A hell of a deal that I never pass up. Because of this, when I see a bottle of Salvator (like the one non the table before me) I can't help but think of camping up in the north GA mountains.

So to wrap up this tribute to the original doppelbock, some quick tasting notes from tonight's bottle.

The body is a luminous orangey brown with a frothy ivory colored head. You can get a wisp of alcohol in the nose, it's a fairly fresh sample (bottled in October) but mostly you get that rich nutty malt character typical of a doppelbock. I have never been able to put that aroma (or flavor) into words but once you try a few doppelbocks, you'll see what I mean. A doppelbock has a distinct flavor and aroma imparted by the malt.

The flavor is dominated by that same maltiness, some nutty caramel with just a bit of fruitiness too. It's velvetey smooth and drinks easy, masking it's strength. Why don't I pick this up more often? Sometimes the constant search for the new makes you overlook the old reliable. But make no mistake, this is still classic.

For more posts for The Session, pop over to Brewvana who is hosting this month's session.

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