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Autumnal Fire

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Capital Brewery
Middleton, WI

Style: Doppelbock
ABV: 7.26%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Although the dopplebock is one of the great world styles, you don’t see a lot of them produced by American craft brewers. Because they’re darker beers they don’t have the mass appeal that easier drinking offerings like wheats and pale ales have, and they don’t have that trend factor that IPAs enjoy at the moment. Plus, dopplebocks are lagers, meaning they’re typically subtler and take more time and effort to brew than your average stout or porter.

One of the few American craft brewers that not only brews dopples but pretty much has staked its reputation on them is Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wisconsin. Their pièce de résistance—to pull out an old frog term—is their fall seasonal, the poetically titled Autumnal Fire.

The pour of this beer is absolutely gorgeous: a luminous, translucent deep reddish Wholesale Dolls orange with a gem-like fire that would put most precious stones to shame. Atop this sits a fat-ass, thick-bubbled, ever-so-slightly off-white head. But no lacing at all.

Even a tiny sniff reveals waves of toffee and caramel malt virtually exploding out of the glass, with some raw grainy notes in the deeper nooks and crannies. The sip starts soft amid a relatively fat body, although not quite as heavy as some dopples might get. Immediately the malt assault begins with a wave of rich, slightly roasted toffee that segues into cereal-like malty sweetness. All this coalesces into a long finish of sweet caramel goodness.

This brew drinks smooth, without a hint of harshness to be found. Also AWOL in the taste department is that 7-percent-plus ABV. Luckily the maltiness is enough to slow the sippin’ down, otherwise unwary drinkers could find themselves enjoying a fall that has nothing to do with autumn. I’ve stated in the past that I think Capital has adulterated their crown jewel to make it more accessible to non-beer dorks, and I’d love to fly into a tirade about not daring to go all the way and how Capital has ruined what once was an incredible beer … but I can’t. Because the fact of the matter is Autumnal Fire is still a phenomenally great beer, expertly crafted and deliciously drinkable. Even stacked up against its storied Germanic brethren like Spaten Opimator or Paulaner Salvator it holds its own, and then some. Autumnal Fire is probably one of the best dopplebocks in world.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on November 12, 2008.
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