Instigator Doppelbock | Sly Fox Brewing Company

very good
86 Reviews
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Instigator DoppelbockInstigator Doppelbock

Brewed by:
Sly Fox Brewing Company
Pennsylvania, United States

Style: Doppelbock

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.30%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by NeroFiddled on 04-07-2003

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Reviews: 86 | Ratings: 104
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.55/5  rDev -9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Dull brick red with bright orange peel highlights. I'm a little concerned about the huge amount of carbonation that filled the glass with foam rather than beer on the pour. Fizziness is never a good thing when it comes to big beer. The fluffy ecru cap deflates reasonably quickly, without leaving much lace in the process. A second pour looks much better.

The nose (from what I can tell through three fingers of froth) contains no surprises. I like it more the more I sniff... and the lower the head falls. It's toasted caramel malty, nutty and slightly earthy. In liquid form it should be wonderful.

And it is. Sort of. It's a damn shame that something went awry during the carbonation process. I hate having to filter out the unpleasantness of all those bubbles to get to the malty beer beneath. There's nothing like brewing a good doppelbock and then ruining it prior to bottling. Maybe if I let it sit for a bit.

I like what I taste, but in its current state Instigator Doppelbock can't be considered a good version of the style. There's just too much to overcome with respect to the mouthfeel. The beer is much thinner than it should be and is much, much more fizzy. I can appreciate a dark maltiness, a dark fruitiness and a raisin puree sweetness that dries out considerably on the finish. Too bad they've been given such a lousy vehicle.

I hate it when I crack open a bottle of what is probably pretty good beer (that I'm unlikely to acquire again), only to discover that it has a major flaw that should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. I get the sense that Instigator is a solid doppelbock that never really had the opportunity to show me what it could do. Quality control is everything.

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Photo of russpowell
3.66/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Props to GnomeKing for this one!

22 oz bomber pours an efferevescent chestnut/mahogany with a 3.5 fingers deep sand colored head. Above average lacing & some head retention

S: Licorice & chocolate & hints of wet card board/glue

T: Roasted grain molasses, & chocolate up front, then a hint of coffee. Licorice & hints of breadyness/fruittyness follow along with some pecan notes. Finishes with a hint of brown sugar, dryness & caramel

MF: Chewy with low carbonation

Drinks fairly easy for the abv, this on light end of the dopplebock spectrum, but not bad at all, just not a really good one. Lacked some asthetics

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Photo of Phatz
4.28/5  rDev +9.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Thanks froggyfrog for hookin me up.
Served from a bomber that had plenty of time to warm.

Appearance: Pours a dark burnt caramel color with hints of ruby. Massive head. The tan head exceeded 4 fingers and had great retention. Loads of lacing were pasted to the side of the glass the entire duration of the beer while a frothy cap lasted just as long. Beautiful.

Smell: Toasted malts, brown sugar and the sweet nostalgic aroma of caramel covered apples, with a hint of smoked wood and gapes as well. mmm m mm m mmm

Taste: The flavors of dark sweet tart apple cider and that grape juice stuff, lead off, and then it just get more malty malty malty as hints of smokiness, wood, more dark fruits and a sprinkle of hops, maybe citric fruit, building and then - the beer peaks short of my eyes popping out =) and then fades to a dry burnt shoe-fly pie aftertaste. I LOVE IT!

Mouthfeel: Big malty creamy and well carbonated. It has a gritty course sugar laden malt kind of creaminess, and a dry finish lingers unceasingly.

Drinkability: dangerously easy for this Dopplebock fan. I really love this beer. It is a good thing I didn't get a case of this... or I might not be making it to work all week =) yummy!

Hope this is helpful.

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Photo of tgbljb
4.2/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a medium brown color with modest tannish head. Very little lacing to be found.
Smell is rich and malty with strong dark fruit notes.
Taste is also firmly malty with dark bread notes combining with the fruit and molasses notes to form a complex taste sensation.
Nice full creamy mouth fell.
Nice beer for a cool autumn evening.

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Photo of WVbeergeek
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured into a Mad Elf chalice sort of similar to a Celebrator glass with a little more curves. Appears with a large tightly formed light tannish beige head, quite resilient definitely sticks around for quite a bit. The head is paired with a dark ruby plum hued body bubbles quickly rising and as the head dwindles nice scattered lacing forms on the chalice with each sip. Aroma: Vinous ripened raisins, tart muscat grapes more ripe fruit soaked in mellow alcohol with mild distan powdered cocoa tones with herbal German hops coming through as well. Taste has a soft quality more of those powdered cocoa highlights with accentuated tart fruits including apples, raisin, and more white grape acidity matches well with the overall bready feel. Mild bitterness with herbal grassy hops and finishes with a somewhat leafy tobacco character. Mouthfeel is medium bodied really smooth and mellow carbonation soft warm feeling once it coats the palate. Drinkability: This is a quality American brewed doppelbock flavorful, it really satisfied my palate with depth. They seem to really have a talent at finding what works for them yet fulfilling those traditional style guidelines at Sly Fox.

