First off, for the first time in a long time The Beer List is up to date. Yes!
Now on to some religious history. This week I’m writing about what’s probably my least favorite beer style: the doppelbock. Think of doppelbocks as big, malty lagers that coat your tongue and taste like a horse stables. Yum! That being said, their back-story (found in depth at this great site) is one of the most interesting in beerdom. Also, as you’ll see, very timely.
For those looking for the spark-notes version of the story,
In the 1600s, the Paulaners (an Italian-turned-German sect of Monks) found that religious fasting sort of sucked. Especially brutal was the Lenten season, which meant no food for 40 days. “But wait! God just said not to eat solid bread, right? So, like, if we made a super-filling liquid bread, He’d be totally cool with it… even if it got us sloppy drunk!”
The Doppelbock was born.
Eventually a party pooper chimed in: “Hold up, guys. This stuff is sick and all, but seriously we’re all wasted right now. Dude – especially you, Brother Dietrich. Shouldn’t we, like, at least check with His Holiness to see if this beer’s legit?”
And so the drunk monks traveled with a keg to Rome. They’d have the Pope taste their beer to decree whether or not it was alright to drink. Of course, by the end of their long, hot, bumpy journey, the beer was completely spoiled. When the Pope finally did taste it, he was so repulsed that he was sure no monk would ever want more than a sip. “Guys, this stuff is way skunked. But if it gets you closer to the big man upstairs and all, go for it.”
Elated, the Paulaners returned to Munich where they brewed, consumed, and sold (illegally) a LOT of their holy beer (very aptly named Salvator, after their Savior).
But the party didn’t last. Cue Napoleon Bonaparte, who – in the name of secularization – ripped the brewery from the monks’ hands. For fifteen grueling years, Munichers were sober for Lent. Then, as if sent from il Salvator himself, a brewery owner by the name of Franz Xaver Zacherl bought the rights to Paulaner and turned the taps back on. “Liquid bread’s back on the menu, boys!”
With a thumbs up from King Ludwig I of Bavaria, Zacherl and his beer were officially German icons, setting the stage for hundreds of heavy, pungent, malt-bombs to come.
So this Lent, whether your hungry for bread, thirsty for beer, or just looking to pop a cold one in His name, reach for a doppelbock. Drink one on a Friday, and that barnyard musk might even pass for meat.