The weather was certainly right for Spaten’s Optimator: Cold, dark and rainy. With a fireplace being absent from the architecture of my home the 7.2% liquid warmth was a welcome sight as it filled my glass. Optimator is a classic example of a Doppelbock, a bottom fermented (lager) beer that utilizes malts that produce toasted an nutty qualities and has a higher than normal (doppel/double) alcohol content. Apparently this style of beer was developed by a German order of Minim monks (St. Francis of Paula, Italian in origin). These Minimums are noted for having named their doppelbock “Salvator,” which is utilized by the brewer, Paulaner. The religious ties to beer never ceases to be a fascinating study!
Spaten’s Optimator fills the glass with a dark brown mahogany deliquescent fluidity. There is a reddish quality hidden in the darkness. A ample malty head, dense and thick leaves awesome sticky lacing behind. The beer itself is remarkably clear, a bonus from lagering.
The sweetness of Optimator dominates the aroma. A strong whiff of caramel, vanilla, chocolate, and slight fruitiness (cherry/berry) block out hop aromas. The smell is simple, but pleasant. The smell alone could convince a non beer drinker–partial to sweet mixed drinks like chocolate martinis–to venture past the foreboding darkness.
This is one of those cases where what you smell is what you taste. Caramel and toffee are dominant. There is a nutty flavor that wasn’t so obvious in the aroma. The beer is very smooth and easily drinkable. Like the smell, it isn’t a mind blowing complex mixture of exotic flavors…but does a beer have to be so intense to be good? Not so! Optimator is delicious!
Optimator is a great beer, and as mentioned above, could be a great choice for luring a loved one into the delightful folds of beer.
Among other Doppelbocks:
I also noted a bitter finish with some roast among the lager yeast bite.
Good review Nate. My pallet is not very sophisticated and can’t really discern all the nuances. I always want to drink the beer again after reading a review to see if I can detect some of the flavors & aromas mentioned. This is a great beer in my book.
Beer_scientist: Hope all is well out in Cali. I miss your expert advice and passion for beer when I visit Crown Liquors!
I wish more people there cared about it like I did. Too bad that stores carrying a bunch of beers don’t know the product very well. I hope things are going well in Indy.
beer_scientist, Amen to that! Yep, things here are good. Indy is cold and wet…but the Colts are looking good…so we have that going for us.
I’ve been watching them. They are just ripping it up. The best I’ve seen them play.
Dopplebocks remind me of Christmas for some reason (another religion/beer connection?). They are perfect for tree gazing and relaxing with friends and family. I don’t do nog, but I always pick up some dopplebocks, usually Troegs.
There is an historical connection, but it’s not associated with Christmas. Rather, bocks and doppelbocks are associated with Lent, the 40-day period of fasting and penance before Easter. The story goes that this “liquid bread” was a nutritious supplement to the sparse meals the monks ate during this penitential season. More recently, bockbier is released around special occasions, including both Christmas and Easter.
While Optimator is an excellent example of this style, Salvator remains the original. (In fact, Salvator is responsible for the naming convention for doppelbocks in that they almost always end in -ator.) I enjoy both very much, with their rich, almost nutty flavors. But, Celebrator from from Ayinger remains my favorite doppelbock. It’s extraordinarily smooth, and dark as night. Delicious!
@Big Tex: thanks for the historical back drop…always appreciated. Celebrator is delicious, and my kids enjoy playing with the little goats while enjoy the booze!
I have actually been considering a beer fast for the upcoming lenten season…perhaps I should brew up a doppelbock now.
My second favorite beer….and because Chimay is pricey….this is the beer you find in my cooler and fridge. The only problem is that my cheap lager drinking friends steal it all. I always tasted a slight chocolate taste, not as definitive as Old Rasputin, but caramel and coffee are the culprit. I found these beers bartending and Spaten remains my everyday beer with beers like blue label Chimay, Old Rasputin and La Fin Du Monde for special occasions. Then again, I enjoy more mainstream imports like New Castle, Heinekin and Dos Equis. But I buy Spaten the most.
Thanks for posting here. I think this beer is great. It is a great “every day” drinking beer. The fact that it’s a lager is part of what makes it so approachable. The affordability to quality ratio is high as it is much cheaper than, say, a Salvator or Celebrator (both that I think are qualitatively better than this beer).
However, I would be pleased to see this as an “every day” beer in any fridge.
I also think you are right about the toffee/coffee tones in the other beers as being more pronounced. I would assume that Crystal, Black Patent, Chocolate, and Roasted Barley malts a decidedly mitigating factors in stouts like Old Rasputin.
Thanks for your interaction.