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Old 08-18-2009, 04:02 PM   #1
ceannt
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Default Decoction mash schedule for Schwarzbier?

I have never performed a Decoction Mash, brewing typically English beer styles I have stuck with single infusion mashes. I would like to brew a Schwarzbier as a “jumping off point” for the malty German beer styles. I figured this was a good place to start before I try a Marzen or a Bock, and would give me a chance to get used to the different mashing procedures. After a bit of research of both the style guidelines and what I could find on decoction mashing, I have come up with this draft Mash Schedule. It is a modified triple decoction that I hope will work well with modern well modified malt. (Looking at the time involved I am just a bit horrified… I am used to just doughing in and letting it sit for an hour … what the heck am I getting myself into).

Protein rest at 120.
Pull first decoction right after dough-in. Heat to 153 and let rest for 15-min., then boil 15-min.
First saccharification rest at 149.
Pull second decoction after 20-min. Boil 15-min.
Second saccharification rest at 158.
Pull third decoction after 20-min. boil 15-min.
Mash out at 168.
Drain after 10-min. and sparge.

How does this look??
Calculating the decoction volumes I can handle without much trouble, it’s the times and temps. I’m concerned with…
Should I skip the protein rest? Is the mash-out decoction really necessary? Should I go with a single sacc. rest at say 153? As you can see I am second guessing myself a good bit here, and could sure use some “warm fuzzy feeling of reassurance”.
Help.

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Old 08-18-2009, 04:25 PM   #2
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I've done only a couple decoction brews so I'm by no means an expert. I got good results with protein rest for 20 minutes, pull the decoction & heat to 155 for 15 (just like your schedule), boil for 10-15 and raise the mash to ~155. I pulled a second decoction for mashout & sparged as usual.

This seems to have worked. What I've discovered is that it's far easier for me if I keep the schedule very simple because it just hasn't been easy to hit the temps on the nose.

The results, though, have been a really good mash.

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Old 08-18-2009, 04:58 PM   #3
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Here's a decoction schedule I've used several times that has worked. Maybe just reading it will help. This was always used for big Belgians so this is for something that had 12.5-14 pounds of grain and I used 39 qt. total water (5.5 gal. batch). This is only a double-decoction:

1) Heat 8 qt. water close to a boil (this will be for step 4).
2) Dough into 12 qt. @ 104 F to rest @ 102 F just long enough to measure/correct pH.
3) Immediately pull 8 qt. thick-mash decoction (all grain).
4) Immediately infuse decoction with 8 qt. @ 212 F water to rest @ 158 F for 5-10 min., test for conversion.
5) Boil decoction for 12 min.
6) Add decoction back to mash (slowly) and add heat (if required) to rest @ 149 F for 60 min., test for conversion.
7) Pull 8 qt. thin-mash decoction (all liquid) and boil 12 min.
8) Add decoction to mash out @ 168 F and sparge with 19 qt. @ 172 F.

Some comments on why I did what I did:
I didn't want the mash spending a bunch of time at the protein rest temps while I heat, sacc rest, then boil the decoction so I chose to let it sit at acid rest temps.
I infuse the decoction in order to speed up the process and reduce the time the mash sits at that acid rest temp.
I use a kitchen hand-strainer to pull the first, all-grain decoction...pulling all-grain and leaving as much liquid behind as possible...I want it THICK (remember I'm immediately infusing it with water).
I use a kitchen collander to pull the second, all-liquid decoction...I just press the collander down into the mash and scoop liquid from inside the collander.

If you haven't watched Kaiser's decoction video you should...very helpful. But in the end you'll have to just try it and tweek it yourself. It does make for a fairly long brew day, if you get it done in much less than ~7 hours you're doing good.

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Last edited by SpanishCastleAle; 08-18-2009 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 08-18-2009, 05:10 PM   #4
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I've had excellent results with single infusions for Schwartzbiers. How old is that recipe?

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Old 08-18-2009, 05:23 PM   #5
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Are you looking to do a decoction b/c you want to try a decoction or because you feel that you need a decoction for that beer?

I brew my Schwarzbier w/o decoction but may try one sometime in the future.

