Tuesday, March 04, 2008

99 Bottles of Beer on the Blog - Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock

Way back in the dark days of beer, when a fancy import was a Heineken and a well-crafted American beer was a Michelob, the story spread that doppelbock beer was simply the dregs from the barrels of "normal beers", as if it was dark sludge that somehow sank like mud to the bottom of a pond.

Slander! Quite the opposite, a doppelbock beer at its best is a clean, carefully brewed lager, high in alcohol and rich in malt flavor. Brewed as "liquid bread" by German monks to sustain themselves through Lenten days of fasting, when the ban on solid food was made merciful by the flowing of an extra-strong, chewy lager.

Bell's Consecrator Doppelbock
is a great example of the style. Released on Fat Tuesday, it carries on a great tradition of "-ator" named doppelbocks, in homage to the original Salvator Doppelbock.

Originally brewed by the Paulaner monks in the mid-1600s, Salvator Doppelbock was viewed as such a wonderful indulgence that some of the more worry-prone monks thought it wise to gain papal approval for drinking this liquid bread during Lent. So, they sent a barrel of it to the Vatican, for the Pope to sample. Sanitation and refrigeration in the 17th century were non-existent, and, when the Pope finally tasted the soured, nasty beer, he deemed it an appropriate drink for those doing penance during Lent, and, thus, the monks of Paulaner were given specific Papal approval to brew and drink Salvator during a season when everyone else was suffering.

Bell's Celebrator pours a wonderfully clear dark golden brown with a reddish tinge - almost a copper color. It offers up a rich head, but that dissipates relatively quickly, as is common in high-alcohol beers. At 8% alcohol, this is no chugging beer. The alcohol adds a warm spiciness to a solidly malty beer. Just enough bittering hops to keep the beer from being overly sweet, but little to no hop flavor. Malt is the star of this show, and the mouthfeel is chewy. The malt tastes a bit like toffee, and the spiciness comes across with a flavor I would describe as almost cinnamony - the flavor comes across a bit in the aroma, as well.

There may be better doppelbocks out there - indeed, you can purchase a bottle of the original in most decent liquor stores. But Bell's ranks way up there with any of them, and the fact that it was so recently released means that you can count on a fresh example of a fine beer when you pop open the bottle. And your doppelbock will be a far better experience than the Pope's was.

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Blogger The Steve that everyone likes said...

Before the designer beer craze and small brewery celebrations? BC? That's sacrilege to even remember such a time Dan.

3/05/2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

This is an excellent beer. The Paulaner is pretty hard to beat, but this is probably 1A.

3/05/2008 1:31 PM  
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12/22/2009 6:12 AM  

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