Spaten Optimator / Oktoberfest Beer Dinner

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A funny story about German Dopplebock beer… It was originally Paulaner monks who migrated to Munich from Italy who brewed this strong, ultra-malty beverage as a food substitute for their Lenten fasting period. Not allowed to eat – or eat very, very little – for 47 days, the monks upped the amount of the grain bill to compensate for their lack of bread; hence the nickname “liquid bread.”

This double-strength brew – literally Dopplebock in German – made them feel so good that they became worried that it was an indulgence during a time of castigation. They sent a barrel to The Pope to see if he’d approve of their continued consumption. Fortunately, something bad happened. The barrel got jostled and jolted all through the long, mountain-side journey through the Alps. Once across, the hot Italian sun baked it on the rest of its journey. By the time it reached The Pope, it had thoroughly spoiled. As soon as he tried it, he spat it out. Deeming it revolting, he gave the monks their approval to keep making Dopplebock as he found it an appropriate punishment for the soul.

Ah, those wacky Bavarian monks. They reasoned that liquid cleansed the body and the soul, so they drank extra during Lent. Since religious figures were the role models of society, the secular world around the monastery emulated this behavior. One big sloshed happy family.

We in America tend to associate the entire month of October with Germany due to Oktoberfest. German food – hearty and comforting – just feels right in the fall season. For these reasons, we’re bringing back our beer pairing dinner. On October 29, Hopjacks Downtown is teaming up with our friend Karin Streckel for a 4-course Abendessen.

Karin is a German ex-pat who befriended Hopjacks owner Joe Abston not too long ago. After being invited to her and her husband’s house for an authentic German Easter dinner, he began plans to collaborate with her in our restaurant.

First course is Bratwurst with Spätzle dumplings paired with Paulaner Hefeweizen. Next is Beef Rouladen with baked Sauerkraut and Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancake) paired with Hofbrau Original Lager. The main course is Duck Schnitzel and a root vegetable succotash finished in pan gravy paired with Ayinger Oktoberfest. Finally, for dessert there’s a duo of Strudel – poppy seed and apple – accompanied by a currant sorbet and paired with Spaten Optimator Dopplebock.

It’s always tough finding a beer for dessert that isn’t coffee-like or incredibly fruity. I picked the Optimator as the pairing due to its richness and natural malt sweetness. Very dark amber in color, Spaten’s Dopplebock gives forth a moderate beige head that settles to an omni-present cap. There are lovely scents of carob, caramel, wet grain and a touch of orange. A flavor like the German candy Stork Riesen – chocolaty caramel – starts things off with notes of dried fruits and slightly smoky molasses singing along. Optimator’s texture is full-bodied but not super-heavy with a lingering finish.

No fasting with us on the 29th! Call 497-6076 (ext. 3) -or- for reservations.

Spaten Optimator