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Oleator Dopplebock

Other reviews for this beer:
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Sand Creek Brewing Co.
Black River Falls, WI
USA
http://www.sandcreekbrewing.com

Style: Doppelbock

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


Comments:
The search was on. Nigel had just completed his successful spring ’08 “Tour O’ Dark Beers,” and, despite extreme fatigue, knew it was important to soldier on. “It’s spring” said gallant Nigel, “it’s warm, sunny, and I need to continue reviewing good beer for the sake of my dear readers.” Always the trooper, Nigel ventured to the local craft beer retailer to search for the next big thing. He was thinking light, but had nothing particular in mind. He was also desperately hoping to return to his beloved hops, but again … he lacked proper inspiration.

Once inside said retailer, Nigel stumbled upon a new brew. A new brew from a Midwestern craft brewer. A powerful, ballsy new brew from a Midwestern craft brewer that we haven’t touched on in a while. He couldn’t resist, so the following beer will provide the first post-Tour stop:

Sand Creek Oleator Dopplebock.

Yeah … not exactly what I had in mind for my first lighter and/or hoppier beer following an extended period of darker, stronger selections. After all, it’s a doppelbock, the darkest member of the already dark bock family, and according to various reports, this checks in at 9 percent ABV or higher (I couldn’t find an official listing), not exactly a reprieve after drinking loads of imperial stouts, strong bocks, barley wines, etc.

Fortunately for Nigel, Mother Nature has cooperated on this final weekend of April, as the weather has me feeling as though early March still walks among us. Thus, I declare doppelbock season still in effect and postpone Oberon season until further notice (I know how binding these declarations are, as my own girlfriend has been enjoying Oberon for weeks now). As per my New Years resolution, I’m not bitching about the Midwestern weather, I’m simply stating that it’s a bit chilly for late April.

Sand Creek is a decent brewery based in Black River Falls that is perhaps best known for their penchant for contract brewing. A number of local and national brewers use Sand Creek’s ample capacity to make up for their own spatial shortcomings, but Sand Creek does have a few brews of their own that are pretty darn good (they also have a few that are pretty darn bad, but I’ll be kind and not expand on that here). Their flagship brew, Wild Ride IPA, is an excellent American IPA, and they have the wonderful Imperial Porter that supplements the so-so Badger Porter. And, according to a couple of fellow Dorks, Woody’s Wheat is a solid offering.

I’m hoping Oleator Dopplebock is along the lines of Imperial Porter, which was essentially Sand Creek’s first foray into the world of “extreme beer.” While such offerings are not necessary to raise the viability of a brewer, the ability to craft complex, powerful, and tasty brews certainly doesn’t hurt. If Oleator is in fact in the 9 percent range, then you’d be hard pressed to find a stronger doppel anywhere.

Oleator pours beautifully for a doppel, with a fiery dark amber hue and about a half inch or so of foamy tan head that quickly settles into a mild lace. Typical doppelbock aromas of both sugary sweet and dark roasted malts come through, though not to the fullest extent. The initial scent is mild smoky, roasted malt that is quickly joined by sweeter aromas of toffee, caramel, and molasses. A slight tinge of alcohol finishes off an aroma that is pleasant, but a bit weaker than I had hoped for.

The taste is fantastic, though it may seem a bit typical to those familiar with the style; I don’t mean that as criticism per say, but while it’s tasty, I can name at least five craft doppelbocks that are very similar to this. Initial flavors of sweet molasses, dark brown sugar, and caramel dominate, making this one of those “curl the tongue” brews. While thick sweetness dominates, there is a noticeable hint of roasted nuttiness, smoke, and dark fruit (black cherry and raisin) in the background, which provide a nice counterbalance. I don’t sense anything in the way of hops and little in the way of alcohol. If this does in fact check in at 9 percent ABV or higher as many claim, it’s very well hidden, though that is often the case with fine craft doppelbocks—they can sneak up on you if you’re not careful. The heavy malt makes this a full bodied brew with a noticeable aftertaste, although it’s nice and smooth on the palate. I honestly can’t give a personal estimate of the ABV; I purchased two single 12 oz. bottles, and while I did sense they were a bit strong (it was easier to detect as the beer warms), needless to say I wasn’t rolling on the floor with uncontrollable drunken convulsions.

Overall, I really enjoyed Oleator, despite never being able to discover why it bore that particular moniker (it must be an inside thing). It’s an excellent example of a craft doppelbock, as it’s thick, complex, and powerful. While it’s not exactly the type of relief I was searching for at the beginning of the day, I’m certainly happy with the outcome.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on May 7, 2008.
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