Sudwerk Brewing Company - Ultimator
- Alcohol by Volume: 8.0%
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 45
- Serving Temperature: 47-52° F
- Suggested Glassware: Pint Glass, Tulip, Snifter, Pilsner Glass
- Malts: 2-Row Pale, Chocolate, Caramunich 1 & 3, Munich Type 1 & 2
- Hops: Perle, Tradition, Tettnang
Sudwerk’s Ultimator doppelbock (double bock) pours a very dark brown with reddish flashes, and offers up a big array of malty aromas. Look for big bready notes with a bit of a cake-like character thanks to some residual sweetness. We also picked up notes of dark rum, fruit-infused chocolate, rich caramel and, as it warmed in the glass, a hint of alcohol which merges with some spicy hops. The story is much the same on the palate, too, as this big, generously-flavored beer presents a complex tapestry of toasty bread, cake, chocolate, brown sugar, caramel, light toffee, hints of roasted coffee, and rum-drenched cherry, fig, and raisin. The significant hop contribution adds plenty of balancing bitterness to counter this malty brew’s residual sweetness while also contributing some herbal, spicy notes which offer an additional layer of interest and balance to the malty flavors. Full-bodied and full-flavored, Ultimator may just be the ultimate winter beer. Sudwerk recommends pairing with ham or other pork dishes, and we would also suggest barbecued ribs with a spicy dry rub, or a rich chocolate cake with coffee ice cream. At 8% ABV, Ultimator is also a candidate for cellaring. We expect the hops to fade over time while oxidized Madeira-like notes may develop. Prost!
Sudwerk was founded in Davis, CA in 1989 by Ron Broward and Dean Unger. Not only was it among the early entrants into America’s craft brewing renaissance, Sudwerk was at the forefront of craft lager production, focusing almost entirely on lager styles brewed in accordance with the Reinheitsgebot German beer purity law (which dates to the 16th century). Within just a few years, the brewery had grown significantly while developing much respect within the early craft beer scene.
Fast forward to 2013. The Sudwerk brand, which had never lost its quality or esteem in the industry, nevertheless found itself somewhat overlooked among all the flashy new breweries popping up within the explosively growing beer scene. Additionally, both Broward and Unger had recently passed away, and their families were looking to sell the brewery. At this point, Unger’s grandson, Trent Yackzan, and his friend, Ryan Fry, entered the picture, organizing with a group of investors to purchase the brewery and begin revitalizing the brand and tapping into Sudwerk’s latent potential. The focus on craft lagers was maintained, but the new-look Sudwerk began striking out into more adventurous lager territory. Cascaderade IPL, with its big presentation of Cascade hops, started appearing in bombers. Ditto for Three Best Friends: a dark lager brewed with roasted coffee, sweet cacao nibs, and a touch of vanilla bean. Additionally, there’s been a huge expansion of the Sudwerk barrel-aging program.
Mike Hutson currently serves as Sudwerk’s brewmaster. He’s worked at Anderson Valley as well, and graduated from the Master Brewers Program at the University of California, Davis, which is basically right next to Sudwerk and with which the brewery maintains an interesting symbiotic relationship. The program, one of the top two or three brewing schools in the country, actually holds classes just above Sudwerk’s tasting room. For more info about the brewery and scheduled tours, call 530-756-2739 or visit them at www.sudwerkbrew.com.
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