20th Anniversary Release; Sampled March 2009
As I pour this beer it visually reveals a viscous heft and has an interesting cranberry aroma. An average pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a two-finger thick, amber tinged, tan colored head. The beer is a dark amber, full brown color that shows a clear, cranberry amber hue when held up to the light. The aroma is rich and malty, but leans towards raisin and berry aromatics at times. Spicy brown malt aromatics are joined by toasted whole-grain bread notes, richly caramelized malt aromatics that are not quite burnt, but certainly concentrated, though not cloying. The nose is quite nice and is in fact spot on for a Doppelbock; spicy, bready, dark fruit notes and rich smelling, just like a hearty Bock should be.
The beer has a spiciness to it up front, and it even has a light tartness to it. The flavor is a bit more roasted than the aroma would have suggested; it has a burnt acidity, it gets a touch acrid at times and has some charred malt notes that linger on the palate. This is not roasted like a stout, though it is in the Porter realm of roast flavors. The carbonation adds a fizziness and accentuates the tartness that lingers in this beer. This almost tastes lactic at times, which seems to accentuate a tart raisin-like notes and perhaps even a hint of tamarind. Some warming alcohol contributes a warming quality and a spiciness to the finish.
When served cooler, the tartness is tamed a bit more, which allows the rich, toasty malt character to come out a bit more. Browned malt character, rich toasted brown bread, and a light malt sweetness are also a bit more noticeable. This is not overly heavy, but it is certainly a sipping brew (especially when you consider the complexity).
This is thoroughly enjoyable, but I find myself dwelling a bit on the tartness here; it seems like it might be more than just dark grain and poor mash PH control, but it is not so tart that I can definitively say it is an infection. This is tasty though, in fact, with this flavor profile and if it had a substantial wheat character, it would make a really nice Weizen-Bock. In the end this is stylistically a bit off, but it is still quite tasty.
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