Attempting My First Decoction... Critique?

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grimpanda

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Howdy y'all.

I will be attempting my first decoction tomorrow.

Now, before you reach for that reply button and tell me that "fully modified malts don't require step mashes", and that you can make perfectly good beers in any style with a single infusion - relax, I already know. I am giving it a go as I enjoy a challenge (I realise I may be reneging on that previous statement by tomorrow evening...), and would like to taste the difference a decoction makes (or doesn't make) and decide for myself, so let's try to keep this civilised, 'aight?

Right - with that out of my system, I will be brewing Randy Mosher's Spiced Dunkel Weizenbock recipe from his book Radical Brewing.
The bill for 19L landed in my fermenter is below - I have modified it a little to account for the ingredients I have on hand and adjusted for my brewhouse efficiency.

Wheat Malt - 2.3kg
Munich - 1.8kg
Pils - 0.9kg
Wheat, dark - 0.45kg (home toasted, 30 mins in the oven at 180c)
Light Crystal - 0.3kg
Dark Crystal - 0.3kg

Hallertauer - 50g @ 4.5%AA - 90 mins
Hallertauer - 14g @ 4.5%AA - 30 mins

Wyeast 3068

Est. OG 1.083
Total IBUS = 32.8
And now for the juicy bit. Essentially I am following the Enhanced Double Decoction as outlined here. I have tailored the steps to hopefully achieve my own goals, which are firstly to develop a richer malt profile (long boil of decoction), and secondly to encourage a nice easy flowing grainbed, whilst retaining head retention (long acid rest, short protein rest).

Mash in at 36c (acid rest) - check pH & adjust

Pull 60% of mash and over 10 mins raise to protein rest (55c). Rest for 10 mins.

Raise to sacc (68C) for 15-20 mins, or until converted.

Raise decoction to boil over 15 mins, boil for 20 mins.

Add decoction to mash to hit 55c - rest 10 mins (continue to boil decoction)

Add decoction to mash to hit 68c - rest for 30 mins (check for conversion)

Pull second decoction and bring to boil, boil for 5 mins

Add decoction to main mash to achieve mashout temp of 75-78C

Batch sparge as usual.
So there ya go. Anyone else tried, or even regularly use this 'enhanced' double decoction method?

Critique, comments or remarks about my parents' marital status at the time of my birth are welcome.

Cheers,
Gabe
 

labels

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That chronological line doesn't make sense.

"Raise to sacc (68C) for 15-20 mins, or until converted.

Raise decoction to boil over 15 mins, boil for 20 mins.

Add decoction to mash to hit 55c - rest 10 mins (continue to boil decoction)

Add decoction to mash to hit 68c - rest for 30 mins (check for conversion)"

Use decoctions to hit your step mash temps. Most of us use them when we're way off target with mash temps. I do notice a slight increase in efficiency because boiling breaks down complex starches and I notice a slight darkening of the beer. But, to tell you the truth, I don't know whether they work or not. Unless you split a mash and decoct only half, you won't know either and, lets face it, imagination could well take over when you've finished the beer and you could well see something in the beer that's really not there.

As long as you enjoy the hobby, it doesn't really matter but only a scientific measurable experiment will give you the answer you may be seeking.
 

nathan_madness

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Sounds like fun.

I did a Hefeweizen brew today using the Fake decoction method explained on page 107 of Radical Brewing. Next time I would bee keen to try the full decoction.

Let us know how it works out.
 

donburke

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Howdy y'all.

I will be attempting my first decoction tomorrow.

Now, before you reach for that reply button and tell me that "fully modified malts don't require step mashes", and that you can make perfectly good beers in any style with a single infusion - relax, I already know. I am giving it a go as I enjoy a challenge (I realise I may be reneging on that previous statement by tomorrow evening...), and would like to taste the difference a decoction makes (or doesn't make) and decide for myself, so let's try to keep this civilised, 'aight?

