Schmitz Hochkurz Decoction

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wobdee

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Lately I've been researching decoction mashing and trying to figure out a way to incorporate it into my brew in a basket system and this is what I came up with.

I have a 400 micron s/s basket that I use for BIAB so I'm figuring I'll start off like I usually do and mash in at 145 for about 15 min, drain most of the mash liquid into a cooler and put aside while I bring the mash up to a boil in the basket. I'll boil for 15 min or so, turn off the heat, rest then add the wort and rest at 160 for 15 min. Then the rest is just like my normal BIAB, pull the basket, drain, squeeze, boil and so on.

Looking for any opinions or comments on this technique. I know there's lots of debate whether decoction really adds anything but I like to experiment and try different things so I'll find out for myself.
 
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wobdee

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Here's a picture of my setup. I do 2.5-3 gal batches, mostly lagers.

1404914335421.jpg
 

Weezy

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You can use your basket and double crushed grain with a traditional brew process (I do). You don't have to do a full volume mash. You can mash in at 1.2-1.5 quarts/pound, and batch sparge with water heated on your stove in any other pot to get to your preboil volume. Thereby you can use traditional decoction methods.

(your basket is just a fancy false bottom for this)
 
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wobdee

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You can use your basket and double crushed grain with a traditional brew process. You don't have to do a full volume mash. You can mash in at 1.2-1.5 quarts/pound, and batch sparge with water heated on your stove in any other pot to get to your preboil volume. Thereby you can use traditional decoction methods.

(your basket is just a fancy false bottom for this)

Yeah I thought about doing the traditional decoction but the time involved doesn't sound to good so I found out about this Schmitz process and it seems to take about the same time as my usual BIAB mash.

As far as sparging goes I've found I get pretty consistent 85% efficiency without sparging so one less step saves me some time as well.
 

Weezy

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My thinking was I'm not sure how good your results are going to be if you decoct with an extremely thin wort ala full volume biab.
 
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wobdee

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My thinking was I'm not sure how good your results are going to be if you decoct with an extremely thin wort ala full volume biab.

Before I decoct I'll drain most of the liquid then boil a thick mash. After boiling I can add the liquid back into the mash to raise the temp up into the alpha range. The way i'm looking at doing it eliminates the need for a second kettle.

Only problem I see is hitting that 160 degree mark. I might have to wait for the grains to come down in temp some after boiling.
 

Weezy

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Draining off some of a thin mash still leaves a thin mash....just less of it.

Part of the point of the decoction is to cook to wort to generate melanoidins during the concentration of the wort. You're really starting behind the 8 ball with a real thin wort.

Maybe someone else will chime in here with better help.
 
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wobdee

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Draining off some of a thin mash still leaves a thin mash....just less of it.

Part of the point of the decoction is to cook to wort to generate melanoidins during the concentration of the wort. You're really starting behind the 8 ball with a real thin wort.

Maybe someone else will chime in here with better help.

So your saying I should start off with a thicker mash and maybe top off later during the boil? I appreciate your input Weezy.
 

VladOfTrub

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In the Schmitz process, the malt is doughed in and rested at 122F to reduce viscosity. If beta glucanase hasn't been kilned out of the malt it will reduce beta glucan and produce glucose. If it has been kilned out, proteolytic enzymes that survive kilning will reduce beta glucan. Then, the mash temp is raised to 150F, starch gelatinizes at 149F. At 150F beta is active, along with alpha. After gelatinization, both enzymes will be active in reducing large a and b limit dextrins, in somewhat of a balance. After resting at 150F the mash liquid is run off and the main mash is boiled, causing hard starch to burst and go into solution. The main mash is cooled to alpha temps. The enzyme laden liquid is added back into the cooled, starch laden mash and rested until conversion.

