Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Celebrator Dopplebock (Brauerei Aying)

Yuengling was established in 1829 and claims to be America's oldest brewery. The Weihenstephan Brewery in Bavaria, by comparison, has been continuously operated since the year 1040. I begin this way to assert that Germany's dedication to and mastery of the brewing art is beyond reproach.

The Ayinger Brewery is a relative newcomer at the age of 134, but its roots are sunk in the rich soil of its native Bavarian tradition. Accordingly, you might expect their Celebrator Dopplebock to be one of the most authentic dopplebocks made -- an exemplar and standard-setter of the style. You'd be right.

Celebrator comes in a classic brown bottle with a pure white cap. Making up for this plainness is an ornate, old-fashioned-looking label which depicts two goats embracing a vessel of sudsy dark beer. Slung around the bottle's neck by a red thread is a white plastic trinket of a goat (bock being a word for "goat" in German).

The beer appears almost black-brown, but shows a lovely ruby color when light passes through it. Pouring raises a short, light brown, tight-bubbled head that settles in the glass with the cascading effect usually associated with nitrogen-drawn drafts. It has the aroma of concord grapes and flint.

The flavor of this dark beauty is toasted barley malt all the way. So restrained is the use of hops that you have to ponder carefully what role it plays. Sweet barley malt totally dominates the full body. There is no bitterness, no smokiness, no huskiness, and the taste stops just shy of the impression of molasses. The flavor evades hazards and extremes with the confidence of a BMW negotiating a slalom course.

The mouthfeel is creamy, involving the minimum carbonation necessary. The grape note that was suggested in the nose increases as the beer warms, as does the detectability of the 6.7% alcohol content.

In my opinion, Celebrator Doppelbock is one of the world's truly great beers. It is rich-tasting and focused, and a marvel of craftsmanship. If you ever need a distinct change of pace from the hops avalanche of American craft brews, you can reach for none better.

Featured beer:
Celebrator Dopplebock

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