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Old 04-27-2013, 02:33 AM   #1
Apr 2013
Posts: 3

My disclaimer: I don't know what I'm talking about BUT I think this makes since. Can someone who DOES know comment on the science here.

After reading numerous variations on decoction this is what I have concluded based solely on the science as I understand it.

Multiple decoctions are pointless. A single decoction adding the grain back for the second rest only after you reach your desired grain "cereal" consistency, breakdown, and color is all you need. After the first decoction rest and addition of all your removed grain, simply increase you mash tun temps as a stepped mash method to reach your desired resting temps.

As I understand the science, the resting temps are based solely on the reactions happening in the mash tun, bringing the cereal to boil multiple times does nothing any different than bringing it to boil once for a prolonged time. Breaking down the cellular structure of the grain is all you are really accomplishing, aside from altering flavor and color which can be accomplish in one boil as well.

This method would allow a much less labor intensive process for a multiple decoction recipe.

Anyone with knowledge here care to comment?

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Old 04-27-2013, 03:41 AM   #2
helibrewer's Avatar
Nov 2011
Santa Rosa, CA
Posts: 3,813
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My take on the multi-step decoction is to achieve a multi-step temperature infusion mash. This is pricipally used in situations where direct heat to the tun is not possible/available therefore precise temperature steps were/are not possible. The calculated heating of successive decoctions was the method employed for temperature control.
Something is always fermenting....
"It's Bahl Hornin'"

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Old 04-27-2013, 11:19 AM   #3
Aug 2010
McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
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Stepping back from the forest so as to see it rather than the trees it seems obvious that if single decoction mashing produced beers as good as triple decoction mashing, triple decoction mashing wouldn't be on the books as no one would be doing it or would have done it. Today, of course, very few breweries do any decotions at all (let alone triple) because they are run by accountants rather than brewers. The beers suffer.

Thus the impression is that triple decocted beers are better than infused or double or single decocted beers. Whether one could demonstrate this or not in a double blind triangle test or not I don't know. Many claim that infused beers made with melanoidin malts are indistinguishable from triple decocted beers. Again, I don't know whether triangle testing would support that.

If we try to explain the benefits of multiple decoctions I think we'd have to look at the extreme complexity of the Maillard reactions. Is it possible that letting them proceed to a certain extent and then interrupting them leads to a different result than letting them proceed more fully in a single longer boil? Again I don't know but anyone who has observed that many (and I do mean many) cooked foods taste better reheated out of the refrigerator as leftovers the next day may be tempted to think that this is a plausible explanation.

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Old 04-27-2013, 12:18 PM   #4
LBussy's Avatar
Jan 2013
Kansas City, Missouri
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So ... I've done triple decoctions and made some of my best. beers. ever. It may be that they received "care and feeding" that others did not, but I am a believer in this style of brewing. That and it's just plain cool.

I get where the OP is going. I think if a guy really wanted to separate the needs of the mash proper from the needs of the cereal decoction proper, a standard step mash could be done (infusion or direct fired) and then the cereal cooked to get the rest of the characteristics from the decoction. Maybe. It doesn't sound that much "easier" to me though.

I would encourage someone who is entertaining undertaking this method of brewing (or at least achieving the "same" results) to actually do it once before looking for an alternative.
Lee Bussy
Bad decisions make good stories.

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Old 04-27-2013, 03:41 PM   #5
Apr 2013
Posts: 3

Thanks for the input! I agree I will try it for sure.

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Old 04-28-2013, 09:33 PM   #6
Nov 2009
Alternate Universe
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I do brew in a bag and I've boiled my whole bag of grains as a mash out. It really 'pops' the roast flavor in a stout. Obviously you better know your pH if you do this.

To add to the sacrilege, I borrowed a mash tun and mashed out with boiling water of ~pH 5.6. Those haven't bottle aged yet but the samples tasted OK.

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