In the method you are proposing. The mash is doughed in and rested at 145F, mid beta temp. Beta is slowly working on the starch chain that alpha is slowly breaking down into shorter chains with a reducing end and a non reducing end. Beta is slowly chopping off two glucose molecules from the non reducing end of the starch chain, mixing with one molecule of water, producing maltose. After resting 15 minutes at 145F, the mash liquid is ran off. The main mash begins to gelatinize at 149F as it is brought up to a boil, at 169F hard starch bursts and goes into solution. Then, the mash is cooled to 160F and the enzyme laden mash liquid is added back. Here's a small problem. Beta is denatured, the production of small b-limit dextrin is reduced. Iodine test will show excessive a-limit dextrin by the color of the iodine. Imbalanced product. A rest in the beta range during gelatinization should be perfomed, before removing the mash liquid. The 122F rest called out in the Schmitz method is deleted in the proposed method. Maybe, not a good idea? Even though the malt being used is probably high modified, a time and temperature controlled rest is valuable.

One of the things that a decoction does, is it forms a cleaner wort. Part of the reason for a cleaner wort is due to the way the filter bed settles. When mash is boiled, air that is entrapped in the husk is boiled away. With air boiled out, the mash settles a little more evenly and is denser than in an infusion. The infusion floats a little. By squeezing the last ounce of liquid from a grain bed that is used for filtering and is loaded with mud and protein goop eliminates a couple of benefits of the decoction method. In the proposed method, the mash is contained in a basket and brought to a boil. The basket will be some what of a heat sink, it might take a little more time to bring the mash to boiling.

I don't see anything wrong with using the process with the present equipment. Experimentation creates a learning curve. If it fails or works something is learned. However, for the first time, it might be best to follow the directions given by the guy that invented the process. The small grain bill needed to produce three gallons of beer is small. It wouldn't take a large vessel to hold a couple of qts of mash for a decoction. Then, you could dough in cooler, allowing pH to stabilize and to utilize certain enzymes that might not have been kilned out, before pulling a decoction. Something to consider; depending on the decoction method used, low modified, low kilned malt is a good choice. When reading about the decoction method, authors mention various temperatures to rest the malt at to utilize certain enzymes. The problem being is that enzymes like beta glucanase, maltase, dextrinase, phytase are generally kilned out of modern malt. Proteinase is tougher to kiln out and survives up into mid beta temps. The Kolbach or the SNR number of the malt is used to determine the length and temp the rest should be when employing a protein rest. Crisp Malting is producing Crisp Euro Pils. It is produced for use in the programmed mash method or decoction method. I have used the malt and phytase isn't evident. Weyermann light Boh Pils and dark pils floor malt are other good malts for using in decoction recipes. Sometimes, looking at what is on a malt data sheet isn't a bad idea. There are certain numbers on it that can help a brewer to decide what process will work the best with the malt.

Because of family life, kids, jobs, etc., finding time to do tri-decoctions is tough. I don't blame a brewer for trying to shorten the process. After all, George Fix invented the programmed method to mimic a tri-decoction.

Good luck and BREW ON!!
 
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wobdee

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Thanks Vlad,
Lots for me to take in there but it helps greatly.

So how long should I do a rest at 122? Usually that's where I dough in at and slowly raise up to 145 for my first rest when I direct heat step mash.

Sounds like I should target 150 instead of 145, so I will.

After I boil and add back the liquid should I also target 150 as to not denature beta? Or can I go a little higher?

I still plan on trying the boil in my basket, I want it to work but if it doesn't lesson learned and I'll go another direction.

Grain bill will be 60% pilsner which is a mix of Best and Bo Pils floor malted. 40% Avangard light Munich.
 

VladOfTrub

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Nice grain bill, a little sauer malt won't hurt. I use a 5 kettle, 30 gallon tri-decoction set up. My grain bill is usually 30 pounds low modified and a couple pounds of sauer malt.

Using your system, I would dough in to hit 122-125F and rest for 10 minutes before cranking up the heat to reach the next rest. The mash will pass through the temp range that proteolytic enzymes work in. The rest isn't going to be long enough to break down protein to the point that head and body are negatively affected. Depending on what you are brewing, a rest at 145F isn't a bad thing. Rest at 145F for 15-20 minutes. Then, crank up the heat and rest at 150-153F for 15-20 minutes, before running off the liquid. Now, here's the thing. In the liquid that is ran off, there is going to be liquified starch, along with beta and alpha enzymes. Conversion will take place. Although the rest temp isn't in the optimum range of the enzymes, the temp works well to produce a balanced wort. By raising the fairly thick main mash from the lower 150F beta/alpha temp range, through the mid 150's and into the 160F range, beta, alpha II and alpha I will continue to convert starch up to the point of denaturing by high temp. I'd cool the boiled mash to 155F and dump in the run off and bring the temp back up to 155F and rest. Check for conversion with iodine after 20 minutes. If the mash hasn't converted, it might have to be thinned down a little. Thinning the mash will help when sparging. In the tri-decoction method it isn't unusual to end up with 2qts/lb or more at the end of the process. Probably close to the volume used in the BIAB process.

