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Old 01-29-2007, 10:22 PM   #1
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Default My first decoction mash

I have always wanted to try a decoction mash, so I decided my Dopplebock would be the right place to start. Ended up being quite a long brew day.

The planned schedule was :

Dough in 20 quarts of 111 degree water to 16 lbs of 60 degree grain for a 20 minute Acid Rest.

Add 6.4 quarts of boiling water to achieve 122 degree Protien Rest.

After ten minutes, remove 40% of the grains, or 6.4 quarts of grain for the first decoction. Boil for 20-30 minutes and return to mash tun for sacchrification at 153 for 60 minutes.

Draw off 8 quarts or so after 60 minutes, boil and return to mash tun to mash out, and sparge with 6 gallons or so.

Collect about 8 gallons, boil for about 90-120 minutes or until down to 6 gallons.

Results: overshot the acid rest temp by a little under ten degrees, so I cooled down with a quart of cold water and let it sit outside with the lid off (surprisingly it did not drop much). The acid rest ended up being at about 104, which apparently is ok per Palmer. The infusion worked perfectly and I hit 122 on the nose. The decoction was a little tricky and I ended up scorching a bit in the middle of the pan at the end. I think I needed a little more liquid. The predicted 28 degree temperature increase from returning the decoction to the mash tun did not happen for some reason--I was close to 10 degrees short. So, I began drawing off hot liquid from the mash tun to boil to bump the temperature. At this un-opportune time i experienced my second stuck MLT in as many tries with my new mash tun. Bummer. Grain appears to be getting under the domed false bottom. I *eventually* fixed this and boiled about 6-8 quarts of wort to get up to my mash temp of 154.

From there everything went relatively smoothly. It took less than two hours to boil down to six gallons. The color looks good and the OG was about 1.080 so it looks like i did not have any conversion troubles. I am not sure what effect the extended protien rest or extended time at 135-140 before I could get up to mash temps will have on the final product, not to mention a significant amount of grain disturbance dealing with the stuck mash-tun after the decoction--probably will be a pretty cloudy beer. Hopefully the minor scorching will not impart any burnt flavors either .

Bottom line is the step mashing and decoction probably added in the neighborhood of two hours to the process. Certinaly not something I want to endure each time I brew, but hopefully it ends up being tremendous. The interesting comparison will be that my buddy was also brewing a dopplebock with me but using a single infusion method. Should be a fun taste test in April.

Does anyone here regularly brew with decoction mashes? I am interested in results, tips, critcisms etc.

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Old 01-29-2007, 10:28 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffg
Does anyone here regularly brew with decoction mashes? I am interested in results, tips, critcisms etc.

Kaiser and Baron von BeeGee do. I've done it twice with wheat beers, and I'm not sure I'll do it again. I've heard some interesting results of blind taste tests, and it doesn't seem worth it to me. PM those two clowns if they don't chime-in to this thread (they probably will though. )
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Old 01-29-2007, 11:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffg

Does anyone here regularly brew with decoction mashes? I am interested in results, tips, critcisms etc.
I do. I think it worth it. As per Kaiser (mentioned above) advice I do my protein rest at 129 to avoid breaking down proteins too much. I usualy have my brew session around 6 hours and thinking of going to 10 g batches.
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Old 01-30-2007, 12:20 AM   #4
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Well, I've only tried it once and failed miserably. I scorched the decotion and my oatmeal stout turned into a smokemeal stout.....that ended up being undrinkable....sorry to say that was the only fatality in 4 years of brewing.

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Old 01-30-2007, 02:10 AM   #5
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Someone rang?

I like to use decoctions where it's traditional, although I will probably go to just step mashes for my Hefeweizens (though decoctions are traditional for that style, as well). Apparently, a lot of modern breweries have gone away from decoctions due to the additional cost as well as the fact that well modified grain is readily available.

They're also useful if you have limited space in your mashtun. This is my case when doing a Doppelbock or other big beer.

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Old 01-30-2007, 02:16 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baron von BeeGee
They're also useful if you have limited space in your mashtun. This is my case when doing a Doppelbock or other big beer.

Excellent idea! Can you help me build a recipe for a traditional, German, Rye-IIPA? That would be great!!!1
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:17 AM   #7
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Excellent idea! Can you help me build a recipe for a traditional, German, Rye-IIPA? That would be great!!!1
With apricot or without??
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffg
The decoction was a little tricky and I ended up scorching a bit in the middle of the pan at the end. I think I needed a little more liquid.
Make sure you heat it gently. you are looking for a rise of about 2-4 F/min. If you have the space in the mash-tun. Dough in thinn (about 2qt/lb). This way your decoction can be thinner as well. But most of us are doing decoctions when the mash tun is already maxed out

Quote:
The predicted 28 degree temperature increase from returning the decoction to the mash tun did not happen for some reason--I was close to 10 degrees short.
I always pull about 20% more than what BeerSmith says I should pull. After boiling I then add half of it and see where I am. The rest is added in portions untill I hit my temp. The rest goes in once it is cool enough.


Quote:
Does anyone here regularly brew with decoction mashes? I am interested in results, tips, critcisms etc.
I brew with decoctions a lot. Many times out of necessity b/c I try to step-mash in a 5gal cooler. But I still have to make a good side/by side to prove to myself that it makes a difference.

Kai
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Old 01-30-2007, 02:27 AM   #9
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I just have a hard time visualizing what a decotion mash looks like, I really want to be able to peer over your shoulder and watch you brew, Kai. I can't see myself ever starting to collect German homebrewing books and frequenting German forums (for starters, I'd have to learn German ), but it seems like a really cool process.

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Old 01-30-2007, 03:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the_bird
Kai. I can't see myself ever starting to collect German homebrewing books and frequenting German forums (for starters, I'd have to learn German ), but it seems like a really cool process.
Well, you're not German.

But seriously, If I have the ability to get information from the source, why shoudn't I. But interestingly enogh there is better American homebrewing literature available than German since home brewing in Germany is not as popular. However, due to the lack of in-depth home brewing books, some German home brewers actually read brewing school text books. Though they are rather expensive ($50+), the one I have was the best book I ever bought on brewing.

When you come over, I'll see what I can do for decoction on the Maerzen I plan to brew that day.

Kai
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