Review of Fish Brewings Navigator Doppelbock

Living in north America can be fairly hit or miss when it comes to which European beers you have access to. In some parts of the country you can get most styles, whereas in other places you can only get certain major styles. This is why the craft beer revolution is such a boon to beer lovers. Craft breweries often make European beers you can’t get every day. And when those beers come together to offer something delicious, so much the better. So it was nice to see a new doppelbock on the shelves of my favorite Edmonton liquor store.

Doppelbock is more or less a bigger version of German bock beer, traditionally brewed for cooler winter months. According to the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program), doppelbock is a German lager that is all about malt, making its presence known with deep malt flavors and those of dark, pitted fruits. Words like prune, plum and grape are often used. Flavors can also have a roasted, toasty quality depending on the beer’s darkness. Doppelbock really earns its place as bock’s big brother with its alcohol content, clocking in anywhere from 7-10% abv.

Doppelbock traces its history back to the early 17th century when Paulaner monks began brewing beer for consumption during fasting. Lagers like bock and doppelbock were brewed as liquid bread when the monks were allowed next to no food, but still needed sustenance. Over the years, the beer became stronger, until the late 18th century when the monks obtained permission to sell their lager publicly. Today, there are more than 200 traditionally named doppelbocks registered with the German patent office.

This beer’s popularity has grown over the years to the point where north American craft breweries have embraced the style. Many breweries such as Seattle’s Fish Brewing produce doppelbocks of varying quality. Navigator pours into the glass a deep ruby color, crystal clear with brownish highlights. Head is tan colored and recedes a little quickly.

Navigator boasts a very full aroma, smelling malty and somewhat of brown sugar at first blush. It seems the beer’s aroma is very malty, but in a more straightforward fashion. Malt foreground leads into a center that is rounded and slightly coffee-ish with roasted qualities. Center moves into a bit of a rum and raisins finish.

At first blush Navigator has a nice mouthfeel. It’s medium bodied and has a nice maltiness. Maltiness is a combination of chocolate and coffee. Maltiness continues towards a sweet roasty center. Finish is short and not overly sweet.

Overall, Navigator is a 6.25 out of 10. It’s not a bad product, definitely tastes good and has no off flavors. It just doesn’t have the richness and complexity you might expect from a great doppelbock. To that end, this is a decently average beer. Maybe an introductory level doppelbock for people just getting into the world of craft brewing.