Tag Archive: Doppelbock

Heller: Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche: Doppelbock (Germany: Smoked: 8% ABV)

Visual: Dark ruddy red. Inch of browned head.

Nose: Smoked blue cheese. Smoked meat board. Smoked bacon. Ash.

Body: Brown sugar. Blue cheese. Smoke. Slight cream. Plums. Raisins.

Finish: Smoked cheese. Blue cheese. Brown sugar. Brown bread. Sour dough. Cherries.

Conclusion: Oh yes, this is the beer I tried years ago and could never find again. I have been beer hunting this one for bloody ages, and now it is here again!

Why am I so excited about this one? Blue cheese my friend. Blue cheese in a smoked doppelbock. Oh yes. The smoke is what I presume creates this awesome blue cheese and meat platter aroma – all smoked versions of course. Those elements follow through into the main body to create a heavy, intense smoked beer that manages to avoid the ash tray like character that can hit some of them.

Beneath that is a brown sugar to dark fruit doppelbock that gives a nice backing to the cheese and meat. However that blue cheese and meat is what you are here for (Or at least it is what I am here for). That is what you chew on, the other notes are just to give something behind it.

So, for the first half, this beer is absolutely amazing, but it does become a different beer as time goes on. The brown sugar backing becomes more evident and the smoke elements less so. Now it is still decent, with cherry and raisin notes showing through, but is isn’t that great thing it was at the start and by the end of the beer the brown sugar notes are far too present.

A great opener of a beer – genuinely a layered legend – but the higher sweetness seems to mean that it can’t hold that to the end. Pity. Still well worth trying – maybe share a bottle between two people to get it at its best.

So, the end lets it down, but the front is so good that I still recommend it.

Background: Tried this a few years ago, it was on tap at The Beer Emporium and it was lovely. Sometimes I can find Aecht Schlenkerla Eiche beers a tad too smoke filled, but this had the balance down just right. Ever since I’ve been hunting for it again to try and do notes on it. So, yeah, it turned up at Independent Spirit, so now I have it and I’m doing notes on it. Simple. The difference to this beer is that it is oak smoked rather than beech smoked for the rest, which I presume accounts for a lot of its different character. With it being a doppelbock I decided to break out the Aventinus glass – I don’t get many excuses to use it. Put on Rotten Citizens Vol 1 EP while drinking for some nice heavy moody backing music.

Art Brew: Doppelbock (UK: Doppelbock: 7.4% ABV)

Visual: Very dark brown to black. Large Carmel brown touched looser bubbled creamy head.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Grated chocolate. Roasted nuts and cashews. Vanilla. Creamy.

Body: Hot chocolate. Black cherries. Grated white chocolate. Marshmallows. Chalk touch. Sour cream and chives. Moderate earthy bitterness. Treacle touch. Vanilla toffee. Bitter cocoa.

Finish: Bitter cocoa and earthy bitterness. Cashews and roasted nuts. Coffee cake and chocolate cake. Chalk.

Conclusion: While it takes a few moments to build up, this is actually a pretty robust and heavy beer – it just sneaks up on you rather than jumps out at first sip.

It is not that it hides things though – there is a creamy, thick hot chocolate vibe from the get go, but it uses that to sneak up a Trojan horse of bitter cocoa and earthy British style hops in under your guard.

There is also a slightly rough chalk character, but thankfully that doesn’t make as much impact. However time makes a fool of the expectations that the heavy front gave – light marshmallow and vanilla toffee notes slightly soften the beer back again. It is still big in the earthy and chocolate bitterness but more manageable and enjoyable, especially with hot chocolate and marshmallow imagery mixing.

By the end it has an enjoyable balance, possibly leaning a bit heavily on the earthy notes, but a fairly solid beer, if nothing too out of the ordinary. A slightly more earthy interpretation of the doppelbock style that is good but not exceptional.

