Summer’s not quite here yet, heck Spring’s not even here yet in many areas and some of these nights are still pretty frigid. People get on edge, sick of the cold, dim months of winter and the cool, cloudy days of spring. A rich, thick beer helps to warm the body and provides solace after months of undesirable weather.
Many suds styles fit the blues lifting bill. Any brew with some dark, decadent malts along with a medium-heavy body and an elevated ABV will do the trick. Stouts, Porters, Old Ales, Wee Heavy’s, Belgian Dubbels and Quads, Winter Warmers, and Doppelbocks all are excellent choices.
The Doppelbock, a high-powered version of the German Bock, is a favorite of mine. It’s darker, chewier, heavier, sweeter, and higher in alcohol than its goat-labeled little brother. Doppelbocks originated in Munich during the late 18th Century where the Paulaner Monks brewed it as “liquid bread”, which isn’t a serious naming stretch since grain is used and it’s certainly not a watery brew. Those crazy Bavarian monastic peeps even dubbed it “Salvator”, which translates to “Savior” and many of my friends believe beer to be theirs. Paulaner owns the trademark to “Salvator” but many breweries add the “-ator” ending to their own take on the style.
Today, brewmasters throughout the world, particularly in Germany and the U.S., produce this “liquid bread” and most release it sometime during the autumn months or even a little later. We decided one frosty night to head down to the local beer mega-mart (Total Wine & More) and cozy up to a couple.
Here’s what we found:
Thomas Hooker Liberator Doppelbock: This 8.5% ABV Connecticut native is visually quite striking, and deep mahogany in color — nearly black. A hint of scarlet red catches the eye when the light hits it just right. Aromas of raisins, scorched syrup, and cherry float across the table as the beer is poured. It smells fantastic. Fig and molasses flavors hit the palate first, followed by a healthy dose of black licorice. The malt voyage ends slightly nutty with some dark chocolate. Thick-bodied but not syrupy, the Thomas Hooker Liberator finishes refreshingly dry for a Doppelbock. Overall, this beer is layered with velvety, delicious dark malts and is quite the rock star. It’s brewed year round — pick some up and it won’t disappoint. Grade: A
Great Divide Wolfgang Doppelbock: The name and particularly the label grabbed us and pulled us in while perusing the shelves. It looks kind of retro, with what appears to be a German fellow with a large stein chasing a link-sausage stealing wiener dog. Sitting at a stout 8% ABV, this Denver-brewed lager is beautiful in the pint — deep chestnut in color with a foamy, light tan top. Entrancing and complex scents of dates, vanilla, and charred sweet malt fill the air as the brew is poured. Burnt caramel and fig are the first flavors encountered with raisin and toffee right behind. Dry, dark cocoa and coffee combine for a memorable finish. Rich, almost port wine like — it warms and satisfies. It’s more focused and tighter than the Hooker Liberator but is equally as impressive. Grab a few bottles of the Wolfgang to go along with the Hooker and stay warm all year. Grade: A
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