Since this last week was the start of spring, I thought I’d write a bit about seasonal spring beers. I can think of several styles that qualify, so I’ll spin this out into several posts.
The idea of special beers for spring is strongest in Germany, especially in the state of Bavaria and its capital, Munich. Spring beers there are usually strong lagers, often dark in color. German brewers call a very strong product a Bockbier. Some even have "Double" Bocks. In Munich, a Doppelbock is regarded as a strong warmer to cure the winter blues as spring arrives. A third variation is the May Bock, sometimes paler and drier.
The Doppelbock was first brewed by the Pauline monks of Munich to be consumed during lent, as they are high-gravity beers designed to supplement and fortify the soul during fasting. This beer was named Salvator (still available today), and many other Doppelbocks have names ending in -ator to honor this first brew.
Perhaps the best known commercial Doppelbock—and highest-rated on BeerAdvocate—is Ayinger Celebrator. The charming thing about Celebrator—aside from how good it is—is that every bottle comes with a small plastic goat ornament tied around the bottle neck. Shipping those without losing them must be a logistical nightmare.
So celebrate the first weeks of spring and fight the remaining chill of winter (as we in Bend well know, with our three inches of snow on Saturday) with some Bocks and Doppelbocks. I currently have a Celebrator waiting in the fridge for me. But not for long.