The Session #11–Doppelbock, the Illuminator

Welcome to The Session (the brainchild of Stan, over at Appellation Beer) for Friday, January 4, 2008. Today, beer bloggers the world over will be discussing Doppelbock: the illuminator.

From my announcement:

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.

The SessionThe first time I ever had a doppelbock, I was living on the Navajo Reservation, in Pinon, Arizona, where the pavement ends and the Wild West begins.

It was early in my own private Beer Renaissance. I had but a few homebrew batches under my belt, and my “local” brewpub was 2 1/2 harrowing hours away over washboarded, unpaved roads. Every month or month and a half, we’d make a long list and make our trip to Flagstaff to stock up our pantry, to eat out, to have a good cup of coffee, to get homebrewing ingredients and to track down a local beer or three.

Due to our livelihood, we became very close to many of our fellow co-workers. We helped each other move into our houses. We grilled out together. And since they also made that monthly trip “to town,” we cared for each others’ dogs.

So, once upon a weekend, I took care of The Ruddster’s dogs. He caught up with me Monday morning in the teachers’ lounge, offering some unremembered amount of cash for my troubles. I said that would not be necessary. He said it would. I said it’s one thing to pay the kids in the neighborhood for feeding, walking and looking after pets, but since I was an adult, friend and neighbor, I expected no payment.

I could see him stew internally. The Ruddster is a towering man. A jovial man. He looks like Howdy Doody with an Amish beard, and is generally of a temperament consistent with those two elements of his appearance. But he had an underlying hint of intensity that leaked to the surface occasionally. We argued the dollars back and forth briefly.

Then: “I have a six pack of one of my favorite beers that I brought back with me this weekend. I’ll give you that then.” I persisted slightly with a, “no, really, it’s okay, Rudd.” And then the intensity burst forth. In a raised voice, “I APPRECIATE WHAT YOU DID, AND I WILL BE OFFENDED IF YOU DO NOT TAKE IT.” There was specific emphasis on the word offended that bold, capitalized and italicized letters do not seem to capture. He meant it, and so to save our friendship, I agreed.

Spaten OptimatorThat beer was Spaten Optimator. And I loved it, still do. I’ve thought about Rudd  every time I’ve cracked one open since then, and that’s been a lot these last few weeks.

Beer is a lot of things to a lot of people. A thirst quencher. A social lubricant. Art. Science. Spaten Optimator that day became a negotiation tool, a part of the economy and a conflict resolution strategy. Yes, it’s glorious flavor and brewing talent, as well.

For me, it’s something of an Illuminator. Like many other beers, my first example of this style is a sentimental beer that makes me think of the bond between friends.


It’s exciting to be hosting The Session today. I’m looking forward to reading all of the contributions that come in throughout the day, and I’ll post a round-up tomorrow. If you’re playing along, (1) post your contribution; (2) leave the URL to your post in a comment here OR send me an email: jwmongrel [AT] yahoo . com.

Peace and Pints!



34 Responses to The Session #11–Doppelbock, the Illuminator

  1. David says:

    I have posted my Session contribution at

    Thanks for hosting this month’s Session!

  2. Okay, it was my intention to write a dedicated post for doppelbocks this time ’round, but life is getting in the way, so … I kindly direct everyone to my recent post about that high gravity doppelbock with the festive name …and release date … Samichlaus!

    Find it here –



  3. The Dude says:

    Here’s my entry:

    If a towering man that looks like Howdy Doody with an Amish beard insists that I take his gift of Optimator, then like you, I will oblige. You paint a mean mental picture there, Wilson. Thanks for hosting.


  4. […] Session: Brewvana hosts this 11th edition of The Session, a monthly gathering of bloggers to write on a single topic. Head that way to read […]

  5. Josh says:

    Thanks for hosting! Here’s my addition:

  6. Wilson,

    Sometimes the best of intentions are not enough . . .

    When a double bock is not a doppelbock.


  7. Boak says:

    Hello, Wilson. Here’s our contribution:

    Thanks for hosting!

  8. Hey Wilson

    Thanks for hosting. I’m glad to participate with my contribution: (Doppel)Bock Week

  9. josh mishell says:

    I made a beer dinner last night featuring Flying Dog’s Collaborator doppelbock. Here’s my blog entry about it.

    I work for Flying Dog and am the administrator of (for full disclosure)

  10. […] beer dinner is. If you’re new here, you may want to subscribe to our RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!This month’s session is about Doppelbocks. Seeing as I work for Flying Dog and we just released our Collaborator Doppelbock, I figured this […]

  11. If at first you don’t succeed…

    Much more success this time out:

    Thanks for hosting.

  12. Chris Rippe says:

    I love reading about all the other brews as well but we have to do a little self promotion here at Flying Dog.

  13. Gray Hunter says:

    Thanks for hosting and thanks for the doppelbock theme. Here’s the Bottled Llama’s contribution:

    Thanks again!

  14. Hop Talk says:

    Session #11: Ayinger Celebrator

    Earlier this week, my wife was reminding me that she would have to be at her store later than usual on Friday night. The Main Street association sponsors a night every month with different kinds of events like bands, the Christmas tree lighting, barbec…

  15. Gray Hunter says:

    Wilson, the link I posted is slightly off. It should be:

    No www.

  16. hmmm, pingbacks should’ve hit by now. must still be pinging

  17. […] Editor’s note: This post was written for a monthly international beer bloggers event. Each month everyone interested goes to the site of the month and posts their comments about a beer in a certain style. This month, the style was Double bock. You can read all the posts at Brevana. […]

  18. […] Editor’s note: This post was written for a monthly international beer bloggers event. Each month everyone interested goes to the site of the month and posts their comments about a beer in a certain style. This month, the style was Double bock. You can read all the posts at Brevana. […]

  19. Here is my contribution. Great idea. Tasting a faded old fav: Paulaner Salvator.

    I’ve discovered I live in the Land of Great Ales. Double Bocks in the San Francisco Bay Area are rare indeed. I visited… READ MORE…

  20. Great day of posts. Here’s mine: Visiting a faded, old friend: Paulaner Salvator.

  21. Completely serendipitously, Josh Mishell of Flying Dog (above) saw my post on their Collaborator Doppelbock as part of my blog’s regular weekly feature, The Friday Fermentable. The blog is generally about pharmaceuticals and natural products but I am a former Denverite, homebrewer, and longtime GABF attendee. Hence, here is my contribution:

  22. […] brewvana an ideal condition of harmony, beer and joy « The Session #11–Doppelbock, the Illuminator […]

  23. jhumphries says:

    Thanks for hosting, Wilson. I too drank Spaten Optimator to prepare for this post:

    Hump’s Brewing: Dreaming of Delightful Doppelbock

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