When doing the iodine test, run a few tablespoons full of mash liquid through a natural coffee filter onto a white plate and allow the liquid to cool before adding iodine.

I don't see where there would be a problem with boiling the mash in the strainer. There may be a problem with boiling the entire mash that is loaded up with husk long enough to produce melanoidin, without imparting "graininess" to the finished product.

In the traditional tri-decoction the brewmaster decides to produce melanoidin when the mash pH is low and amino acids are present. The mash can be boiled longer without extracting tannin. To boil the entire mash long enough to produce melnoidin, the mash pH needs to be low enough so as not to extract tannin. Now, here is where a slight problem arises. The mash pH might be great to allow it to be boiled long enough to produce melanoidin without extracting tannin. However, the pH is going to be out of the range of alpha enzymes that are going to be used for final conversion when the mash liquid is added back into the cooled mash. Mash thickness, crush, temp, time and pH affect enzymatic action. If any of the ducks are out of line, enzymatic action is affected. If the main mash doesn't convert after 30 minutes or so, especially after it is thinned down. The process will need to be reviewed and corrected. Try it out and see what happens. Pass on the findings.
 
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wobdee

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Sounds like you have a pretty cool setup Vlad. I've never used acid malt, I usually go to Brewers Friend and use their calculator to adjust my PH with a little lactic acid. No PH meter or strips to varify, maybe I'll look into that soon.

I was wondering how long I should boil the mash, was thinking 15-30 min, maybe I should try 15 for the first time to see if there are any tannins being leaked out? If it takes 30 minute boil to extract melanoidins maybe I should do that? Sounds like a fine line between tannin extraction and melanoidins.

I'll probably give this a go on Sunday after I run a few tests to see if this basket will work. It sits about 1/2" off the bottom so I thought it would be good to keep the grain from scorching but that also leaves a little extra liquid underneath the grains and may be a little on the thin side for the mash boil?
 

VladOfTrub

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I'm wondering if any particulate matter from the mash will go through the strainer and collect on the bottom of the boiler? If it happens, the goop might scorch.

I wouldn't worry about the mash being too thin. Crank up the heat and see what takes place.

What I find interesting with the process is that the major portion of mash is boiled when it is extract rich.

Something to consider: How long will it take to reduce the mash temp from boiling to an alpha temp range? How will you deal with that? Cold water infusion? The mash is compacted into a cylinder and might be hard to cool down. If Mother Nature is used to cool down the mash, it might take a few hours. The article I read on the process, indicated that an IC was used to cool the mash. The thing is, the mash wasn't inside of a cylinder. The mash was in contact with the IC and was probably stirred constantly to reduce the temp ASAP. A qt of thick mash holds more heat than a qt of water and displaces less. It is going to take a lot of energy to reduce the heat load of the mash in a reasonable time frame. If it takes a long time to cool down the mash, the enzyme laden liquid that was ran off has to be considered. Will the enzymes denature during the cool down period of the mash?

A pH meter is handy. With using the grain in your recipe. If you were to dough in with straight RO water at 7.2 pH. By the nature of the malt, the mash pH will probably reduce to around 5.8-5.6 pH. Pils malt has an inherent, higher pH level than Munich. In the tri-decoction method. The 1st decoction is pulled when the pH is in that range. Because the mash pH is in the range that alpha works well in, 155F would be a good conversion temp for the decoction. The mash can be boiled without extracting tannin.

If brewing a pale beer, boil the mash 10-20 minutes. After boiling the mash, a cream/tan colored layer of "mud" might form on top of the grain bed, try not to disturb it. If any of the stuff is laying on the bottom of the kettle, try to keep it out of any liquid that is going to end up in the fermenter. But, here is where an issue is going to pop up. The liquid that was ran off earlier will need to be stirred into the mash in order to complete final conversion, disturbing the filter bed in the process. Hopefully, during the time final conversion takes place, the filter bed will settle and the liquid on top will clear up.

