Friday, January 4, 2008

The Session #11: Illuminator

This month's Session is hosted by Jay Wilson at the brewvana blog. Jay selected "Illuminator" as the theme and the discussions revolve around the Doppelbock style. The title "Illuminator" title is a play on the "-ator" suffix typically found on Doppelbock beers.

The Paulist monks founded a monastery in Munich in 1627 and started a brewery a few years later. The monks are credited with creating the rich doppelbock (Double Bock) style a as a means of sustaining themselves during their twice a year fasts. Their special beer was made available to the public in 1780 labeled Paulaner Salvator, meaning "Savior", and was well-received. Over the years other breweries started brewing this style and picked up on the "-ator" suffix, so many doppelbocks today carry that moniker. There's more history of the Doppelbock style on the German Beer Institute's site.

My choice for this Session, Flying Dog Collaborator Doppelbock, was among the beers included in the package I received from the brewery. Only 5000 bottles of this release were to be available to the public so I didn't expect to be able to try this on the East Coast. Of course, with the move of Flying Dog production to Maryland, we'll be likely to see more of these special releases around these parts. Collaborator is the latest in Flying Dog's Wild Dog series and is the result of the Open Source Beer Project.

In announcing this project last May, Flying Dog wrote:
Denver’s Flying Dog Brewery today announced plans to release what is believed to be the first “open source” beer to hit the market in the U.S. “Open source” is a term most commonly used in the software industry and refers to any program whose source code is made available for use or modification as users or other developers see fit. In this case, Flying Dog’s Open Source Beer Project will allow beer drinkers and homebrewers to create and recommend changes and modifications to the recipe.

The Open Source Beer Project will start as a Dopplebock but the style may evolve as participants offer ideas and tweak the recipe. “We are encouraging input on every part of the recipe, down to how what variety of hops we should use, how much we should use and when we should add them,” said Flying Dog Head Brewer, Matt Brophy.

Flying Dog’s Director of Marketing, Neal Stewart says that this is a unique way for consumers to participate in the creation of a new beer. “The Open Source Beer is a truly collaborative project and gives our loyal fans the opportunity to buy a beer that they actually played a major role in creating.”

Indeed, the complete recipe and printable labels are available online at the Open Source Beer Project web site. Anyone is free to brew and tweak the recipe as they desire. Now, on to the beer...

We opened the heavy, green, corked and caged champagne-style bottle early on New Year's Eve. Collaborator pours a clear reddish-copper color with a thick beige head. Pouring into tall pilsener glasses showed a very attractive beer with an appetizing appearance. The head fades fairly rapidly. The initial aroma is that of sweet malt. Some light apple-like fruitiness comes through as well. The flavor is rich in maltiness with some citrus hops added. Rather than being a pure malt bomb, there's a nice balance to this dopplebock. As the beer warms it brings on a slightly sweet alcohol flavor that's almost sherry-like. The mouth feel is somewhat sticky but not unpleasant. The aftertaste is sweet with just a bit of pleasing bitterness. At 8.3% ABV, Flying Dog Collaborator Dopplebock doesn't qualify as a session beer, but it is remarkably easy to drink.

Well, that's it for this Session. Be sure to check the brewvana blog to see all the contributions.

Update: Jay has posted a summary of all the contributions.


  1. I've got one of those to pop as well, though not for this Session. Good to hear its a tasty one!

  2. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Try FD's Double Dog Pale Ale if you haven't as well.

    BTW, I added a link to your site. Nice reviews there.



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