Last week I arrived home to a nice surprise, a box labelled Cumbrian Legendary Ales, and inside a bottle of their doppelbock, Croglin Vampire. A very appropriate beer I think for the forthcoming ghoulish festivities.
Firstly for those unfamiliar with doppelbocks (including yours truly), here is an excerpt from the ever reliable wikipedia, 'Bock is the term for a strong malty lager beer of German origin [...] doppelbock, [is] a stronger and maltier version.' Simple enough, now that we know what we are dealing with lets dive in.
Croglin Vampire pours a lovely dark red colour with a thick off white head that dissipates to leave a thin creamy line. The aroma is wonderful, all sweet malt and caramel, with a hint of burnt toffee and dark fruits, the aroma reminds me a lot of Clotworhy Dobbin. The mouthfeel is something quite different, medium to full bodied (erring on the side of full) with a nice low level of carbonation, the beer coats every inch of your mouth but not in a cloying way. There's a saying in Ireland about a particular black beverage that there is 'eatin and drinkin in it', and Croglin vampire feels the same. There is a near chewiness to the caramel and toffee flavours that expand in your mouth and it is these flavours combined with the mouthfeel that hides the 8% ABV that this beer packs. This is a perfect beer for this time of year, a sipper that you can really enjoy while you sit warm and cosy looking out at those dirty autumnal nights.
Drinking a beer likes this from a small local brewer in England makes me long for a time when Irish craft brewers can brew beers like this. At the moment the handful of Irish Microbrewers seem to be intent on producing craft beers that have at least one eye on the potential of mass market, come on lads take some risks! Crank up that pilot brewery and produce some off the wall seasonals or specials.
A big thank you to Roger Humphreys and Cathy from Cumbrian Legendary Ales for the sample bottle, unfortunately it is probably unlikely that any of their beers will be available in Ireland in the near future, however if you are ever in Cumbria be sure to look for their beers on tap. Their cask beers include; the award winning Loweswater Gold, Dickie Doodle, Grasmoor Dark Ale, Melbreak and Langdale.