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Beer culture is coming of age. At any store, restaurant, bar, or friend's house you can now find at least a few good brews. In fact, there seem to be so many new beers, breweries and bars it's difficult to separate the good, the bad, and the mediocre.

If you're going spend $10 on one beer, what should you buy? If you're going to drive 2 hours to check out a brewery, what's worth your time? If you're going to plan a Friday night, what has a good selection and friendly atmosphere? We're here to help you answer these questions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sudwerk Dopplebock

Sudwerk Doppelbock is a seasonal beer by the Sudwerk Brewery in Davis, CA. They just bottled the 2011. Doppelbocks store well and can get better with age.

Doppelbocks, are not necessarily double bocks. Here in the US we use double to describe styles with bigger ABV - a Double IPA has twice the amount of alcohol as a regular IPA. However, Doppelbocks did not arise from the creation of a strong bock.

 Doppelbocks, which are hearty, dark beers were made by monks to sustain them through their fasts. The first monks to make this style famous were the monks of St. Franics of Paula or the Paulaners. The Paulaners called the beer Salvator, which is the name still used by the Paulaner brewery.

Not until after Salvator become popular did people make the connection that a doppelbock is essentially a stronger version of another favorite German style, the bock. Bock, which actually means billy-goat in German, was style that arose from the town of Einbeck. It's thought that bock is a distortion of Einbeck. Let's say your in Munich and you want to order the popular beer from the town of Einbeck. You would say "Ein Einbeck". You could see how one of the Eins would be dropped and beck could become bock over several centuries.

I got this from the Dock Store at the Sudwerk Brewery in Davis. It has an ABV of 8%.

The beer pours a dark, clear red with a foamy, tan head that leaves very few lacings. The aroma is subtle with distinct maltiness, hops are undetectable (typical for a doppelbock) and there are whiffs of the big ABV. The taste is a powerful punch of dark malts followed by an enjoyable pop of the alcohol and a light caramel flavor. There are hints of dark fruit and chocolate, but only fleeting. This really showcases the Munich malts.

The finish is creamy, refreshing, with a note of roastiness. The alcohol taste at the end does not linger. The mouthfeel gives you a nice full body, but is not heavy and has the right amount of carbonation. The flavor becomes more complex after a few sips and as the temperature rises a bit.

Overall, I really like this beer. The way to approach it is like approaching a double IPA. A double IPA should showcase big hop flavors without being overwhelming, but you should be prepared for big hops. Sudwerk features big malt flavor without being overwhelming, but be prepared for big malts. You get a good sense of what Munich, Vienna, and Pils malts can do. There is a nice complexity that touches all the malty flavors you'd want - caramel, chocolate, dark fruit.

Comparing Sudwerk to some German classics, it tones down the maltiness, in a good way. Some German dopplebocks have a distinct malt ball or Whoppers taste. This can be enjoyable, but also renders the beer less drinkable. Sudwerk's has crafted a very drinkable Doppelbock with a big ABV to make you smile and say "Eine weitere Doppelbock bitte!". This is a Must Have It.

1 comment:

  1. I'd second this entire review and echo the following points:

    -Much higher drinkability than more traditional Doppels. This comes at the price of a slightly less complex malt flavor, but again, each sip starts easy and finishes smooth. That is nice.

    -Sweet malt flavors and a rich creaminess make this very nice on the front end, and on the back end the heavy AV is detectable but not overwhelming, so well done balancing that one.

    -Excellent mouthfeel. It won't coat your tongue and overwhelm your taste buds. This makes each sip cumulatively better as you get to explore flavors you didn't taste on the first go-round (and aren't covered up by a heavy aftertaste).

    I don't drink a lot of Dopplebocks, but if you are going to go with a domestic one, this is a winner!