1. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $14.99 (US/print only). Offer ends April 30. Subscribe now! (Because great beer deserves great stories AND readers.)

Dock Street Illuminator - Dock Street Brewery & Restaurant

Not Rated.
Dock Street IlluminatorDock Street Illuminator

Educational use only; do not reuse.
BA SCORE
82
good

53 Ratings
THE BROS
70
okay

(view ratings)
Ratings: 53
Reviews: 38
rAvg: 3.63
pDev: 10.74%
Wants: 0
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Dock Street Brewery & Restaurant visit their website
Pennsylvania, United States

Style | ABV
Doppelbock |  7.80% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: NeroFiddled on 02-27-2007

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
to view more.
Ratings: 53 | Reviews: 38
Reviews by the Alström Bros:
Photo of BeerAdvocate
3/5  rDev -17.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Review from BeerAdvocate Magazine May 2007.

Contract brewed by Mendocino Brewing Co. of Saratoga Springs, NY. Authentic ingredients and a handful of accolades allow this beer to live on for this once-coveted brand.

The deep chestnut-colored brew shows perfect clarity, though the head is lacking in retention as it drops out quick in the game, leaving only a thin ring of lace. No loud snap of the head which has no will to stick around.

Big malty aroma with a spicy hop right at the tip of the nose. Semi-crisp with a slick mouthfeel, but smoothness is missing. Decent malt flavor does not unfold too much, stays on the sweet side until the spicy, peppery, hop bitterness and flavor meld with the alcohol to tingle the palate. Toasted bread and a faint caramel sweetness come forward. Ends on a semi-sweet finish with a lingering hop spice.

Not bad, but it certainly doesn't shine brighter than most of the Bocks or Double Bocks out there. Carbonation seems a bit too low and the malt character never really peaks. No off-flavors, just a bit unexciting. Worth a try at best.

More User Reviews:
Photo of shark262
3.67/5  rDev +1.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This doppelbock pours a nice clear amber/copper. Low carbonation and minimal head retention. The brew laces the glass, although only very slightly, upon drinking.

Smells of figs, resin, and caramel. Aroma of hops is very minimal which seems in line with this style of malty beer.

First taste is smooth and malty at first, followed by a pleasant slightly bitter aftertaste. The presence of alcohol warms the mouth after a couple sips (ABV is not listed on the bottle). Overall, a nice balance between full-bodied malts and German Tettnang and Hallertau hops. There is also a slight roastiness embedded with the predominant sweet caramel flavors.

Nice, drinkable example of a doppelbock. The full, malty sweetness should pair well tonight with some spicy Mexican food.

Photo of dashirey
3.13/5  rDev -13.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

One of the beers that I got my hands on through the beer of the month club my wife got for me. Thanks, so much.

A - Chesnut color. Head dissapates pretty much immediatly after the pour in finished. I when to the sink to wash my bottle out for recycling, turned around, and the head was gone. I don't know what color, or how big - sorry!!

S - The first whiff of this beer and I thought of an RIS, baltic porter - dark fruits and malt.

T - Malty sweetness smacks you from the start. It is followed with some hints of those raisons, prunes, dark fruits, etc. Ends with a bite of bitterness and dryness.

M - Medium bodied and smooth as you drink it down. A small amount of alcohol warming although I didn't really detect it in the taste.

D - Not my favorite style, but I can see if you love malt you's really love this beer.

Photo of NJpadreFan
3.3/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dock Street- Illuminator

A- Reddish brown with a small frothy tan head. No lacing and lotsa small carbonation bubbles.
S- Sweet sugary malt. Light touch of ash and pecans.
T- Sweet malt. Very nutty; walnuts and pecans dominate with a burst of cherry and apple fruit notes. Just a touch of burnt cherry ash finishes this one off.
M- Again sweet up front with a thick malty body. Finishes of slightly boozy and medicinal.

Overall- Decent beer, nothing fantastic. Just a little too sweet for me. Worth trying!

Photo of NeroFiddled
3.58/5  rDev -1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Going all the way back to 1985, Dock Street was one of the first contract-brewed specialty beers available, following on the heels of Samuel Adams. The recipies were formulated by the venerable old-school Brewmaster William Moeller (of Philadelphia's Schmidt's fame), and when the Illuminator was introduced in 1990 it was one of the only helles doppelbocks on the market - and a damned fine one at that! It was brewed by F.X. Matt in Utica, NY; and then sold to Henry Ortlieb where it was produced briefly at his American Street brewery in Philadelphia. After a long hiatus it's now being brewed in New York again by Saratoga Springs.

While it may not be as light in color as the original Illuminator, this revamped version is still lighter than many in the category. I certainly wouldn't call it a helles, but then again, Dock Street never really did either. In the glass it's a clear deep-chestnut with glowing orange highlights beneath a creamy, finger-thick head of light tan. The head retention is good, and although it drops it continually retains an almost complete, creamy surface covering. The lacing is not nearly as good as the head itself, but it does leave some nice splashes and spots behind.