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Photo of jcdiflorio
3.75/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Poured into a tulip glass,a creamy,thick,rocky,off white colored head.A deep ruby red almost chestnut.Very cloudy,murky appearence.A bisquity,sweet,winey aroma a hint of alcohol and molasses.
A fruity,winey taste a warming alcohol sensation.A medium mouthfeel,with lots of carbination.A dry finish with a cidery bite. A good dopplebock,very complex,fairly drinkable for the style,a very wine-like quality to this beer.

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Photo of Zorro
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Sampled due to BIGsBIF and the kindness of BeerBeing.

22 oz Bottle.

Pours a clear coke a cola brown colored beer with red highlights. Head is tan and average in height and density.

Smell is sweet and fruity for the style. Lots of grape and figs with wheat bran in the scent. Some nutty sherry wine aromas mostly walnuts. After this warms up some spices arrive mostly brown sugar and cinnamon.

Taste is semi dry and fairly bitter for the style. First flavor sensation here is Raisin Bran cereal. Fruity flavors of plums and maple syrup. Fair flavor of tobacco here as if there are Fuggles hops added. After a bit a fairly strong cloves after taste appears. Bitter cherry taste evolves after a while. A good non-sweet Doppelbock. Only possible flaw is that it is a bit astringent after a while.

Mouthfeel is good.

The good, a DRY Doppelbock that I like a lot a little cool. The Bad astringent when warm. The verdict a good beer for spicy food or very sweet desserts.

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Photo of warriorsoul
3.43/5  rDev -12.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to DarkerTheBetter for another bottled Sly Fox beer...
Rust in color with less than a half finger of off-white head...disappears very rapidly with hardly any lacing.
Not huge in the nose...and not overly pleasant. Sour/sweet malt at first with an earthly yeast finish.
The taste is better, especially as it warms to room temperature....mildy sweet malt with a smoked quality that complements the sweetness. Not a lot of hops to bitter this up, which makes me very happy...especially for a US alcohol detected.
Some molasses in the flavor as well...adds to the sweetness in the finish.
Mouthfeel is medium-bodied and the carbonation is mellow.
My least favorite of the few I've tried, but still a nice representation of the style.

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Photo of beerphan
3.48/5  rDev -10.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

22oz bomber -> pint glass
no freshness date

Pours a rich brown with amber around the edges. A thick dirty tan head levels too a 2cm blanket. Very aggressive head, a standard pour produces 1/2 head 1/2 beer. Patchy lace. Lots of carbonation rises from the depths in droves.

Nose: Sweet malts, some alcohol, raisins, and a little yeast.

Taste: Sweet slick molasses and dark fruit dominate initially. After some warming the alcohol takes control and the taste borders on barleywine.

Mouthfeel is medium and slick.

Drinkability is high for a sipper but i doubt i could drink a ton these. A quality brew.

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Photo of DarkerTheBetter
3.61/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

This beer pours a light brown, glowing cola color with a wide white collar of head.

Smells of smoky caramel, molasses, red grapes with a hint of lime.

Tastes of a dirty caramel and smoky coffee with a drying citrus in the finish.

The mouth feel was medium bodied with a thickening carbonation.

Not too hot for the style but tasty none the less.

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Photo of kmpitz2
3.6/5  rDev -7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

22 0z bomber. This pours into my glass a nice deep rubied amber color with a 3 finger, light tan head that falls at a moderately slow pace to a finger over top. Clarity is nice and good, and a moderate carbonation is bubbling towards the top. Putting my nose in for a sniff, I find a very nice balance between toasty malanoidans and a very vinous fruityness, almost bordering on grape. It has a nice sweet and fruity character. I enjoy it. Flavor hits very hard. Tons of alcohol really wash this one out. Behind it, there are flavors of toasted bread and raisins, but the alcohol really hits hard and penetrates the other flavors. It leaves a very nice melanoidan toast on the finish, with just a moderate bitterness. That alcohol really gets in the way. The mouthfeel is moderate, with a very light carbonation. The alcohol really drys this one out a ton, really making the sides and back of my tongue fell like all the moisture is drawn away. Overall, this one is not hitting me well in the flavor department. It is loosing a little of the alcohol punch as it warms and sits open. It punches much stronger than a 7.3% ABV. This one is going to be a sipper for a while.

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Photo of RonfromJersey
4.52/5  rDev +15.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Dark red/brown body, good clarity, topped by several fingers of tight, level beige foam.

