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Decoction for a Northen Brown Ale?

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EamusCatuli

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Do you think I could get any benefit from doing a single or double decoction for a Northern Brown Ale? I really want some malty tones without just simply using something like melanoidin.
 

ohiobrewtus

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Only one way to find out, my good man!

I typically only decoct beers that are traditionally German but I see now reason why you couldn't decoct a Brown. I'm not sure how much it would lend to the high maltyness that you're looking for though.
 

menschmaschine

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I think the decoction/mash temperatures really matter if you're using Marris Otter. I read somewhere (Noonan I think), that decoctions on Marris Otter can negatively affect the beer due to the very high protein content (SNR). If you do it with MO, I'd keep the initial rest temperature as high as you can (upper 130s).
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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I think the decoction/mash temperatures really matter if you're using Marris Otter. I read somewhere (Noonan I think), that decoctions on Marris Otter can negatively affect the beer due to the very high protein content (SNR). If you do it with MO, I'd keep the initial rest temperature as high as you can (upper 130s).
Im actually using 2-row. This will be my first decoc actually. Any suggestions or tricks of the trade would be appreciated.
 

menschmaschine

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Like ohiobrewtus, I've only decocted German-style beers. The first thing I can say is to watch Kaiser's videos if you've not already done so. Two questions: is your MLT a cooler or direct-fired? And... what brand of malt is it?
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Like ohiobrewtus, I've only decocted German-style beers. The first thing I can say is to watch Kaiser's videos if you've not already done so. Two questions: is your MLT a cooler or direct-fired? And... what brand of malt is it?
My MLT is a cooler, and the brand is from AHS
 

menschmaschine

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I looked on the AHS website and the only "2-row" they sell is Rahr. So, I found a typical malt analysis elsewhere for Rahr 2-row and it seems to have a soluble nitrogen ration of about 42%. So, you could easily get away with starting with a Protein/Sacch. rest anywhere from 131dF to 135dF. Then decoct it up to the mid to upper 150s for a Sacch./Dextrin rest. For this type of beer, you could do a "regular" water-to-grain ratio of ,say, 1.25 qts. per lb. So, you could either decoct again to mashout temps, or infuse it with boiling water.
 

BierMuncher

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Three things you can do to mimic a true PITA decoction:

  • Mash it at 160 degrees.
  • Mash it for only 40 minutes.
  • Boil the first 1 1/2 gallons of runoff for 20-30 minutes to concentrate and caramelize.

I did a mild at 159 for 40 minutes and at 2.8%, it was one of the maltiest beers I'd ever done.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Three things you can do to mimic a true PITA decoction:

  • Mash it at 160 degrees.
  • Mash it for only 40 minutes.
  • Boil the first 1 1/2 gallons of runoff for 20-30 minutes to concentrate and caramelize.

I did a mild at 159 for 40 minutes and at 2.8%, it was one of the maltiest beers I'd ever done.
Holy crud, that sounds ridiculously malty! Gives me something to think about.

I looked at Kaiser's video's, BTW, I thought they were amazing but I wish I could find one for a simple single decoc. Ive read up on them tons but its always easier when someone else shows/ explains them to you in their own words. Scientific talk kinda goes through one ear and out the other with me:( (not to say what you said was confusing, but just in case you had some good information on decoction how-to's)
 

menschmaschine

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Eamus, it's actually fairly easy. Here's how I do it and it's pretty much per Noonan:

-Strike in your mash as you would normally, except aim for a target mash temp in the low 130s.

-Let that rest 5 minutes.

-Pull your decoction (however many qts your brewing software states... this will be determined by your next mash temp.) Make sure it's relatively thick, but not too thick to help prevent scorching. Because of what I have on hand, I just split this up into two kitchen sized stock pots (6-8 qts). But I make 11 gallon batches, so you might fit it into one 8-qt stock pot.

