A History of Monastic Brewing

The history of brewing in monasteries can be traced back to the Middle Ages, when monks brewed beer to support themselves and their communities. They used local ingredients and developed their own unique styles of beer, often based on regional traditions. As beer grew in popularity, many monasteries became famous for their brewing skills, and their beers were sought after by locals and visitors alike. The tradition of monastic brewing continues in many parts of the world, with some monasteries exporting their beers internationally.

Doppelbock originated in the Bavaria region of Germany. A strong, dark beer, it is typically brewed using a high amount of malted barley. This style has a higher alcohol content than a typical brew. The name “doppelbock” literally means “double bock,” referring to the fact that it is a stronger version of the traditional bock style beer. Doppelbocks are characterized by their deep, reddish-brown color and their malty, sweet flavor profile. They often have a slightly bitter finish that balances out the sweetness of the malt. Typically brewed in the winter and served in the spring, they are aged for several months to allow for full flavor development.

Some popular examples of doppelbocks include Salvator by Paulaner, Maximator by Augustiner-Brau, Korbinian by Weihenstephaner, and Andechser Doppelbock by
Klosterbrauerei Andechs.

The History of the Paulaner Monks and their Doppelbock

Paulaner is a German brewery that was founded in 1634 by monks from the order of Saint Francis of Paola. Saint Francis of Paola was an Roman Catholic friar and the founder of the Order of Minims. The monks who founded the Paulaner brewery in Munich came from Italy in the mid-15th century.

Paulaner Brewery is known for its traditional Bavarian-style beers; including lagers, wheat beers, and seasonal specialties. Salvator, a Doppelbock, is one of it’s most popular beers, and has been brewed for over 375 years!  Over time, the popularity of Salvator grew, and the brewery became a major source of income for the monastery. In1799, the monks opened their first public beer hall, which quickly became a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.


The Paulaner monks drank Doppelbock for Lent as a form of sustenance during their period of fasting. Lent is a religious observance in the Christian faith that lasts for 40 days, during which believers traditionally abstain from meat and other rich foods. The monks needed a source of nutrition that would sustain them through the fasting period, and beer was seen as a suitable alternative to solid food. However, regular beer was not sufficiently nutritious, so the monks developed a stronger, more robust beer that would provide them with the necessary sustenance.

The History of Augustiner Brau

Augustinian monks founded the Augustiner Brewery in Munich in 1328. The monks began brewing beer to support themselves and their charitable activities, and their brew quickly gained a reputation for its quality and taste. Over time, the brewery expanded and became a major source of income for the entire Augustinian order.  Augustiner Brewery is one of the oldest and most respected breweries in Munich, and its beers are enjoyed by people all over the world. The brewery remains committed to producing beer using traditional methods.

The History of the Andechs Abbey and Klosterbrauerei Andechs

The Andechs Abbey is a Benedictine monastery located in the town of Andechs, in the state of Bavaria. Saint Rasso of Andechs founded the monastery in the 10th century.  Over time, the monastery grew in importance, becoming a center of religious and cultural life in the region. Klosterbrauerei Andechs brewery has a long history dating back to the 15th century when the monks first began brewing beer. It has remained in operation for over 500 years, making it one of the oldest breweries in the world. The brewery became renowned for its high-quality beer, and it continued to operate even during times of war and political upheaval. The monastery was secularized in the early 1800s, and  sold to a private owner. However, the brewery remained closely associated with the monastery, and the monks continued to oversee the brewing process.

The History of Weihenstephan

Weihenstephan is a brewery located in the Bavarian city of Freising.  Benedictine monks from the nearby Weihenstephan Abbey founded the brewery in 1040 making it the oldest known brewery in the world.  The monks brewing skills grew a stellar reputation, and by the 19th century, Weihenstephan had become one of the most respected breweries in Germany. Weihenstephan became part of the Technical University of Munich in 1852 . Still a leading center for brewing education and research, Weihenstephan beers continue to be enjoyed by beer lovers around the world.

Why Use Lager Yeast for a Doppelbock?

Lager yeast  is capable of fermenting at cooler temperatures than ale yeast. It is a hybrid of two yeast species: Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces eubayanus. Lager yeast has several unique characteristics that distinguish it from other yeast strains, specifically its ability to ferment at lower temperatures, typically between 40-55°F (4-13°C). This allows for a slower and more controlled fermentation process. This results in a beer that is generally cleaner and crisper than ales, with a milder flavor and a lighter body.

Lager yeast is a bottom-fermenting yeast, which means that it works from the bottom of the fermentation vessel upwards. This contrasts with top-fermenting ale yeast, which works from the top of the vessel downwards. The bottom-fermenting nature of lager yeast also contributes to the clean, crisp flavor profile of lagers. Overall, the unique characteristics of lager yeast allow for the creation of a wide variety of beer styles, from light and refreshing Pilsners to rich and complex Doppelbocks. With proper fermentation techniques and attention to detail, lager yeast can produce beers that are among the finest and most enjoyable in the world.

Doppelbock Yeast Options

Are you a fan of rich, malty beers with a complex flavor? Look no further than the Doppelbock!  Augustiner, 3470, or Andechs Lager are ideal yeast strains to try. Augustiner provides a strong, malty sweetness and a balanced bitterness that forms the perfect base for your Doppelbock. Its clean finish ensures that your beer is crisp and refreshing, while still packing a punch. 3470 adds notes of dark fruit and caramel, as well as a subtle spiciness that is sure to intrigue and delight your taste buds. This strain creates complex, layered flavors in your brew, making it a must have ingredient for any serious Doppelbock brewer. Finally, Andechs Lager brings its own unique set of flavors to your Doppelbock. Its notes of toasted bread and subtle sweetness make it a perfect complement to the other ingredients, resulting in a beer that is smooth, full-bodied, and delicious.

No matter which of these strains you choose to use in your Doppelbock, you can be sure that you are creating a beer that is full of flavor, depth, and complexity. So why wait? Start your brewing journey today and discover the incredible taste these unique strains will provide.




by David Pritchard, BSI Microtechnologist