Sometimes, the "mud" that forms on top of the filter bed will be a silver/grayish, tan color. The "mud" is gummy protein. It makes sparging real tough. The goop is freakin' water repellent. The grain bed will have to be sliced. The process needs to be tweeked a little to cure the issue. Grain can cause the issue if it has gone "slack".
 
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wobdee

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I did a test today with some 2 year old mystery malt i had. I wasn't going to brew with it unless I was desperate so this was a good use for it. I took 4 gal of water and 4 lbs of grain and mashed in at 150, let it set for 20 min, drained off 2 gal to my cooler, ramped up to boil for 20 min, let cool for about 15 min til she dropped to 160 then added the liquid back to the mash which settled in at 157.

The boil worked fine, I think there's about 1 gal wort under the basket and another 1 gal soaked into the grain. It seemed a little thick or dry at first but as I came close to boil the liquid seemed to rise up to the level of the grain and bubbled away. the basket does impede the boil somewhat, it likes to burp a bit if I have the heat setting to high but I can easily adjust my 3500w induction burner so that wont be a problem.

Cooling the mash didn't seem to be a problem, I let it sit for 5 min and it was already down to about 175. Another 5-10 min of stirring and it dropped down to 160. After adding the wort back in she dropped to 157. I bet if I added a little cold water she woud drop faster.

After the boil I pulled the basket and it drained really well, better than I've see it before. There was some mud on the underside of the basket but the kette bottom was clean.

I think it's going to work out. This is what I'm planning for Sunday. Dough in with 5 lbs of grain and 5.5 gal of adjusted water at 5.4 PH. Protien rest at 122 for 10 min, slowly heat up to 150 and rest for 20 min, run off about 2.25 gal to cooler, boil mash for 30 min ( I want some melanoidins) cool mash to 160 in about 15 min, add liquid back in and rest at 155-158 for 30 min or until iodine test is good. Pull basket, drain, squeeze grain, boil 90 min, cool and ferment at 50 deg for 2 weeks. If it works great, if not it's only a case of beer and I'll have to try something different.
 
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wobdee

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Vlad,
I brew with well water that's was tested at 7.4 PH and very soft. According to Brewers Friend I add 1/2 tsp gypsum, 1/2 tsp calcium chloride and 1/2 tsp lactic acid to bring my mash down to 5.4 with this grain bill and 5.5 gal of water. Do you think I should aim higher PH wise for this decoction?

Also this is going to be a full volume BIAB with no sparge, I get consistant 85% efficiency with a direct fire step mash but if you think I should thicken up the mash and sparge for this expiriment I can do that as well. I don't like to sparge because it's another step and my efficiencies aren't as consistant and can go from 85-95%. There is also a gallon of water under the basket so maybe it's not all that thin.
 

VladOfTrub

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I think it will work out, too. Sounds like the mechanics of the system is good. Not too much goop got through the cylinder, the mash boiled in the cylinder and the mash cooled quickly. Knowing how the equipment performs and dialing in the process is key. The next thing is, if the process is used to brew lagers and pils. Will the process allow a beer to be created, that has the needed essentials to be stable enough to be aged out? Stability isn't too much of a concern when going from boiler to belly in a month or in a hopped up, hi-octane beer.

I would let the cylinder drain naturally. Squeezing the protein goop out of the mash along with the few ounces of extract gained isn't the best practice. Unless, the wort can be racked off of it later on in the process. Test the mash. If it feels sticky, tastes sweet, try sparging through the cylinder. Don't get too wrapped up in the efficiency thing. Realize that the potential extract of malt is around 80%, achieved in a lab using primo equipment and science stuff.

Keep in mind that a thin mash produces a more fermentable, higher attenuating wort. Doughing in with 1 gal/lb, the mash is very thin right from the beginning.

What was the grav of the wort after boiling and how much did you end up with to ferment?

Reasons why the liquid flowed out of the grain quicker. Boiling the mash reduced protein gum and reduced hard starch. During conversion, mash becomes darker and more fluid, too. You may notice less hot break is formed.

