Belated Beer Review

Friday, May 11, 2007

This has been a crushingly busy week, but right near the very end of the week I had the opportunity to taste a real treat.

The historic holder of Michigan's first brewpub license is an eclectic restaurant in downtown Detroit, not too far from the DIA, called the Traffic Jam and Snug. It's got a little bit of everything on its menu, but of most note, this weird little slice of heaven features its own dairy and its own little brewery. In fact, in 1992, the Traffic Jam became Michigan's first brewpub. Tangentally, a brew pub allows for the sale of beer brewed on-premises, but it is not bottled or sold outside of the pub.

The beer list currently holds the Grand Theft Pilsner, an oatmeal stout, an IPA and a doppelbock. I chose to try the doppel.

All in all, this was a very nicely-constructed brew. It came to the table a lovely deep brown/black with ruby highlights and a thick, pillowy off-white head.

I immediately smelled bananas-and-chocolate, backed by a lovely roasted coffee. Really, the only bitterness came from the dark-roasted malt though there was a hint of floral hops that balanced the beer well.

The taste was a very nicely balanced beer. It is nowhere near the calibre of Ayinger or Paulaner, mind you, but for locally-brewed beer in small quantities in a brew pub, it was very balanced and drinkable. There was a nice roasted flavor right up front balanced by a malty sweetness that was neither subtle nor cloying. And there, after some hops shone through, was that lovely chocolate flavor that makes doppelbocks all taste like drinking chocolate milk and beer. Yum!

Again, all in all thi was a solid, drinkable, sessionable beer. I could see sitting there for hours at a time and never switching beers. The beer was very light-bodied and slightly watery, but really those are minor in the grand scheme of this beer.

So for all 5 of my Michigan-based readers, go visit the Traffic Jam and Snug. Enjoy their beers and take home some delicious cheese...it all tastes greatwith the beers they brew (in the fine tradition of European catholic monks brewing beer and making cheese in the same place; Roquefort, anyone?).

8 comments:

Smitty 2:31 PM  

Jesus Christ, I get 3 additional authors to write for this blog, and I still can't get anyone to leave a comment.

I am going home to commit suicide.

George 2:46 PM  

Smitty, just drown your sorrows in a beer!

If I were in Detroit I'd try this beer. Instead I'm stuck drinking Stone and Port and Craftsman and....

Wait, I don't want to drive you to envy suicide.

Smitty 3:18 PM  

Poor George, drinking Stone Ruination. And Imperial Stout. And Arrogant Bastard. And Double Bastard. And...

Roger,  4:06 PM  

Smitty, a couple things strike me about your description of this beer. The first is that banana aroma/flavor is not something that I would want in any lager. It indicates poor fermentation practices.

Lagers can be hard for small brewers to get right. They need to pitch a lot more yeast than they would for an ale, ferment for about twice as long as they would an ale, and then cold condition (aka lager) for at LEAST a couple of weeks. These things are doubly important for a strong lager like a dopplebock.

The second is that there should be very little chocolate flavor in a Dopplebock, maybe a mild hint of it from dark munich malt or melanoiden malt. Dopplebock definitely shouldn't be like chocolate milk and beer. Sometimes brewers will use a bit of chocolate malt to get additional color, but that is a big no-no in my opinion.

That said, it goes without saying that a beer you like is a good beer.

Mike 6:56 AM  

LOcal brewpub Doppelbock. You could do worse.

Speaking of Stone, I've brought home a 22 oz bomber of their Imperial Stout the last 3 Fridays running. And I plan to do the same this Friday.

Man, is that a good brew!

(And that ~10% ABV doesn't exactly make me sad either.)

steves 7:22 AM  

I haven't been to Detroit since 2002 and have only been there 7 or 8 times in my entire life, so it will likely be a while before I get a chance to get down there and try this.

Smitty 8:23 AM  

Roger:

I agree with the banana thing, but for some reason, it seemed to work for this beer. Normally, a banana flavor in a, say Vienna LAger, would be terrible.

As for chocolate, I gotta say that I pick up tons of chocolate in both Ayinger's and Paulaner's doppels.

As for the fermentation, I couldn't agree more. I have a great time with ales, but the few times I have brewed lagers, I have blown them completely. Inconsistent temperature, short fermentation time, not enough yeast, etc. I should have AT LEAST used a starter rather than just pitching a smack-pack or vial.

Smitty 8:33 AM  

Roger:

I went a checked out the BJCP guidelines for Doppelbocks. Yup. Prune is okay, banana not. Maybe I misperceived? I trust my palate. I liked a "bad" trait. Oops.

It does say chocolate is good and acceptable, but in small amounts and certainly never a roasted or burnt flavor (which I didn't taste).

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