Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Capital Eisphyre

Doppelbocks are a tough style to crack. In some respects I hold beers in the style to the highest of standards. Some of the most revered old-world beers are doppelbocks, or its cousin the "old ale." One of the problems, I think, with the doppelbock is that anything short of the top echelon is uninspiring at best and terrible mouth-syrup at worst.

Moreover, it is a style in which my clear personal preferences are somewhat off-style. Which is to say, I like them drier with a little less of an alcohol bite. Yet, these are often considered hallmarks of the style. Unfortunately, like Hallmark greeting cards, can make the beer a little sappy. (Was that comparison a little over-stretched?)

This year sees the latest incarnation of Capital's Eisphyre, a 9.8% ABV doppelbock modeled on the Autumnal Fire.

Capital Eisphyre
BA (A-) RB (96)
Appearance: thin, foamy head; tan; crystal clear, brilliant amber; almost whiskey-like color; very pretty; served at 56.4 degrees.
Aroma: not huge, but definitely sweet alcohol and some caramelized sugars and malt
Flavor: soft and foamy but not carbonated; caramel, dark cherry, brown sugar and alcohol; nice malt complexity, but much more muted and understated than I was expecting
Body: soft and foamy; long finish demands sipping
Drinkability: For a full-bodied, 9.8% ABV doppelbock it is surprisingly light on the palate and easy to sip; not really intended for sessionability, but definitely looking forward to the next one
Summary: this beer presents an interesting dilemma for me because I really like it; but, it doesn't hit my wheel-house on doppelbocks; for instance, the muted, subdued flavors, despite the obvious complexity, encourage frequent sips, yet because of the long (long!) finish, the flavors get muddied; maybe at a colder temperature where the impact is more concentrated this beer might shine a little more, but, at least for me, the doppelbock is a 50+ degree beer. Like I said, though, even despite my quibbling this is a fantastic beer and a great representative for Capital.


  1. I agree that it's not a dopplebock in style - but I drink dopples a bit cooler <50deg than you and really liked this one. I'm not sure what the 'eising' did for this one (I'd love to try the un-eised version, which is different from the autumnal fire).
    thanks for the review - d

  2. Isn't it illegal to make ice (eis) beers like they do in Germany? There they freeze the liquid off to concentrate the alcohol. Will we need to set up a legal defense fund for the Capital Brewmaster? By the way is one of the Beer talk people a lawyer? Thanks for the review - JC

  3. I don't believe that the Eisphyre is an actual "ice" beer - it is, in fact, illegal to ice-distill here in Wisconsin. My understanding is that you cannot alter the ABV by more than .5% through water removal.

    And, yes, I (MBR) am an attorney. The Beer Talk guys are not attorneys.

  4. Thank you for the review.


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