Well, it’s that time of year again—doppelbock time. Some brewvana readers will recall my 2011 historical investigation into the origins of doppelbock, which later became the book, Diary of a Part-Time Monk. For that Lenten study, I collaborated with my friend, Eric Sorensen, brewmaster at Rock Bottom in West Des Moines. We scaled up my homebrew doppelbock recipe and brewed it in his 8-barrel brewhouse, and in addition to sustaining me on my 46-day fast and pleasing the taste buds of Iowa beer drinkers, our Illuminator Doppelbock went on to win a silver medal at the Festival of Wood and Barrel-aged Beers in Chicago.
Since folks were so interested in and happy with the brew, it has become an annual tradition, and on Jan. 22, I joined Sorensen in the brewhouse for the fourth iteration of the beer. I feel like Sylvester Stallone. In the second year, we boosted the beer into a more modern-day rendition of the style and have tweaked the grainbill in minor ways each year since. I’m so enthusiastic about where the beer is this time that I can’t imagine touching the formula next year, but you never know…
This year, there will be not only two different Illuminator tappings, but also two different versions of the beer. Sorenson’s former assistant brewer, Larry Skellenger, took over at the Minneapolis Rock Bottom, and, a fan of historical beers, he has opted to brew the original rendering of the beer for Minnesota imbibers.
Illuminator IV goes on tap at the West Des Moines location on Fat Tuesday, March 4, at 6 p.m. If you’re really hard core, make it a point to join us for RB’s annual Crawfish Boil (reservations required), as Illuminator (and my doppelwort ice cream) will be featured. Skellenger’s Illuminator I goes on tap the next day at the Minneapolis Rock Bottom, also at 6 p.m. I’ll be there with my drinking pants on sipping beers and signing copies of Diary of a Part-Time Monk.
So please take advantage of this invitation to come out and drink a pint of history and say hello—two days, two beers, too much amazingness!