One of the most joyous aspects of reviewing beer for Hop Burns & Black is when something completely new and utterly surprising lands on my doorstep.
That was the case with this beer, from Ettaler Klosterbrauerei, based in the village of Ettal towards the far south of Bavaria. I’d never heard of this brewery before I was sent this, and after only a few sips I was desperate to know more.
But more on the beer itself in a moment. First, I want to quickly dig into the idea of seeking out something new, the joy of exploration. With thousands of new beers released each year, discovering new flavours or your new favourite brewery can fast become overwhelming. When this happens, instinct can often make us retreat into our shells somewhat, instead choosing to seek the comforting and familiar. Not to mention exploration carries with it an inherent risk – no one wants to discover a bad beer, after all.
There are some whose enjoyment of beer thrives solely on tasting the new. This is perhaps a little too intense for my tastes, as sometimes there can be balance in retreating to the familiar for a moment of respite. However, putting in a little effort to try something different: like a new record, recently opened restaurant or the latest beer release can often be incredibly rewarding. The new year is a good time to remind ourselves it can pay to be a little more adventurous, and hey, you already subscribe to a killer beer subscription club*, so you’re already one step ahead of everyone else!
Back to our beer, this fantastic doppelbock is brewed by the monks of Ettaler Klosterbrauerei (which has been brewing since around 1900, thanks to the stupendously named Abbot Willibald Wolfsteiner). Curator pours cola-brown with notes of soft, rye bread and perhaps a hint of lavender. The latter, I suspect, comes from the noble hops, which add a subtle part-floral, part-herbaceous sizzle to a beer that’s predominantly about sweet, mellow flavours of malted barley.
What I particularly enjoyed about this doppelbock is how well balanced all of these flavours were, despite a relatively weighty ABV of 7%. It’s a beer I’d be as happy drinking in front of a roaring fire during the dead of winter as I would be sat outside under the blazing sun in a Munich biergarten during summer’s peak. And, for me, it was a timely reminder of the joy of trying something new and unfamiliar – something beer always seems able to offer.
Matthew Curtis is a writer, photographer and editor of Pellicle Magazine. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @totalcurtis and @pelliclemag. Pick up a bottle of Ettaler Curator here. To be first to read articles from Matt and our food writer Claire Bullen every month, why not subscribe to our All Killer No Filler subscription box?