Long Trail Brewing started in 1989 with the goal of making quality local beer to compete with imports from Germany and England. Their brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT now makes a variety of craft ales that are distributed all over the Northeast. The Long Trail lineup includes a number of year-long and seasonal ales inspired by traditional German and British styles. One of the most popular Long Trail beers is Double Bag, a strong version of a German-style altbier. Altbier is an interesting style, most German beers are lagers, using bottom fermenting yeast and cooler fermentation temperatures. Altbiers use a top fermenting ale yeast, although many undergo a secondary fermentation at lower temperature. Double Bag is a heavier, darker version of Long Trail’s flagship altbier. The altbier style originated in the lower Rhine region of Germany. Traditional altbiers are medium in color and balanced with low to moderate ABV. Many German breweries also made a stronger version of alt, called stickebier. Double Bag is made in the stickebier tradition, with a dark color and rich flavor from caramel and chocolate malts and higher ABV.
Long Trail Double Bag pours a light brown with red tints, very clear with a small white head. The smell is rich dark malts and caramel, along with a touch of earthy hops. The malts also come through strong in the flavor, with touches toffee, caramel, cocoa powder and toasted bread. The malt sweetness is cut with some mild hop flavors, contributing some floral, pine and earthy notes. It weighs in at 7.2% ABV, and you get a touch of warming alcohol in the flavor. Despite the high alcohol, the beer is crisp and easy to drink. The aftertaste is balanced, a mixture of malt sweetness cut by a touch of hop bitterness left on the tongue. This is a great winter beer, full bodied and warming, built well to pair with hearty winter dishes. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.