An early spring seasonal, this doppelbock from Railway City Brewing Company in St. Thomas, Ontario pours with a creamy head that leaves ample lace and settles as a thick collar atop the dark brown and ruby-coloured brew. Sham-Bock smells mainly of dark fruits such as figs, dates and raisins, with notes of chocolate and butterscotch becoming more apparent as it warms.
The taste of Sham-Bock has a surprisingly strong bitterness for the style, though it is far from overpowering against the lager’s formidable sweetness. Flavours of red grape juice, chocolate, honey and coffee are met with a wallop of maple syrup that brings a mineral-like sharpness along with its inherently sweet tone. A full body and modest amount of carbonation yield a grainy and mildly viscous mouthfeel, while the lager finishes quite dry, leaving hints of chocolate syrup and lemon juice behind in the aftertaste.
Ayinger Celebrator from Brauerei Aying (Privatbrauerei Franz Inselkammer KG) in Germany pours a deep chestnut-ruby colour with amber highlights around the edges when held up to light and a small tan coloured head that gets retained as a thin, but frothy collar without leaving much lacing. This doppelbock has a rich and complex malty aroma with a strong oak tone. Dark fruits, chocolate, coffee and molasses can all be found and a hint of alcohol comes out as you make your way through the glass.
The taste of Ayinger Celebrator follows the aroma and is equally rich and complex. Dark fruits, chocolate, sweet malts, roasted grains, oak and a hint of vanilla are all present before a bitter and herbal finish takes over. The mouthfeel is creamy and hearty with a low-medium carbonation and a yeasty sensation on the tongue. The aftertaste is dry with oak and fruit tones. This heavy beer is surprisingly drinkable, with little trace of alcohol aside from a pleasant warming effect.
Doppel-Hirsch from Der Hirsch Brau and Privatbrauerei Hoss in Sonthofen, Germany pours a clear, rusty ruby colour with a slightly small head that leaves little lace but survives as a collar. The aroma is slightly astringent or metallic at first, but after this hearty beer has had time to breathe it smells of fermented fruit, wet grains and dark roasted malt. A buttery toffee accent comes through as it warms.
The higher than average ABV really comes through in the taste of Doppel-Hirsch, even when it’s cold. The beer is quite sweet and fruity with a fresh grainy tone, a deep malt backing and a definite woodiness. The mouthfeel is a bit chewy and bready but smooth. Fruit and alcohol come through on the tongue and the beer has a surprisingly quick and tart, clean finish.
This strong seasonal brew pours a very nice dark ruby-nut colour with a moderate, but thick and spongy tan head that leaves a thick layer of lace. Amsterdam Spring Bock from the Amsterdam Brewing Company Limited in Toronto, Ontario carries a subdued aroma even after warming. What is there is deep and malty, with a dark fruit tone and a hint of chocolate syrup.
Amsterdam Spring Bock has the taste of dark fruit and chocolate. It has a syrupy sweetness and a strong, but not overpowering bitterness. It carries a hearty, but creamy mouthfeel and does a devilish job of masking its ABV percentage. A subtle spiciness arrives as the beer warms and the fruity taste lingers in the finish along with a pronounced woody flavour.