The Session #11: Illuminator (Doppelbocks)

The SessionFirst Friday, which means in the beer blogging world that it’s time for The Session!

This month’s Session and topic comes to us courtesy of brewvana: Doppelbocks. The only rule is, there are no rules:

I don’t feel like coming up with a bunch of rules and restrictions. I want to learn about doppelbocks, and so the sky’s the limit: write about doppelbocks however you see fit. History, reviews, pairings, pictures, poetry and experiences. All of it.

Wilson has chosen an apt name for the theme, too: Illuminator. I say "apt" because it’s traditional for Doppelbocks to be named in such a way as to have the "-ator" suffix: Salvator, Celebrator, Liberator, for example. This is, in fact, naming homage to the first Doppelbock: Salvator.

(So learning about something == being illuminated, hence the "illuminator" pun… right? Get it? [stop beating a dead horse!])

Two good pages to learn about Doppelbocks are on Wikipedia and the German Beer Institute. It’s best to go read those sources directly, but if you’re looking for the quick summary: the name "Doppelbock" means "double bock" and refers to a lager beer that is stronger and darker than a Bock; alcohol percentages range from 6-7% up to 9-10%, though some stronger ones are out there, too. They are typically malty, sweet, and rich, with little or no hop character, and the nickname "liquid bread" accentuates this.

Collaborator DoppelbockAs it happens, I received a bottle of Flying Dog‘s Collaborator Doppelbock in December, just in time for the Session. You may recall that this is the result of the Open Source Beer Project, which Flying Dog launched last year in order to create a beer with the larger community in an open process. (Similar to the Free Beer project in that the recipe, artwork, etc., is open source, but in the case of Free Beer, it’s simply a source for the recipe for other brewers to brew, whereas Flying Dog is brewing the OSBP beer themselves.)

I’m all about open source; this blog is built on open source technologies and I use open source software where possible. I also like the open web community approach Flying Dog is adopting here (and elsewhere), it’s fairly forward-thinking for a company. So this beer is interesting to me beyond just being a "Wild Dog" series beer from the brewery.

In addition to telling you that this beer is 8.3% alcohol by volume and how it tastes, looks and smells in my notes below, I can pull up the final recipe they used and tell you they used German malts and American hops in the kettle and Bavarian Lager yeast in the fermenter. And perhaps someday I’ll make a version of this beer myself.

Appearance: Cool bottle presentation; champagne bottle, corked and caged. It pours a nice mahogany brown and clear; there’s a finely-bubbled tan head on top. Deep copper highlights at the edges.

Smell: Malty—brown malts and brown sugar. A bare hint of sourness (acidity). Maltiness is prominent, not much I can detect in the way of hops.

Taste: Malty and rich with a roasted malt bitterness cutting through it. Like I detected in the nose—it tastes to me like there’s (a lot of) brown malt in there… like a kicked-up brown ale, sweet and strong. Hops are subtle with a touch of spice. A touch of the alcohol heat up front, but has the clean finishing profile of a lager.

Mouthfeel: Clean and nicely medium-bodied… a little thicker than medium, actually. Well-presented on the palate.

Overall: I like this, it’s tasty and rich and while 750ml of 8.3% ABV beer might be a bit much for one person in a single sitting, I took my time enjoying it and didn’t have any problems.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores a letter grade of B+ ("very good"). On RateBeer, it scores 3.24 out of 5, and is in their 62nd percentile.

Did we learn something? I think we learned a bit about Doppelbocks themselves… and a bit about Flying Dog and their brewing process… and that "collaboration beer" can be a good thing. I’ll be interested to see if anyone else is reviewing Collaborator Doppelbock for this Session.

One Response to The Session #11: Illuminator (Doppelbocks)

  1. Josh M says:

    We’d love for you to take our scaled down recipe and modify it to your tastes to release a "v1.1" version of our Open Source Beer. We’ll even give you some serious blog love at opensourcebeerproject.com!

    Josh
    Creative Manager
    Flying Dog Brewery