Leinenkugel's Big Butt Doppelbock

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As far as most craft beer enthusiasts are concerned, having your local micro or regional brewery get bought out by one of the big guys is one of the worst things that can happen to you. Why, itís the end of the world, for surely immediately burn the recipe book and dumb down the beers to a level of mediocrity equaling that of their own insipid labels, right?

Well, not always. The Chippewa Falls based Leinenkugel brewery is a great example of a small regional brewer purchased by a megabrewer (Miller in 1988 in this case) that managed to preserve its independence and integrity. Thatís because, for the most part, Miller allows the company to run semi-autonomously and brew its beer as it always has. In fact, Miller actually raised the breweryís profile by expanding its distribution area.

If you donít believe me, just take a sip of Leinieís Big Butt Doppelbock. While certainly not the best example of the style, itís still a very good brew-and definitely no Miller Lite.

The grain bill is respectable enough-pale malt, Munich malt, caramel malt and chocolate malt. Cluster hops are used for their bittering properties, and Mt. Hoods for aroma. Interestingly, both are domestic varieties, though the Mt. Hood is a cousin to the German Hallertau. Still, doppebocks are better known for malt than hops anyway.

Leinekugelís Big Butt Doppelbock pours to a dark russet, reddish brown color with a medium sized creamy tan head quickly forming atop the liquid. The nose is very promising, full of toasty nutty and chocolaty notes. A sip reveals a decent bodied brew, thicker than your average lager with a luxuriant rich texture.

Beers such as this are best enjoyed cool, not cold, so I allowed mine to warm slightly before sipping. This will allow all of the complex Munich malt melanoidin flavors to come out more fully. And you will get them here, nutty and chocolaty and hinting at sweet dark molasses.

In the finish, Big Butt Doppelbock displays a gentle kiss of Grassy German hops and a hint of alcohol. The beer does seem to thin slightly in as the last of it slides across the tongue, however. In reality, this isnít an especially overpowering beer as far as alcohol is concerned, especially for the style. At 5.8% by volume, itís more in the bock range than the doppelbock range, which generally runs around 7% and up.

That said, this is still a very good beer with a delightful malt profile. For about the same money (actually less here in Georgia), I much prefer Samuel Adams Double Bock , but Big Butt is still worth trying. Three and a half stars, though as doppels go a little closer to three than four.