First Spring Brew

After boiling and jarring maple syrup last weekend, I still had enough sap left over to do one more maple-based beer. With the promise of a brief return of colder weather, I decided to risk one more lager. A big beer, a rich malty beer, with the additional flavor of maple – a Doppelbock. Again, I partially reduced the sap and mashed with it, and added more syrup to the kettle. I will use partly maple syrup to prime the beer when I bottle it, just to reinforce the maple flavor. German malts, German hops, German yeast, and to put me in the right frame of mind, I even listened to all German music while brewing… Not opera or classical, not even Oompah bands… Herbert Grönemeyer, Grobschnitt, STS, Peter Schilling, Nena, and other assorted pop, rock and folk… Peter Gabriel and The Beatles even made cameo appearances… Alles gut!

Evaporator Doppelbock
5 gallons, all-grain


  • 6 gallons maple sap reduced to 16 quarts
  • 11 lbs. Weyermann lager malt
  • 1/2 lb. 120° crystal malt
  • 1/8 lb. chocolate malt
  • 1/8 lb. cara-pils malt
  • 1 quart maple syrup
  • 8.3 AAU’s Perle hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 5.1 AAU’s Tettnang hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • 3.0 AAU’s Hallertau hop pellets (1 oz.)
  • White Labs German Bock yeast (WLP833)
  • 1/2 cup corn sugar (for priming)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (for priming)

Reduce the sap to 16 quarts, heat to 168°F. Crush the grains, mash in to 157°F and hold for 90 minutes. Heat 14 quarts water to 170°F, begin runoff and sparge, collecting 26 quarts sweet wort. Add maple syrup, heat to boiling. Add Perle hops, boil 45 minutes. Add Tettnang hops, boil fifteen minutes. Add Hallertau hops, boil another fifteen minutes (75 total), remove from heat. Chill to 80°F, take a hydrometer reading. Pour into a sanitized fermenter, splashing well to aerate, pitch yeast. Seal and ferment 10 – 14 days at 60°F, rack to secondary. Lager cold (40 – 45°F) for four to six weeks. Prime with corn sugar and maple syrup, bottle and condition at least a month.

OG: 1080
IBU’s: 51

Notes on style: Bock beers in general are strong lagers. They can be dark or light in color, but they are all aged cold. Some are released in the Spring, some in the Fall, some are year-round brews. The name probably comes from the Bavarian town of Einbeck (pronounced “Einbock” with a Bavarian accent, they say…) where the first versions of the style were brewed over 600 years ago. They were brewed strong to store longer, and were shipped while still fermenting. Extra-strong ones were brewed in monasteries – perhaps as “food” – liquid bread –  for the Lenten season, when the monks were otherwise fasting. These double-strength brews became known as Doppelbocks. The first well-known one was brewed by the Pauline monks in Munich, disciples of St. Francis of Paula, hence the brewery now known as Paulaner. Their bock was named Salvator, “Savior”, and was timed to coincide with Easter. That name was imitated and emulated throughout the rest of the brewing world, and indeed it is rare to find a Doppelbock that does not have a name ending in -ator. Maximator (Augustiner), Celebrator (Ayinger), Optimator (Spaten), and Animator (Hacker-Pschorr) are the most famous of the Bavarian examples.

Names for doppelbocks: Doppelbocks are, in my opinion, the most fun brews to name. I have brewed or seen and tasted Doppelbocks with the following names:
Terminator ( “I’ll be Bock”), Translator, Alligator, Seeyoulator, Elevator, Refrigerator (brewed by a Chicago Bears fan back in the mid-80’s…), Regulator, Dominator, Lionator (“What happened to your wife?”), Frustrator, Percolator (brewed with coffee, of course), Dragonator (“What happened to the Princess?”), Jugulator… you get the idea…

What’s up with the goats? For some reason, Bock beers get associated with goats – many labels on Bocks, especially Doppelbocks, feature goats with large curled horns, standing on mountain-tops, head-butting each other, etc… Ayinger’s Celebrator even comes with a white plastic goat on a string around the neck of each bottle…

FYI: Tomorrow (Friday 3/26) I will be attending a conference on hop-growing in Vermont, run by the University of Vermont Agricultural Extension, at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, VT. If any of you are there, please say hello! I will report on the conference (and on the Von Trapp’s new brewery!)…