Good size chocolatey aroma is very enticing. Some bready yeastiness too.

Taste invokes dark chocolate, a depth-full kind of sweetness entwined with a contrasting bitterness. Unlike some dopples, its never too sweet, cloying, this is balanced from the first sip. Alcohol is well hidden as well. Balance slowly slips the other way for a pleasant lingering hop zing in the aftertaste. As that gradually fades, a warming glow settles in.

Good solid medium mouthfeel. Drinkability is truly exceptional, and while "dangerously" may be a cliche, I'll throw that in too.

I expected much, and the expectations were exceeded. With all the hub bub about the Sly Fox cans, don't forget their bottled beers.

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Photo of JohnnyM2002
3.7/5  rDev -5.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a dark caramel color with a fluffy head; smells of caramel and roasted toffee. Tasted lighter than most doppelbocks I've tried - it felt thicker in my mouth, almost syrupy, but it went down very smoothly and light. I think I would have enjoyed it more if it were in a 12 oz bottle or on tap...the larger serving size was a little much for me, but other than that, my first Sly Fox experience was a good one.

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Photo of barknee
4.18/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Instigator Doppelbock pours a deep walnut color with a generous frothy tan head. Nose of sweet roasted malts, cola, and flan. Taste sensations of rich, smooth sweet roasted malts and chocolate. Very plush - very creamy. Warming alcohol well in proportion with the weight of this brew. Medium bodied with a posh, lip-smacking mouthfeel, this is a super enjoyable Doppelbock.
Kudos to Sly Fox Brewing!!

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer poured into the glass clear dark brown with an amber hue and an almost tan head which rose lightly but held strong to lace the glass.

The aroma was malty with a strong dark caramel and chocolate character. The aroma was also biscuity and lightly toasty with a graham aspect. Some dark fruits emerged as the beer warmed, raisins most notably. A slight roast was present.

The flavor was malty with a dark caramel, chocolate and just a bit of roast. The malty presence was strong with a decent enough bittering from hops and dark grains to keep any sweet components at bay. Chocolate with a light biscuity/toasty aspect ruled the flavor and dark fruits, while present, were in the background.

The finish was dry with a lasting impression of caramel along with chocolate and light roast into the aftertaste. The body was almost medium full with a fairly low carbonation level. No appreciable alcohol presence was notable except for a very slight warming after consumption. A nice dopple but it could have been a bit more complex.

750 ml bottle. Thanks BeerBeing!

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Photo of laintringulis
4.25/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Served in a pubglass, lightly chilled. Pours a dark reddish brown with a large foamy beige head that lasted almost until I was finished drinking it. Moderate amount of circular lacing left in the glass. Medium body.

Smells heavily of sweet, roasted malts, banana, and carmel. Lighter smells of butter, clove, and vanilla.

Initially, strong spicy carmel/butterscotch and toasted marshmellow taste. Finishes with a dry hoppy finish with a smoky oakiness. In the middle, light banana and brown sugar/molasses taste is present. Very hard to describe, but it all blends together nicely without being overpowering or offensive. I thought from the smell it might be too "busy" in the taste, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Medium bodied, not filmy or oily, not watery. I would have liked it a little bit fuller for my preference.

Quite drinkable. Quite refreshing, not overpowering. I think this would be a sessionable beer.

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Photo of ski271
4.12/5  rDev +5.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Very dark ruby brown with a small, tan, creamy head with good retention. Smells like a well-supported malt bomb. Molasses, chocolate, brown sugar, grass, leathery yeast, dark fruit, charcoal, vanilla, and even a little butterscotch and grape. Marvelously complex and impressive. The taste is of malt, dough yeast and grain with some spicy alcohol and light hop dryness on the warm finish. It has a medium-full body, syrupy-turning-dry texture, and low carbonation. The complexity is there, especially in the nose, and the taste started out wonderful, but it seemed to go a bit downhill from there. Still good, but not great.

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Photo of DrJay
4.17/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

22 oz. bottle. This poured a clear, dark chestnut with reddish purple highlights and a fluffy, light brown head that left thick, clumpy lacing behind. Good retention too. Big, malty aroma with a bit of dried fruit, alcohol, raisins, and cakey malt -- like a fruitcake. The fruitiness faded a bit as it warmed though. There was a bit of yeast character present, along with some caramel. Low bitterness with lots of cakey malt, but it wasn't overly sweet. The fruit character was a little less pronounced than in the aroma. Slightly metallic aftertaste. Medium/full bodied with smooth, creamy carbonation, light alcohol warmth, and a bit of dryness. This beer tastes great, but there was a lot more fruit character than expected.

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Photo of cbl2
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

No best by, but it is a spring seasonal. 22 oz. bottle.


