Each Wednesday in this column I post my insights about one (or some) of the thousands of beers brewed in the great state of Colorado. Feel free to shoot me an email with your suggestions of Colorado beers you’d like me to feature – Lee Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org – or leave your ideas in the comments.
“Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot…”
As a boy growing up in England in the 1980s, I was more accustomed to celebrating Bonfire Night (aka Guy Fawkes Night) on November the 5th, than Halloween. Back then Halloween was still shunned as distant commercial nonsense by 99% of the U.K. populace. Forget about trick or treating, that was something that only happened in American horror movies.
The centerpiece of Bonfire Night was the building of imposing bonfires and the releasing of many fireworks across the British Isles; both at home in your back garden and locally as part of a big community Bonfire party and fireworks display. Much hearty food was consumed, some even cooked in the fire itself.
I won’t bore you with the colorful and nationalistic details of the many stories behind Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night. We were taught in school why we celebrated, but for myself and all of my school mates, history took a back seat to the fun, fireworks and festivities.
The building of homemade or community bonfires sometimes took place over a period of many weeks. There was much anticipation and excitement when it finally came time to strike the match on those starry and often frosty November nights. The most remarkable thing about Bonfire Night is that even now, some two or three decades later, I can still close my eyes and picture exactly the ambiance of those chilly outdoor celebrations. My most vivid recollection is the smell of the intensely smokey bonfire against the cool night air. Weeks of drying meant that the wood in the large scale bonfires went up like rockets and burned for many hours, producing the richest of rustic smokey aromas. The fires would often smoulder for days.
Smell, as we come to realize with increasing awareness as we get older, is the most immediate and vibrant of all our senses. This is especially true when it comes to our enjoyment of beer; much of what we taste is actually derived from what we smell. You may ask what does all this have to do with Fort Collins Doppel Bock? Well quite a bit actually. You see, this doppelbock is brewed using smoke malt, the most punchy and unique malt aroma-wise. In this example the smoked malt lends the beer a sweet candied root beer and charred bracken smell that instantly took me back to my childhood and Bonfire Night. Quality and complex beverages, be they beers, wines or spirits, have the power to instantly transport us to another place or time. More importantly, a time we might have long forgotten.
This limited release autumn seasonal by Fort Collins has a wonderful depth however you approach it. In the drink the flavor of lightly roasted bitter green coffee beans is pungent and erupts with a force only equalled by its elegant molten caramel base.
Fort Collins Doppel Bock is best paired with a roaring fire, outdoors, on a chilly night.