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.
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.