-Then let the mash do it's thing (low 130s) and put your decoction on a burner or stovetop. Heat the decoction medium-slowly (like Kaiser states in his videos) until it reaches the next temp in your mash schedule. This should be in the mid to upper 150s, depending on the level of attenuation you want. Remember to stir. I stir more than Kaiser because I'm paranoid after scorching my first decoction.

-Once the decoction reaches temp. (careful not to overshoot), hold the decoction at that temp. for 10 minutes.

-Then heat the decoction to boiling (remember to stir) and boil for 5 minutes.

-Return decoction to mash. This should increase the mash temp to your target mid-upper 150s. Let this rest for 20 minutes.

-Then mash-out and sparge however you want.

It's not so bad and it only adds maybe 1/2 hour to an hour onto my brew day.
 

henrychinaski

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decoction is fun, and i would totally recommend it. i too marveled at kaiser's video. and i would never discourage one from experimenting and brewing "out of bounds", but personally i don't think this particular style needs it. i did a northern english brown recently that turned out nicely malty by doing what was recommended previously - mash high. as a matter of fact i think that this particular style is seriously underrated, as do many of the people who tried mine.
that said, i had the same idea a couple of years ago and did a single decoction for mash out on a porter, and it was deliciously malty. but by the same token i've done other porters mashing high and gotten a result that in retrospect (not head-to-head) was just as malty. so i wouldn't go to the trouble in the future.
whatever you do, good luck, and let us know how it turns out.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Eamus, it's actually fairly easy. Here's how I do it and it's pretty much per Noonan:

-Strike in your mash as you would normally, except aim for a target mash temp in the low 130s.

-Let that rest 5 minutes.

-Pull your decoction (however many qts your brewing software states... this will be determined by your next mash temp.) Make sure it's relatively thick, but not too thick to help prevent scorching. Because of what I have on hand, I just split this up into two kitchen sized stock pots (6-8 qts). But I make 11 gallon batches, so you might fit it into one 8-qt stock pot.

-Then let the mash do it's thing (low 130s) and put your decoction on a burner or stovetop. Heat the decoction medium-slowly (like Kaiser states in his videos) until it reaches the next temp in your mash schedule. This should be in the mid to upper 150s, depending on the level of attenuation you want. Remember to stir. I stir more than Kaiser because I'm paranoid after scorching my first decoction.

-Once the decoction reaches temp. (careful not to overshoot), hold the decoction at that temp. for 10 minutes.

-Then heat the decoction to boiling (remember to stir) and boil for 5 minutes.

-Return decoction to mash. This should increase the mash temp to your target mid-upper 150s. Let this rest for 20 minutes.

-Then mash-out and sparge however you want.

It's not so bad and it only adds maybe 1/2 hour to an hour onto my brew day.
Sadly, I dont have good brewing software. I have a mac and that means BeerAlchemy (which I cant figure out too well) or Qbrew (which I use because of its simplicity).

Anyway, I have read that you can just pull ~40% out for decoction without accurate measurement? I suppose if im wrong then I can just use the same equations Kaiser uses from Palmers book. Are there good calculators online anywhere?

As far as rest temps, what attributes do the low and high ares of them have (ie, low 130's as opposed to mid 130's, low 150's as opposed to high 150's). Im assuming the higher temp. you mash at the more malty it is on all levels?

Would mashing more than 20 minutes be more or less beneficial? Or is this just your personal preference?

Thanks for all your help!
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Oh and also, sort of unrelated question but im curious....

for multi-temp mash schedules, can you do them if you dont have a direct heating element for your MLT? Ive been racking my brain trying to figure how I could do them but besides doing decoctions I cant.
 

menschmaschine

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Anyway, I have read that you can just pull ~40% out for decoction without accurate measurement? I suppose if im wrong then I can just use the same equations Kaiser uses from Palmers book. Are there good calculators online anywhere?
I'm sure you can but that will reduce the reliability of hitting your next mash temp. I've found Beersmith to be pretty darn accurate with decoction amounts and hitting mash temps. I'm sure there is a calculation somewhere, but worst case scenario, pm your recipe to me and I'll plug it into Beersmith and give you the amount to pull.

