Fundamentals #65 — North Brewing Co x Thornbridge Doppelbock

Doppelbock is back. There, I’ve said it. Now if enough of us band together and repeat this enough on our Twitter and Instagram accounts (although not Facebook, as we know, nothing on that site is actually true any longer), then it will become a thing again. That’s how social media works, right?

In all seriousness, this deep, complex and comforting German beer style never really went away. This style is to malt lovers what the double IPA is to hop fans, taking the bock strong lager archetype and penning an indulgent, overlong poem to the sumptuousness of malt. Hops play a key part in the doppelbock too, specifically German noble varieties such as Hallertauer and Tettnanger, adding depth, spiciness and just enough bitterness to make these strong beers more drinkable than they really should be.

Thornbridge has previous when it comes to brewing to this style. In 2014 it released a doppelbock called Otto, a beer that was produced long enough ago that I still checked beers in on popular rating app Untappd. Thanks to the power of The Internet I can see I rated this beer five stars out of five, and described it as “magical”. A promising beer writing career already in motion, I think we can all agree.

It’s refreshing to see Leeds’ North Brewing as the other half of this collaboration (indeed, this is where the beer was brewed). Better known for some of the best hazy, hoppy creations this side of the Atlantic, this return to a more traditional genre of beer is demonstrative of North’s ability to produce classics, to style.

And this is a classic. It’s chock-full of that slightly sticky, malt loaf character that marks some of the great doppelbocks as the best in class. It’s full of depth and deliciousness, veering as close as possible to being cloying without straying over the point of no return. Then, suddenly, you’re hooked back by the snap of those German hops, cleaning up the palate with white pepper spice and a dry finish.

You might have a hard time believing this beer is 7% as a result. If you find yourself tired of the seemingly endless parade of hoppy beers, or conversely, if you love beers that use a JCB digger to deliver their voluminous hop-charge, then this might be your perfect refrain. A reminder that both malt-forward beers and the stone-cold classics are still as delicious as ever. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to tell Twitter all about how doppelbocks are back.

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?