Pours a deep dark crystal clear brown with some ruby highlights. 2 inches of thick tight brown foam sit adrift on top, slowly settling to leave behind a nice lace.


Toasted sweet malts with hints of coffee and toffee predominate.


Slightly coarser than desirable, but the flavor compensates big time. A nice mildly sweet toffee/burnt caramel flavor pervades the mouth. Hints of fruit come and go, as does a smoked peat sensation.

Finish is bitter, and syrupy, asking you to drink more. Alcohol is nicely (dangerously) masked. An excellent brew from a brewery that is relatively new to me.

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Photo of mentor
3.61/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Bottle provided by BeerBeing as part of BIF33.Thanks for the opportunity! Pouors a two finger caramel head over a dark brown liquid. Dark mahogeny reddish when held to light. Smells caramel, musty, touch of roast malts, and mildly of tettnanger hops.

Tastes wet sweetand fruity. Caramel, toffee (a touch scorched), a hint of dry baker's chocolate. Butterscotch, hint of banana, and a dash of cherry sour. Thick mouthfeel, but stingy fine carbonation fights off what could be a too thick and sweet liquid. Alcohol sting is low, but comes in late with a cherry and ester aftertaste that's a bit off. Overall,nice. Needed to finish fermenting a bit more to reduce the sugary and increase the alcohol. Near the style, but not quite.

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Photo of lackenhauser
3.26/5  rDev -16.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Nice, garnet color with a fluffy tan head. Really quite a good looking beer. Low aroma-somewhat metallic and sharp. Malty flavor-mix of caramel and burnt raisens. Some bitterness and quite grainy flavor. Lingering dryness. OK body for style. An average beer overall. I dont find it to have the big malty, sometimes slight, alcohol tinge to it. Nor do I find the caramel smoothness that some have. Rather ho hum overall for me.

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Photo of TastyTaste
4.35/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: Dark clear brown body, medium head, fades slowly, very creamy and solid.

Smell: Rich roasted sweet graininess, loads of brown sugar and a little maple to boot

Taste: This very malty is very roasted, a little chocolatey and has a very strong molasses flavor and brown sugar flavor that is a great take on the style. Smooth and easy drinking, but with a distinct flavor.

Drinkability: Nothing really to complain about with this beer, I love the heavy molasses in the flavor, mouthfeel is rich and full. Above average vs. the style. Thanks to BeerBeing.

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Photo of Gavage
4.29/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: pours a deep burgandy / brown color with a thick three finger tan head. Nice lacing develops during the session.

Smell: roasted malt, chocolate, and brown sugar sweetness.

Taste: a hearty malt backbone here, with brown sugar, toffee, and hints of bitter dark chocolate. Mild bitterness rounds it out.

Mouthfeel: basically smooth with soft crispness at the start, but moves to an entirely smooth finish. The maltiness lingers briefly into the aftertaste. Medium-heavy in body.

Drinkability: I found this to be very drinkable and enjoyable. The alcohol is not noticable at all as with some other doppelbocks. Glad they decided to bottle this one so I can get it close to home.

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Photo of SixpointJMH
4.03/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I'm not generally a huge Doppelbock fan but I dug this one.

It pours a thick dark brown colour with hints of amber. The head is chunky and tan, and leaves a thin sticky residue that slowly oozes down the glass.

The aromas are of dirty, meaty, malt with hints of molasses and caramel and a touch of cooked vegetables and chocolate as well.

The flavour is right in line with the aroma for the most part. It's malty and the molasses flavour is a bit more apparent and a little sweeter than what the aroma gives off as well. There's a hint of alcohol at the finish as well. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied and pretty hearty overall.

This one was a nice surprise for me. I expected it to be well crafted, but didn't expect to enjoy it as much as I did, because as mentioned there are plenty of other styles I'd rather drink. It's definitely worth a try.

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Photo of kpantz
3.95/5  rDev +1.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Executive Summary: My first from Sly Fox, and it won't be my last. Just a great interpretation...not quite as good as Celebrator, but damn close!

Appearance: Deep mahogany, nearly opaque. Good, fervent cream-colored head is loathe to recede. Good lacing as well.

Smell: Roasted malts, butterscotch, caramel.

Taste: Sweet to start, with a bit of the butterscotch flavor at the onset. Spicy flavor moves in next, with an ever so slight hop bitterness lingering at the end. Deep malt backbone throughout.

Mouthfeel: Chewy and slick. Light carbonation...could have enjoyed a bit more in that department.

Drinkability: Very quaffable. Alcohol goes largely unnoticed. This is a great session brew for the cooler nights.

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Instigator Doppelbock from Sly Fox Brewing Company
3.9 out of 5 based on 104 ratings.
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