If you're a fan of beers such as Capital Brewery's malty Autumnal Fire, Troppelbock will be right up your alley.
Alaskan Brewing's Troppelbock is described on its label as an imperial doppelbock ale. Some may quibble about this because bocks and doppelbocks are traditionally lagers. Can you still use those style descriptions if all the ingredients are the same except the yeast? There is precedence, as some ales entered into lager categories at the Great American Beer Festival have won awards.
The brewery also has information that bock-style ales were made in Germany centuries before the development of lager yeast.
Troppelbock screams "malt" right from the get-go, with strong caramel-toffee-vanilla notes in the aroma. The beer is a reddish-amber color and forms a nice rocky tan head with staying power.
The aromas carry through into the flavor, with a stronger toffee presence from the use of toasted malts and fruity fig-date hints. The beer is aged on oak chips, which impart not only the vanilla notes, but combined with the toasted malts, a slight whiskeyish character.
The body is chewy without being syrupy, and the less-than-medium carbonation helps create a soft, pleasant mouthfeel. The 10.5 percent ABV beer is sweeter than the norm, which helps to counteract the high alcohol content and bring out the malt flavors even more - it's not unpleasant at all.
The hops are minimal; just enough to provide a touch of bitterness at the end for a palate-cleansing finish. The high alcohol content gives a warming effect without hotness or unpleasant aftertastes.
As with many of Alaskan's beers, Troppelbock is a well-balanced beer with a unique personality. Since low temperatures in Wisconsin right now are still in the teens and there is a lot of snow still to melt, I'm not ready to give up on strong beers for the time being.
Alaskan beers are available in Wisconsin; click on "Our Beer" on its Web home page, then "Find Our Beer" for availability in your area. Troppelbock is a limited-edition release and probably will not last long in the stores that do decide to carry it.