Kai

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Old 08-19-2009, 11:53 AM   #6
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Thanks for the advice! I know that I could "get away" without a decoction mash for a Schwarzbier, but I am using this as a springboard to Bocks and Marzens. I also think it is the best way to get the smoothness and rich malt profile I'm after. I am concerned about the time involved though.... and might be better off with a single large decoction. I like the idea of just pulling grain and infusing it with near boiling water to speed things up. Kaiser, what temp do you mash your non-decocted Schwarzbier at?

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Old 08-19-2009, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ceannt View Post
Kaiser, what temp do you mash your non-decocted Schwarzbier at?
I mash my Schwarzbier with a Hochkurz step mash: 30 min at 145, 45 min at 160, 15 min at 170.

If I were to make a decoction version of that mash shedule I'd go with this:

- 25 min at 145f
- pull thick decoction
bring it to boil, resting should not be necessary sine the starch should already be liquiefied and you don't need to get the most out of the enzymes in the decoction since a Schwarzbier generally has a good amount of Pilsner malt.
- boil for 20-30 min
- return to get to 160 (missing that temp by +/-2 f is not a big deal. fermentability is maily affected by the temp and length of the 145f rest)
- decoct or heat to mash-out or skip it altogether.

Kai
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Old 08-19-2009, 03:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
Here's a decoction schedule I've used several times that has worked. Maybe just reading it will help. This was always used for big Belgians so this is for something that had 12.5-14 pounds of grain and I used 39 qt. total water (5.5 gal. batch). This is only a double-decoction:

1) Heat 8 qt. water close to a boil (this will be for step 4).
2) Dough into 12 qt. @ 104 F to rest @ 102 F just long enough to measure/correct pH.
3) Immediately pull 8 qt. thick-mash decoction (all grain).
4) Immediately infuse decoction with 8 qt. @ 212 F water to rest @ 158 F for 5-10 min., test for conversion.
5) Boil decoction for 12 min.
6) Add decoction back to mash (slowly) and add heat (if required) to rest @ 149 F for 60 min., test for conversion.
7) Pull 8 qt. thin-mash decoction (all liquid) and boil 12 min.
8) Add decoction to mash out @ 168 F and sparge with 19 qt. @ 172 F.
I really like the idea of infusing the boiling water into the decoction. How well do you hit your target with 8 qts of water into 8 qts of grain? With the decoctions I've done, I've really had to futz around to hit my targets and if this works first-time every-time, I'll use this method.

Quick question (not to steal the thread here) - is there any time an infusion mash would be preferred over a decoction?
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Old 08-19-2009, 04:09 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkSheffield View Post
With the decoctions I've done, I've really had to futz around to hit my targets and if this works first-time every-time, I'll use this method.
This happened b/c you attempted to precisely calculate the decoction volume. You can fix this problem if you calculate the decoction volume and add 10-20% buffer. When you return the decoction do this in stages until you hit your temp. Anything left over should be added once it has cooled close to the mash temp.

Quote:
Quick question (not to steal the thread here) - is there any time an infusion mash would be preferred over a decoction?
This implies that decoctions are generally preferred over infusion mashes, which is not the case and a slippery slope to go down for a discussion. I would not consider decoctions for traditional English and American beers.

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Old 08-19-2009, 04:14 PM   #10
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Mark, you'll have to tweek it for your system. That's why people often recommend pulling decoctions that are too big and then adding them back slowly so that you insure to hit your target temp and then just let the remainder of the decoction cool down and then add that. That decoction gets me real close with my system...if anything it's the last decoction that doesn't get all the way up to mashout temp. But I mash in a big pot on my kitchen stove so it's easy to add a little heat.

Also, the target temp for the decoction sacc rest (step 4) is not that critical...just get the temp up to where it will convert fast; 158, 159, whatever it takes.

EDIT: looks like Kaiser beat me to it.

Quote:
This implies that decoctions are generally preferred over infusion mashes, which is not the case and a slippery slope to go down for a discussion. I would not consider decoctions for traditional English and American beers.
Yea, I didn't even broach that but I'll prob be doing less decoctions in the future. I wanted to try them and have firsthand experience of the result but they seem a bit more trouble than they're worth...for me. Then again sometimes I want an extended brewday.
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Last edited by SpanishCastleAle; 08-19-2009 at 04:24 PM.
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