I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the fact that Ayinger brews two very similar dark Bocks rather than making two less similar brews. Their Winter Bock is unusual for southern Bavaria and more like Bocks from the area around Regensburg: Weltenburg’s Asam Bock and Kneitinger Bock being the prime examples. I love this style and wish there were more of them so more than glad to quaff Ayinger’s entry since it’s so readily available in my hometown of Munich.
Ayinger Winter Bock in bottle and on tap at the Ayinger Bräustüberl in Aying
The Ayinger Bräustüberl in Aying serves up wonderful Bavarian cuisine. Their roast duck is to die for and it pairs all too well with their Winterbock. Though I’d had the Winterbock in a bottle prior, the first time I had the pleasure of drinking it on tap was at their brewer tap in Aying, after walking about 8 miles in near blizzard conditions. Needless to say, it was one of the best post hike beer drinking experiences I’ve ever had. The rich malty palate had some roast and dried fruit in the mix and the finish was moreish. I’ve always been disappointed with the bottled version since, though I still buy and enjoy it. It just never seems the same. I’ll admit to not re-creating the blizzard experience.
Celebrator’s distinctive bottle & the luscious tap version at the Bräustüberl
Celebrator and I go back further. I guess it’s possibly the Ayinger beer the majority of people in the US are most familiar with. I imagine the first time I had it, I was fairly unfamiliar with the Dopplebock style and found it odd. I’ll admit I didn’t exactly seek it out once I’d moved to Munich and stuck to Paulaner’s Salvator and a handful of other local examples. It was only after becoming enamored with the food at the Ayinger Bräustüberl and tasting a few of their other seasonal brews that I sought out having Celebrator on tap there. I again had roast duck and despite not hiking nor blizzard prior, I was pretty blown away by it. It seemed to play the dried fruit aspect up a notch and perhaps was less roasty. Aside from that, I was hard-pressed to see a lot of difference taste-wise.
Of course, it’s not possible to sample the two side-by-side on tap at the Bräustüberl. The Winter Bock is on tap from perhaps mid-November into early January, depending on how long it lasts. Celebrator is a Lent beer so not out generally until March. You don’t always see both at beer stores in Munich and I was happy to see them at a shop right around the corner from my apartment. So, it it was irresistible not to buy a couple of both and drink them head-to-head. Thankfully, my wife was also up for the task as she has a much better sense of small than I do. The bottles were far from their expiration dates and in good form. The first bottle of Winter Bock poured more nicely than the Celebrator but it’s not impossible that the glass wasn’t as clean. The second bottles of both looked perfect and amazingly similar. Both are very dark with garnet highlights and have a dense tan head. The Winter Bock seems to have a bit more roast in the nose but otherwise, they both have dried fruit in there as well. Both have a nice long, semi-dry bittersweet finishes. We had to be careful to keep the beers in their respective spots. It would have been easy to mistake one for the other, especially after a bottle of each!
For some reason, the Celebrator seemed a touch easier to drink, odd since it comes in the smaller bottle, which even more oddly is priced about the same as the large bottle of Winter Bock. It must be the plastic goat ornament that comes with it. My wife loved it and said the Celebrator was just a bit better. So, it appears for us, at least, in bottled form: Celebrator over Winter Bock with a TKO.