The Hops: Paulaner Brewery’s Salvator

Like a good Catholic and Bavarian, I imagine the Pope will relax with a brew or two after Saint Patrick’s Day Mass—and I guarantee he will not be drinking Guinness. Instead, he will probably kick back a couple bottles of the beer of the month: Paulaner Salvator.

Sometime around the seventeenth century, it was decided that beer was not on God’s list of banned Lenten luxuries. The monks at the Paulaner monastery took full advantage of the oversight, brewing a double strong version of bock (doppelbock) to drink for sustenance during their long fast between Mardi Gras and Easter. They named the beer Salvator, which is the Latin word for “savior.” As the original doppelbock, Salvator’s influence is such that most German doppelbocks feature names ending in “-ator.” “Salvator” was basically the name of the style until Paulaner trademarked it in 1896.

Ideally poured into a pilsner glass or mug, the color of Salvator is a hybrid of honey and caramel, and two fingers of dense, buttery head will dissipate slowly. Do not be surprised to find a tiny bit of yeast sedimentation clinging to the bottom of the bottle; as with weizenbier, it is just concentrated goodness. Its aroma is a complex and enticing bouquet: candy caramel, lightly toasted malts, grassy hops reminiscent of a classic German helles, apple, strawberry, a little muskmelon, fig and plum. Scents of toffee and cocoa are also noticeable, and everything is tinged by the typical bock booziness. Salvator’s taste is predominantly dry and spicy in that helles way and also reminds me of a hot toddy. The bock booziness is prominent and forms the backbone for the other flavors: caramel, toffee, honey, lemon, a touch of apple and grassy hops offer a nice bite.

  • Serving temperature: 48º F.
  • Alcohol content: 7.9 percent ABV.
  • Food pairings: The Pope will tell you it pairs well with a second bottle of Salvator (repeat until Easter), but Randy Mosher, in his book Tasting Beer, recommends “rich, roasty foods (like duck!); perfect with chocolate cake.”
  • Where to buy: John’s Grocery, The Liquor House and Hy-Vee Wine and Spirits on Waterfront Drive.
  • Price: $12 per six-pack, $3 per 330 ml bottle. Since its availability is surprisingly limited, I also suggest Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock (which sometimes features a complimentary goat ornament with each bottle), Spaten Optimator (my favorite) and Ayinger Weizenbock (for fellow weizenbier lovers).

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