Enlightenment Through Beer

Bright Blessings and Happy Solstice to all my friends and fellow brewers, readers of this blog and appreciators of all things beer. In honor of the sun’s return and the lengthening of the days, and in anticipation of our homebrew club’s April Bock competition, I brewed a Doppelbock. In keeping with the naming tradition for doppelbocks, this one is called “Illuminator”. Not only is it born with the New Year’s sun but it will hopefully bring wisdom and enlightenment to those who taste it. Or something like that.

photo by Eve Ermer

This version of the beer is at the lower end of the spectrum, gravity and abv-wise, deep copper colored, rich and malty. In the past I would have brewed it with mostly lager or pilsner malt, but on rereading Daryl Richman’s book “Bock” (from the AHA Style Series) I decided to try it with a high percentage of Munich malt. The color comes from a small quantity of dark crystal malt, melanoidin adds some body and smoothness (and allows me to do this as an infusion mash instead of a decoction), and honey malt intensifies the malt sweetness. The complicated hopping schedule should make this a complex beer, with multiple levels of sweetness and bitterness.

Illuminator Doppelbock
5 gallons, all-grain

Ingredients:

  • 10 lbs. dark Munich malt
  • 2.5 lbs. Bohemian Pilsner malt
  • 1/2 lb. 120°L crystal malt
  • 1/2 lb. melanoidin malt
  • 1/2 lb. honey malt
  • 1 oz. Hallertauer hop pellets (@3% aa)
  • 1 oz. Perle hop pellets (@8% aa)
  • White Labs German Bock yeast (WLP833)
  • 2/3 cup corn sugar (for priming)

Procedure:
Crush grains. Heat 17 quarts water to 165°F. Mash in grains, hold at 154°F for 60 minutes. Heat another 13 quarts water to 170°F. Begin runoff and sparge, collecting 27 quarts sweet wort. Bring to a boil. Add 1/4 oz. Hallertauer, boil 15 minutes. Add 1/4 oz. Perle, boil 15 minutes. Add another 1/4 oz. Hallertauer, boil 15 minutes. Add another 1/4 oz. Perle, boil 15 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 oz. of Hallertauer and 1/2 oz. of Perle, boil 15 more minutes (75 total), remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pitch yeast, seal and ferment warm (65°F) for a week to ten days. Rack to secondary, condition cool (45 – 50°F) for four to six weeks. Prime with corn sugar, bottle and age four weeks.

OG: 1074
IBU’s: 26.4

2 Replies to “Enlightenment Through Beer”

  1. Nice post. I’m interested in trying this out but have never made a beer with nearly all Munich as the base malt. How did it come out in the end? Also, was the lager style conditioning time necessary, or could you get away with fermenting and conditioning at room temp for a week or two? Thanks.

    1. Hey Alex – true to Daryl Richman’s description, this beer did finish pretty darn smooth and clean. I’m pretty happy with it, overall, although it is still a bit green – should be pretty much right on at the beginning of winter (a year or so from brewing, with 6 months bottle conditioning at that point…). I would hesitate to secondary condition it at anything warmer than 55°, just because I know that yeast really gets cranky… with a different yeast, perhaps a SF Lager/Steam or a Cream Ale blend you could do it more as an ale and have a quicker turnaround…

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