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Attempting Decoction Mash in Electric System

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micraftbeer

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I currently have a 2V set-up, where one kettle is a basic mash tun and I use a 2000W/120V Blichmann RIMS Rocket to control mash temperature steps, and the other kettle is my boil kettle and I have a 2250W/120V fold-back TC element in the kettle for boiling.

I've been curious to try a decoction mash on my tried and true Dusseldorf Alt recipe, just to see. (Note: I'm not looking for opinions on whether this is meaningful or not, let's just move past that and talk about the process.) Pulling a decoction full of grain bits, I'm certain I would probably burn grains to my fold-back element putting that in my boil kettle. But I'm also pretty certain that I'm not going to be able to really boil in my mash tun utilizing the RIMS Rocket.

I was thinking I could try a "near boil" decoction in my mash tun using the great modified decoction mash process outlined in the May/June-2019 Zymurgy magazine issue Earl'sches modified decoction method for a single vessel. And at the point I would "boil", I'll instead raise the mash temp to 200F (I'm at sea level here in Michigan so do get a boil at 212F) and hold that for the 15-40 minute boil portion of the process.

I'm wondering if any other have had success doing a decoction mash process with electric heating elements? Or tried boiling or near-boiling with a RIMS setup?
 

Vale71

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I'd advise you against turning on the element with grains present as you'll probably get scorching within 20-30 seconds of doing that and the resulting wort will be completely unusable. The taste of scorched grains is probably worse than any other off-flavor you might get at other points in the process...
Getting to boil using a RIMS is probably not going to work either as you'll get so much cavitation in the pump that recirculation will probably stop before you reach boil temp, causing only the wort in the RIMS tube to boil which obviously won't do your element any good in the long run, not to mention the fact that you'll only be making steam and not a proper decoction.
Personally I don't think there is a way to get around the need for a dedicated decoction vessel.
 

jcav

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I do decoctions on several beers that I brew. I really like what it does for the mouthfeel of the beers that I brew and the perceived maltiness that it adds. I commend you on going down this road and experimenting.

I have a 3 vessel e-herms system (Kal clone) but the stand that I use still has propane burners from when I had a gas fired system. I just put an older 10 gallon stainless steel pot on the stand in place of the boil kettle. I have a one quart laddle and I scoop out 1 quart or full scoop of grain per pound of total grains in the mash tun and add it to the pot. I have the main mash recirculating at a set temperature with the rest of the gains that didn't get scooped out, and continue recirculating while I stir the grains in the pot while bringing it to a temperature rest with the propane burner. I let it rest covered at the step temp I need for 15 to 30 minutes depending on the recipe and then I continue to heat while stirring until it boils. I then stir while boiling the grain for 10 to 30 minutes again depending on the style of beer and recipe. I then add all the gain back to the main mash and step up to the next temperature rest. After that I mash out and continue as usual. It might be better for you to use a separate pot for the decoction and put the pot on a stove or propane burner and go this route. I would not put grain in the same vessel as the electric element. If someone has done it this way maybe they can chime in on their results.

Lots of luck in your decoction endeavors!


John
 
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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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I came up with a couple options from talking to some people:

1. I've got an induction burner I can use. I can use my mash tun and utilize my 2000W RIMS to heat it close to boiling, and then use the 1500W induction unit underneath to push it up to a decoction boil and have a weak boil.

2. I also have an e-BIAB unit that I could use instead as my mash tun. It has a 2250W element so I could mash then decoction boil in there, and use that instead of my regular mash tun. With the grains in the bag and the basket keeping things up off the burner, I shouldn't get the scorching. As long as the Brew Bag bag is fine being boiled. When finished mashing, I'd transfer to my regular boil kettle.
 
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micraftbeer

micraftbeer

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I did the decoction this weekend, and brew process went well. I used the 1500W induction cooktop under my mash tun to boil the thick decoction, and it worked great. It will be a couple weeks until I can weigh in on how this tastes (which of course is the whole point). With the recipe being one I love already, it will be tough to see if it can improve it. Below are some pictures and a description of my process.

1. Calculated total mash water for 1.5 qt/lb.
2. Took volume of water (less volume lost under false bottom) and split it in half. Heated first half to strike temp, other half left at room temperature in another pot. After treating full volume of mash water with brewing salts and Lactic Acid for target mash pH.
3. Once that 50% volume of water was @ strike temp, added 75% of my grain and then mashed at 145F for 75 minutes.
4. Used RIMS to heat mash to 200F, then shut off pump/RIMS and turned on induction cooktop.
5. Almost immediately had boiling cavitation visible on the surface, with a full boil after a few minutes.
6. Boiled for 20 minutes.
7. Added other 50% of water and last 25% of grain, then used RIMS to mash at 148F for 60 minutes.
8. Mashout at 168F for 10 minutes, then batch sparged to collect pre-boil volume.

Mash Tun Sitting on Induction Cooktop.jpg
Thick Mash- 75pct Grain, 50pct Water.jpg
Thick Decoction Boiling.jpg
 

jcav

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Nice, glad the induction worked out for you! Looks like a nice color in the site glass. Post back when you taste this one!


John
 
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