When using 30 lbs of Weyermann BoPils light floor malt and 2 lbs sauer malt with the tri-decoction method. I try to run off 22 gallons of wort, pre-boil at 1050. I cease running off when the run off pH rises to 5.9. So, whatever volume I get, I get. I only pay attention to the volume of water I dough in with, usually 1qt/1lb. After that, I'll add water throughout the process, I don't track the volume. I base water additions on how the mash is reacting. If it jells up, I'll thin it out. If the mash is packed with extract, knowing sparging will be difficult/time consuming, I'll thin the mash down. I use a Blichmann 20G boiler and their false bottom as a lautertun. With covering the false bottom with at least an inch or so of water and with sparge additions, there might be close to 1gal/lb when it's all said and done. I'm just not running off 30 gallons.

When it comes to mash acidulation. I don't treat the brewing water. I dough in with straight RO drawn from a GE RO system that I bought from HD. Starting anywhere between 95 and 105F I let the mash rest for 20-30 minutes, allowing Mother Nature to do her thing. Then, throughout the process I will add sauer malt to bring the mash pH into the optimum range of the enzymes that I want to use. I don't hold the mash pH at one level throughout the entire process. As the process goes on and with sauer malt additions the mash might end up around 5.2-4.8, depending on the pH level of the sauer malt, the inherent pH of the base malt and RO at 7.2 pH. If malt was available that didn't have certain enzymes kilned out, I wouldn't need too much sauer malt. It's not a good idea to begin mashing if the mash pH is above 6 or below 4.6. I would experiment with using the well water with no mineral additions and see what it makes. Perhaps, the way it comes out of the tap might make a good pils, with a little acidification tossed in. Calcium helps to preserve enzymes. Stick with the pH the figures claim by adding the minerals and lacto. Use the findings as a sounding board. As the pocket book allows, buying a pH meter is good. It will help with dialing things in.

Refer to Weyermann's recipe site. There are recipes for certain styles of beer that mention the temps used to brew the style, using their grain and the programmed mash method.

Keep at it Man!!! It just gets more and more fun. If you are interested in brewing pils and lager, an easy to read and understand primer was written by Noonan. He wrote two books. Imo, the first book that he printed was a better book for a brewer just getting into decoction mashing and brewing lager.
 
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wobdee

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Ok, I'll do a small sparge instead of the squeeze, don't want to push any nasties into the wort.

I didn't boil or ferment that test batch, but the OG was 1.040 pre boil. Just wanted to see if the basket would work for the decoction.

My well water has next to nothing in it a far as minerals go. It runs through a softener so I need to at least throw in some calcium chloride.

I definetly have the Lager bug now. Previous few years were all about IPA's. I've been fine tunning an Oktoberfest and Bo Pils for the last few months. Hopefully this beer will turn out somewhere inbetween a Pils and Ofest. I read Noonan's book many moons ago and gave it to my son in law, maybe I should get it back and brush up on it.

Thanks for all your help Vlad!
 
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wobdee

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Decoction boil. Maybe a little too thin? Because of the basket the boil is a little uneven and boils on one side. No worries about scorching though since the basket sits 1/2" off bottom.

1405259515049.jpg
 

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My only comment is that I use what appears to be that identical basket to separate liquid from grain for the 3rd (thin) decoction. I hang it across the top of the decoction vessel on a 2 x 4, pump the mash from the main mash into it, let the liquid drain and then heft the thing back over to the main mash to dump the grain. Messy and hard work but it's the best way to do it I have found.
 
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wobdee

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After 30 min boil I turned off heat, added 2 cups of 55 degree well water, stirred occasionally and in 10 min the mash was down to 164. I added back the liquid from the cooler which dropped down to 146 and mash temp stabilized at 152. I turned on the heat and brought it up to 155 for a 30 min rest.
 
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wobdee

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My only comment is that I use what appears to be that identical basket to separate liquid from grain for the 3rd (thin) decoction. I hang it across the top of the decoction vessel on a 2 x 4, pump the mash from the main mash into it, let the liquid drain and then heft the thing back over to the main mash to dump the grain. Messy and hard work but it's the best way to do it I have found.