Right - with that out of my system, I will be brewing Randy Mosher's Spiced Dunkel Weizenbock recipe from his book Radical Brewing.
The bill for 19L landed in my fermenter is below - I have modified it a little to account for the ingredients I have on hand and adjusted for my brewhouse efficiency.



And now for the juicy bit. Essentially I am following the Enhanced Double Decoction as outlined here. I have tailored the steps to hopefully achieve my own goals, which are firstly to develop a richer malt profile (long boil of decoction), and secondly to encourage a nice easy flowing grainbed, whilst retaining head retention (long acid rest, short protein rest).



So there ya go. Anyone else tried, or even regularly use this 'enhanced' double decoction method?

Critique, comments or remarks about my parents' marital status at the time of my birth are welcome.

Cheers,
Gabe
ok, i understand what you are planning to do, looks fine to me

be careful and stir well when heating the decoction, if you burn any of it it will come through in the final beer

just wondering whether you will notice the melanoidins with that grain bill and yeast

or do you want to try your first decoction on a more simple beer like a pilsner, where the flavours might be more noticable ?
 

Nick JD

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Trick to decoctions is to pull more than the mathematics says (the amount that when brought to the boil when added back will increase your mash temp by x) and only add enough to get it back up.

Nothing worse than adding the whole decoction back to the mash and it's not hot enough. Nothing wrong with adding it incrementally until it reaches your next temp ... and then leaving the rest of the decoction (it cools pretty quickly because there's not much there) to reach the mash temp and then add it back.

This way you can almost disregard the maths of trying to pull exactly the right amount that you'll need (at 100C) to do your step.

The only other thing I can add is decoctions favour the brave. You'll get the most colour and flavour if you are game enough to boil a very thick decoction hard. Like candy syrups, decoctions are delecious just before it burns things.

OT, but why 32 IBUs for a wheatbeer? Oh wait - 1.082. Never mind!
 

katzke

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Remember, Decoctions are thick and heavy on the grain. Not thin like the mash.

So I am gussing here, if you pull a third of the mash you will be pulling half or more of the grain.
 

Nick JD

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Remember, Decoctions are thick and heavy on the grain. Not thin like the mash.

So I am gussing here, if you pull a third of the mash you will be pulling half or more of the grain.
I pull the decoction with a flour sifter, strainer thingo. And let it drain a little bit before dumping it in the boil pot.

If you're doing a triple decoction, the last mashout decoction can be thin as your first two did all the work.

I reckon it's a good idea to start with a single, thin, mashout decoction to get the procedure down pat.
 

grimpanda

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Well, that was a fun day. Mashed in at 9am, in the fermenter 5.30pm.

The decoction itself went rather smoothly. As per the advice given I tried to pull a fairly thick decoction (using a seive, and then topped up with liquid), but I think now it may still have been too thin. The difference in viscosity of the mash at mash in temp when I pulled the decoction versus sacc temp and upwards was more dramatic than I'd anticipated.

I raised the decoction of 15.5L up through protein rest for 10 mins and then sacc rest, and was fully converted (passed an iodine test at least) after 15 mins at 68c.

When I added it back to the main mash for protein/sacc rest I did find that I was a little short on volume. The main mash temp had dropped to 25c (it's bloody cold in East Gippsland today), but I thought I had pulled enough to start with (15.5L from the total mash vol of approx 28L ). To remedy I added a couple of litres of boiling water.

With the decoction returned, the main mash sat at 66c and passed iodine test after 20 mins. I pulled another 12L of mash and ramped it up and boiled for 5 minutes, then added back to the main mash to reach mashout. I ended up adding the entire decoction which brought me up to 76c.

Recirc/sparge was a little more challenging... I thought I'd first try without rice hulls, and initially the mash ran better than any I'd ever witnessed, but started to slow to a trickle. I added a couple of handfuls of hulls and witnessed some sparge magic in action (I've never used them previously).

As for whether it was worth it, we'll have to wait and see. The unfermented wort has a full maltyness which is not surprising for 1.083, but possibly some mild husky flavours in there as well, which I could possibly be confusing with spicy/grassyness from the hallertauer. Hopefully this isn't tannin extraction from the decoction being too thin.

