Fearful Symmetries

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09 February, 2016

Fill My Glass With That Doppelvision: Doppelvision by Milwaukee Brewing Company

February. It's cold outside and Shrovetide is ceding to Lent. For pagans/wiccans it's time to celebrate Imbolc and rejoice that spring is on its way. Now this - this is the time for a doppelbock. Luckily I had a bottle leftover from last year that I opened recently.

Milwaukee Brewing Company's Doppelvision is a doppelbock aged for a month in bourbon barrels. The bier is one of a handful of the brewery's Destination Local series which features stronger brews in 750ml bottles that are for sharing with a fellow faster, heathen, kith, or kin. This is the 2015 version which was released last spring in the cruelest month. The bottle has been biding its time in my cellar which is relatively cool and dark.

"Doppelbock" means "double bock", an extra strong version of an already fairly strong brew. The legend that I've always read and heard was that the bock was invented in the 17th century by the Paulaner monks in Munich. To tide themselves over Lent, they brewed a strong bier, a.k.a. - liquid bread – that became known as bock bier. At some point in the next century the bier got stronger and the monks called it "Salvator" after their savior. The "-ator" suffix would go on to become synonymous with the doppelbock.

The doppelbock emphasizes the malt. I mean, how much sustenance can you get from hops? They average around 7% A.B.V. but some are much stronger.

Doppelvision was a lovely reddish brown color and a bit lighter than I expected. I tend to think of doppelbocks as being dark biers and barrel aging to add even more darkness. These are, of course, misconceptions that addle my brain. In reality, doppelbocks probably tend to be darker than bocks but rarely have the ebony appearance of a stout. The bier was clear. My glass had a beauty of a head that was big, firm, and tan. It stuck around for about half a minute. There were bubbles everywhere inside the glass going upwards and onwards.

That the bier had been aged in bourbon barrels was undeniable from the aroma which had a pronounced booziness to it. Much to my delight, roasted grain and even some bitter chocolate were evident as well. Looking at the brewery's website I see that they used basically every malt they had lying around which included chocolate malt so these scents were unsurprising. Also unsurprising, but quite welcome, was the smell of caramel. Doppelvision was made with no less than four caramel malts.

The booze reappeared in the taste and gave it shades of smoke, wood, and vanilla. I felt that the bier had a good, big bourbon taste but I've certainly had barrel-aged beers that tasted like someone forgot to take out the bourbon before putting the beer in. Despite giving it the old college try, the whiskey could not keep the malt down as the bier had a big caramel flavor from all of those aforementioned malts. Underneath all of this was some roasted grain flavor too. The carbonation perhaps took the edge off of the sweetness and added a little tingling to my tongue.

On the finish all of those malty flavors faded allowing an unexpected burst of grassy hops to pop through the layers sweet, grainy goodness. The hops brought with them a little bit of bitterness. It was here that the bourbon gave off a little more than flavor with some alcohol heat coming through as well. My glass was left with some really nice Schaumhaftvermoegen. Thick strands and big splotches of foam lined my vessel.

With the boozy heat on the finish and the presence of the whiskey on the nose and my tongue, it is surprising that Doppelvision is only 8% A.B.V. It tastes bigger than that. Quite aside from the potency that the whiskey had endowed, I really enjoyed the flavor of wood and vanilla from the gentle aging process. They harmonized well with the myriad of malts flavors here. I also appreciated that Doppelvision wasn't very sweet. Big malty beers can become cloyingly so and the brewer deftly avoided that pitfall here.

Junk food pairing: Being a big bier, Doppelvision can handle heartier foods. You can't go wrong with pork rinds and/or cracklin'. I mean, German biers and pork go together like peanut butter and chocolate. I also would recommend some jalapeño or jalapeño & cheddar thick-cut potato chips.

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|| Palmer, 5:04 AM


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