In metropolitan Louisville, the decade of the 1980s was a transitional time for better beer. Mass-market lager still was the pervasive norm, especially in a place like New Albany, and what we knew then as micro-brewing (now American-made “craft,” itself an increasingly vague descriptor) had yet to penetrate the heartland to any great degree.
However, we did have imported beers.
Granted, many of them were international versions of the same golden beers we already knew and loathed, but there were certain others of genuine merit, brought to the States by importers like Merchant du Vin and Vanberg & DeWulf. In retrospect, these helped us to learn the language of better beer, and to see the possibilities inherent in varied stylistic interpretation.
The strong, dark, seasonal lager known as Doppelbock was a particular favorite. Then, as now, Ayinger Celebrator and its distinctive plastic goat could be found at selected package stores. Paulaner Salvator was quite common, too.
When I worked at the long defunct Scoreboard Liquors in New Albany (1982-1988 at the downtown location), the owners permitted me to stock one of six walk-in cooler doors with imported beers. By today’s standards, the offerings were paltry, but at the time, the selection was locally renowned. Many friendships were forged over the beers offered from that one door at Scoreboard Liquors, and prime among them was a fellow named Mark (his real name).
By the time I really began to know Mark, Scoreboard Liquors had lost its downtown lease and moved across town. Mark drank better beer now and then, so I knew he had it in him, but on an everyday basis, he was like most of us and would grab a two-and-a-half-dollar six-pack of something cold on his way back home from work.
One day I decided to take a firmer approach. I really can’t explain why, except it just seemed like the right thing to do. When Mark walked in, I followed him to the cooler, chatting, as he lifted out a six-pack of Wiedemann, and then I came to the point:
“Mark, why do you drink that shit?”
A conversation ensued, and Mark allowed himself to be talked into purchasing two half-liter bottles of Paulaner Salvator, each costing as much as his intended six-pack. I assured him that if he didn’t find them to his favor, I’d gladly refund his money and accept defeat.
Mark returned two hours later, and bought two more Salvators. The rest is history.
So it was that a quarter-century ago, amid the first stirrings of a better-beer revolution in America, old-fashioned Bavarian Doppelbocks whetted our appetite for something new. You might say they propagated ideas, hopes and dreams, and consequently, once a year in spring, NABC honors this legacy with Propagator Doppelbock.
Look for Propagator Doppelbock on draft ONLY at NABC’s two New Albany locations, while it lasts.
Color: Amber to brown.
Flavor: Full-bodied, with rich Bavarian malt impression.
Compare to: Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, Paulaner Salvator
Description: In New Albany there was no beer, but now we brew it here.
Recipe Suggestion: We’re all so well versed in the glories of the Bavarian table that by reflex action, pork/kraut/potatoes spring to mind. But if Doppelbock is an advanced version of milder dark lagers, from Vienna to Oktoberfest, wouldn’t a beer like Propagator be a great match for Mexican food – far more so than merely passable Dos Equis?
Updated May 2014