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Old 06-03-2008, 10:05 PM   #1
Stevorino
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Default Decoction and Filtering Necessary w/ Dunkel or a Helles?

My buddy that just got back from Germany really wants to make either a Dunkel or Helles. Am I right in assuming both of these really benefit from decocting and filtering? Any suggestions about doing these techniques?


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Old 06-03-2008, 10:43 PM   #2
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I can only speak for the Helles.

Filtering... no. My typical fermentation schedule for my Helles are 2 weeks primary, 4 weeks secondary/lagering, and 3 weeks bottle. They come out very clear. The lagering settles everything out and unless you do a protein rest that is inapproproate for your pilsner malt (having and understanding your malt analysis is important for step mashing or decocting), it will come out clear.

As for decoction, I've done a triple decoction once and didn't really see the benefit to all of that work. Now a single decoction, on the other hand... huge benefit (compared to amount of work). And by single decoction, I mean a thick decoction at a protein rest, or usually more appropriate, a combined protein/saccharification rest (before moving up to a dextrin rest). My Helles come out pleasantly grainy and malty. Now, many brewers use melanoidin malt in lieu of a decoction and perhaps they get good malty results, but reading New Brewing Lager Beer has swayed me to decoction for German lagers. I'm just not sure you get the same type of grainy/maltiness from melanoidin malt that you do from decocted pilsner malt.


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Old 06-04-2008, 12:04 AM   #3
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Yeah, I just listened to Jamil and he uses Melanoidin malt...but I'm interested in doing a Decoction. I just don't want to get too experimental w/ this beer (especially when I'm trying to tempt new brewers to the hobby). How does your Helles usually turn out? Ever try them in Germany?
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:45 AM   #4
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Yes, I've been to the infamous Hofbrauhaus. But it was before I was a homebrewer and really knew what goes into making beer. I certainly appreciated good beer, but didn't know near as much as I do now. Augustiner Lagerbier Hell is my favorite Helles and someday I'm going to figure out a clone for it (no one else seems to have done this accurately). However, I've put a fair amount of study into homebrewing Helles and lager brewing in general and found what works and what doesn't.

As far as ingredients go, if you use mostly German Pilsner malt, maybe a little Cara-Pils and/or Munich malt, German Noble Hops with the right schedule, and a German Lager Yeast... you can't NOT make a pretty authentic Helles. The rest is in the process and with a little attention to detail, it will come out great. I think brewing a good Helles requires a bit more understanding of the science behind brewing, but it's not all that difficult and certainly not the only beer style requiring this. Let me know if you need a recipe, I can give you one and help with the details.
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Old 06-04-2008, 05:14 AM   #5
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I recently made a Helles and did a double decoction as per Kaiser's decoction vid with a 90 min mash + 90 min boil and it is the clearest beer I have ever made. It took FOREVER to brew, but boy was it worth it!
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Old 06-04-2008, 08:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by menschmaschine View Post
As for decoction, I've done a triple decoction once and didn't really see the benefit to all of that work. Now a single decoction, on the other hand... huge benefit (compared to amount of work). And by single decoction, I mean a thick decoction at a protein rest, or usually more appropriate, a combined protein/saccharification rest (before moving up to a dextrin rest). My Helles come out pleasantly grainy and malty.
The theory goes that decoction was used by brewers before thermometers were invented so as to hit the different temperature steps. A certain amount of the mash when boiled and added back in will raise the temperature of the mash by XX degrees. The more you take out to boil, the greater the temperature rise.

It has since become one of (many) defining characteristics of Lager beer in Germany (try a fresh, draught Bitburger, the head can be compared to Boddington's and the taste is out of this world)

A double or triple decoction will, actually, impart a different flavour (in my experience) when compared to a single, but the difference is sometimes harder to notice unless you really, really "taste" for it, or unless the beer allows the flavour nuances to come through (over-hopping or use of strong flavour malts or yeast, or improper handling, can hinder this).

My double decocted dunkles-weiss tastes significantly different than my single decocted, even when using the exact same grist bill, hoping rates and mash temp profile. It is "maltier" and rounder in the mouth, but only by a small percentage when compared to the single decoction.

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Old 06-04-2008, 12:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Awfers View Post
A double or triple decoction will, actually, impart a different flavour (in my experience) when compared to a single...
When you say "double", what are your decoction steps? Is your first decoction from the acid rest? Is your last decoction used to raise to mash-out temp.?

I can't disagree with you because I've never compared a single decoction to a double... I just think for the amount of work required and the return (in flavor), the single is enough for me. My last Helles (single decoction) turned out very malty and I don't think I'd want it anymore so. I think you're right about hop additions. In a Helles, for example, if doing a single decoction, it might be best to only do bittering hop additions so as to accentuate the maltiness more.
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Old 06-04-2008, 12:22 PM   #8
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Honestly, I have to make a commitment to do a double or triple decoc mash. It's no longer just a mash, no longer a 4-hour-brew. I also didn't see the huge difference that awfers did from a double as opposed to a single. Personally, as of late, I have taken to doing a quick (read: 15-20mins) decoction after 60 minutes of normal sacch resting. I usually drop a few degrees over the course of the mash, and the boiling grains added back to the main mash after 15 or 20 mins of decocting raises the temp up to the upper 150's and completes conversion of any layabout starches. Not that this is necessary, but I find it adds a few efficiency points. At the same time, I've gotten stellar melanoidin production from just that mini-decoc, which is really why I do it. It's a way to get melanoidins without making the commitment that a double-decoction requires, and I am a very big proponent of it as an easier, quicker alternative to the latter. I recently brewed a hefe and a munich helles and did this on both of them---they both turned out nice and malty/toasty, so there is definitely a difference from those 20 mins.

As for filtering, I never filter anything, but I sometimes add finings (gelatin or isinglass) to the secondary. This collagen (isinglass is more expensive but works better---see "KC Superkleer) forms a "net" of positively charged proteins that pick up particulate as they settle to the bottom of your vessel.

At the end of the day, though, there's nothing for clearing like extended lagering...


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