Goosinator Smoked Doppelbock

Review Date 1/17/2008  Last Updated   12/30/2020  By John Staradumsky

Tonight I was watching a movie. A cybernetic Goose was chasing a beergeek through a shopping mall and, finally cornering him, approached in slow motion, menacingly producing an object from his jacket. Aiming it at the beer geek with deadly precision, he proceeded to open up with a loud pop, and said in a strangely accented voice:

“Come with me if you want to drink.”

OK, so I really wasn’t watching The Goosinator. I was drinking it. Sue me. But you never can tell what strange things are going to pop into a beer enthusiast mind whilst he’s enjoying a pint or two.

The other day, I was discussing via e-mail the recent trend towards upward-spiraling prices on specially beers in the American craft beer market. Not just any beers, mind you, but the cream of the crop: oak-aged Tripels and stouts, smoked doppelbocks, bottle conditioned rye-bock. I don't mind paying a premium for quality beer, and compared to what wine lovers pay for top-notch stuff, beer enthusiasts still usually are lucky by comparison.

In that vein, tonight I review a bottle of Left Hand Goosinator, a nice enough smoked doppelbock that I paid about $12 for. It was a 750ML bottle mind you, a little more than two twelve ounce bottles. And though I enjoyed it, I would not buy it again. Why? Because for about the same price I could buy four bottles (2 L total) of Schlerkerla Ur-Bock, an original German smoked bock that I like better and that really this is a copy of.

I did have trouble getting the beer out of the bottle, first off. It had a dry cork that crumbled when I tried to remove it (not the fault of the brewer), which is really a pain because the little bits that fall into the bottle get into your beer. When I did get that resolved, I poured the bottle into a one liter Paulaner Mass, basically one of those really big beer mugs you see being swung about recklessly at Oktoberfest.

Left Hand Goosinator pours to a cloudy reddish amber color with a towering chunky head formation and a decidedly smoky, slightly fruity nose. When I sip, I get some wonderfully smoky notes of pungent hickory (they use beechwood to smoke the malts in reality), green olive, a hint of fruit and some vestiges of chewy sweet malt and chocolate. The finish is a little sweet too, though the smoke flavors balance that out and make the beer dangerously drinkable.

The normally nutty chocolaty malts in a doppelbock are a bit lost here, drowned out by the smokiness. That’s OK, though, since that’s the intention. But that brings me back to price. Because though this is a nice beer and worth trying (it’s a rare bottle conditioned lager, another anomaly), I just think it’s way overpriced.

Beware, craft brewers. Beer geeks will pay for quality, but we're savvy enough to know when we can get a better deal elsewhere, too. And who wants to pay $12 for the lithograph when you can have the original for half the price?

Update 12/30/2020: I haven't come across this beer again since I first enjoyed it, but I did find this information about it on the Left Hand website:

Goosinator Smoked Doppelbock Lager

A big malty, smoky beer with caramel and toffee flavors and a smooth, clean finish. The addition of smoked malt is very prevalent, creating quite an unusual yet intriguing flavor to the already full-bodied flavor of a traditional doppelbock. A liquid form of nutrition, you could consider this beer a meal replacement—no dessert required.

ABV 7.7%
IBU 25

MALT German Rauch, Munich, Dark Wheat, Carafa III
HOPS German Magnum, German Hersbrucker

And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.

*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.