Fritz and Maria's Beer Column
Local homebrewer turned one-man brewery Dale Holland was in town last week as part of the launch tour for his newest release. Dale's Brewing Co has three products - the Belgian pale ale, which, as an award-winning homebrew, started him on this path, the American amber ale and now the doppelbock.
Doppelbock is literally "double bock" in German, and the style is defined by its higher alcohol and strong malt character. First brewed for Lent by Munich's Paulaner Monks, doppelbocks range from just over 7 per cent alcohol to more than 10 per cent, making them one of the stronger lager styles. They are a darker beer, ranging from dark gold through to dark brown.
Most versions have a distinctive raisin or plum-like fruitiness and a clean finish with moderate to low hop character. We think they make a great winter warmer.
Compared with IPAs, doppelbocks aren't common in New Zealand, but Nelson has a few versions. Having sourced samples from Bays Brewing, Sprig and Fern, Harrington's, and Dale's recent release, we decided to convene a tasting panel.
All the beers are in the 7 to 8 per cent alcohol range, and come in some form of brown. Harrington's was the lightest, a sort of medium tea colour, and Sprig and Fern was the darkest - deep and dark, with ruby highlights.
There were no clear favourites among the offerings, just variations on the theme. These beers are malt-driven, with a slightly sweet character. Bays Exclamator and Harrington's Dopplebock were the least intense.
The Sprig and Fern Doppelbock was bolder and heavier bodied, with notes of vanilla, oak and a hint of dark chocolate.
Dale's Doppelbock is likely the least traditional of the bunch, because it has had a generous hit of Motueka hops added at the end of the boil.
The effect is a more balanced, hop-driven beer with floral aromas mingling with toffee notes, and a bitter finish cleansing the palate.
Dale's Doppelbock is currently available in Nelson via a lone keg at Deville. Bottling is currently ongoing, and bottles should be available in the coming week at Fresh Choice supermarkets.
Epic Brewing has again set loose its Hop Zombie Double IPA, taking top honours at this year's West Coast IPA challenge in Wellington. Hopheads should be on the lookout for the new glow-in-the-dark labels. McCashin's has brought home another round of medals in an international competition. Stoke Gold was awarded gold at the International Beer Challenge in London. Eight beers received accolades at the event. Blenheim's Winter Fest is on at Drylands on Sunday from 11 am to 7 pm. This free, family-friendly beer event features top-of-the-south breweries and some seasonal brews.