Brief history: This style was created in 1629 as “Salvator” by the monastic Paulaner brewery in Munich, Germany. The Salvator name began to be used more generally until the early 20th century when the now secular Paulaner brewery took steps to protect the name. However, the “-ator” suffix still carries on today and many breweries still slap it on the end of their doppelbock names for beers. The term “doppelbock” was coined by Munich consumers, “doppel” meaning double. The beer is still relatively big, but it was once much heavier. Over the past 150 years, the beer has become drier, less sweet, and more alcoholic.
Standard characteristics: Typically doppelbocks are darker in color, ranging from deep gold to dark brown, and darker versions also tend to have ruby highlights. They also tend to have a large, creamy, persistent head ranging from white to off-white in color. However, stronger versions may have less head retention. These are beers that possess a very strong maltiness and do not tend to have a very strong bitterness.
Nose: The aroma will have a very strong malt character, with darker versions also having slight toasty aromas as well. There is virtually no hop aroma, although some paler version may have slight earthy hops coming through. A moderate amount of dark fruits may be present as well, but not overpowering. Darker versions may also have slight hints of dark chocolate or roasted barley as well.
Body: Doppelbocks tend to lean more towards the full-bodied side of the spectrum, with lighter versions in the medium-full range accepted as well. Additionally, there is a moderate amount of carbonation within the beer. The overall impression is a very smooth beer without harshness or alcohol burn.
Taste: The taste is very rich and malty, as one might expect. They have a very clean lager flavor; after all, this beer is the lager’s bigger cousin. Darker versions may possess some roast characteristics. Typically, doppelbocks have a biscuit and fresh bread-like quality to them due to the high malt character.
Food pairing: Just as one may expect with a very rich beer, this pairs very well with very rich foods. These beers are an absolute dream with duck, goose, pork, or pigeon. They also go well with many Mexican dishes, especially those with a heavy cream sauce. The sweetness of doppelbocks also makes them great for dessert pairings such as chocolate and/or carrot cake, custard, and homemade éclairs.
Recommendations: This is an extremely approachable beer style, as many beers drinkers are used to maltier beers, and the hop profile is very low in doppelbocks. The other great thing about these beers is that many are easy to find in bars and stores throughout the country, whether they are imported or brewed domestically. Here is a brief list of great doppelbock beers to try:
Samuel Adams: Double Bock
Tröegs Brewing Company: Troegenator
Brooklyn Brewery: Brooklyn Silver Anniversary Lager
Remember, always enjoy responsibly! Cheers!