Beer Review 0472: Hinterland Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock

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Hinterland, a brand of Green Bay Brewing Company, makes its home in Green Bay, Wisconsin in a turn of the century meat packing warehouse. Founded in 1995 by Bill & Michelle Tressler, Hinterland has a restaurant attached to the brewery as well as a location in Milwaukee; Hinterland beers can be found all throughout Wisconsin in bars and bottle shops.

Hinterland currently produce about eleven different brews; along with a year-round and seasonal lineup, they make some limited release offerings, which is where you will find Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock. A Doppelbock is a stronger version of a traditional Bock, which is already considered a strong lager, coming in 7-12% ABV (alcohol by volume). The style originated in Germany and has several sub-styles (including Maibock, Helles Bock, and Eisbock) — Hinterland’s version ranks 7.5% ABV and has been aged in bourbon barrels for 10 months.

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Pouring delivered a small, soapy head that disappeared fast. The color of the beer was a deep amber, almost brown; body was clear, translucent when held to light, and had no particles or sediment. Lacing pretty much didn’t exist, save for a couple of stray bits of soapy foam that were left behind on the glass.

The nose is very bourbon-forward, but in a restrained way that showcases some of the nuances of the barrel instead of just a punch of alcohol-soaked liquor. There’s lots of vanilla and dark fruits, and a fair bit of brown sugar and molasses. This is a heavily malted beer, featuring aromas of caramel and dark chocolate, along with just a pinch of fruity hops. The dark fruits edge on the prune and raisin territory. There’s not a trace of alcohol here, and the scent is very inviting, really similar to a barrel aged Imperial Stout.

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But this is no Imperial Stout, and that is refreshing, at least to my palate. Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock is initially quite sweet and plays mostly off a brown/burnt sugar and caramel note, with some bourbon but moreso vanilla and barrel than the actual spirit. Some of the dark fruits found in the aroma show up around the middle of the mouth, quelling the sweetness — but it should be noted, while I thought this was heavily sweet, it was never cloying. The finish presents nice layers of dark chocolate, bourbon, and creamy caramel. The sweetness begins to ramp back up a little, along with a kiss gentle alcohol warmth. This brew is medium-bodied with a thin (read: very thin) mouthfeel that is foamy.

Yep, I imagine the main complaint on this beer is the thin mouthfeel. But guess what, friends: this is a lager! And for a lager, this is extremely flavorful, drinkable, and enjoyable. The palate is very tasty if a bit boring; I say boring because this beer doesn’t really change much as it begins to warm. I dig it, and I like that it’s a bit different considering your normal bourbon barrel beer is a big thick imperial monster. Yeah, you can make a flavorful bourbon barrel beer and not break 8% alcohol. And cheers to Hinterland for the appropriate 16 oz. serving size! If you see it, pick it up.

Hinterland Bourbon Barrel Doppelbock, 91 points. Price: $6.99 US for one 16 oz. pint-sized bottle.

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