Monday, February 28, 2011

Ayinger Celebrator doppelbock

It’s fitting that the world’s greatest doppelbock is made by the Germans, who invented said style of beer. First brewed in Munich by the Paulaner monks, double bock beer has long been a mainstay of Lenten fasting and cold weather beer-drinking in general. With Lent just a week out, quality time with the Celebrator is in order for reasons of both piety and pleasure.

Double bock beer, in its original form, was perceived as “liquid bread” because of the substantial calories and nutrients it provided the fasting soul. The Celebrator, being an exemplary double bock, possesses the yeasty characteristics you would expect. But the double bock has come a very long way since The Pope, centuries ago, sampled a foul batch sent by the Paulaners and consequently told the monks that it would be perfectly okay for them to go on drinking it like it was water. If The Celebrator really is liquid bread, then we’re talking about the best bread you ever had: nutty brown bread with molasses and caramel baked in, and topped with fig jam. Mmmmmm! That combination of rich sweet malts and dark fruits is like heaven on your tongue, and for balance there’s a touch of bitter chocolate roast and snappy floral hops. This bad boy is power-packed with taste yet crazy drinkable. With its chewy mouthfeel and decadently complex flavor, it sure ain’t your run-of-the-mill bock beer. It’s not just the best double bock beer out there – it’s one of the most delicious beers on Earth, period. Go ahead and have it for breakfast and lunch on Ash Wednesday. If anyone gives you grief, tell them to shut their traps and respect your religion.

Having successfully given up beer for Lent two years ago (never again!) but having failed at giving up sweets last year, I’m poised to redeem myself in 2011. I briefly contemplated going big and giving up red meat, but there’s no way I’ve got the will power to pull that off. St. Patrick’s Day without corned beef and cabbage? Are you kidding me?! My wife said that I would “die” without red meat, and surely she is correct. Speaking of Mrs. Fitzledge, she would probably like it if I gave up watching sports. But come on! Hockey playoffs and baseball season kick off smack dab in the middle of Lent. I can’t miss the Flyers! I can’t miss the debut of R2C2! So another stab at swearing off sugared treats seems the way to go. It would be far too easy to just give up one sugared vice. If I just gave up cookies, I could still stuff myself full of donuts and chocolate bars and not miss a thing. So I’m going full-on hardcore sweets deprivation: cookies, ice cream, donuts, pie, cake, pop, chocolate, sticky buns, apple crisp, you name it. If it’s a traditional dessert, I’m giving it up for 40 days. I’m not cutting corners. I’m not claiming the theological loophole and saying Sundays don’t count. Straight up, for 40 days, I will consume no Dairy Queen Blizzards, Girl Scout cookies, apple pie slices, cream-filled donuts, Reese’s Cups, or Ghirardelli chocolate squares. Pepsi and Root Beer are off the table. So are TastyKakes and fudge and peanut butter Snickers and vanilla pudding. Provided that they do not build any Grand Traverse Pie Company restaurants (officially the Greatest Place in the World!) within driving distance of my home in the next two months, I am 100 percent sure that I can avoid being led into temptation. Take it to the bank - I'm gonna do it! For dessert every night I will have to settle for beer. This may require drinking extra to balance out the calories I’ll be losing. I know it’s a great sacrifice, but somehow I will manage.

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