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Old 01-19-2013, 12:45 AM   #1
Dirtyoldguy366
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Default Many Firsts One Beer

I've returned to my country cottage for the weekend to brew up another lager as here I have access to a cold cellar that stays around 45 degrees all winter.

This will be my first recipe I've designed from the bottom up, my first decoction mash, my first use of first wort hops, and one of only a handful of lagers I've made.

I was assisted over in the recipe forum by member pjj2ba with my hop schedule and have come up with a recipe which I have modified somewhat to incorporate first wort hops and up the bitterness a touch.

Here's what I've come up with and plan to do tomorrow:
Grain:
9 lbs Weyermann Floor Malted Bohemian Pilsner Malt

Water:
1:1 distilled to tap water

The boil:
90 minute boil
FWH 0.25oz U.S. Saaz 8.1 AA 8.6 IBU
FWH 0.25oz U.S. Tettnang 6.1 AA 6.4 IBU
60 minutes 0.25oz U.S. Saaz 8.1 AA 7.3
60 minutes 0.25oz U.S. Tettnang AA 5.5
30 minutes 0.50oz German Hallertau
5 minutes 0.25oz German Hallertau

34.5 IBU


Decoction mash as follows:
Add strike water to mash to reach Acid rest at 95F and rest for 30 minutes
Protein rest at 122 for 30 minutes
Saccharification rest at 149 for 60 minutes
(times do not include time needed for heating decoctions)

Each step will be achieved by drawing 1/3 of the mash from its thickest part and boiling it in a separate vessel.

The boiling decoction will be added until each rest temperature is achieved and the remaining decoction is to be added once its termperature cools to that of the desired rest temperature.

The decoction drawn between protein rest and saccharifcation rest will be allowed to rest at 148 for 15 minutes before allowed to boil.

Before draining the first runnings I will add a gallon of boiling water, which is subtracted from the sparge water.

Drain runnings and batch sparge.

Fermentation:
This beer will be fermented with a packet of Saflager w-34/70 dry lager yeast sprinkled on wort or by racking it onto a yeast cake of Saflager S-23 from a batch of light lager.

It will be fermented between 40 and 50 degrees in my cellar. If I can find time to get back here in a couple weeks I'll rack it to secondary, otherwise I'll leave it alone for a month or so and keg it. If I come back to rack it, I'll do a 24 hour diacetyl rest as well.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I'm expecting and shooting for a crisp, dry beer with earthy/spicy flavors from the first wort saaz and tettnang additions complimented by hints of floral from the hallertau later on.

Anybody see anything I could do better in my recipe (hops wise) or mash schedule (I have 10 lbs of grain total but beersmith tells me that 10 is over the top for style)?

Am I first wort hopping appropriately?

Anybody have an opinion on racking onto a yeast cake? My thought is that more yeast in a lager can't be bad, and the first beer I used it for was very light so residual beer from the first batch should contribute little flavor. I've done it with 1056 for going from a pale ale to an IPA and it turned out super! Will it work as well for lager yeast? I don't have time for a starter as I'm only here for the weekend and don't really want to fiddle with washing the yeast as I'm already planning a lengthy decoction mash.

I'll try to take notes tomorrow and let everyone know how it went. Sorry for the long post, but I had planned to write this down for myself to use tomorrow, but couldn't find a pen (Its my country home away from home so I'm not here much)... so you get to listen to me thinking out loud.

Thanks all! Let me know what you think!

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Old 01-19-2013, 01:03 AM   #2
Spintab
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Looks good man. You sound well prepared for a fairly complicated brew day. I've done a pils just like this a few times and it has become a yearly recipe. A couple things I do different. I usually do a triple decoction mostly for the fun of it. 105,123,148,and 168 mash out. The third decoction is in place of your boiling water at mash out. Hops look good. Each of my additions are both saaz and hallertau but it has come out just a little hoppy on occasion. As far a grain. I use the same stuff but 11 lbs. I like it a little bigger. Water, I do the same 1:1 with distilled. Use lots of yeast. I'd personally go with the cake or use like three packets of the 34/70. I usually use white labs wlp800 and make a ginormous starter. Even with that, fermentation has always been really slow but steady for over three weeks.

