Perkulator appeals to coffee fans
Issue date: 1/8/10 Section: Arts & Entertainment
Dark Horse Brewing, out of Marshall, Mich., is, as its name suggests, an unexpected, relatively unknown brewery that has been around for only about 10 years. I know, 10 years is a whole decade, but in the corporate world, that's a heartbeat. Aaron Morse. The owner, runs a simple setup with hand-packed cases and a comfortable, small taproom. Morse comes off as somewhat of an odd-duck with his archaic description of the brewery's history, but in the end, he is merely a devoted beer enthusiast.
Perkulator is a modified version of the classic lager style of doppelbock. If you remember from my previous article on Celebrator, doppelbocks, and bocks in general really, were developed as a massive calorie replacement for when the monks would fast for weeks on end. The word "doppel" is suggestive of double, though a doppelbock is not the equivalent of a double strong bock. It merely signifies a second level of strength. Dark Horse proudly snubs Germany's Reinheitsgebot (their beer Purity Law), which limits beer ingredients to grain, water, and hops, by adding in a healthy dose free-trade organic coffee from a local coffee shop called The Ugly Mug Café.
Although it comes in two different flavors of label, mine happened to depict a double-headed Baphomet sitting upon a horned throne and sipping coffee. Alright-so the label is a bit … demonic. It is still pretty awesome though. Well, enough about the fancy picture glued onto the bottle, I suppose I should open it up! For this beer, I chose a stemmed lager glass, which shows off the clarity of a lager while maintaining some of the aroma, which should hopefully be present. The stem itself is not necessary, but it does make you look that much fancier. You tend to only use these for darker beers like Porter or Doppelbock.
Perkulator pours out a deep mahogany and is surprisingly clear for what I had expected. Its thin tan head started out pretty thick, but quickly diminished to a half-finger depth that stuck around for the entire glass. As I progressed through the glass, a very minimal lacing was visible, but it was well more than I had expected. A very heavy coffee aroma and flavor dominated the entire beer. It was almost as if they had replaced a large portion of the grain bill itself to add it. The aftertaste was the first sign of the light maltiness present. Past doppelbocks I have had were full, rich, and malty, so it was quite a surprise to find this one was beans. Upon further inspection, the tiniest hints of smoke, toffee, and herbal hoppiness were detected, but these were certainly afterthoughts to the strong-brewed coffee. When you actually notice these other flavors, it leaves you with the strangest combination of flavors that continue to conflict until the very last drop.
I can understand why Dark Horse felt that the traditional German doppelbock, a lager-style, mind you, needed a little extra something. These brewers feel the stigma of weak, post-prohibition American lager that every one of us is familiar with. To prevent themselves from falling into that abyss, they saw fit to make something of their own. The doppelbock, in my opinion, is generally quite delicious when prepared in the traditional manner. The addition of organic coffee is not really a needed one, but it does provide an interesting area to explore. Coffee is great in other dark beers such as stout and porter variations, so it is logical that the lager equivalent may produce similarly wonderful results. I would think that anyone who thoroughly enjoys their cup 'o Joe, but does not necessarily like thicker, fuller styles of beer, would do well to give this Dark Horse offering a chance.