Friday, 22 February 2013

REVIEW #124: Ritterbock (Schlossbrauerei Kaltenberg)

I love it when I find a new doppelbock to try, thus was thoroughly happy to happen upon this (and a few other rareties) in a local off-licence, Arden Wines, of Bulkington. The bloke who runs it must know a thing or two about ale because he always has a few surprises in and seems to particularly like his German 'biers', stocking an especially good range each Christmas.  

Style: Doppelbock (a lager)
Appearance: Sits somewhere between amber and ruby.
Nose: Caramel / apple & blackberry / fresh grass / herbal. 
Taste: Malt rules the roost here, as it should in a bock / doppelbock. Its all burnt sugar and caramel, with shortbread biscuit too. There's a decent grassy (noble?) hop character on display, not always found with the style. It has a very long, herbal finish with hints of liquorice and aniseed. The alcohol seems to get drowned out by the dense and malty goings on, making the beer reasonably refreshing and quaffable (it is a lager afterall), but this is dangerous at 9%!
Mouthfeel: Full bodied.
Carbonation: Medium... Lively enough to prevent it becoming heavy going and syrupy 
ABV: 9%
What's in it?: Hop extract, light and dark barley malts and yeast, that's it. Being German it has to conform to the reinheitsgebot; stringent laws governing beer purity. 

This doppelbock is brewed by the Kaltenberg / Konig Ludwig castle brewery (actually breweries) of Bavaria, each year to celebrate an annually held medieval jousting tournament (I kid you not) in July. It was founded in 1979 by Prinz Luitpold himself. He's a direct descendent of the mad King Ludwig II, who built the fairytale Neuschwanstein Castle. If you get the chance to go see it I recommend it as it really is picture-postcard stuff. I was in Munich last year in August, but there was no sign of this beer anywhere, and believe me, I looked! So I was pretty astonished to find this a couple of miles from home! If you want to find out more about the Kaltenberg Brewery and German / Bavarian beer in general, I must point you to the late Michael Jackson's superb Beer Hunter TV series, as he devotes a whole episode to the subject. Find it on YouTube.

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