Croglin Vampire, the Doppelbock from Cumbrian Legendary Ales, as championed previously in the blogosphere by Woolly Dave and Jeff Pickthall. Jeff gave me one at GBBF [rephrase this later] and it sat in my beer cupboard until my memory was jogged by the unexpected arrival of a second bottle in the post last week.
In the other corner is the bottle of Dopplebock (sic) from Edinburgh’s Stewart Brewing, which the brewery were nice enough to hand out in goody bags at their launch party for the beer in July. So I took the chance to sample both side by side.
I thought Hallowe’en was an appropriate time to open the Vampire and was looking forward to a beer I could really get my teeth into. It doesn’t really form a head at all in the glass. The deep amber colour is beautiful. The overwhelming aroma is caramel malt and the taste is syrupy, grainy sweetness. I don’t know about you but caramel isn’t the same as malty in my book. In the mouth there’s creamy cereal and butter. It’s really very sweet indeed.
It’s years since I drank a real Bavarian Doppelbock, so I wouldn’t like to stick my neck out by saying Croglin Vampire isn’t much like one, but I can’t help feeling Cumbrian Legendary Ales have bitten off more than they can chew. Mind, everyone else seems to like it and it’s just won an award as best vampire-themed barley wine in the land (or something like that) so I guess they won’t mind too much me saying it’s a horror.
More enjoyable was the Dopplebock from Stewart Brewing. On the down side, it’s not nearly as eerily handsome as the Vampire, pouring an unattractive muddy brown, but at least it forms some sort of head, though this soon collapses. The taste is much more balanced. It’s full and malty but the sweetness is subtly balanced by herbal hops. Very slightly smoky. Not quite as chewy as I was expecting. I don’t find Stewart’s everyday beers to my taste very often, with the exception of the superb Edinburgh No. 3, but their speciality beers are pretty interesting.