Sunday, December 21, 2008

We're heading for 18+ inches of snow in 48 hours here in my neck of the woods. Great day to tap into some Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock. This was the first double bock I ever tried, some time in the early 80's when availability of some interesting brands were beginning to be imported by Merchant du Vin. Ayinger's is a departure from others in that is robustly fortified with the use of a type of roasted malt referred to in the english vernacular as "chocolate" malt. In addition, although I am not privy to the brewery's formulations I suspect there is a highly heat cured "caramel" or "crystal" malt being used to provide the rich, toffee/treacle (molasses) note that really provides the foundation of this delicious beer. The use of both of these malts rides a fine line, both can yield too much astringency, roasted acidity or cloying sweetness in the case of the crystal malt. I have always felt that Ayinger's Celebrator presents the best of what these malts can do together; a seamless balance of richness, sweetness and roasted character of dark chocolate and coffee, and a beautiful intense reddish-brown color. My own forays into brewpub sized batches of double bock are usually less "roasty", and heavy on the toffee flavors of high dried munich, melanoidin malt, and hopefully not-too-much Weyermann Cararoma. I generally omit the "chocolate" malt, preferring to use that in schwarzbier and other dark lager styles. The color of my double bock is deepest red with almost purplish -brown highlights and a tan head. Lagering time is always a factor in these beers, and I generally shoot for eight weeks. Quite memorably my crew and I cellared a quarter barrel of "Accelerator" for 14 months, which we tapped the day before the current year's offering was to be put on tap. We were quite pleased with the results, smooth and luscious with a warming alcohol finish. Gone in less than two hours, yet still living in my memory. If only we had enough cellar to always do this!