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Old 01-12-2009, 06:43 PM   #1
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Default Decoctions on my rig?

I can FINALLY see the end of the freakin' tunnel on my rig build after that damn Pol told me to rip out all of my plumbing and do it a different way!!


I've been thinking about decoctions and step mashes and wanted to get some general thoughts if anyone had them since I THINK (famous last words) I'll have a pretty easy way to do either/both if I wanted to.

Very quickly my set-up will be a single tier system with:
- a temp controlled 25 gal HLT with a 20 foot copper coil mounted in the center
- a well-insulated 20 gal MT with a pump that will either pump from the MT, through the coil in the HLT, and back to the MT or straight from the MT to the boil kettle
- a temp controlled 25 gal boil kettle with a pump that will either directly into the MT or through a plate chiller

All flows are controlled through a control panel, a series of solenoids and two March 809's.

When I brew:
- I'll connect a garden hose to one end and click open two solenoids... water will flow through a large filter and the HLT and boil kettle will fill
- punch in my first temp for a dough-in on the HLT and then the same temp (plus a degree or two) into the BK. The temp controls will automatically click on the burners and they'll come up to temp.
- When ready to dough-in, I'll flip a switch and the BK pump will pump the water into the MT and I can add my grains
- I'll then click another switch and the pump on the MT will constantly circulate my mash through the coil in the HLT, maintaining whatever temp I have in the HLT, and back into my MT. I wanted to do it this way so I never have any direct heat or heat that is above my target temp being applied to my mash (Pol's suggestion which I thought was a good one)
- When I'm done mashing, click another switch and it'll all be pumped into the BK for hops and boiling.
- Once my boil is done, I'll pump through a plate chiller to cool


Here are my questions...

- Decoctions... do folks just use a muslin bag or something when they're doing a separate boil? Since I can temp control my BK and then pump it back into my MT, I'm thinking this would be a really easy thing to do. Just not sure if folks have entirely separate MT's, use grain bags or something else.

- Step Mashes or infusions... And maybe this is a question for after I test out my rig. For step mashing, I was thinking I would simply turn off the constant circulating mash for a few minutes, jack up my HTL to my next step target, and then flip the pump back on. Problem is I have no idea how long it would take to make that step since I don't know how efficient my set-up is going to be.

How important is it to hit that next step as quickly as possible? Should I consider just bringing a predetermined amount of water (I think Pro-mash etc would calc this??) up to a boil in my BK and then dump that in to achieve the step (or would this simply be a decoction)??

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Old 01-12-2009, 09:32 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Cape Brewing View Post

- Decoctions... do folks just use a muslin bag or something when they're doing a separate boil? Since I can temp control my BK and then pump it back into my MT, I'm thinking this would be a really easy thing to do. Just not sure if folks have entirely separate MT's, use grain bags or something else.
You do need a separate container to boil the decoction which would be called the decoction vessel or kettle. I use a 5 gallon SS stockpot. The grain is physically removed from the MT, placed in the decoction vessel and boiled, then put back in the MT to be reincorporated with the main mash.
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Old 01-12-2009, 10:26 PM   #3
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Sometimes manual control is the easiest. Program change and constantly setting PID controllers, temperature controllers is just a lot more work for 1 special brew.

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Old 01-13-2009, 12:45 AM   #4
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I guess I had a very very long story behind simply asking: Can you use a mulsin bag during a decoction boil?

If I can't, no big deal at all, I can simply remove some of the mash, add it to a small stock pot and boil it separately. Pretty easy and straight forward.

If I can, maybe making some kind of piece of equipment that guys have made for holding hops during boils (the PVC pipe with the bolts) could be made and I would never have to leave the rig.

Either way is not a problem and I was jsut curious if it would work

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Old 01-13-2009, 01:20 AM   #5
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I guess I had a very very long story behind simply asking: Can you use a mulsin bag during a decoction boil?
Perhaps I don't understand your question. I don't know how or why a muslin bag would be used for a decoction. The grains aren't boiled in a solution like potatoes or pasta, the grain itself is directly placed in a pot and boiled like a stew so they need to be loose, not contained in a bag.
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Old 01-13-2009, 01:53 AM   #6
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Reason I'm asking is because of the way my rig is set up... I can either pull them all out and simply boil in a pot like everyone does...

OR...

I could gerry-rig a grain bag in the boil kettle on my rig to do the boil in. I would need the bag because it would have to act as a filter and not allow the grains to clog the pump that the pot is hooked up to.

With my rig, I can pump either a little bit of the liquid from my mash tun into my boil kettle (or a little bit of fresh water) and do the decoction boil in my boil kettle.... and then pump it back into my mash tun when it's done.... and then simply dump the grains back as well

I can't do any of that unless I can figure out a way to filter the grains.

Like I was saying... if I can't do it, it's obviously not a problem and I can simply pull the grain out and do the decoction separately. BUT... if the answer was "yeah, I think you could probably boil the grains while they're in a muslin bag, suspended in the boiling water", than that would actually be a really easy way of doing it on my rig

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