Rock Bottom Des Moines, Brewvana collaborate on Illuminator Doppelbock


Diary of a Part-Time Monk: beer blogger takes on doppelbock fast for Lent

(Des Moines, IA) – Working to nourish their bodies through during the lengthy 46-day fast during Lent, the Paulaner monks of Neudeck ob der Au in Munich are credited with developing the doppelbock style of beer in the 17th century. Packed with carbohydrates, calories and vitamins, this unfiltered “liquid bread” sustained the monks from Ash Wednesday to Easter, and over 300 years later, the rich history and quality of this beer is well-known throughout the world. With this in mind, brewvana blogger J. Wilson is embarking on a historical study, fasting on doppelbock for the same 46-day stretch that the storied German monks once endured—and live to tell the tale.

“This will be no small undertaking,” said Wilson. “I will be working with both a doctor and a spiritual advisor as I attempt to tell the story of this facet of the monks’ livelihood.”

While the end product of the project will be a book, Wilson has set up a separate blog to chronicle elements of the fast as it unfolds. “The goal is to post short, daily tidbits on how the fast is proceeding, with occasional clips uploaded to brewvana’s YouTube channel ,” said Wilson.

An award-winning homebrewer, certified beer judge and journalist, Wilson teamed up with Eric Sorensen, head brewer at Rock Bottom—Des Moines to collaborate on a commercial-scale batch of Wilson’s bock recipe. The result, Illuminator Doppelbock, brewed with Weyermann Munich, Vienna and CaraMunich malts and hopped with Liberty hops, is “a bold, unfiltered monk’s Lenten session beer,” weighing in at 6.67 % alcohol by volume and 288 calories per 12-ounce serving.

“The alcohol is restrained compared to other doppelbocks on the market, but the 17th century monk beers would have been underattenuated, quite sweet and well-below today’s ABV expectation which starts around 7.5 percent,” said Wilson. “This beer is a thoughtful rendition that I hope will remain drinkable enough to be all I consume—aside from supplementary water—for 46 days. And I hope the folks that visit Rock Bottom to drink the rest of this labor of love enjoy it, too.”

Illuminator will be released at Rock Bottom—Des Moines (4508 University Avenue, West Des Moines 50266) on Fat Tuesday—March 8, 2011—with a special tapping at 6 p.m., followed by a crawfish boil at 7 p.m. Wilson’s fast begins on March 9, and continues through April 23. Follow along at

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