The Complete (Chicago) Beer Course: Doppelbock

With taprooms closed and festivals cancelled, I’ve been looking for ways to still engage with Chicago’s craft beer scene. I’ve therefore decided to finally work my way through The Complete Beer Course, which had been sitting on my bookshelf for a few years. Working through it involves the tough job of sampling beers for each style the book details. I’ll balance national (and international) recommendations from author Joshua Bernstein with examples from Chicagoland breweries. Unless otherwise stated, historical background comes from The Complete Beer Course.

Style: Doppelbock

History Lesson: The brothers of Munich’s St. Francis of Paula (Paulaner) first started brewing doppelbock in the seventeenth century as a beer to sustain them during Lent’s 46 days of fasting. Realizing they had something lucrative on their hands, the monks eventually took to selling their salvatorbiere (“savior beer”) to the citizens of Munich.

When secular owners took over Paulaner in the in the nineteenth century, they began to face competition from other breweries offering their own salvatorbiere. So much so, in fact, that they trademarked the name. Other breweries responded by changing the names of their doppelbocks but retaining the suffix ator, a tradition that continues today with names like Bajuvator, Liberator, and Troegenator.

Beer Judge Certification Program Description: “A very strong and rich lager. A bigger version of either a traditional bock or a helles bock.”

Fun Fact: Chicagoan Pat Berger, owner of Paddy Long’s, made it his mission to mimic the monks and subsist on doppelbock through Lent this year.

I Tried:

  1. Ayinger Celebrator
  2. Metropolitan Generator

Third Coast Review’s Take: Two words: malt bomb. As different as these two beers were, they were united in their rich malt-forwardness.

Ayinger Celebrator’s label says “Dark, malty, and rich.” I can confirm the accuracy of that description. Most notably, it has a long, lingering, and decidedly unlagerlike aftertaste. That aftertaste, along with the roasty flavor, reminded me of coffee from a French press.

Metropolitan Generator was so different than Ayinger Celebrator that I easily could’ve mistaken the two for different beer styles altogether. The color difference, for example, was stark, with Ayinger Celebrator being nearly black and Metropolitan Generator a deep red. While still very malt-forward and a bit boozy, the latter was nevertheless smooth and drinkable with a crisp finish.

Up Next: We cross the border into Austria for Vienna Lager.

Nicholas Blashill
Nicholas Blashill

Nick Blashill is a native of Downers Grove who has recently returned to the Chicago area. By day he works in market research, but he is looking forward to sharing the experiences with Chicago’s craft beer and music scenes that fill his free time.

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