Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Taster's Choice

The lyrics are straightforward ... "Well I guess I'd better drink me one more bottle of beer. Well I guess I'd better drink me one more bottle of beer.  Well baby baby baby why don't you come on here."  They come from a B-side song aptly entitled, "One more bottle of beer," which is performed by the Washington, D.C. area ska band, the Pietasters. And, if you were to ask the Pietasters which beer, perhaps the answer would be ...

Taster's Choice.  And it is not what first comes to your mind!

The Taster's Choice is a collaboration between the Pietasters and two breweries: D.C. Brau and Ska Brewing.  It is brewed in the style of a Doppelbock, which is a stronger and darker version of the traditional Bavarian bock beer.  By their very nature, doppelbock beers are usually a dark gold to brown color, with strong malt aromas and rich flavors.  The brewers from Ska and D.C. Brau reinforced those traditional characteristics by infusing the Taster's Choice with coffee.

I recently purchased a growler of the Taster's Choice from D.C. Brau's brewery.  The beer pours a dark coffee brown, with a thin, off-white, creamy foam.  As that foam recedes, the light struggles to penetrate the surface of the beer.  After the beer is poured, light aromas of coffee bean and mocha greet the nose.  As for the flavor of the beer, the Taster's Choice is malt-driven, with little hop presence in the beer.  This is to be expected from a doppelbock.  What is a little unexpected is the nice balancing of the bitter and the sweet.  The bitter is embodied in flavors of roasted coffee.  (And, by coffee, I don't mean the kind made by a certain Swiss company.  I mean really good coffee.)  The sweetness is present in flavors of chocolate powder or maybe some molasses. The beer balances the bitter and the sweet exceptionally well.  The Taster's Choice is a good illustration of how to achieve complexity in the flavor of a beer in ways other than the traditional contrast between hops and malts. 
The proceeds from this beer go to the Todd Eckhardt Scholarship Fund, which was set up to honor the memory of former Pietasters bassist and songwriter Todd Eckhardt, who passed away in 2001. The scholarship fund provides benefits to students at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts through the Ellington Fund.  A great beer and a worthy cause.  What more could you ask for.

The beer is available on draft, with an ABV of about 7.4%, at DC Brau and, perhaps, at local beer bars.  If you can find it, try it ... if only to try a unique twist on a doppelbock.  Hopefully, the brewers at Ska and DC Brau will join forces again to brew this beer very soon.  


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