Photo © Dave McAvoy

High Water Brewing recently celebrated its first birthday. In honor of the occasion, brewer Steve Altimari created the Anniversary Doppelsticke (pronounced “Dopple-shtick-uh”). It’s a beer style that some knowledgeable beer fans may not be familiar with.

Here’s a little background about the style. A good starting point is the German Altbier, which is brown ale. A close cousin of the Altbier is the Sticke Alt, which is a stronger and darker seasonal version that is quite rare. The Doppelsticke is an Imperial version of the Sticke Alt.

High Water’s Anniversary Doppelsticke is a rich, dark copper-brown brew that when poured produces a finger of frothy off-white head. The head slowly fades and leaves behind some spotty lacing clinging to the sides of the glass. If you give the beer a good sniff, sweet toasted caramel malts and brown sugar notes fill the nose, with some noble hops and biscuit playing strong supporting roles. There is also just a touch of sweet dark fruits. I was really impressed with how full the aroma was without being too sharp and strong.

When sipped the beer hits the tongue in a very similar manner to how it struck the nose. There’s a wonderful balance of sweet lightly toasted caramel malts with some brown sugar sweetness and some citrus and noble hops coming through. Through the middle the complexity builds a bit with some biscuit and a touch of hop bitterness. The finish is a mix of toasted biscuit and toffee malts and a hint of dark fruit sweetness. The beer is medium bodied, with moderate carbonation and is extremely smooth with a dry and slightly sweet finish.

I have high expectations when new High Water brews are released and this particular beer was even more surprising in quality and uniqueness. The balance of flavors are fantastic and the beer has an incredible (and almost dangerous) smoothness at 7.5% ABV. I definitely recommend seeking this one out and giving it a shot, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the style.