(6.7% German make from 330 cl bottle) In a further continuation in what has now became a 3 part series on Bock beers, we have now moved into the delicious range of dopplebocks. Having progressed through 2 different styles, from the original Bock of Einbecker’s Ur-Bock on to the Maibock of the Hofbrauhaus, this latest installment will take up with Ayinger’s Celebrator.
The bottle is easily distinguishable from the plastic ‘bock’ (goat…not bull as this is not a Spanish red wine but German beer!) hanging from the bottle which makes sense as ‘bock’ means ‘goat’ in German. On the pour it was as dark as coffee with a mocha coloured head. On the nose, it had hits of ripe dark fruits, sweet malts along with some coffee/chocolate as can be expected. The taste followed suit with a complex array of malt tastes, a subtle fruitiness, and slight bitterness at the end. All in all, a classic dopplebock with a smooth, complex flavour that leaves the drinker appreciative of the work of monks. To be honest, and out of the category of lagers, this reminded a bit of something along the lines of a strong dark winter ale, a la Fuller’s 1845 with its complex flavour and malt character.
A bottom fermented lager, the dopplebock (double bock) evolved akin to the Maibock beer during the first half of the 17th c when the bock beer style had been successfully spread all over Germany (not to mention also from England to the Middle East). This variation of the brew was developed by the Minim monks, or the followers of St. Francis of Paola (Italy) who established a monastery in Au, outside of Munich, in 1627. They have been brewing their own beer since 1634 after receiving Royal approval after the Ducal family of Munich had developed their own quaint monopoly. Their current recipe for their Salvator (the original dopplebock) stems from the head brewer, Frater Barnabas, who took over in 1773. The beer was only allowed to be sold to the public in 1780, however, public tastings were allowed on the feast day of St. Francis of Paola from 1753 onwards. The beer would have originally acted as ‘liquid bread’ (like the Belgian Trappist ales). This monastic order observed a vow of vita quadragesimalis, which means that they cannot eat any flesh or white meats unless through necessity as per a doctor. Strict vegetarians who drink good beer… sounds like someone I would bump into at a Frank Turner show.
Our variety of dopplebock from the Ayinger Brewery, follows this style in the utilisation of strong malt flavours and high alcohol content. The brewery takes its name from an inn which was first recorded in 1385 . Establishing itself as a brewery under the name inn’s name, Ayinger in 1878, they today continue to brew Bavarian styles, including 3 different types of wheat beer along with their famous contribution to the dopplebock family, the of the Celebrator. Just like the Salvator, the Celebrator has the -ator suffix which commonly denotes a beer as being a bock.
If you are lucky enough to have a bottle shop carry one of these gems, I cannot recommend enough grabbing a few and waiting for a slight English chill (its June here, but hell its still England!) to hit the air, and crack into one with some beloved.