As far as rest temps, what attributes do the low and high ares of them have (ie, low 130's as opposed to mid 130's, low 150's as opposed to high 150's). Im assuming the higher temp. you mash at the more malty it is on all levels?
The low 130's rest is really based on the Soluble Nitrogen (Protein) Ratio of your malt. Yours is probably around 42, so 132-134 would probably be a good number. Maybe just aim for 133. It's important to hit (and keep) this temp because this will determine hitting your next temp. If you think you'll lose a degree or two, then your decoction amount should be calculated for 131 or 132, for example.

The 150s rest temp is determined by how much attenuation you want and expect. Consider your typical attenuations... yeast type, starter size, aeration, etc. Also... how much of less-than-fermentable malts you have like Cara-pils, for example. So, if you generally get high attenuations and aren't using any dextrin-type malts, you could set it for 158. If you expect a relatively low attenuation, you could set it for 154.

Would mashing more than 20 minutes be more or less beneficial? Or is this just your personal preference?
As long as your efficiency is relatively accurately predicted and you're confident in your crush, 20 minutes is plenty of time. I've done this several times and still get over 90% efficiency.

for multi-temp mash schedules, can you do them if you dont have a direct heating element for your MLT? Ive been racking my brain trying to figure how I could do them but besides doing decoctions I cant.
You sure can... by infusing with boiling water. You just start with a thicker mash. It might thin the mash a little too much (and overflow your MLT) if you were to do like a 4-step mash, (acid rest, protein rest, sacch rest, dextrin rest), but you can probably get away fine with a 2 or 3 step.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Thanks for the help! I think i will shoot for 133 and 154, but we will see how close that actually is. If I cant figure it out via hand equation for the the amount to pull for decoction ill PM you if thats okay.

Again, thanks for the help.
 

menschmaschine

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Oh, one more thing on the 20-min mash question. That's only for the 150s rest. Remember, your 130's rest is a combo protein and sacch rest and that could sit for 45 min to 1 hour while you're heating, resting, boiling the decoction. You'll get plenty of conversion with that schedule.
 
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EamusCatuli

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Okay so here are my calculations for what im pulling for decoction - check me and see if I have this right.

Recipe - Northern Brown Ale

OG- 1.046
FG- 1.011

6# 2-row
1# Cara-pils
.5# Crystal 40
.5# Crystal 60
.25# Crystal 90
.25# Chocolate Malt

1oz EKG @ 60
1oz EKG @ 10

Yeast 1098

So for 8.5 lbs of grain with a ratio of 1.5 quarts/ lb. this gives me approx. 16 qts for the volume of my mash.

With a start temp of 133F and a target of 154F for my mash I calculate to pull 4.25 qts for decoction, with an addition of 20% for a buffer that brings me to a total of 5.1 qts!

Are my calculations accurate?

EDIT: ya know after looking at this if all things stayed the same all it would take to make this a double decoction would be to add a mash out schedule right? I think im getting the hang out this decoction stuff.
 

TeleTwanger

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I wouldn't do a decoction with 2-row for reasons already stated, namely what Noonan has to say about it. I'd do a multi step infusion mash with a protein, sacc, and mash out rest to eek every bit of sugar and dextrins out of the grain. That being said I've done several decoction mash-outs with 2 row and didn't noice any negative affects.
 
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EamusCatuli

EamusCatuli

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Well it can't hurt right? Plus I think it would be an interesting experement just for myself if anything to see what a decoction would do for my Brown Ale recipe.
 

WortMonger

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Just wait till you see the crud on top of your grain bed at the end. Wow, there is a ton of proteins just gummy on top after the tun is drained.
 
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