Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CT Column 20/10/2010 : The Taste of Spring

A FORTNIGHT ago I wrote about the beer writer Michael Jackson and the memorial of his life. Jackson’s writing was a huge influence on me as I learnt about beer. Michael always stressed how different types of beer suited different situations and different seasons. For spring Michael always recommended drinking the Doppelbock style as this is what the Germans would often drink in their beer gardens when they first opened after the worst of the winter frost had thawed but the warmth of summer was yet to arrive. Doppelbocks are a style of dark lager that combines a big rich bready, toasty malt character with warming alcohol and a smooth rounded note from a long cold conditioning period. These beers are warming, rich, hearty and smooth, making them the perfect style for drinking during the spring when the weather is uncertain. In fact, the Germans have a special name for the Doppelbocks they release in spring; Maibock named for May when the northern spring arrives. While down here in NZ we certainly have the uncertain weather, there is a distinct shortage of Doppelbocks. There are a couple of local examples including an unusually hoppy example from Christchurch’s Harrington’s Brewery and a roasty chocolaty interpretation from Nelson’s Spring and Fern. Tragically there are currently no regularly imported German Doppelbocks; however there is a very good one from the north of Italy.
Moretti La Rossa pours a reddish amber with a thick white head. Aromas of bready toasty malt and caramel blend with a hint of dark fruit and a hint of herbal hop. In the mouth the beer is rich and toasty with a sweet bready malt flavour and a warming rounded smooth finish. This style makes a fantastic accompaniment to aged Gouda cheese and muscatel raisins. I have served La Rossa with Meyer Old Gouda at tastings and the combination is absolutely stunning, Mr Jackson however mused that La Rossa might just be the perfect pizza beer, and that combination is pretty good too.

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