Drinking Religiously

Much of our modern drinking culture stems from the work of monks during the Middle Ages. Even though much of their lives were spent serving a higher calling by attending multiple church services per day and translating texts to other languages, the monks also provided medical care, farmed the land and among other things, produced beer and wine. Of particular note, the Paulaner Friars in Bavaria (Munich) created a beer that would sustain them during the fasting periods when richer food like meat (where with bread was a staple of the monk’s diet) was a no-no. This style is referred to as the doppelbock.

Behold…my beer-inator!

Behold…my beer-inator!

The bock family of lagers are strong and malty with no real hoppy character. At 6.0-7.0% abv, the bocks are smooth, creamy, and rich in texture with a caramel flavor. The Paulaner Friars took this style to the next level in strength and richness with the doppel (double) bock, where the beers were even darker and fuller-bodied, with an abv checking in around 7.5-8.0%; modern examples by craft brewers can take this up to an abv as high as 12.0% with toasty flavors entering the equation, essentially “liquid bread” to feed the monks. When the fasting period was over, the lighter and hoppier maibock (also referred to as helles lager) was consumed in celebration.

The Paulaner Friars called this the “Salvator,” which translates to “savior,” and to this day many doppelbock beers include -ator in its name in reverence to the foundation of this beer style. Fun fact: bock beers, where “ein bock” translates to “billy goat,” will frequently depict goats on the labels.


Whether you observe Ash Wednesday today and the Lenten season, or you just want to introduce yourself to a new beer style that will warm you up during these remaining chilly days, reach for a doppelbock. Additionally, if you are a fan of Belgian Dubbels, try its lager counterpart to the east. Here are three for you to find.


Paulaner Salvator ($11/6-pack): The granddaddy of them all, this beer has been made for 375 years. The Salvator has a creamy texture with a chocolate-covered caramel flavor backed up by light hoppiness to create balance on your palate. 7.9% abv

Ayinger Celebrator ($14/4-pack): darker and maltier than the Salvator, but drier on the finish, the flavor profile shows more of a toasted bread and espresso character. It’s kind of like drinking breakfast (which 500 years ago was exactly the idea). 7.2% abv


Tröegs Tröegenator ($11/6-pack): Here is an American take on this style from central Pennsylvania, a region that traces its history to German settlers. The Tröegenator shows more of a reddish color than dark brown and has more noticeable hops and fruit than the traditional producers, but it still sticks to the malty character that defines the doppelbock style. 8.2% abv. NOTE: there is also a Bourbon barrel-aged version of this beer, where the alcohol is jacked up to 9.8% abv, available in 12.7 oz bottles that are about $15 per bottle.

Skip The Tie. Buy Him Booze!

This Sunday marks one of the highlights of the calendar. National Turkey Lover's Day? National Go Fishing Day? Well, if you love turkey and like or want to go fishing, then yeah...you will be on Cloud Nine. No, I am referring to Father's Day. Additionally, do you know what today is? Apparently, it is National Bourbon Day. What a great time to be a whiskey-loving father!

Yawn. Can I drink this?

Yawn. Can I drink this?

You may be looking for a gift for dear old Dad this week or anyone you know who is a father. Sure, you could go with the cliché gifts, but why?

A toolbox? Guess what...I haven't a handy bone in my body.

A tie? I don't use one in the wine and spirits biz. Things tend to be casual around here.

How about a service, like mowing the lawn or washing the car? Cute, but the grass and the car will be in worse shape that it was before.

Nah. Assuming dad likes a good adult beverage, skip all that stuff and buy him booze! You are in luck, good Father's Day gift shopper. You have more options at your disposal than ever before. I something interesting today when tasting products with Berkshire Mountain Distillers: they received the 50th distillery permit in the country back in 2007. Today, there are over 1,300 permits. Craft spirit fans rejoice!

What about wine? There's a style for everyone. White, pink, or red? Sparkling? New World or Old World? Perhaps Dad is also a cigar-lover and would enjoy some Port, Sherry, or Madeira along with a stogie. I also know if I see my father, I can walk in with a bottle of red wine and everyone will be happy. In fact...red wine is required prior to entry of my parents' house, or I get sent away.

Of course, you have beers, too. There are over 5,300 breweries in the U.S. alone. Europe has about as many, too. So many choices available to you!

This isn't a comprehensive buying guide, but here are some brews, wines, and spirits that I enjoy personally or have brought as gifts before. Any of the following would make a fine choice for the old man, with some emphasis on Bourbon for spirits. To all the dads out there, have a great day this Sunday and keep kicking ass in the parenting department! Your family will (hopefully) reward your efforts with something below.

Two Roads Brewing Rye 95 Tripel Blonde Ale ($10/4-pack): Fruity, hoppy, spicy, complex, and rich. It may not be an ideal drink for the summer, but it does taste fantastic. At 9.5% abv, it's a beast, but after a long day for Pops it can be very satisfying.

Goose Island Sofie Saison ($12/4-pack): This Belgian-Style Ale takes 20% of the beer and ages it in wine barrels with citrus peels. Golden in color, peppery, citrusy, and lively. It's a great way to treat Dad.

Ventisquero Grey Glacier Single Block Red Blend ($25): I remember how good the Single Block series is when Ventisquero's wines were presented in the classroom. This is a red blend of Garnacha (Grenache), Cariñena (Carignan), and Mataro (Mourvèdre) that is big and bold, full-bodied, and fruity. This has a surprising acidity on the finish that doesn't make this wine feel to heavy on the palate, and it is a steal at this price.

Schloss Johannisberg Riesling Grünlack (Green Seal) Spätlese ($55): If Dad is out there fishing and catching some trout, enjoying lobsters, or even sausages on Sunday, this is a killer pairing with any of those dinner options. Schloss Johannisberg is a single vineyard estate in the Rheingau region of Germany that has been making exquisite wines for 500 years. Pineapple, peach, green herbs, and a beautiful balance of acidity and sweetness make this an awesome wine to either enjoy now or let dad stick in the cellar to evolve further.

Knob Creek Single Barrel Reserve 120 Proof ($48): I really enjoy Knob Creek's flagship 100 Proof expression, but let Dad taste what their whiskey is like almost straight from the barrel. Bottled at this high proof, the Bourbon has a ton of character and fire, with toasted nuts, vanilla, caramel, and a little bit of smokiness on the finish. Get the fire pit going and grab a dram of this whiskey!

Berkshire Mountain Distillers Smoke and Peat Bourbon ($60): Out of western Massachusetts, Berkshire Mountain distills and ages all of their product on-site. This expression takes Berkshire's flagship Bourbon that was already aged four years, then ages it another six months in casks that previously held Laphroaig 10-Year Scotch Whisky. Plenty of smoke and medicinal notes from the peat, but does not overwhelm the corn-based sweetness of the Bourbon. Great for those who aren't sure if they should buy Bourbon or Scotch...this brings the best of both worlds!