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Old 02-20-2009, 03:36 AM   #1
oguss0311
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Default On decoction

I just did a decoction brew- following Kaisers advice and after watching his move a few times. It was fun- a little tougher than He makes it look, etc.
I have some questions- and rather than PM him- I thought I'd post them out loud, as I'm sure that others must have the same questions- and maybe kaiser will see this- and I'm sure others who know what's up will......
1. So we don't want to introduce the grains to Too much heat for fear of extracting Tannins- But- if were Boiling a significantly large portion of the grains- do we not end up doing that quite a lot? Or do we except and celebrate their presence as part of the beer styles character? I have heard of that- like Flanders Red Ale- (Which- of course- is NOT what I was doing) and Wines do have them.... Maybe we denature or destroy the tannins? But I can't see that- because then the real boil would do the same thing and Tannins would never be an issue....
2. Kaiser is so fluent with this method, that he will do step mashes in a five gal. cooler- but ends up pulling a Really large portion of the mash for the decoction. Do people ever just do the Whole thing in SS or aluminum mash-ton and bring the Whole thing to a boil at the end?

I had a great time doing this method, and want to run the same grain bill through a more typical process (like a standard 60min 153F mash) and see if I can notice a difference in taste and of course the efficiency. I got 69%- which is disappointingly common for me recently.....

For those of you out there considering giving this a go- an issue I did run into was loosing temps in the mash cooler while the decoction was in its sarcharfication, (sp!) and 20min boil. I did follow Kai's advice and had the decoction volume 20% larger than what was needed to achieve the next step for the main mash- and I loved how he slowly added it to hit the target, let the remainder cool- and then combined everything again. But I still fell short of my target 160F even with my extra 20%. I was at 153F incidentally, and so did not think twice about it.

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:10 AM   #2
BigEd
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Glad you tried a decoction. I am a fan and despite the cadre of those on some forums who dismiss it as a waste of time will continue to enjoy the process and the benefits I see from it. It's good to see the method has a following here at HBT.

Briefly:
1) The tannin bugaboo is probably the biggest myth and most misunderstood aspect of decoction brewing. Tannin extraction requires two factors, excess heat and an excessively high pH. As the decoction pull is thick the pH is essentially the same as the mash (~5.2/5.4). Tannins are not a problem until the pH reaches a much higher point.

2) There is no reason to boil the entire mash. You are pulling a portion to raise the temperature to the various steps used. No mash, whether decoction or infusion, would be raised to boiling temperature.

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Old 02-20-2009, 01:20 PM   #3
SpanishCastleAle
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I'm doing a decoction tomorrow and then another on Sunday.

I do mine in pots so I just add a little heat to keep the mash at the rest temp while I rest/boil the decoction.

I can't really attest to the benfits of a decoction because the only brew I've done it on (in the last 10 years) just got racked to the secondary. But if the taste of my Vienna Lager at only 15 days in primary is any indication then I can say that they are a good thing. Just the aroma and color of the decoction at the end of the boil seems to indicate that it has a significant effect.

FWIW, I do a combo infusion/decoction like this:
I strike to an acid rest @ 95o F.
Then I infuse to a protien rest @ 122o F.
Then I immediately pull as thick a decoction as I can.
Then I infuse the decoction with a smallish amount of boiling water and add heat to get it up to 158o F as fast as possible and rest for 10-15 min., test for conversion.
Boil decoction 40 minutes (30 min. minimum and not a second less ).
Add to mash and rest @ 150o F for 1 hour, test for conversion.
Pull thin-mash decoction (pretty much all liquid).
Boil decoction to hot break.
Mash out @ 170o F.

Def more time consuming...but I obv didn't get into homebrewing to save time.

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Old 02-20-2009, 03:25 PM   #4
menschmaschine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigEd View Post
Glad you tried a decoction. I am a fan and despite the cadre of those on some forums who dismiss it as a waste of time will continue to enjoy the process and the benefits I see from it. It's good to see the method has a following here at HBT.

Briefly:
1) The tannin bugaboo is probably the biggest myth and most misunderstood aspect of decoction brewing. Tannin extraction requires two factors, excess heat and an excessively high pH. As the decoction pull is thick the pH is essentially the same as the mash (~5.2/5.4). Tannins are not a problem until the pH reaches a much higher point.

2) There is no reason to boil the entire mash. You are pulling a portion to raise the temperature to the various steps used. No mash, whether decoction or infusion, would be raised to boiling temperature.

Well said Ed. The only thing I would add is to #2... that boiling the whole mash would denature all of the enzymes in the mash. Aside from raising temperature, you're also preserving the enzymes in the main mash.
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