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What Makes Beer a Doppelbock?

What Makes Beer a Doppelbock?

You may not expect a monastery to make for a good brewery, but in the case of the doppelbock, monks and beer kegs go hand-in-hand. But what is a doppelbock, and how did it come to be? Read on for more info about this delectable brew.

What is a Doppelbock?

Bock is a German lager brewed strong and comes in different types: the spring drink Maibock (also known as Helles Bock or Heller Bock), the Eisbock (partially frozen), and the Doppelbock.

Doppelbock literally means “double bock.” It is a stronger and darker type of German lager that traces its roots to a town called Einbeck and was later adopted in Munich. Interestingly enough, the Doppelbock was traditionally consumed during Lent as well as other holidays and festivals (more on this later!).


Doppelbock is full-bodied and has low carbonation. It has heavy toast and malt flavors, unlike the maibock, which has a strong hoppy flavor. While doppelbocks are the strongest in the Bock family, other beers like barleywine can be stronger still. The original doppelbock, brewed by the monks, had an alcohol content between 7%-13%; this range is still the same for Doppelbock today. Its color can be amber or deep gold to dark brown with a cream-colored top.

A Brief History of Doppelbock Beer

Bavarians residing in Munich pronounced Einbeck as “EinBOCK” because of their accent, and it turned out to be the name of the brew ever since. When translated, Einbock means “billy goat,” so traditional Doppelbock bottles have images of a goat on the label. The next time you find yourself faced with German beer that features a goat, you’ll know what it is!

This type of brew is associated with the Paulaner monks of Munich, who traditionally consumed doppelbocks when they fasted during Lent in the mid- to late-17th century. This is why the doppelbock is also known as Fastenbier (“Lenten beer”). The monastic doppelbock is otherwise known to secular folk as Bock bier.

Copious amounts of Doppelbock were enough to fill up the monks in the absence of solid food, hence the name “liquid bread.” The Paulaners eventually made their beer available for public consumption. But towards the end of the 18th century, under Napoleon Bonaparte, the monastery closed down.

In 1806, brewer and politician Franz Xaver Zacherl acquired the Paulaner brewery and started brewing the “Salvator,” the monks’ name for the strongest brew of doppelbock when it first went public. Since the Salvator, other German brewers did the same and added the suffix “-ator” to their Doppelbocks.

Examples of Doppelbocks 

The prime example of a Doppelbock is, of course, the original Paulaner Salvator, still brewed on location today in a deep dark cellar. Another popular brew is the Ayinger Celebrator, formerly known as the Fortunator. The Spaten Optimator is a classic Doppelbock that also originated in Munich.

If you’re looking for a delightfully bright and smooth American take on the German classic, try our own Berghoff Rockin’ Bock. As you sip, you’ll enjoy clean bright flavors balanced with sustaining richness and complexity. The wheat and rye add a delicious creaminess, with a deep spicy and fruity character. Toasted caramel and fruity notes make this a wonderful beer to enjoy by a roaring fire during winter.

Food Pairing

Enjoy a bottle during cold weather by itself or pair it with a hearty meal with meat such as venison or roast pork. Food with strong flavors will also bring out the subtle flavors of this brew. If you like cheese, go for Swiss to make the most out of the pairing. All of these drinks share the notable features of the doppelbock—it goes down smooth and erupts with notes of toast, toffee, caramel, nuts, and chocolate with a semi-dry and satisfying finish. Thanks to the Paulaner monks for bringing us this decadent liquid goodness.

Pick up a bottle of Rockin’ Bock near you by using our beer finder below!