Showing posts with label doppelbock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label doppelbock. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Doppeling Bock Down

Ah winter....I love it. Not for me sunshine, sand, and beaches. Give me darkness, cold, and the warming glow of a log fire, or a even a peat fire in a perfect world. It's also the time of year when I drink more of the bigger beers of the world, especially doppelbocks. My love of a good doppelbock, in common with many of my beer preferences, stirred in the Czech Republic and drinking Primátor Double, a 24° behemoth of a beer that made a great nightcap on long winter nights. Closer to home in both time and space, Trader Joe's does a lovely doppelbock called Winter Brew which makes regular appearances in the fridge at this time of year, which reminds me, I need to stock up.

With Christmas getting inexorably closer I thought it would be fun to attempt a mass doppelbock tasting akin to the one I did for Oktoberfest when that was the seasonal de jour. Alas, there are not nearly enough versions of the style available to make such a project worthwhile, there were though the following in my local Wegmans:
Given that I had a final bottle of Olde Mecklenburg Brewing's Bauern Bock sitting in the fridge ready for a mass tasting, I figured I'd get the quartet together and try then in a single sitting as the boys watched Krtek before bed. First we head north to Pennsylvania...

  • Sight - beautiful garnet, half inch of lingering tan head
  • Smell - slightly metallic, dried fruit, honey, touch of marzipan, grassy hops
  • Taste - mostly honeyed toast, some maple syrup, stollen
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Perhaps it is because I love their Sunshine Pils on the rare occasion I can get hold of some but I was surprisingly disappointed by this, especially how understated it was for an 8.2% abv beer. I just expected more heft from it, the body was on the light side. Not bad, just not the big, chewy, beer I expected.

Closer to home for beer number 2, and of course I worked for Starr Hill for several years when Mrs V and I first moved to central Virginia.

  • Sight - deep ruby red, thin, off-white head that dissipates quickly
  • Smell - very light grass/hay, some bread, not much else
  • Taste - toffee and bread to the fore, clean hop bite in the finish
  • Sweet - 2.5/5
  • Bitter - 2/5
Another bit of a let down. Not a bad beer, just not as complex as I would expect for the style. I found the body to be a little on the cloying side, but it was a smooth drink without any noticeable alcohol character.

Let's head further south now, to Charlotte.

  • Sight - richer copper/light red, healthy half inch of rocky ivory head that lingers
  • Smell - toasted stollen, light lemongrass, toffee, floral hops
  • Taste - bready malt, dried fruit, some raisin and prune notes, cherries, slight nuttiness, and a hint of Dutch cocoa
  • Sweet - 3/5
  • Bitter - 2.5/5
This was more like it, a lovely, complex beer that was still approachable and displayed plenty of Maillard character from decoction mashing. Definitely not a bashing session beer, but one that could definitely form the basis of a lengthy evening's supping in the pub.

Now for a trip abroad.

  • Sight - deep red bordering on chestnut brown, long lasting tan head that lingers at about a quarter inch
  • Smell - black treacle, sublte umami thing like soy sauce, winter spices, prunes, floral hops
  • Taste - rich treacle, minus acrid burnt flavour though, fruit cake with lots of booze soaked stone fruits, raisins, cherries, dark honey
  • Sweet - 3.5/5
  • Bitter - 2.5/5
This is one complex beast of a beer, so much going on, each mouthful revealing more layers to the beer. While it is definitely sweet, and a touch syrupy, it isn't cloying as the clean lager fermentation ad hop bitterness snap everything back into line in the finish.

Four very different beers, but I found myself with a very definite order of preference:
  1. Bauern Bock - Olde Mecklenburg Brewing, NC
  2. Celebrator - Brauerei Ayinger, Germany
  3. Troegenator - Tr?egs Brewing, PA
  4. Snow Blind - Starr Hill Brewing, VA
Bauern Bock wins out largely because I can imagine myself being sat in the biergarten in Charlotte, under the lighted trees, enjoying several of these on draft with friends, but then finishing out the night with a Celebrator. Hopefully I will be able to persuade the in-laws to swing past the brewery on their way up for Christmas....

Monday, December 14, 2015

Doppelbock Fruit Cake

On Saturday morning I got to do one of my favourite things, doing the grocery shopping by myself. This isn't to say that I don't enjoy grocery shopping with Mrs V, but rather that when she goes running of a morning I like to take the opportunity to be in the shop early and alone, to avoid the crowds, to browse to my heart's content, and to avoid running into people with small children. As I wander the aisles I like to plan meals for the coming days, bread experiments to mess with, and beers in the booze realm to try. Thus it was on Saturday morning that I picked up a six pack of Trader Joe's Winter Brew, I won't wax lyrical here about my love for Trader Joe's beer but only because I did so in this post.


Winter Brew is labelled as a 'dark double bock lager', weighs in at 7.5% abv, is a beautiful deep garnet colour, and is rather fine drinking, so be sure to find yourselves some if you can as that is all I am going to tell you about when it comes to the beer. With two thirds of the 6 pack stoking a warming glow in the belly I decided that I needed to make fruit cake as it had been so long. I get why many people on this side of the Pond are not fans of fruit cake, especially when you see the shop bought abominations that get fobbed off on consumers and are, to put it bluntly, shit. One of the benefits of having a mother who is a phenomenal cook with a penchant for traditional cooking is knowing how things should be made (hence Mrs V and I still make our own mincemeat for Christmas, from a 250 year old recipe that includes meat).

Anyway....looking through my cook books for inspiration (there really are no such things as recipes), I pulled out my copy of 'The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook', a well thumbed resource, and decided to make a version of the Porter Cake recipe, but using doppelbock instead of stout, as well as some tweaks for what was in the cupboards, thus my recipe was:
  • 1 cup currants
  • 1 cup sultanas
  • 1 cup raisins
  • handful of dried cranberries that were floating about
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 0.75 cup chopped candied mixed peel
  • 12oz bottle of doppelbock
  • 2.75 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs lightly beaten
The method to my madness began with putting all the dried fruits in a big ass bowl and pouring the beer into the bowl, having first de-gassed the beer a bit by whisking it in a pint glass, and leaving the mixture to sit for at least 5 hours.


When it is time to actually make the cake pre-heat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and allspice in a bowl, then cream together the butter and sugar in another, bigger, bowl until light and fluffy, beat in the eggs a little a time, with a spoon of the flour mix as you go. Once the eggs are nicely incorporated, dump in the rest of the flour mix and beat to smooth paste, so it looks like this.


Now dump all the fruit and remaining liquid into the paste and stir, so it looks like this.


The original recipe called for the use of a 7 inch square cake pan but I don't have one of those, so I used 2 8 inch by 4 inch pans, and played around with the cooking times accordingly. Once you have greased and floured the cake tins, split the mix evenly between the two pans, and put in the oven for an hour, then lick the spoon and bowl clean to your heart's content.


After an hour, turn the oven down to 300°F/150°C and let it bake for another hour or until you can put a toothpick into the centre of the cake and it comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the tins for about half an hour before turning out on to a wire rack to cool completely.


Serve with a nice cup of tea....


So there you have it, a really easy, nice fruit cake recipe for winter. Shame the weather in Virginia isn't cooperating, sod it being 75°F/24°C yesterday.

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