The nose is clean, gently malty with a hint of caramelized sugar, and just a touch of spicy and floral hoppiness.

In the mouth it's medium bodied with a gently zesty carbonation that warms to become airy and smooth across the palate.

The flavor is far less malty than it used to be, and it lacks the rich graininess it once had. Still, it's not a bad version of the style. The malt is just slightly caramelish, and there's some fruitiness to it as well. Alcohol thins it a bit, and some floral and spicy hops lead it into a dry finish. The bitterness is solid, and omnipresent, but never really steps beyond the bounds of keeping the malt in check. The alcohol, on the other hand, seems to have been given a bit too much reign.

Photo of DavidSeanNJ
4/5  rDev +10.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A- A ruby copper brown color- tan head, not much lacing.

S- Smell was sweet of prunes and plums, some vanilla/oak.

T- Taste was very well balanced. Sweet and malty. Dark malts, caramel, vanilla, maybe some toffee.

M- MOuthfeel was rich, sticky, and very heavy.

D- High ABV, but great taste. I'll take two please.

Photo of beerthulhu
3.47/5  rDev -4.4%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured a amber-cranberry color with a slight tan head that diminished clean leaving no lacing.

S: some rich, dark caramel and bread.

T: The initial flavor yielded roasted malt, dark caramel and dried fruit (cherries, raisins, and plums). Theres a little sweetness that was soon off set by a good hop spiciness and alcohol warming. A good malting and alcohol presence along with some dry chocolate makes this a decent example.

M: medium, slightly cream with a nice warming sensation and maltiness and lots of carbonation.

D: Fairly good and pleasant surprise and one of their better drinks. Would defiantly go back for more.

Photo of MmmIPA
2/5  rDev -44.9%
look: 2 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Nice looking clear red body with a nice off white thick head.

Spices

Malt and tons of it,spices and some dark fruits.

Mouthful is like drinking cola,thick mouthfeel.

I dont know if I will try this again,its very sweet and cloying to me.Its just the style that bugs me,add more hops to balance it!

Photo of weeare138
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appears a semi-transparent mahogany toned amber with a 1 finger, off-white head that quickly fades out into a thin collar. Tiny remnants of lacing are left around the glass.
Smell is of roasted nuts, brown sugar, mild toffee, lightly spiced dough, notes of ripe fruit, prunes, and a touch of star anise.
Taste is of the mentioned aromas with a pronounced raisin-like sweetness up front that leads to a spiciness and mild herbal bitterness.
Mouthfeel is medium/full bodied, warming, and very much of brown sugar that's been dissolved in water and doused with cloves, anise seed, and black pepper.
I wish I could say more positives about this beer, as I've been waiting forever for it's re-release and it represents phantoms of this region's original craft beer scene that linger as a friendly, welcomed guest. Unfortunately, it doesn't match the malty monster that it was at the brasserie in Philly years ago. It is what it is and it's expected with all things considered. It's worth a try if you're a doppelbock enthusiast, or if you'd like to compare it to your own memory's tastebuds trying to rekindle it's thirst for Philadelphia's former king.

Photo of Phatz
3.68/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on-tap at Cappone's in Norristown.

Appearance: Served and amber ruddy copper with a quick fade tan head and little lacing.

Smell: toasted malt, caramel, and toffee, and raw sugar/ fruitiness.

Taste: Malty cherry fruit with a bit of dextrin, candy and caramel and spicy. The finish is bitter with a residual sweetness.

Mouthfeel: Smooth easy soft malty feel, medium body but light and active.

Drinkability: Light and refreshing. Semi sweet dopplebock, easy drinking.

Hope this is helpful.
Cheers!

Photo of drtth
3.62/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Lightly chilled and poured into a Duvel glass. Glass of cold water on the side to sip from periodically.

Appearance: Deep dark amber/copper color with a 1" thick off-white head that recedes quickly leaving behind a ring of foam and a thin film of foam. Some spotty lacing.

Smell: Subdued dark fruit/malt with some brown sugar and a hint of alcohol.

Taste: First come the fruitiness and caramel malt tastes and then the alcohol comes into play. While not particularly complex the flavor is balanced and pleasant.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with lightly creamy carbonation. Finish is moderately long and predominantly dry and hop flavor.

Drinkability: While not my favorite doppelbock I found this pleasant enough to drink and would return to it again.

Photo of jneiswender
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Got this beer through a beer of month club in a 12oz. bottle.

The beer was pour into one of those new Sam Adams hourglass shaped glasses.

The beer poured into a nice, walnut color. Thin head that dissipated quickly.

The smell was nice and sweet, tones of caramel or toffee come through.

