Key points for key pints
• Yeast health. For beer yeast, a doppelbock wort is the equivalent of a heavyweight title fight. Make a yeast starter, consider adding some yeast nutrient, and thoroughly aerate or oxygenate the cooled wort.
• Attenuation. Each half liter serving of this beer will contain close to a half pound of cereal grain. Real talk: the sweetness of the finished product should come from that lascivious use of barley, not from under-attenuated wort. In addition to the starter, oxygen, and nutrient, mash at a low temperature for a highly fermentable wort full of simple sugars and a lower final gravity.
• Slow, cool ferment. Controlling the rate of cell growth and fermentation is a big lever to minimize the production of esters and other metabolic byproducts we don’t like in doppelbock.
• Warm ferment alternatives. If your basement or refrigeration situation won’t allow steady primary fermentation temps of 50–55°F, consider a California Common-type lager strain, which will produce a nice clean beer at up to about 68°F.
To the homebrewery
Note: these steps are general guidelines and assume you’re already familiar with the all-grain brewing process. Refer to the instructions for your brew system and adjust as needed based on experience with your own particular equipment.
1. Make a yeast starter prior to brew day—you already know.
2. On brew day, collect strike water (I use 1.3 quarts per pound, YMMV) and heat to approximately 160°F.
3. Mill the grains, or have it done for you at the shop.
Mash & sparge
1. Add all grains to strike water and mix to achieve a uniform temperature of 146–148°F. Rest the mash at this temperature for 60–90 minutes.
While the mash rests, collect and heat sparge water.
2. When the mash rest is complete, heat it to 170°F for mashout.
3. Sparge and collect the wort in the boil kettle.
1. Bring the wort to a boil and stealthily adjust your lederhosen. Add the Perle hops when the wort begins to boil, and boil for 60 minutes.
2. Cool it!
Fermentation and beyond
1. Transfer the cooled wort to a sanitized fermenter, aerate well, and pitch yeast.
2. Depending on the yeast strain being used, aim for a maximum fermentation temp in the low- to- mid-50°F range. When fermentation activity begins to slow, allow the fermenter to warm up to approximately 58°F for a 2–3 day diacetyl rest and ensure attenuation is complete. Depending on yeast and temp, this step should be completed in about 10–14 days.
3. Rack to a secondary fermenter and further cool to lagering temp of 32–38°F. Lager for at least eight weeks, although as much as a few months wouldn’t hurt it none.
4. Package when it tells you it’s ready and imbibe with justified and unabashed enjoyment. Stored cold, this strong lager will keep well until next winter, at least.
Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.
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