The 2010 LCBO spring release had some exceptional beers in it; some old friends, and some new ones also. And because its Friday, and its also so beautiful out, I decided to treat myself to an afternoon beer, and why not try something new from Germany. The Doppel-Hirsch from Der HirschBrau is among the beers that the LCBO so kindly brought to us for their spring release just recently. So, I grabbed my favorite German Goblet, the Doppel-Hirsch, and headed for the balcony.
The brewery’s website is only in German so I could not find too much detail about them, or their beer. However if my German is correct, it seems like the brewery was originally built in 1891, but the Hirschwirt family has been brewing beer since 1657. Germany has a very rich brewing history of course, but Der HirschBrau’s is not one lacking of drama; in 1945 the brewery was destroyed “by bombs”, as the site exclaims, and was not built back to full operation until 1957. Now though, they are operating at full boil producing thirteen beers regularly available in Germany, and many of them available throughout Europe.
Regardless of history, origins, or bombings, it’s flavor that really makes the beer – so lets go! The Doppel-Hirsch is a German Doppel Bock, and isntatly looked and smelled like one. It poured very smooth and cleanly with little carbonation present lifting a short quarter inch pale head which slowly faded to nothing. The nose is very sweet; while pouring, before even getting my nose close to the beer it was glistening with toffee, roasted malt, and nuts. When I got in closer more toffee and caramel came out, as well as a very specific malt sweetness. It is very German, instantly you can taste the history in the beer; there is no mistaking the scent of rich toasted German Malts. They are sweet, lightly alcoholic, and almost honey like. The beer was a deep rich auburn getting very close to brown. Held into the sun it glowed with ruby and amber.
It really was a pleasure to drink. First came toffee, creamy caramel, a whole whack of rich malt, roast, nuts, and dark sticky fruit. Like prunes, dried plums and raisins. The malt sweetness is what really dominates here and provides the toffee and caramel. While the malt engulfs your entire mouth nuts like walnuts, chestnuts and almonds play around the sides of your tongue and across the back of your throat. There really is a lot in this beer. The roast and toasted malt is resting in the background to help balance the creamy sweetness of the malt. I really enjoyed this beer as a classic German Doppel Bock, so if you are looking to introduce yourself to this beer style, this is a great choice. However, if you are new to richer beers, or are trying to show someone something interesting this beer may be too much for you. The alcohol isn’t overly dominant, but the malt richness is so distinct and precise that some people will be overwhelmed by it. It really is that exact factor that makes me enjoy the beer, but I can see some people shying away from the style.
There is very little hops to speak of, but it does finish clean and robust. There is even a slight spice hidden at the end to help clean this beer off your palate. I wouldn’t serve this beer too cold or you will numb all of the malts. Try it between 8 to 12 Celcius (45-54F), on its own or with grilled red meats, dishes featuring caramelized onions , mushrooms, or rich herbs.