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Why do dopplebock names end in -ator???

posted Apr 19, 2011, 3:48 PM by Rob Mason
With Lent winding down and Mark having Paulaner Salvator on tap, I got to thinking: have you ever noticed how dopplebock beer names always seem to end with "-ator"? Paulaner Salvator, Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, etc. Well, even if you never noticed, I did. And it's the kind of thing I spend too much time thinking about until I find an answer.
A little history: As many of you know, many breweries in Germany (and Belgium for that matter) started with monks. Monasteries brewed and sold beer to raise money for their orders. That's why so many German and Belgian beers feature happy little monks on their labels. 
Furthermore, monks began brewing thicker, more substantial beers for their own consumption in order to help them get through their fasting seasons, particularly lent. Their fasting beers, essentially liquid bread, came to be known as doppelbock. The Paulaner monks were the first order known to have brewed (and eventually sell) doppelbock. Because they used it to sustain them through periods of religious fasting, they named it "Salvator", after the Savior whom they worshipped.
OK, finally we get to the "-ator"! At first, the Paulaner monks were the only entity that could make and sell Salvator. But over time, privatization, and commercialization other breweries around Germany got into the act, each calling their version "Salvator". Finally in late 1800s, the brewers who now "owned" the Salvator name (it had long since passed from the German monks) got a law passed that forced other brewers to change the names of their brews. Most of them chose some variation of the named, and thus we have a plethora of dopplebocks that carry names ending in "-ator".
(Credit to German Beer Institute webpage for educating me on this topic)

Thus endeth the lesson for today. Although I never seemed to have much interest in history as a student in school, I find myself fascinated by random stories like this. Please feel free to leave feedback below, or on the Facebook page. Maybe there is something else in the beer world you would to learn about?  Let me know.