"No one can pronounce the name, so that's half the fun of watching people order one," says Kirby Nelson. The Capital Brewery brewmaster himself endorses two ways of saying Manoomator: mah-no-mator or ma-new-ma-tor. It's all part of a play on words with Capital's latest seasonal, a doppelbock made with wild rice.
In the Ojibwe language, wild rice is called manoomin, prounced mah-no-min. Now add to that the historical name monks gave their doppelbocks -- "Salvator" or savior, so many modern brewers add "ator" to the end of their bock beer names. Stitched together into a portmanteau leaves us with Manoomator, which is even trickier to say after having had a couple. This dopplebock is the latest in the brewery's limited release Capital Square Series.
What is it? Manoomator by Capital Brewery of Middleton, Wisconsin.
Style: The doppelbock is a full-bodied, deep amber to dark brown lager. The flavor should feature a solid malty sweetness, and an especially fresh and lightly toasted caramel malt character. The hop bitterness is evident but a minor part of the profile. Fruity tones (esters) may be common, but not overwhelming. The doppelbock will have a strong alcoholic strength ranging from 6.5% to 8% ABV.
Wild rice gives Manoomator a slightly sweet, nutty flavor, nearly opposite the effect big breweries look for when they substitute domestic rice as an adjunct for malted barley.
Background: Manoomator was originally developed last winter by Kirby Nelson as Wild Rice Doppelbock. The initial batch was made for the Map Room, a legendary beer bar in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood that caters to beer aficionados. The Map Room's owners, including Laura Blasingame, came up to Middleton to join Nelson when he made the first batch in December 2010. Capital split the first batch with the Map Room and offered Wild Rice Doppelbock to select draft accounts last winter.
This year Nelson tweaked the recipe just a bit, reducing the amount of wild rice by a small percentage. He buys the wild rice from North Bay Trading of Brule, Wisconsin. Wild rice (manoomin) grows naturally on stocks in three to eight feet of water in the many marshes of northern Wisconsin in Minnesota surrounding the Great Lakes. This variety was grown in northern Minnesota wetlands. Nelson mixed the wild rice with two- and six-row brewers malts, Munich, caramel and Victory malts. A light amount of Liberty hops are used for mild bittering.
Capital Brewery made about 200 cases of Manoomator this year. It finishes at 8% ABV, and sells for around $11-12/four-pack.
It's the height of bock season, but more is on the way. Later this spring Capital plans to offer Dark Doppelbock, a beer that's been in hibernation for several seasons. Then, its Weizen Doppelbock will return this summer.
Capital's new annual editions of Blonde Doppelbock and Maibock will be unveiled at the brewery's Bockfest celebration on Saturday, February 25. VIP tickets were sold out weeks ago, but general admission tickets are $10, and a limited number will be available to patrons who get in line. Access is limited to about 3,000 people in the brewery's beer garden at any one time.
- Aroma: Firm malty nose, with a light grain background.
- Appearance: Deep, clear dark copper color with a thick, soft, tan head.
- Texture: Full bodied and very smooth.
- Taste: A light nutty sweetness of the wild rice.
- Finish/Aftertaste: Malty sweet, lightly nutty and fruitiness.
Glassware: The Willi Becher is a great glass for the doppelbock because it shows off the brilliant color while focusing the nose with its inward taper in the upper third near the lip. I like this beer chilled slightly to sharpen its balance between the wild rice, malts and light hoppiness. However, to really taste the contributions from the wild rice, allow Manoomator to warm up to room temperature.
Pairs well with: The distinctive sweet, nutty flavors from the wild rice are a nice complement to beef stews and mildly sweet wild game. It also goes well with a mildly sweet cheese.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four)
The Consensus: Manoomator has not received enough ratings to be evaluated at BeerAdvocate or RateBeer. The previous version, named Wild Rice Dopplebock, has not received enough ratings to be evaluated at BeerAdvocate and received an 81/88 (overall/style) at RateBeer.
The Verdict: Capital Manoomator is a beer I like for the distinctness reflected in wild rice as an ingredient. It's much different from what you'll currently find from other breweries and brewpubs with their doppelbocks. I certainly do not put it next to Capital Blonde Doppelbock, or even Great Dane Dominator without considerable qualification -- because it's not supposed to be within either's ranks. The doppelbock usually amplifies the caramel and biscuit flavors from the malt to the edge of becoming a malt-bomb. Manoomator goes in a different direction. The wild rice offers body and a sweetness that has hints of nuttiness, with raisins and a grape-like fruitiness. It's just a wonderful twist on a seasonal treat.