Melanoiden vs Decoction : Noticeable or only slight difference in end flavor?

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Rob2010SS

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What are the general thoughts on this? Quick search through the forum, there are quite a few people doing decoction mashes. That tells me there must be something there in the end product.

In a 3V eHerms system, I think the only way I'd be able to pull this off would be to pull a decoction, carry it upstairs and boil it on my stove. I could borrow back the Edelmetal Burner I sold to a coworker a few years back and do it that way.

I know this is typically done in lagers. Is this appropriate in something like a brown ale?
 

cactusgarrett

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Speaking as someone who does decoction for all german beers (ie. lagers and hefe), i feel like mine are lacking without the decoction. However, I don't think you'll be making less of a beer if you just sub in some melanoiding in its place, especially considering the amount of extra effort it'll take being on an e-system. I've done a blind triangle test on two of mine over so many years, and i could only tell the difference in decoction vs non-decoction when they're literally side-by-side.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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That's good info! I don't mind the extra work it'll take on my system. Decoction is one of the things that I haven't done yet and I'm actually thinking of taking a couple vacation days this summer and running a test where I brew the same beer - one with decoction and one without - to see what the difference in the end product is. It's tough with our schedules but we'll see if I can make it work. It's definitely a bit intimidating, that's for sure haha.
 

cactusgarrett

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I thought that at first, but it's nice to do it at least once to "know your roots" kind of thing. I used to say "i'm never doing THAT again" and now i do decoction for all my German beers. HA! Just like most everything else, doing it more often makes it go a lot smoother/quicker in the future.

It's to the point now that, because I'm in a cooler MLT and propane fire everything, the only increase in time is due to the longer time I rest at the beta and alpha steps. But if I were cheating and did a single infusion rest and still want to do a decoction, (despite batch sparging) i'll decoct to basically to perform a pseudo mashout step - not to have the mashout, but just to work in the decoction step and not sweat trying to hit a specific temp once the decoction is replaced into the MLT.
 

BigEd

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What are the general thoughts on this? Quick search through the forum, there are quite a few people doing decoction mashes. That tells me there must be something there in the end product.

In a 3V eHerms system, I think the only way I'd be able to pull this off would be to pull a decoction, carry it upstairs and boil it on my stove. I could borrow back the Edelmetal Burner I sold to a coworker a few years back and do it that way.

I know this is typically done in lagers. Is this appropriate in something like a brown ale?
Appropriate? It's not a traditional approach but you can if you want. While I'm a long time decoction brewer I don't use them for styles like a brown ale.

Re the question in your title: a melanoiden malt addition does not add the same flavors and nuances to a beer that a decoction does. That's my opinion and my personal empirical impressions, not everyone agrees.
 
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Rob2010SS

Rob2010SS

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Appropriate? It's not a traditional approach but you can if you want. While I'm a long time decoction brewer I don't use them for styles like a brown ale.

Re the question in your title: a melanoiden malt addition does not add the same flavors and nuances to a beer that a decoction does. That's my opinion and my personal empirical impressions, not everyone agrees.
This is really what I want to find out for myself as well! Everyone's palate is different and how one person interprets something is not how someone else will interpret. It's definitely something I need to try out for myself, that's for sure.
 

jcav

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I also have a 3 vessel e-herms. But the stand I use is my older three burner propane gas stand that the vessels sit on. I just use a ten gallon pot and and put it where the boil kettle sits and pull my decoction and add it to the pot. I then fire up the burner and use the propane to heat up the pot and do my decoction. I can rest at a specific temp also by turning off the gas and putting the lid on the pot, and then heat it up after the rest while stirring like crazy. Works great. I also run the pump in the mash tun and have the electric element holding a set temperature while I do the decoction in the pot. Then later I put the boil kettle that has an electric element on the stand and I am back in business using electric.

I definitely think decoction helps with mouth feel on certain beers. Most especially wheat beers. When I make a German Hefeweizen I always do a decoction and they come out stellar! I do decoct other beers as well and I like the way the malt just pops and is more complex. Melanoiden malt does not really mimic a decoction mash in my opinion but if you don't want to do a decoction it is another thing to use. The two are just different.

John
 

Dgallo

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I personally think it’s more about preference but I know there are many people out there that strongly believe it enhances the flavor of their Beers. I will say that Dan Suarez from Saurez Family brewing does preform decoctions on his German lagers and I strongly feel they are easily in the top 5 in the US for brewing lagers. If he is taking the time in a commercial brewery to perform it, he certainly believes it’s beneficial.
 

Bramling Cross

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Melanoiden malt isn't the same as a decoction.

Fortunately, the magic pixie dust of decoction doesn't require too much work. I used to do no BS triple decoctions. Now that I've learned that most of German brewing is based on BS, I've relaxed and learned that simply dunking a pasta pot into the mash, tipping out most of the liquid, then boiling it does much the same thing, I'm cool with that. I'm one of those guys (arseholes) that can definitely taste a decoction, but I'll be damned if I can taste a triple decoction. A mere pasta pot of mash gets the point across. There's no need to torture yourself with a full triple, nor should you expect a few ounces of grain to do the same.

I'm looking at you, Melanoiden.

I've also learned that running off a few gallons of thin mash, boiling them, then using them to get to mash out helps. It's a shade more caramely than bready, but it does something very similar and it's easier.
 

Holden Caulfield

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I've also learned that running off a few gallons of thin mash, boiling them, then using them to get to mash out helps. It's a shade more caramely than bready, but it does something very similar and it's easier
^This raises a number of questions.
  1. If decoctions are boiled after resting the thick mash in the 155 - 162 range which will quickly convert the starches to sugars, wouldn't boiling the decoction create compounds more similar to crystal/caramel malts rather than darker Munichs (which is what Melanoidin malt is akin to)?
  2. If 1 is true, and one wanted to add melanoidin flavors rather than caramelly flavors, shouldn't one avoid the Alpha rest and go straight to the boil?
  3. Has an analysis ever been done on the compounds created from boiling the decoction (with and without an Alpha Amylase rest)?
In all the articles and books that I have read I have never run across the recommendation to rest in the Alpha range on the way to the boil if you want caramelly flavors and to not rest if you don't.
 

Oginme

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I've done both the decoction route and the melanoidin route. The resulting beers have been similar, but not quite the same. Mostly, if I stay in the <2% range for melanoidin malt, it can mostly replicate some of the flavors of decoction in lighter beers. Most people probably cannot define the difference, but I feel that there is a more subtle range of melanoidin type flavors in thick mash decoction when compared to melanoidin malt. Mouthfeel also is another place where I think there is a notable difference, but that is just be comparing notes from one brew to the next. Now that you have brought up the subject, I think I am going to need to do a back-to-back brew of a German pilsner next winter just to validate my sensory notes from previous brews.

You will note that I specified a thick mash decoction. I have not done a solely thin mash decoction for comparison so cannot comment to doing that process.
 
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