The taste is very nice. Thick, sweet, some maple like flavors that linger. It does assert itself though. You know you are drinking a strong beer.

The beer is quite drinkable. I had it with some bleu cheese and crackers (and pepper jelly) and it was quite good.

Photo of stingrayvr6
3.7/5  rDev +1.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Had this on tap at the brewery. Poured a clear amber brown with frothy white head which dissolved quickly. Smell of light malts and some caramel and vanilla. Taste was light and watery up front, some sweet malts in the finish and a roasted malt taste balanced it out. Far too light to be a great doppelbock, not bad tasting though.

Photo of dsa7783
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Appropriate for my 100th review to examine such an interesting, rare, hard-to-find specimen in my area... First noticed this in Michael Jackson's "Greatest Beers" book... Copped a single 12oz bottle for about $1.79 from Wine and More in West Orange... This beer pours a ruby-red / purple color with a humble head that didn't froth too much... Smell is very malty, with caramel and prunes... Taste is very rich and thick ,with caramel, malts, and vanilla present... a very heavy beer full of malts that is sweet and satisfying... Drinkability is okay, but with an apparently hefty alcohol percentage and such a sweet, rich flavor, wouldn't want to make this my single choice all night... really good brew... Definitely recomended... but very sweet and heavy...

Photo of jwc215
3.94/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours mahogany with ruby highlights and a thin tan head that thins and all but disappears.

The smell is of dark fruits - esp. prunes. Toffee and vanilla notes, along with earthy notes, intermingle.

The taste is of sweetened prunes/plums and vanilla with toffee. Sweetness is balanced by earthy, slightly woody, notes. Tangy fruitness comes through in the middle. Prune fruitness emerges more as it nears the end. It has a dryish finish.

It reaches medium-body with soft carbonation. Fairly creamy.

Not bad at all - the taste is nice. The best part is the aroma, IMO.

Photo of sulldaddy
3.92/5  rDev +8%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I havent had this beer for years. Didnt know it was still around.

I am sampling a cold bottle poured into a snifter.
The beer pours a clear chestnut color with no head development whatsovever. Aroma is allmalt with brown sugar and caramel mixing nicely. The first sip reveals an average body with silky texture and very fine yet tingly carbonation.
The flavor is similar to nose. I get a malty mix of caramel and toffee, but also some grainy husk notes. There is just a int of herbal hops on the finish. A decent brew and an easy drinker.

Photo of yeastpuppet
3.66/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Beer poured with a lusty amount of head , full and rocky with an orange tinge , that dropped quicker than ..., well , pretty quick . Good carbonation , reflects light as a fine Tennesee Whisky might . Great , pleasing color .

Slight aroma of malty sweetness ,plum , zero hops .
Wee trace of alcohol in nose .

Tastes damn good .That great strong Lager taste of darker malts .slight plum/raisin , bitterness delayed yet apparent and pleasant . If theres hop flavor in here they mesh so well in the overall taste , I can't pinpoint 'em .

A tad light in body for the style , with a slight alco-burn on the gums .

Easy to drink , I'll open 'nuther . At least 7% , could be dangerous unless consumed in moderation .

Overall , this bock rocks . Buy some so they keep making it !

B.

Photo of Gavage
3.8/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A blast from the past. This was one of my favorite beers from the old Dock Street Brewpub in Philly many moons ago.

Appearance: pours a nice dark copper color with a 1/2" head that falls to a ring of foam around the glass edges rather quickly. Plenty of carbonation bubbles race to the surface.

Smell: malt sweetness and a hint of floral hops are detectable.

Taste: decent malt base here with some brown sugar, hint of nuts, raisins, and a touch of bitterness. Alcohol is barley noticeable too. A bit mellower than what my memory of the original was, but all in all a tasty brew.

Mouthfeel: smooth from start to finish. Malt laden aftertaste. Medium bodied brew.

Drinkability: very easy to quaff this one. Its great to see this one available again after many years. For those older BA's out there from the Philly area, this is a blast from the past worth giving a shot.

Photo of portia99
3.86/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

12oz bottle generously provided by hoppymcgee. Going back to my college days the Dock Street Bock was one of the beers that really got me into craft beers...not sure if this is the exact recipe, but fun to go back to one of my early favorites after many years. Poured into a Stone Old Guardian glass.

A - Pours a deep, chocolately brown that is mostly opaque in the glass. Two thick fingers of a densely bubbled foamy head of a khacki color. Head shows excellent staying power and hangs around throughout the duration of the bottle. Sparse lacing left behind.

S - Lots of malt with caramel, chocolately malt, mild roastiness, smooth earthy and grassy hop aromas.

T - Umm, intensely flavored with lots of thick and chewy malt, caramel, toffee, maltose sugary, touch of roastiness, mildly boozy, faint astringency, low level hop bitterness.

