Monday, September 8, 2014

Spaten Optimator

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1170) - Albany, New York, USA - SEP 8, 2014
Reviewing a doppelbock at the end of summer might not be a completely fair review. However, I have had Spaten Optimator many times in the past and it’s only been slightly better than the bottle I’m reviewing now. This is definitely a German doppelbock personified – plenty of sweet malty notes, slightly nutty, but some bitterness to balance it out. Not bad for an InBev product.

I poured a 12oz bottle into a mug. It was bottled on 2/2/14 and cost $2.50 ($0.21 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful chestnut/mahogany hue. Translucent with carbonation visible. Pours to a two-finger, tan, foamy head which laces and retains somewhat well.

Smell: Slight skunkiness from the green bottle; otherwise very malty with an overt lager character.

Taste: The first thing I notice here is the classic macro lager character. While I’m quite sure Spaten Optimator is an all-malt brew, there’s something to it that screams “lager!” as soon as it touches the tongue. It’s actually quite tangy at first, maybe even a little sour (I’m chalking that up to green bottle and lightstrike), but it’s easily overlooked. Once I get invested in the palette I start to notice flavors of roasted peanuts, a touch of caramel, maybe toffee. The doppelbock style is actually not too far off from the brown ale style in terms of flavor characteristics and this beer is a good example of that. There’s still some bitterness here, but actual hop flavor is mild. Slightly dry, maybe even a bit metallic. Again, this is a fairly old bottle, so I’ll bet a fresh serving would be more complex and less flawed, but as it stands it’s still pretty good for a relatively inexpensive import made by a macro brewery.

Drinkability: Spaten Optimator may taste like and ale, but it drinks like the lager it is. The mouthfeel is thin and crisp, but not overly fizzy. There’s a slightly slick or sour aftertaste, but I don’t mind it. At 7.6% ABV there is mild warmth from the alcohol, and it does play a factor in the taste as well. It doesn’t feel as heavy as those numbers would indicate, but one serving is satisfactory to be sure. 
Grade: 7/10

NOTE: See my 2017 re-review to BJCP specs here: