01 December 2007

An American Wheat Doppelbock

I broke into my nascent cellar tonight and tried my bottle of Clipper City (Baltimore, MD) Heavy Seas "Hang Ten" Weizen Doppelbock.

I was intrigued by the idea of a wheat doppelbock, and since it was put forth by a reputable brewer, thought I'd give this one a whirl. It's definitely a curious and complex brew, not at all unpleasant -- if not quite what I was expecting from a Doppelbock. I would never guess this one correctly in a blind taste test, that's for sure.

At the outset, it's reminiscent of a Belgian Strong Ale or a Flemish red -- even the color corresponds in that department, pouring a coppery rust color with the thinnest of heads.
It's slightly cloudy without being dull in the glass, and the head fades to the edges of the glass fairly quickly.

On the nose, I sense barley malt (true to a doppelbock), brown sugar, sawdust (like my grandfather's carpentry shop), and alcohol (at 10% ABV, that's no surprise).

The Belgian/Flemish charade continues on the tongue -- a sweet/sour quality that I associate with those great ales of the Low Countries introduces itself right away, and I immediately think of any number of food pairings. Also on the tongue comes a whole parade of tastes -- dark chocolate, caramel, sea salt, hops (Saaz?? Mt. Hood???), bananas, slight smoke (like smoked bacon), with a nice sour finish. (I'm still thinking, "how is this a lager?") The alcohol is definitely present, creating a nice warming after-taste.

The feel on the palate is great -- it's spritzy, and has a quality reminiscent of a dry wine.

This brew would be great with savory meat dishes (nothing too heavy -- venison, pork, duck, or maybe lamb would be perfect), or well-prepared sausages. I can also imagine asparagus pairing up well, and maybe even certain desserts (custard, creme brulee). I also envision this beer with a cheese course (gouda stands out).

I can't help but continue to think of Belgian Strong Ale (Kwak, Scaldis Prestige) or Flemish Red (Duchesse de Bourgogne) -- which, given that they are among my very favorite beers, is no bad thing. I'm not seeing how this beer could possibly be in the same family as Ayinger Celebrator, so I might not give it high style marks -- but on its own, as itself, it's great.

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