Kai had a bottle of doppelbock that was fantastic. My wife usually doen't drink those, but she said "Wow!". Good job on that beer Kai.
Thanks. This recipe, when I say recipe I mean process and actual composition of ingredients, is one where I feel I achieved my objective for all my (German) beers: “When placed in a flight of the best German beers of that style (Doppelbock in this case) it doesn’t stand out as being different ”. Though I think I have to lower the sweetness next time I brew this.
I never brew a Doppelbock w/o decoction but I don’t think that the decoction causes this flavor. My Schwarzbiers can develop similar flavors with age and they aren’t generally brewed with a decoction. But to be save you would have to use a decoction.
Key is the aging process after the lagering. From the :
After lagering rack the beer to a serving keg or bottle and age at cellar temperatures ( 10 C / 50 F) for another 2-3 months. During that time most of the dark fruit notes will be formed by reactions between the alcohols (especially the higher alcohols) and acids in the beer. Some oxidation processes contribute to that as well. Since it is a chemical process, it works better at higher temperatures. Hence the suggestion to lager only for 2-3 months and then take it off the yeast completely and age for another 2-3 months. When I brewed this beer last, I happened to bottle some of it from the lagering keg. These bottles were stored at 10C (50F) and developed the dark fruit notes quicker than the beer that was still kept at lagering temps. Lagering should still be done in order to precipitate haze and yeast.
Babalu recently tried this and thanked me for the tip. The other important thing is to start out with a clean ferment that doesn’t leave too much high alcohols or residual sweetness. I believe a good grist uses 10-20% Pils malt as enzymatic boost, 3-5% specialty malts and the rest being a dark Munich malt. I have used Weyermann Munich II and Best Dark Munich with success. It’s the mix of specialty malts that I generally play with when changing the recipe. They are a mix of crystal and roasted malts. 1-2% of carafa special works well as part of the specialty malts if you want to get some hint of roast like you get in Ayinger’s Celebrator. That beer is a bit sweet for my taste but has a fantastic malt profile.
Fred and I talked about aging beers and he believes being sloppy and allow some more than usual O2 pick-up during transfer/bottling helps big beers. I think he is onto something with this. I too think that some of the desirable flavors and aromas in big dark beers are staling compounds that come from oxidations.