400 micron basket? It sure comes in handy. I did it this way to see if I can do a decoction mash in one single vessel. Seems to be working so far but how the beer tastes will be the final test.
 
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wobdee

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Lifted basket and did a small sparge with 1/2 gal hot tap water. Basket didn't drain as well as previous test but it drained.

Lots of mud on bottom of basket probably impeded the sparge a bit.

1405264706657.jpg


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wobdee

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The boil seems a little more murky than usual. Lots of little flakes moving around, protein maybe?
 

VladOfTrub

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Nice job!!

Sweet idea, tossing hops in with the 1st run off.

The mash in the cylinder looks good. It isn't too thin.

At least the mud was in the basket, not in the liquid. Great!

Less hot break. Great!

The iodine that is a little darker indicates a/b limit dextrins. The beer looks like it will have a decent balance of fermentable to non-fermentables. No color change, to a slight yellow orange hue is a very balanced wort.

How much wort did you get and at what grav? What yeast did you decide on?
 
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wobdee

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Just took gravity, 1.052, 83% mash efficiency according to Promash. Look like just over 3 gal of wort, just right. I'm pitching a slurry of Wyeast 2124 from previous batch.
 
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wobdee

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I've been playing around with mash hopping and getting great results. The flavor and aroma seems to survive the 90 min boil and fermentation for some reason.
 

VladOfTrub

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Yep, protein. It is normal. You will see flakes ripping around the boiling wort. What you might have noticed as the boil went on, is that the flakes/rods rolling in the boil will appear to explode and glitter like miniature fireworks. That's an indicator that things are working out. When you see it occur, you'll understand what I am talking about. After you pull the hydrometer sample, short, flakes/rods should be floating around. As the sample cools, the flakes should settle out. That is what you want to happen. Here's something to take notice of. After the wort is chilled and the cold break settles. If the break looks like egg droppy snot soup. Modifying the protein rest can help to reduce the stuff. If the gunk shows up in the fermenter, it might be better to rack the wort off of it before dumping in yeast.
 

VladOfTrub

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You might want to add hops after boiling past the hot break. Start timing when you add the bittering hops and boil one hour.

When I play around with a Wit style, I'll add hops to one of the decoctions and boil them. I throw the mash, hops and all into the lautertun and sparge through the whole ball of wax.
 
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wobdee

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Yep, protein. It is normal. You will see flakes ripping around the boiling wort. What you might have noticed as the boil went on, is that the flakes/rods rolling in the boil will appear to explode and glitter like miniature fireworks. That's an indicator that things are working out. When you see it occur, you'll understand what I am talking about. After you pull the hydrometer sample, short, flakes/rods should be floating around. As the sample cools, the flakes should settle out. That is what you want to happen. Here's something to take notice of. After the wort is chilled and the cold break settles. If the break looks like egg droppy snot soup. Modifying the protein rest can help to reduce the stuff. If the gunk shows up in the fermenter, it might be better to rack the wort off of it before dumping in yeast.

Didn't notice any fireworks but as soon as I turned off the heat she cleared up fast and it formed the big protein globs.

I use a paint stir attachment for my drill during cooling. It took 10 min to drop under 60 then I let it settle for 20 min before transferring to fermenter. It got pretty frothy so I couldn't see what's going on. Transferring the wort was clear for a time but trub eventually goes in which doesn't really bother me since I get nice clear beer after lagering.
 
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wobdee

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You might want to add hops after boiling past the hot break. Start timing when you add the bittering hops and boil one hour.

When I play around with a Wit style, I'll add hops to one of the decoctions and boil them. I throw the mash, hops and all into the lautertun and sparge through the whole ball of wax.

I did a 90 min boil and added the bittering hops at 60 min. The mash hop will give me some flavor and aroma to balance the malt.
 
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wobdee

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Beer is fermenting away nicely.

Next up is a Bo Pils with 100% Weyerman Bo Pils floor malted Pils malt.

I think the only change I'll do is cut the Schmitz boil down to 20 min and maybe cut the sacc rest of 155 down to 20 min if iodine test is good.

I have this same recipe lagering right now but it was direct heat step mashed and also had a few oz of aromatic malt thrown in. It will be interesting to see the differences between the two.
 
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