ONE WOULD USUALLY expect an 8% ABV bock with an attacking alligator on its label to be a swampy monster of a beer. And yet Abita’s Andygator pours a clear gold, capped with a generous white, and finishes dry enough to be recognizable as a lager. It’s called a ‘helles doppelbock’, which plays off the style’s traditional suffix of –ator while also nodding to Abita’s Louisiana provenance. Clever. But perhaps ‘imperial maibock’ might be closer to the beer’s actual character. The classification ‘doppelbock’ has such strong associations—bready, malty, full-bodied—that Andygator’s light body, gentle grains, and nuance of Perle hops seem tepid in comparison. Once style preconceptions are put aside, though, Andygator can be enjoyed as a distinct and rather well-balanced strong lager, mildly hoppy with refreshing grain at its core.
Fairly high pinpoint carbonation combines with a light body to keep the beer’s mouthfeel smooth and more balanced between than most bocks, which tend towards medium-plus bodies and maltier flavors. Andygator does have sweetness to show—primarily honey and some orange from a dose of crystal—but the focus overall is on highly-fermentable pale malts and the clean, almost transparent fermentation of a lager yeast. Thus the mouthfeel tapers steadily from the midsection to a nearly dry finish, making room for cereal grains (perhaps some Munich?) and earthy, slightly spicy Perle hops that snap a little (25 IBUs). The alcohol slides into the finish, surprisingly mild for such a light body, especially when the beer’s actual ABV is rumored to be considerably higher than the 8% on its label.
Andygator’s overall impression is distinct, strangely attractive even as it confounds the fundamentals of doppelbock. Perhaps the term also helped Abita separate the beer from the adjunct-laced boozy bombers that usually come to mind when one thinks ‘malt liquor’ or ‘strong euro lager’. At least in smaller doses, Andygator’s ingredients and layers of flavor inhabit a plane above those thoughtless throwbacks—and also Abita’s own Purple Haze.
Served: 12 oz bottle