DISPATCH No. 005
A.F.R.: 2/ 22/ 2020
Tis’ the time for STRONG BEER !!
In late February and early March, at Radhaus and Biergarten, we take time to appreciate and to celebrate what Bavarians call: Starkbiers. ‘Strong’ however, does not just refer to the higher alcohol these Biers contain (at least 7.5%), but to the “original wort” used in their brewing – indicating the volume of dissolved solids the Bier contains. This can be almost a pound and a half of malt for each liter of bier. Which for most Doppelbocks (or double bock Biers) amounts to roughly one third of a loaf of bread.
According to records, the story begins in the mid 1600s at Munich’s Neudeck ob der Au monastery with the Paulaner monks and a religious work-around of sorts: During Lent solid foods are forbidden, but liquids are acceptable. Doppelbock was originally concocted as a life sustaining beverage meant to nourish the monks through the fasting. To this day these special Biers are still referred to as ‘liquid bread’ (Flüssiges Brot). The first one named ‘Salvator’ (Latin for Saviour) is still brewed by the Paulaner Brewery using the same basic recipe. There are over forty varieties brewed in the region, most of which bear the “-ator” suffix in deference to the Ur-lager.
Today, all over Bavaria there are small Strong Bier festivals celebrating the dark and delicious brews. In fact, in Munich the official Starkbierfest (1751), predates the much larger and much more famous Oktoberfest (1810).
The Doppelbocks tend toward dark red-brown with a thick, creamy butterscotch head. Always rich and very malty on the nose. From the first sip, look for notes of toffee, caramel, toasted bread, brown sugar and molasses with hints of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg. In the best examples of the style the higher alcohol is very well hidden in the overall drinkable balance of sweet roasted malt, earthy floral hops and the ripe stone fruit flavors that make Doppelbock a good match for the late winter season’s heartier fare. Per- fect with aged cheeses, cured sausages, roasted meats, desserts and brunch dishes – or, of course, as the monks drink it – in large quantity, without bread, for weeks at a time. Join us this Starkbier season.