Advent 2018 – Gavlebocken(-ator)

adding hops to the doppelbock

Every year I run an advent exchange for my homebrew club. This year I brewed a doppelbock – a classic style of malty German lager. Gavlebocken is named after the Swedish version of an old Norse/Germanic Christmas tradition, where a straw goat is built for good luck. In the Swedish tradition, a giant Yule Goat is build in the town square, and afterwards, hooligans try to burn it down. The later may not be part of the *formal* tradition, but the hooligans are successful more often than not.

Those familiar with the traditions surrounding doppelbock may take issue with the absence of “ator” at the end of my beers names. While that is tradition, Gavlebockenator just sounds dumb, so Gavlebocken it is and shall remain.

Recipe – Gavlebocken Doppelbock

Recipe Specifications

  • Bottling Volume: 22.50 L
  • OG: 1.066 SG
  • FG: 1.013
  • ABV: 7.0%
  • Color: 19.9 SRM
  • IBU: 24 IBUs
  • Boil Time: 90 Minutes


  • 3.33 kg Pilsner Malt
  • 1.67 kg Munich Malt
  • 1.60 kg Munich Malt – 20L
  • 0.40 kg Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)
  • 0.13 kg Special B Malt
  • 0.07 kg Blackprinz Malt
  • 14.17 g Crystal [3.50 %] – First Wort 90.0 min (5.6 IBUs)
  • 14.17 g Hallertau [3.60 %] – First Wort 90.0 min (5.8 IBUs)
  • 28.35 g Hallertau [3.60 %] – Boil 90.0 min (10.5 IBUs )
  • 14.17 g Hallertau [3.60 %] – Boil 10.0 min (1.8 IBUs)
  • 1.0 pkg Saflager Lager (DCL/Fermentis #W-34/70)

Mash Schedule

  • Single Infusion, Batch Sparge,
  • 65.0 C for 60 min

Water Additions

Water profile: Dark Malty (50 ppm Calcium, 5 ppm Magnesium, 27 ppm Sodium, 50 ppm Sulfate, 60 ppm Chloride, 85 ppm bicarbonate)

Mash (21L) – add minerals to sparge (pH will be off otherwise)

  • 6.8 g Gypsum
  • 0.7 g NaCl
  • 1.1 g CaCl2

Sparge (21L, add minerals for mash and sparge at this step)

  • 6.8 g Gypsum
  • 0.7 g NaCl
  • 1.1 g CaCl2

Brewday Notes

brewing a doppelbock
Beautiful Morning for a Brew Day

Recently I’ve had a series of sub-optimal brewdays – missed OG’s, inclement weather, and plain-old stupidity causing issues. Luckily, this brewday featured none of these issues. Instead, I woke up to a beautiful late September morning – sun shining, roosters crowing, an a briskness in the air.

doppelbock label
Label for this doppelbock

Aside from being a couple of points low on my OG, everything went exactly as planned. Mash temperature was dead-on, conversion completed on-time, boil was uneventful, and even the chill was quick and leak-free.

I fermented for ~3 weeks at cellar temperature (16C), using my favourite “warm” lager yeast W34/70. I then transferred to a keg and lagered in my keezer for a month prior to force-carbonating the beer. A week before the advent exchange I bottled from my tap, labelled the bottles, and took them to the exchange.

Tasting Notes

Appearance: Pours with a mahogany-brown body and tight beige head.

Aroma: A deep maltiness with hints of bread crust and biscuit.

Flavour: Up front is a rich malt character, slightly sweet with hints of slightly burnt raisins. Alongside this is a balancing hop bitterness; a little too bitter to be perfectly on-style, but not unpleasant either. The flavour fades quickly, leaving behind a bit of hop bitterness, a bit of sweetness, and a slight alcohol burn deep in your chest.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied, slightly over-carbonated.

Overall: I am happy with this beer, but there is room for improvement. The bitterness is a little high, and the maltiness not as deep as I’d prefer. My previous attempts at doppelbocks used more munich and less pilsner malt, which I think gives a deeper and more rounded malt character and is a recipe formulation I’d return to next time. That change alone would likely balance out this beer. That said, 3.5 months is not nearly enough age – longer aging would have brought down the bitterness and helped with the alcoholic burn.

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