German Beer Styles: What is Doppelbock?
With Lent beginning this week, there is something even the non-religious beer lovers among us can celebrate, and that’s the creation of Doppelbock.
Monks had been brewing beer as a means of nourishment during periods of fasting since the Middle Ages. But it wasn’t until the 1600s that they started brewing a lager version. A Paulist order of monks relocated to Munich in 1627 and started brewing their own lager version of Lenten beer soon thereafter. But they were concerned that the beer was so delicious that it might be too much of an indulgence. So they sent a cask to Rome for the Pope to decide. During the long hot journey across the Alps and into Italy the cask had gone bad. And by the time the Pope got to try a glass it was a sour foul mess of a beer. He said that the beer was so vile that it was probably beneficial for the souls of the monks to brew and drink as much of it as possible. And so they did.
The monks came to call this beer “Salvator” which means the savior. This brewery was eventually shut down during the reign of Napoleon, but it was purchased by Franz Xaver in 1806 and reopened as Paulaner Brewery and Salvator was once again being made. Over time, this style of beer came to be called by its more common name, Doppelbock.
Many Doppelbocks today end in “ator” to associate themselves with Salvator, the first Doppelbock. Some of these are Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, Troeg’s Troegenator Double Bock, Thomas Hooker Liberator and Smuttynose S’muttonator.
So whether you are fasting for Lent or just out to enjoy a delicious dark beer, order a Doppelbock and thank the German Paulaner monks.