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Incinerator Dopplebock

Two Brothers Brewing Company
Warrenville, IL
USA
http://www.twobrosbrew.com/

Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 8.2%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)


Comments:
Damn …

I had been looking forward to this review for Two Brothers take on the doppelbock, Incinerator. One reason was the fact that this is a “blonde” doppelbock, a variation on the traditional doppel that I’ve only had once previously and really enjoyed (that would be Capital’s aptly named Blonde Doppelbock). Another reason was that I’m always looking to try new selections from Two Brothers, as I’ve yet to fully determine just how viable this Illinois brewer is. I’ve enjoyed most of their offerings thus far, but I’m still wondering if I got a bit carried away by placing them in my Midwest Top 10 (at the urging of the national media, I ranked Ohio St. and Michigan 1 and 2, and Notre Dame received an at-large bid despite their losing record). I’m beginning to think I’m jaded due to the fact that they have an imperial IPA called Hop Juice, which is just supremely cool for a hophead extraordinaire such as me.

My excitement quickly waned, however, when I was made aware of the fact that Incinerator was retired in 2007. That’s right; I’m reviewing a beer that no longer exists. While I was a bit taken aback that Two Brothers retired what is essentially their only bock offering, what surprised me even more was that I purchased this about a month ago at my favorite beer retailer, and it’s not like I got the last one. There were plenty in stock at the time, despite the fact that this was not only retired in ’07, but in early ‘07. After briefly reconsidering, I decided to carry on with the review, thinking perhaps other retailers still have some in stock or fellow dorks have a bottle or two in the ol’ beer cellar. I’m also banking on the fact that craft beers are like boxers, coming in and out of retirement multiple times before finally being humiliated by an opponent that is much younger and stronger (has anyone seen Evander Holyfield fight recently?).

So, Nigel soldiers on, and I’m going to get right to it since many of you may never see this again and thus really don’t care.

So-called “blonde” doppelbocks are basically just standard doppels that are slightly lighter in both color and body (hence the derogatory nickname). Many claim that blonde doppels are spicier than standard ones, though I’m not sure I agree with this. What I do agree with, however, is that blonde doppelbocks serve as a sort of hybrid between the thicker, darker doppelbock and the lighter, sweeter maibock.

Incinerator pours a cloudy apricot color, much lighter than you’d expect from a standard doppel. A mild head of about a quarter inch or so dissipates quickly, leaving a nominal lace at the top and some residue clinging to the side of the glass throughout the drink. There is a good amount of sedimentation, making this a fairly hazy brew that typifies blondes; the basic appearance is more maibock or barley wine than it is doppelbock.

The aroma is doppel through and through. No beer will inundate you with sweet, sugary malt more than a fine doppelbock, and Incinerator is further proof of that fact. Huge aromas of sugary malt (caramel and butterscotch) are balanced with boatloads of fruit, notably green apple, pear, and mild citrus. A bit of spiciness is also present, most recognizably in a black pepper tinge. I don’t detect much in the way of hops, though there is a zing of alcohol present in the background.

The taste is excellent and it clearly establishes Incinerator as a maibock/doppelbock hybrid. Let’s end the argument right now and simply call it a “tasty bock-like beer.” Sweet flavors of caramel, molasses, and butterscotch curl the tongue at the offset, with solid secondary flavors of both light fruit (equal parts citrus and apple) and spice (some—but not too much—black pepper, as well as a hint of Belgian spices). A nice earthiness also comes through, aiding the overall malt profile. It’s a subtle yeasty backdrop that coincides well with the sweet, sugary malt. I didn’t detect much in the way of hops, which is typical in most bocks, though there is a slight alcoholic zip that comes through at various times. I’d suggest serving this at around 50 degrees, and be sure to use the proper glass (mine was snifter-style) to accentuate the aromas, which helps bring out the flavors. On the higher end of the medium-bodied spectrum, Incinerator goes down smooth, though the thickness and spice can make it a challenge if it gets too warm. With a high ABV (8.2 percent) and strong aftertaste, one bomber is plenty to tide you over for an evening.

It’s a shame that Incinerator has been retired. Two Brothers doesn’t have much in the way of malty brews, particularly in the bock department, and this is an excellent beer. It’s powerful, tasty, and complex … what more could you ask for? While some may be turned off by the thickness, sweetness, or spice (or all of the above), I found it to be a well balanced, satisfying beer that I hope to see again. Should you find it at the local retailer, pick it up just in case … you never know if you’ll have another chance.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 27, 2008.
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