Some of you lucky lot will have had a dark lager from the Ayinger Brewery in your BeerBods box before, but not one quite like this.
A bock is a strong German lager. A Doppel- (i.e. double) bock then is twice the beer in the same amount of bottle. This beer is a rich mahogany colour with a light brown head. It's still a lager, despite being so dark, so it will finish clean and light compared to other strong dark beers with which you may be acquainted — it's no barrel-aged stout, in other words. But it's still complex, fruity and deliciously satisfying. Look for fresh molasses, brown bread and sherry on the nose and flavours of caramel, dark sugar and figs with a mocha finish.
Doppelbock is a special beer. It began as a monastic brew made to sustain the monks during Lent and Advent. It was created by Franciscan monks from Paula, Italy, who had settled in Munich in 1627 and begun brewing there. They were forbidden solid food during these times so they turned instead to this 'liquid bread' to keep body and soul together.
Except it did more than just keep them alive. They enjoyed it, perhaps too much, and began to wonder whether they were shirking the suffering their religion demanded of them. To settle the matter they appealed to the Pope in Rome, and when he agreed to sanction the practice they began referring to their beer as Salvator (Saviour).
Some of this beer made its way out of the monastery and into the public's hands (well, mouths) but it wasn't until 1780 that the monks received permission to brew commercially.
Other breweries making beers of this style have given them names ending in '-ator' as in deference to Paulaner Salvator, the first commercial doppelbock. And so we have Celebrator, which continues this tradition.
It also features some German wordplay; 'Bock' means billy goat, of which there are two on its label. You will often see bottles of Celebrator adorned with small plastic goats hanging from the neck, for the same reason.
Over the years Celebrator has picked up hundreds...yes, hundreds of awards. It was named Germany’s best doppelbock at the world beer awards in 2015 before going on to win gold in the strong lager category at the same event in 2017. It boasts the perfect score of 100/100 on ratebeer.com and was voted by users of the site as Germany’s best beer and worlds best lager two years on the bounce. It’s pretty special.
This is a great beer for a wintry evening. Serve it around 7°C to 10°C in a stemmed glass and use it to wash down a rib-sticking dish made with pork or ham. It will also work well with strong cheeses like aged Gruyère, smoked Gouda or Camembert. It could even work with chocolate cake. How's that for a treat?
You can find more about Ayinger on their website.