Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sprecher Dopple Bock, bottle, poured into mug

Rolling along with the dopplebock theme, tonight's offering comes from the suburbs of that other great Wisconsin city. And while I'd love to say the Milwaukee-area product beats out Madison's, Sprecher Dopple Bock just doesn't measure up to the Capital Imperial.

That's a shame because the bottle's been enticing me every time I open the fridge for the last few weeks. I mean, for starters, it's a fat pint, which bellows "drink me" louder than any other container I can think of. Also, I love the Sprecher labels:

This one features a great description on the neck label:
This dark, rich, and mildly sweet lager was originally brewed as liquid bread to sustain Bavarian monks during Lent.
Who says Catholicism isn't great?

The pour gets you in the mood for sure. It's darker, creamier, and more viscous than I'm used to in a bock, and the aroma is very pleasant--molasses and prunes or dates, mostly, and maybe just a little chocolate. The malt isn't as strong as most bocks, I don't think.

The taste didn't quite do it for me, and, well, that being the most important part, the brew overall was a mild letdown. My complaint is the same one I've had with other bocks--too syrupy and boozy up front and not enough earth to temper the sweet. It took four or five sips for the sweetness to dull, and even then, this tastes a little too boozy for a dark, thick beer that's only 7.9% ABV. The Capital held it's 9% much better, as I recall.

Truth be told, the Sprecher gets better midway once you acclimate the sugary punch. The date flavor dominates, but my favorite part is the finish, which is a little bitter and vaguely smoky.

Grade: C, for comforting. It's not the greatest beer, but it's a slow sipper with nice after-hours flavors that make it easy enough to drink. Still, it's potent enough to remind you that you're getting buzzed as it goes down, which isn't a bad thing as long as you're in the mood. For as much as the pint bottle excited my former booze hound, I'd rather drink it in two sittings if I were to have it again.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Capital Imperial Dopplebock, bottle, poured into mug

I now interrupt this long hiatus to bring you a beer review.

In my last post, just over a month ago, I mentioned my beer "allergy" and my doctor's recommendation to abstain for three months. If you interpret my inactivity as following that advice, you would be wrong. I've cut back a little--no second pints and the occasional beerless night--but that's as far as I'll go.

That said, I have a very important professional exam at the end of this month--I'll let you guess which one--so my time has been at a premium, relatively speaking. That doesn't mean I'm spending every free moment studying--that would be an awful way to live--but it has made me less willing to stay up that extra half-hour after leaving the bar to tell my banal anecdotes (and perhaps mention something about the beer I drank).

But tonight, insomnia reigns. Sixteen hours in the office wasn't enough to wear out my conscious brain, but maybe this Imperial Dopplebock can finish the job. Either way, I'm having a delightful time drinking it.

Have I mentioned that great cold-weather beers come from cold-weather states? Yes, all the time. Capital makes me reconsider my declaration of bocks being my least favorite beer style because right now, that simply isn't true.

This is a perfect fall beer, smelling of dates or figs, wood chips, and something vegetable--either carrot or broccoli. As you'd expect, the malt is the predominant flavor, which is just the right amount of sweet--again, dates and maybe a little honey. The sip finishes a little smokey--more like a cigarette than a barbecue.

The taste is thick to match the texture, and I'm surprised this is 9% ABV. I'd guess 7.5% if the label didn't tell. For best results, drink this outside on a fall night, where the air will keep the beer cold, and the booze will keep you warm. Just a half-ounce per sip, and swish it around thoroughly.

Grade: W, for woodsy. I first tried this beer last month up in the woods of northern Wisconsin, and it felt like the perfect beer for the setting. But I can confirm that it's still excellent if you're lying around your bedroom in your boxers.