Welcome to The Session (the brainchild of Stan, over at Appellation Beer) for Friday, January 4, 2008. Today, beer bloggers the world over will be discussing Doppelbock: the illuminator.
From my announcement:
I don’t feel like coming up with a bunch of rules and restrictions. I want to learn about doppelbocks, and so the sky’s the limit: write about doppelbocks however you see fit. History, reviews, pairings, pictures, poetry and experiences. All of it.
It was early in my own private Beer Renaissance. I had but a few homebrew batches under my belt, and my “local” brewpub was 2 1/2 harrowing hours away over washboarded, unpaved roads. Every month or month and a half, we’d make a long list and make our trip to Flagstaff to stock up our pantry, to eat out, to have a good cup of coffee, to get homebrewing ingredients and to track down a local beer or three.
Due to our livelihood, we became very close to many of our fellow co-workers. We helped each other move into our houses. We grilled out together. And since they also made that monthly trip “to town,” we cared for each others’ dogs.
So, once upon a weekend, I took care of The Ruddster’s dogs. He caught up with me Monday morning in the teachers’ lounge, offering some unremembered amount of cash for my troubles. I said that would not be necessary. He said it would. I said it’s one thing to pay the kids in the neighborhood for feeding, walking and looking after pets, but since I was an adult, friend and neighbor, I expected no payment.
I could see him stew internally. The Ruddster is a towering man. A jovial man. He looks like Howdy Doody with an Amish beard, and is generally of a temperament consistent with those two elements of his appearance. But he had an underlying hint of intensity that leaked to the surface occasionally. We argued the dollars back and forth briefly.
Then: “I have a six pack of one of my favorite beers that I brought back with me this weekend. I’ll give you that then.” I persisted slightly with a, “no, really, it’s okay, Rudd.” And then the intensity burst forth. In a raised voice, “I APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DID, AND I WILL BE OFFENDED IF YOU DO NOT TAKE IT.” There was specific emphasis on the word offended that bold, capitalized and italicized letters do not seem to capture. He meant it, and so to save our friendship, I agreed.
That beer was Spaten Optimator. And I loved it, still do. I’ve thought about Rudd every time I’ve cracked one open since then, and that’s been a lot these last few weeks.
Beer is a lot of things to a lot of people. A thirst quencher. A social lubricant. Art. Science. Spaten Optimator that day became a negotiation tool, a part of the economy and a conflict resolution strategy. Yes, it’s glorious flavor and brewing talent, as well.
For me, it’s something of an Illuminator. Like many other beers, my first example of this style is a sentimental beer that makes me think of the bond between friends.
It’s exciting to be hosting The Session today. I’m looking forward to reading all of the contributions that come in throughout the day, and I’ll post a round-up tomorrow. If you’re playing along, (1) post your contribution; (2) leave the URL to your post in a comment here OR send me an email: jwmongrel [AT] yahoo . com.
Peace and Pints!