An often overlooked style of beer in the United States is the rich and delicious dark lager referred to as Doppelbock. This Bavarian style is easily one of my favorite styles of beer as it has richness from a darker malt profile, balance from earthy continental hops and crispness from the water and lager yeast. A Doppelbock is described by the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP for short) as, "a strong, rich, and very malty German lager that can have both pale and dark variants." The darker versions have more richly-developed, deeper malt flavors and are more readily available in the marketplace, while the paler versions have slightly more hops and dryness.
Paulaner Salvator is a classic commercial example of a Dopplebock from the birthplace of the style, Germany. This 375 year old recipe uses a simple recipe of Pilsner malt, Munich malt, German Hercules and Hallertau Tradition hops along with the German water and lager yeast to provide a heavenly Doppelbock experience. The result is a 7.9% delicious dark lager that has stood the test of time. Leave it to the Germans to come up with such a simple recipe. They make lagers so well. This beer is the standard that all other Doppelbock's are compared to even after all of these years. A little trick to spot a Doppelbock out in the wild is to find any beer name with the suffix -ator in them. Typically these beers like Salvator, Optimator, and Troegenator will take you down the proper path of dark lager deliciousness.
Eurisko Beer Company, who is the third brewery stop on Beer City Brewery Tours in Asheville, NC, in collaboration with The Cellarest of West Asheville, has made a beauty of a Doppelbock called 19º. Check out the pictures above and below. This version of a classic Doppelbock is very special as it takes a more local approach by utilizing Riverbend malt. The local grains compliments the noble hop variety used with ample oak aging. What a unique take on an all time classic German style. Perhaps these two breweries are giving a tip of the cap to the old days of brewing when stainless steel wasn't around and oak aging was the norm?
I would designate this particular Oak Aged Doppelbock as more of a medium to dark brown color with a nice mahogany hue. The head is beaded well with large and small bubbles and an off white color. I don't perceive much alcohol on the nose, initial taste or aftertaste which is crucial for such a dark lager. That also makes this a fairly dangerous beer at 7.8% with appropriate amounts of toasty malt in unison with the complex oak undertones. Don't forget your credit card at the bar like I did! These two fabulous Asheville breweries have captured the rich Maillard (think browning the malt like searing a steak) flavors of the toasty malts and have lagered it for 8 weeks prior to letting it rest and condition in oak for 10 MONTHS! Now that's taking your time for the best possible outcome. I don't know if I could wait that long.
19º is a unique twist on the Doppelbock style as the flavor is accentuated because the beer has taken time to rest in oak puncheons (or large oak barrels that hold 500 liters) for such a long time. The resting time has provided this typically higher alcohol by volume beer style with balanced oak character that rounds out the beer. The barrels are made of neutral oak so there hasn't been any added bourbon or other spirits adding to the alcohol or misbalance of this beer. Think of the oak as the 5th ingredient in this beer or really the 6th if you read my blog on carbonation.
19º was made with the post-Oktoberfest season in mind. Although it is not the beer of the biggest beer festival in the world, Dopplebock is an all German style. This one uses Asheville's local Riverbend Vienna and Munich dark malts as well as German noble variety Hallartau Mittlefraü hops to compliment the nutty,toasty and ready malts.These malts do not put off big roast, coffee, espresso notes that are appropriate for a stout or porter but capture a bit of chocolate, caramel, toffee, and grape-like dried fruit character.
Do you want to learn more about Asheville local malt? Check out my blog post about Asheville's 10 year old malthouse, Riverbend Malt.
The end product is a complex beer that has a lot of unique light and dark dried fruit character and a beautiful mid-dry finish. Local Riverbend malt is the star ingredient and is expertly complimented by the long conditioning time in the oak puncheons. Think of this collaboration as a very complex darker beer treated like wine by using oak. Nothing is overpowering in the final poduct and the clean yeast profile lends itself to some oak tannins as well. I really love it when these two fine breweries pair up for a beer and this one is no different. Join me on Beer City Brewery Tours today to try this beer and many more!
If you want to learn more about different styles of beer, the stories of the Asheville beer scene, the ins and outs of the brewing process as well as having a great overall Asheville beer experience please book a Beer City Brewery Tour today. We pride ourselves on providing a superior and expertly curated walking Asheville brewery tour for every gues We are open every day of the week and provide a well curated walking Asheville brewery tour to big and small groups alike. Please join me, a passionate, local beer expert, on a journey to find Asheville's best beer.
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