Lenten Beer Lessons

28 03 2010

Today is Palm Sunday in the Christian Calendar which marks the last week of the fasting month of Lent. Last month, we discussed how lent was the traditional time for bocks and dopplebocks. As an experiment, I decided to devote this lent to getting to know these beers. I drank (not exclusively, but primarily) bocks and dopplebocks from all over the world. Some I liked better than others. This week, i will list my five favorite  beers from the last month. I recognize my total list of beers is hardly comprehensive and it is dependent on availability, cost and interest. As I list my favorites, I invite you to join in.

Photo Credit: Bernt Rostad CC

First: what did I learn?

Before I started this experiment, bocks and dopplebocks were hardly my favorite style. In fact, if I had to rank my favorite styles, they would probably be on the bottom of my list. i found them strangely rich but with no satisfying mouthfeel. The meaty nature of the malt made the beers very filling (as was the intention of bocks) but as some one who cut his teeth on session beers, I found them disapointing. When I told a friend I was only drinking bocks for Lent, his response was, “So you are giving up good beer for lent?”

But as I tried more, I came to appreciate them more. I learned to love how a well put together dopplebock would have a big, bold front-end and a nice boozy back-end to cleanse the palate. I loved the juicy, fruity middles and the unusual, minty hops used. Once I trained my palate to know what to recognize, I found them extremely interesting and, at times, surprising.

Toward the end of the month, I went back and triend things over again. I found beers I couldn’t stand initially were becoming new favorites. And I started to recognize between good examples and poor. And while bocks and dopplebocks are not my favorited beers, they have defintiely moved up my list a few notches.

German or Otherwise?

Photo Credit: @Joefoodies CC

The Germans invented the style and they certainly do it very well. Their sense of Rheinheitsgebot make sure the beers tay firmly in the style. And Americans have taken the beer in different directions. Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is a pale ale made in the Maibock style. The result is a very boozy, sweet, hoppy, robust ale. Heavy Seas in Baltimore has an Uber-pils that boost the traditional pilsner style to the level of a bock (verging into dopplebock territory). And Anheuser-Busch’s Michelob Amber Bock is essentially a hopped up American adjunct lager with some caramel coloring added. Moretti La Rossa has the grassy maltiness I expect from and Italian beer with the sweetness of bock; resulting in something resembling cooked pasta. And Obolon Deep Velvet is nothing at all surprising to me. First a big, sweet front-end followed immediately by a huge, boozy back-end with no middle at all. It is quite like being on a See-Saw by yourself.

What I Drank-
Ayinger Celebrator*
Bells Consecrator*
Fisherman’s Navigator*
Heavy Seas Small Craft Warning*
Leinekugel’s 1888 Bock
Michelob Amber Bock
Moretti La Rossa*
Obolon Deep Velvet
Rogue Dead Guy Ale*
Shiner Bock*
Spaten Optimator*

*Outstanding examples

Over the course of the next few days, I will be sharing reviews of my favorite bocks and dopplebocks of the season. We welcome your thoughts and comments below.

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