M - Super thick and full bodied, almost syrupy in feel. Mid-level carbonation - a bit foamy and mouth filling further enhancing the body of this beer. Multiple layers of maltiness, but never too sweet - good balance with hops just kicking in enough to offset this malt heavy recipe.

O - Overall...well, difficult to compare to the beer I first had about 20yrs ago, but no disappointment here at all. Nice, solid example of the doppelbock style - decent complexity, smooth drinking for the style...enjoyable beer to start the night with. I will definitely not wait another 20yrs to go back to this one again.

Photo of ZimZamZoom
3.26/5  rDev -10.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to dmamiano for this one.

Pours a nice deep copper color with a good light tan head that has some durability. Aroma of caramel and dark malts. Not an overpowering aroma by any means. Surprislingy subtle in fact.

Tastes of caramel malt and alcohol, no hop presence which is expected. Finishes a bit hot with alcohol.

Good mouthfeel, big bodied and not very carbonated.

There are better examples of this style from Northeast breweries, and across the pond of course. A fair drinkable beer nonetheless.

Photo of Stoneman78
3.87/5  rDev +6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

A- Pours with a deep amber/copper hue, frothy off-white head that is mostly diminishing, minimal lacing

S- Nose if of toasty/roasty malts, brown sugar, and deep, rich fruity tones (plum, prunes), slight alcohol

T- Taste is solid and characterized by caramel malts, dark fruit and sweetness throughout, very subtle hops and alcohol

M- Quite watery and overly carbonated, medium body

D- Solid entrant in the Doppelbock category with a unique malt and fruit/sweet balance, easy drinking save for the excess carbonation, quite pleased to have received a case of this free from a friend :P

Photo of mvanaskie13
3.76/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours from the bottle with a deep coppery color and light frothy-coppery/amber head that dissipates fairly quickly.

Smell is lightly malty, a little sweet but not too strong.

Taste is definitely malty, a little sweet but hard to distinguish the type and lightly bitter.

Mouthfeel is is smooth with a little bitter on the finish.

Drinkability is is very easy. Could easily throw back a few of these with a good meal.

Nice to see another tasty Dock Street brew!

Photo of tgbljb
3.65/5  rDev +0.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured a deep copper color with massive tannish head. Modest retention and no lacing.
Smell is dark fruity malty.
Taste also presents with a strong maltiness, but the hops are a bit too strong for my liking.
Fish is also dominated by the hops, which puch the malt too far into the background.
A good beer, but nothing great.

Photo of Foxman
3.63/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

It pours a nicely hued coppery amber, only fairly carbonated. A finger of creamy off-white head settles promptly to vestigial commas of froth. Sparse pinstripes of lacing suit the inside of the glass.

The aroma is busy, but challenging due to rather thin slats of well-toasted malt, candy sugar, caramel, and dark fruit. A spice and dough bit carries along the outside, also quite narrow of build.

Upon tasting, the roasted malt is first and foremost, with caramel, dark earthy fruit, and a sugar sweetness that overcomes any subtlety. The hops present a mild spicing, and a tart cherry effect leads into a sere strip of alcohol. The grain and yeast deliver a baked dough crustiness in the back end before a crisp dryness lingers a short while in the finish. It's not unenjoyable, but it's a bit halting, disconnected, and clumsy in its progression.

Medium bodied, the malt lays a fair slick that washes away surprisingly quick, leaving very little as a tactile legacy.

I don't want to damn it, because I found myself enjoying it a bit, but it just doesn't seem to ever blend and become anything more than a series of disparate parts. And the parts were not especially substantial at that. The ABV is of some mettle, and it will bite given a chance, but the sweet-to-crisp, clean result is actually rather drinkable. So the bottom line is, it doesn't so much total up as present as several separate items. I would drink it again. But I would not seek it out.

Photo of jmc44
3.53/5  rDev -2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Illuminator was available at the Dock Street Philadelphia Firehouse Brewpub last night for their private party to celebrate the pending start of construction.

Poured (unfortunately) into a clear plastic Dock Street cup. At least Rose, the owner, lectured her volunteer servers on how to pour.

Deep walnut in color, with a thick, creamy, tan head. Head gradually recedes but never actually disappears.

Aroma is clean and malty, with hints of sweet sugar and caramel. Light hop aroma, slightly spicy. Hints of caramel.

Flavor is malty, but not as sweet as expected. Caramel again is present, with a bit of raisins and fruit. Crisp, dry finish.

Not as heavy as other examples of the style, and a bit more drinkable. I don't know the alcohol content, but its strong enough that you can feel it. A solid beer, but not in the big leagues with some of the German Doppelbocks out there.

to view more.
Dock Street Illuminator from Dock Street Brewery & Restaurant
82 out of 100 based on 53 ratings.