The biggest thing you can do with a beer like this is give it as much time as possible. The first time I made one, it came to serious delicious fruition after 4wk primary, 2mo lager, and almost 6 months in bottles. That's when I drank the last one and it was friggin fantastic.

Good luck. Cheers

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Old 01-19-2013, 01:25 AM   #3
Dirtyoldguy366
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I don't come down here all that often so more than likely it'll just stay down there all winter with a transfer to secondary whenever I make it here to keg the light lager I brewed at Christmas time (It goes into the secondary tomorrow). Is there any harm in leaving it on that much yeast for a while if it takes me a while to get back to it?

I was considering doing a third decoction to get to mashout like you suggested but I felt like I will have a full day as it is as. As a complete decoction novice, I'm a little concerned about caramelization and residual sweetness so I am also worried that a third decoction would push it over the top.

Am I misunderstanding decoctions?

I guess I'm just doing it to be traditional for the style, test out this malt, and try something new but I'm not really clear on what i'm accomplishing...

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Old 01-19-2013, 10:26 PM   #4
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An update on this beer.

Never had so many things go wrong but I think I might be out of the woods.... so long as my mash doesn't stick on me.... its draining very slowly.

I realized that I'd left my thermometer at home. I went to every store in town and raided my mother in law's house... ended up with a 40 year old mercury oral thermometer (used that to get to acid rest) and a meat thermometer the accuracy of which is dubious.

Ended up taking too small of a decoction for saccharification rest so I only got to 140 or so. So I added a gallon of boiling water taken out of the sparge water and when checking the temp from this addition i dropped my crappy thermometer in the mash.....

By the time I fished it out I was at 145, so I pulled a third decoction which put me right at 150... at this point it had been resting in the low 140's for around 45 minutes and it looked really starchy and didn't smell quite right to me, so I added an extra pound of grain (the temperature drop didn't even register on my thermometer) and continued to rest for another 30 minutes.

The first wort is nearly drained now... went very slow but did not stick. Very clear, nice sweet flavor. Added first wort hops... can't smell them so I guess they're doing their thing.

Lesson learned... overestimate how much decoction you need to take because if you don't take enough its a pain!

OK time to sparge!

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Old 01-20-2013, 12:19 AM   #5
VladOfTrub
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Yes, you sounded like you were very well prepared. On paper, everything looks good. Jeez, and to think, I was going to ask you what the pH was after the acid rest? Anyway, you learned some things.

"Lesson learned... overestimate how much decoction you need to take because if you don't take enough its a pain!"

Or, better yet, use a direct fired mashtun. The pain will go away.
You may want to get some iodine, too.

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Old 01-20-2013, 01:43 AM   #6
Dirtyoldguy366
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Yea I wished I'd had some iodine. Looks/smells great in the kettle!

No idea about pH... I have a meter somewhere but never thought to use it. Maybe someday i'll get technical like that.

Decoction mashing was a ton of work and between the extra time from added steps and my screwups, and the time I spent looking for a thermometer added onto it has made this by far my longest brew day ever. It was cool however to try an unfamiliar technique.

Unless this stuff turns out to be incredible, I'll probably stick with single infusion mashes when brewing away from home and bring my spare thermometer at home down here so I won't be without one!

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Old 01-23-2013, 12:54 AM   #7
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Yeah man, the mash always looks and smells pretty tortured after a decoction but it comes out clear on the other side. It's interesting you had thermometer issues. Traditionally, a big purpose for decoction mashing was to hit temps consistently without one. If your measurements are spot on, it would work every time. You're right though, for us it's easier to overshoot and adjust with cool water.

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