The German Doppelbock is a strong, rich, and very malty lager that can have both pale and dark variants. The darker versions have more richly-developed, deeper malt flavors, while the paler versions have slightly more hops and dryness.
Deep gold to dark brown in color. Darker versions often have ruby highlights. Lagering should provide good clarity. Large, creamy, persistent head (color varies with base style: white for pale versions, off-white for dark varieties). Stronger versions might have impaired head retention, and can display noticeable legs.
Very strong maltiness. Darker versions will have significant Maillard products and often some toasty aromas. A light caramel aroma is acceptable. Lighter versions will have a strong malt presence with some Maillard products and toasty notes. Virtually no hop aroma, although a light noble hop aroma is acceptable in pale versions. A moderately low malt-derived dark fruit character may be present (but is optional) in dark versions. A very slight chocolate-like aroma may be present in darker versions, but no roasted or burned aromatics should ever be present. Moderate alcohol aroma may be present.
Very rich and malty. Darker versions will have significant Maillard products and often some toasty flavors. Lighter versions will have a strong malt flavor with some Maillard products and toasty notes. A very slight chocolate flavor is optional in darker versions, but should never be perceived as roasty or burnt. Clean lager character. A moderately low malt-derived dark fruit character is optional in darker versions. Invariably there will be an impression of alcoholic strength, but this should be smooth and warming rather than harsh or burning. Little to no hop flavor (more is acceptable in pale versions). Hop bitterness varies from moderate to moderately low but always allows malt to dominate the flavor. Most versions are fairly malty-sweet, but should have an impression of attenuation. The sweetness comes from low hopping, not from incomplete fermentation. Paler versions generally have a drier finish.
Medium-full to full body. Moderate to moderately-low carbonation. Very smooth without harshness, astringency. A light alcohol warmth may be noted, but it should never burn.