Chances are I will brew this again as a single infusion to compare.

That chronological line doesn't make sense.

"Raise to sacc (68C) for 15-20 mins, or until converted.

Raise decoction to boil over 15 mins, boil for 20 mins.

Add decoction to mash to hit 55c - rest 10 mins (continue to boil decoction)

Add decoction to mash to hit 68c - rest for 30 mins (check for conversion)"
Poor wording on my behalf - the decoction is raised through protein & sacc rest prior to boiling.

ok, i understand what you are planning to do, looks fine to me

be careful and stir well when heating the decoction, if you burn any of it it will come through in the final beer

just wondering whether you will notice the melanoidins with that grain bill and yeast

or do you want to try your first decoction on a more simple beer like a pilsner, where the flavours might be more noticable ?
Good point re: the recipe being perhaps a bit busy to compare decoction vs infusion. I am an ale man myself, but the new place I'm living in has a cellar that stays a constant 12c all year round...


I pull the decoction with a flour sifter, strainer thingo. And let it drain a little bit before dumping it in the boil pot.

If you're doing a triple decoction, the last mashout decoction can be thin as your first two did all the work.

I reckon it's a good idea to start with a single, thin, mashout decoction to get the procedure down pat.
Do you add any liquid in with the strained decoction Nick, or is it just super thick?
 

Nick JD

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Do you add any liquid in with the strained decoction Nick, or is it just super thick?
Fair amount of liquid - it's a play it by ear situation - but if you use a non-draining scooper you get too much liquid.

A good rule for decoction boils is - how long will a wooden spoon stand up in it? Should be not zero seconds, but should not be lots of seconds. Go for "porridge".
 

neonmeate

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decoctions are something i do for practicality (not for flavour - doesn't make much difference - especially not with a grist like yours with plenty of maillards and melanoidins already) cause i have limited space in my tun for extra water infusions for step rests, and hefes are about the only beers i will always step with - for ferulic acid rest (43C). next time you do it try 30 mins at 43C as your first rest.
 

grimpanda

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decoctions are something i do for practicality (not for flavour - doesn't make much difference - especially not with a grist like yours with plenty of maillards and melanoidins already) cause i have limited space in my tun for extra water infusions for step rests, and hefes are about the only beers i will always step with - for ferulic acid rest (43C). next time you do it try 30 mins at 43C as your first rest.
Indeed. I am planning a double-batch witbier soon for a friend's wedding, and as far as I can see a decoction is my only option for hitting mash steps in my 50L mash tun. Short of that, I am considering a double BIAB in my 100L kettle...

I did consider a ferulic rest for more clove character, but because this is a spiced beer I decided to try and keep phenolics on the subtle side - it's going to be a rather busy beer as it is.

Also from my understanding, a 'ferulic rest' is essentially a protein rest on the lower end of the scale. I understand that protease functions at the higher end of the scale, but there is still some overlap, and I wonder what effect this may have on head retention for fully modified malts?
 

neonmeate

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not in the last few hefes i've done... i think the key to avoid over-protein resting would be then to get it straight up from 43C to 65C (which means a pretty big decoction..) without doing any more protein rests after the initial ferulic rest. at least that's the way i've done it for my last few hefes. and they came out clovey and super foamy. a nice healthy cool ferment with a big starter is also key to good head retention, minimise as much as possible the fusels that hefe yeasts like to produce.
 

grimpanda

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Good to hear from first-hand experience. I'll see how clovey this one turns out.

I pitched a 2L starter at 16c and it has been kept at 17c.

I havn't brewed a hefe for a while, but I remembered that they tend to have VERY vigorous fermentations. I left a full third of my fermenter for headroom, and yet this morning I opened the brew-fridge to find the receiving jug for my blowoff valve had overflowed and left a nice sticky yeasty mess for me to clean up.

At least the aroma was amazing.
 

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