It's a beer world after all!
That "couching" is an old English term for the shoveling of steeped, drained grain onto
a malting floor in a heap  In traditional British malting, couching is the first of three
steps in germination. The others are “flooring” and “withering." A couch retains the
temperature of the grain and thus accelerates the uptake of surface water after the
wet transfer from the steep. This promotes the completion of chitting and the start of

The couch is anywhere from 20 to 90 cm high and often placed in a rigid, rectangular
structure with a flat bottom called a couch frame. In cold weather, couching can last 24
hours or longer, and the couch is often covered with sacks or a tarpaulin to maintain
the proper temperature.

Once chitting is complete and germination starts, however, the grain begins to give off
considerable heat, and it becomes more important to release rather than contain that
heat. At this point the couch needs to be broken up and spread out on the floor, in a
layer ranging in thickness from perhaps 7 to 40 cm.

The more advanced the state of germination in the couch and the higher the ambient
temperature, the thinner is the layer on the floor to allow excess heat to escape.


Munich, the Bavarian capital,  is the home of  the real Oktoberfest but it is also
famous as the home of  Dopplebock,  a strong beer style tthat was for a fairly
long time synonymous with the Salvator beer brewed by Paulaner.  In the late 19th-
century breweries that had copied the name “Salvator” were forced by a lawsuit to
introduce their own brands of doppelbock beers, but Salvator remained the category
defining beer.

The beer originated in a convent in the village Au on what used to be the eastern
outskirts of Munich in the 17th century when monks following the rule of Saint
Franciscus of Paula settled there and began brewing beer.

Also known as “liquid bread,” this beer once helped the monks through the long
fasting days of Lent. While Salvator is the most well-known doppelbock, almost 200
other breweries indicate the style by amending “-ator” to the beer’s name

While they can be brewed to any color and made by different methods, doppelbocks
are usually reddish-brown bottom-fermented lagers, and generally show a toffee-like,
bready aroma and rich malty palate with notable residual sweetness. Hops are usually
robust enough to offer some balance, but rarely above 25 IBU.  
Two Words To Learn - Couching, Dopplebock
A new column by
Jack O'Reilly
Jack O'Reilly attended the
Siebel Institute/ World
Brewing Academy
I'm very excited to be part of the BeerNexus team.  I think my many years in the beer business
both as a brewer and manger will enable me to explain and investigate many topics of interest
for those who really love craft beer. Hope you join me every month.  
More by Jack: #1