Category Archives: Brewing

Lagering The Doppelbock

My son was in town for Christmas, so we got busy lagering the doppelbock. The first step was to wash and sanitize everything we’d need. This included a carboy, auto-siphon, airlock, and testing equipment.

Once the equipment was ready to go, we pulled the full carboy out of the freezer, set it on the lid, with the empty one on the floor right below it, and started the auto-siphon. It took a few minutes to drain, with a small interruption to put some of the beer in a testing cylinder.

Lagering the doppelbock - racking to secondary
Lagering the doppelbock – racking to secondary


After it was all transferred to the new carboy, I put that one back in the freezer, put the airlock on, and filled it with vodka to keep the bad bugs out. I then set the temperature controller to 34 degrees and we went inside to get the specific gravity reading done.

At this point the beer has quite a bit of CO2 dissolved in it, so you have to do something to get it out. Shaking it works, but be careful because you can make a real mess if you’re not careful about keeping the cylinder covered. Trust me, your significant other, landlord, pets, kids, parents, and friends will appreciate not getting beer all over the place.

For measuring specific gravity once you’ve got alcohol in the solution, you can use a refractometer and some math to get the final gravity, but it’s just easier to use hydrometer readings. I’ve got a set from Northern Brewer that includes one with a high resolution scale for finishing gravity. It’s so much easier to get accurate gravity readings with them than it us using the one-size-fits-none hydrometer that comes with most brewing kits. Go buy a set now, if you don’t have one already.

Lagering the doppelbock - gravity reading
Lagering the doppelbock – gravity reading


My finishing gravity came in within one point of where the software predicted that it’d be. And I got to taste the beer in the test cylinder. It was delicious! I’m going to call that a win. So now the beer’s lagering until at least the end of January when it will be kegged and put on tap.

Brewing The Doppelbock

Today was brew day, so I gathered my ingredients and equipment and started brewing the doppelbock.

The first step was to get 6.6 gallons of water in the kettle and get it heated up to 150 degrees. Once it reached that, I dropped the heat and added the grain bag with the specialty grains. They steeped for an hour, with the temperature holding at around 155.


Once they finished steeping, I added the LME, DME, and honey and got them all dissolved before turning the heat back up to start the boil. It’s a standard 60 minute boil, with the hops added at the start of the boil, 15 minutes in, 45 minutes in, and at a minute before flameout. At 30 minutes in, I added the uncrushed roasted malts to steep for the rest of the boil.


Once the boil was complete, it was time to chill it down to pitching temperature, which is done with a copper immersion chiller. I start off with a garden hose hooked up to it, running tap water through until it’s down to about 100 degrees or so, then switch over to an outdoor fountain pump recirculating ice water from a cooler. Because this one needed to be colder than my ales, it was 50 pounds of ice plus water. Within 20 minutes I had it knocked down to 68 degrees, which was the perfect temperature to transfer it to the carboy and pitch the yeast.


After pitching, it was put in the chest freezer, the blowoff was connected, and I waited for activity. This yeast is apparently pretty active, because within about four hours, there was a light, steady bubbling in the water bucket. At that point, I dropped the temperature to 58 degrees and went to bed. I’ll bring it down to 53 in the morning, where it will ferment for the next few weeks.


Making The Doppelbock Starter

I’ve got a brew day planned for next weekend, when I’ll be making my first lager, specifically a doppelbock. While you can get away without a starter if you’re making a standard gravity ale, lagers are a different matter. You really shouldn’t brew a lager without making one.

A quick visit to Mr. Malty’s pitching rate calculator confirmed that the doppelbock starter was going to need a little more than 3 liters of wort and would take two packs of yeast. I settled on 3.5 liters, which meant 350 grams of light DME, plus the water. It was boiled for about ten minutes, then chilled. Once it was chilled, I transferred it to the jug, got the stir bar centered, which was harder than it sounds thanks to the slightly curved base of the jug, and then turned the stir plate on. Once I had it adjusted so that it was stable, I added the yeast.

It’s spinning now, and once it’s complete, I’ll cold crash the yeast and be ready to brew next weekend.

Doppelbock starter
Doppelbock starter