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Old 07-22-2012, 03:48 PM   #1
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Default Dunkelweizen: To decoct or not to decoct?

SO I've done a bit of reading about Dunkelweizens and I'm wondering whether or not to do a decoction mash. The main reason I'm hesitant to do it is because this is only my second all grain batch. The main reason I'm thinking I should is because from what I've read, that's the correct way and it lends extra carmalization and body to the beer.

I was going to use this recipe:

6lbs wheat malt
4lbs munich
.25 lbs chocolate
1 oz hallertauer @60
.25 oz hallertauer @15
Wyeast 3068

If I don't decoct, I was going to up the chocolate to .5 lbs because beer smith said it was light on color (and if I decoct, I imagine that extra color would come from carmalization...)

So, what should I do? Better to take a chance and decoct even though it's only my second AG, or better to go the easier route and maybe add something extra to the recipe to make up for it?

Thanks!

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Old 07-22-2012, 06:04 PM   #2
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Technically it's maillard reactions and not caramelization. The boil is not hot enough for caramelization.

There is endless debate over decotions. I like to use them and like the beer I make with them more than the same beers without. Others don't think it's worth the effort.

The maillard reactions are real. You can see and taste them. I don't think recipe changes can reproduce them exactly. A small amount of Melanoidin malt will get you closer to the flavor than chocolate malt will.

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Old 07-22-2012, 07:50 PM   #3
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Thanks, Malticulous. Do you think decoction is something a "second time" AG brewer can pull off without completely screwing the pooch?

I'm not so much trying to debate whether or not it's a worthwhile endeavor, rather, I'm just worried it may be too advanced a technique for me at this point. I've been brewing for over a year, but only recently started all grain.

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:14 PM   #4
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Sure. One trick is to pull more than enough then add most of it, check the temp and then slowly add enough to hit the correct temp. Add the extra once it's cooled to near the mash temp.

May last dunkel weizen was doughed in at 113f (ferulic acid rest) rested 20 min, infused to 122F for 10 minutes, infused to 145 for 40 minutes along with a 20 minute (thick) decotion. The decotion brought the mash to 155f for 20 minutes and then I used a thin decoction for mash out. Decoctions are too slow for the lower temp rest. I've made too many beers with poor head retention with triple decotions so I now infuse those lower rests more quickly.

I think pitch rate is more important with wiess beer than the mash schedule. I pitched that beer at about 3 million/ml, fermented it in the low 60's and got great banana. 6 million/ml is probably perfect, 9 million/ml seems to be too much.

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malticulous View Post
Sure. One trick is to pull more than enough then add most of it, check the temp and then slowly add enough to hit the correct temp. Add the extra once it's cooled to near the mash temp.

May last dunkel weizen was doughed in at 113f (ferulic acid rest) rested 20 min, infused to 122F for 10 minutes, infused to 145 for 40 minutes along with a 20 minute (thick) decotion. The decotion brought the mash to 155f for 20 minutes and then I used a thin decoction for mash out. Decoctions are too slow for the lower temp rest. I've made too many beers with poor head retention with triple decotions so I now infuse those lower rests more quickly.

I think pitch rate is more important with wiess beer than the mash schedule. I pitched that beer at about 3 million/ml, fermented it in the low 60's and got great banana. 6 million/ml it probably perfect, 9 million/ml seems to be too much.
Great, thanks for the tip about pitch rate. I have a Wyeast slap pack that I was planning to do a starter with (probably 1 liter). I'll double check my numbers based on your suggestion though.

I was just watching brewing TV do a decoction, and they recommended to pull 1 quart of thick mash for every pound of grist in the recipe. The beer in that video was a double decoction, but it definitely helped me to get an idea of how this works.

I think I need to read up on what all the different temp rests do first. I like to understand the "why" as well as the "how," and I'm quite ignorant of that right now.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 07-22-2012, 08:30 PM   #6
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I'm not saying not to decoct, it would be the 'to style' way of doing it and I'd definitely be contemplating the same thing as you if I were brewing a dunkel weiss. But I remember something in Brewing Classic Styles where Jamil said that if you're using a well modified base malt and don't need the complex mashing schedule, you can imitate the flavors with some caramel malt in the grist. I'm not sure exactly what he said, but if you want I can find it in the book and give you a general idea. Again, I'd lean towards the decoction mash, but I don't think it's necessary to make that beer.
Malticulous makes a great point about pitching. When using a wheat yeast, you want to make sure you pitch enough, but be sure not to over pitch so you still get the nice banana/clove character from the yeast. What yeast are you using for this one?

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:47 PM   #7
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I would do a decoction mash also my dunkel was awesome

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:47 PM   #8
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I can't really help you on any of the finer aspects of brewing a weizen as that's something I've yet to do, but I've done a few decoctions and can say they really aren't as scary as they sound. The first one I did I was probably 10 batches into brewing AG, and I still kinda felt like I was flying blind during parts of it. If you have a pretty good set of plans laid out before you start brewing, you probably won't have any problems. Malticulous' advice on decocting more than required is definitely something to take from this thread. Mash/decoction calculators are a great starting point, but none are really directly tailored to your own equipment so having a little bit of wiggle room when trying to hit temps helps immensely.

A triple decoction will definitely darken the wort, I did an Oberon clone with one, Brewtarget estimated an SRM of 4.1 but it looks like a darker pale ale instead. Make sure you stir the decoction pretty frequently, scorching your grain is the last thing you want to do.

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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Yo, Dan.

I've got Wyeast 3068 Weihenstephan Weizen.

Yeah, that's pretty much where I'm at. My thinking is it'd be a really cool addition to the beer, and a possibly fun addition to the brew day. On the flip side, my first AG brew day was long as hell, and the idea of lengthening it further worries me a little. In other words, I'd hate to get halfway through and be totally spent.

I have some leftover crystal 75 from the PA I brewed, so it's possible to maybe add that in instead of the decoction.

I am definitely leaning towards doing the decoction at this point though. Speaking of which, what's the preferred decoction method for a dunkelwiezen? I'd like to stick to the easiest single decoction method, unless it's advised to go for a double decoction...

And just to make sure I say it six times in a row...decoction!

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Old 07-22-2012, 08:50 PM   #10
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Thanks, phenry and random.

Yeah, the more reading I do, the better prepared I feel. having more than needed is also a great tip that I'm taking away from this.

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