Any beer that you manage to get your hands on has its own little sliver of history to go along with it. I’m not talking about beers being made with the brewer’s “beard yeast” or some crazed fringe zymurgist deciding to throw yak testicles into his latest stout—I’m talking about culturally significant reasons why one region’s beer is so much different than anothers. Looking back on Lenten season (the six weeks leading up to Easter), I thought it would be appropriate to review some beers that were originally designed especially for Lent.
Bockbiers are some of Germany’s bigger beers, and they rank among the heaviest, maltiest and smoothest brews in the world. German monks made these beers primarily for their own consumption to help them get through the fasting that accompanied Lent. So high in calories are bockbiers that they could sustain a band of lonely, smelly monks all the way to Easter Sunday. Now we drink them just because they’re so fucking malty and delicious. Here are some fine local examples.
The Devastator Double Bock
Brewery/Brand: Wasatch/Utah Brewers Cooperative
Serving Style: 12 oz. Bottle
Description: The Devastator pours dark bronze with orange highlights. Take a whiff and your sniffer gets a huge dose of earthy, dark fruits, overripe figs and strawberries, with just a bit of nutty bread underneath. As it hits your pie-hole, the taste mimics the nose with some highly earthy, overripe dark fruit notes coming on early and a strong, heavy dose of figs, prunes and a bit of red berry. A dose of crusty malt provides a nice bed underneath. Hops are perceptible toward the long finish.
Overview: This is a worthy example of a beer style that can range from “sucks” to “fruitcake”––a great, local, year-round lager.
Double Skull Doppelbock Lager
Brewery/Brand: Epic Brewing Co.
Serving Style: 22 oz. Bottle
Description: This beer looks nice. It has a hazy, reddish-brown color with a nice, dense, cream-colored head. The nose is of grainy chocolate and toasted caramel malts with some floral hops. After the Devastator, I was expecting more chewy, dark fruits, but my tongue was happy for a nice change of pace. The taste starts with sweet, grainy chocolate and toffee malts with a little dark fruit rounding out the front end. Some grassy and floral hops come through in the end, leading to a dry, boozy finish.
Overview: As it warms, some nice, leathery notes come out. This is a less traditional example, but it will help turn that six-pack you’re sporting into a keg, toot-sweet!
Brewery/Brand: Bohemian Brewery
Serving Style: On Tap, Cans
Description: This lager is much darker than the others, and it has a black, ruby hue with a fine cap of tan head. As soon as my nose got inside the glass there was lot of dark fruit, as well as some toffee and caramel malt. If you like your beer boozy, you’re likely to be a little disappointed. If you’re all about flavor, you’re going to go “Squeeeee!” The flavor is similar to the nose, with toffee, caramel, cocoa and a lot of dark fruit. There is also a nice, dry nuttiness in the finish.
Overview: For such a light beer, it has a full, round taste that can compete with its much more boozy and cloying counterparts. I’d say that this is more of a hybrid of a Schwarzbier and a Bock—a “Schwartzbock”? You can get it damn near everywhere, anytime.
I have many more daily beer musings in my arsenal. Check out the Utah Beer Blog (utahbeer.blogspot.com) for more of my bullshit.