Background: Decided it was time to return to Art Brew again, they were my go to on cask for many a year when I first moved to Bath so I still have a soft spot for them. Don’t think I’ve seen a Doppelbock from them before, so this is going to be interesting. Played some The Royal They while drinking – a band I had just been introduced to via Welcome To Nightvale. This was another beer grabbed from Independent Spirit.

Brewdog: Mr Squirrel (Scotland: Dopplebock: 11.3% ABV)

Visual: Black, or just deep black cherry red in the light. A coffee froth beige head.

Nose: Toffee. Apples. Walnuts. Sherbet lemon. Vodka spirit touch. Gingerbread.

Body: Greenery. Toffee and fudge. Walnuts. Apples. Bitter but fluffy hop character. Sherbet. Malt drinks and chocolate.

Finish: Spinach. Hop bitterness. Lemongrass. Watercress. Black cherries.

Conclusion: Some beers just blow away everything you expect. I mean, I was hoping for a good beer here, but more honestly I was expecting a jumbled mess. What I got? What I got was a beer that not just showed all the oddities that went into making it, but also transcended them.

Herbal and greenery filled, this is still as smooth as silk to drink, yet holds a decent hop character despite that. It’s hard to describe the herbal influence correctly. For example chilled down this is toffee sweet, amazingly easy to sip, and most obviously a bourbon aged beer, the greenery and walnuts lurking around the edges.

With warmth you get the nuts and herbs that make you look twice at what you just sipped. It’s always easy to drink and the full range of flavours show themselves slowly and carefully.

I am sometimes critical of the over use of barrel ageing these days – it can oft be used as a crutch to prop up lower quality beers.  I cannot aim the criticism at this one. It’s used perfectly, the bourbon sweetness gives somewhere the nuts can grow from and blossom into full flavour. The result is a beer that has unusual dry flavours that seep out of an unfairly slick body and then matched to just right bitterness.

Even as just a sweet bourbon aged black lager I think I would find this amazingly nice, it had nigh stout like touches that are very potent. With all the added miso, walnuts, apples and the like so very evident, well it’s just brain meltingly odd and delicious.

Heck, even the hop choice, Sorachi Ace, ever the unusual one, adds that lemon grass and nigh bubblegum freshness and helps again the expansion of the beers flavours. The lemongrass, like the apple, helps the flavours subtly when the beer would otherwise be just too heavy.

Style defying and excellent. I cannot recommend it enough.

Background: Ok where the hell do I start on this one. Well beer style for one, Brewdog call an Black Pilsner, Ratebeer have one version under herb, and another under doppelbock.  After close consideration I put it under doppelbock as flavour wise it seemed a good fit, but frankly it’s a mess of styles. Why it is a mess of styles? Well Brewdog got Tim Anderson who won Masterchef to make it. It uses sorachi ace hops, which I adore. Miso, which I’ve only ever had in soup, but enjoy. Add in walnuts, aged on apples in Bourbon Barrels. I mean the hell? Anyway with all that madness I was really excited to try this one.  As always I am not an unbiased actor on Brewdog beers. I do wonder if the line “certified reality product” is a shot at real ales.

Ayinger: Celebrator Doppelbock (Germany: Doppelbock: 6.7% ABV)

Visual: Dark red black with a sizeable frothy brown head that leaves suds clumped as it subsides.

Nose: Tobacco, treacle and chocolate. Good malt, dry rice and wheat.

Body: Chocolate, Sickly sweet treacle. Sticky toffee pudding. Very smooth. Slightly creamy with raisins and malt. Figgy pudding and cherries come through as well.

Finish: Black treacle toffee then into a dry end. Comparatively light but lasting.

Conclusion: A very smooth and malty dessert beer. Understated alcohol, rich and sweet. Compares very well with, but does not transcend Aventinus as the best German beer (it almost manages it though).

Treacle sweet and cream smooth makes this a luxury to appreciate and a fine, fine beer. Near the best in Germany which means near the best on the world.

Not an extreme punk craft beer, more of a mellow gentlemanly beer, waistcoat and tie – relaxed with nothing to prove and laden with charm.

Appreciate in high style.

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