Need Idiot Proof Decoction Or Step Mash?

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mje1980

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I am interested in doing a decoction or step mash and would like an idiot proof procedure for both. I read that you have to heat the decoction to x degrees c in 15 mins, then y deg c in 15 min etc. This sounds very tricky to get it to a certain temp in a certain amount of time. So, if anyone has a procedure that is straight forward, please let me know.

Also, i am also looking for a step mash procedure. This seems to be a lot easier, and more managable for me at the moment.

Any advice would be appreciated fella's
 

pint of lager

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There is no simple answer. The variables will change depending on how much wort you pull to decoct, how close you get this to boiling and a heap of other variables.

Get a simple single step infusion mash down pat.

Then pull some of the mash out, decoct this and use it to raise your mash to mashout temps.

Take notes of the volumes used of the decoction portion and the mash, temperatures of the mash and decoction, and use these figures to backtrack for a step mash.

This will give you a good introduction to the procedure on your gear.

Don't forget to keep stirring the decoction or it will scorch. I find a wooden spoon great for this. And use a thermometer, and keep a jug nearby for somewhere to pop the thermometer or it will "suicide." When taking temp readings, don't let the thermometer touch the bottom of the saucepan.
 

Ross

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i do my step mashes with the simple use of an immersion heater - raises the temp by 1c a minute - haven't progrssed to full decoction yet - what are the main reasons/benefits of doing a decoc against a simple step mash?
 

warrenlw63

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Ross said:
what are the main reasons/benefits of doing a decoc against a simple step mash?
[post="66433"][/post]​
A sense of nostalgia? :unsure:

Warren -
 

Borret

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Ross said:
i do my step mashes with the simple use of an immersion heater - raises the temp by 1c a minute - haven't progrssed to full decoction yet - what are the main reasons/benefits of doing a decoc against a simple step mash?
[post="66433"][/post]​
This is a simple explaination from the schnieder website. To do with breaking down starches. Hence more appropriate for less modified, oldschool, malts.

"This break down occurs in part mechanically through digestion and in part enzymatically. To this end a mash extract is withdrawn from the mash which is then slowly brought to the boil. This splits open the starch kernels and when the two partial mashes are subsequently recombined, the enzymes of the unboiled mash are able to act more rigorously on the released starch. This process can be repeated several times depending on the characteristics of the malt or the desired beer quality."

Cheers

Borret
 

neonmeate

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i'll admit i like the sense of nostalgia! but apart from that there are a couple of other advantages:
it does give you a few extra points of efficiency. and it means you can do step mashing in a rubbermaid (the main reason i do it). it does give a bit of nice reddish colour and a bit more malty flavour depending on how long you boil - but that's pretty easy to exaggerate. you can always chuck in 50g of melanoidin instead for a similar effect.
depends on whether you're in the brewing hobby to save time or kill time!
 

Trough Lolly

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Marc de Jong wrote an interesting FAQ on decoction brewing...here's the link...

Here's a link to an illustrated brewing session - a double decoction pilsner - worth the read IMHO...click here...

I've found decoction brewing relatively easy to do, with practice, and it's a good way of getting the extra malty flavours in the beer and improving your extraction efficiency. If it all looks too hard, then just buy some Melanoidin malt!!

Since I use a 10 Gal Rubbermaid for my mashtun, decoction brewing is a real and handy alternative to buying an immersion element since I obviously cant direct fire the mashtun ;)

Cheers,
TL
 

Trough Lolly

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neonmeate said:
i'll admit i like the sense of nostalgia! but apart from that there are a couple of other advantages:
it does give you a few extra points of efficiency. and it means you can do step mashing in a rubbermaid (the main reason i do it). it does give a bit of nice reddish colour and a bit more malty flavour depending on how long you boil - but that's pretty easy to exaggerate. you can always chuck in 50g of melanoidin instead for a similar effect.
depends on whether you're in the brewing hobby to save time or kill time!
[post="66479"][/post]​
Bloody hell!!! Talk about Deja Vu! :ph34r:
It's like I was looking over your shoulder as you typed this in!! :p

Scary....

TL
 

mje1980

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Trough lolly, that link on decoctions was a good one. I have just racked to 2ndary a dunkel i brewed by a normal infusion mash. I will do this exact same batch by doing the 2 step decoction he has given. Doesnt look too hard, and is exactly what i was looking for. Thanks mate.
 

Ross

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I usually stir the mash with my immersion heater to get even heat, but I guess an easy way to do a decoction mash would be to leave the immersion hooked on the edge of the mash tun & let it boil away without stiring for the same amount of time that I usually stir for - then simply mix the mash afterwards? anyone use this method or see any problems with it?
 

nonicman

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but I guess an easy way to do a decoction mash would be to leave the immersion hooked on the edge of the mash tun & let it boil away without stiring for the same amount of time that I usually stir for - then simply mix the mash afterwards? anyone use this method or see any problems with it?
I would assume you would burn your grain doing that.
 

Ross

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nonicman said:
but I guess an easy way to do a decoction mash would be to leave the immersion hooked on the edge of the mash tun & let it boil away without stiring for the same amount of time that I usually stir for - then simply mix the mash afterwards? anyone use this method or see any problems with it?
I would assume you would burn your grain doing that.
[post="66491"][/post]​
I guess I would need to move it a bit to prevent this, but seems a lot easier than removing & replacing grain...
 

nonicman

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Another consideration is that the decoction can/will denenture the enzymes. When doing the decoction by removing part of the mash grain, you are leaving behind viable enzymes who can get to work on the decocted grain when it is returned to the mash tun. Decoctioning in the mash tun for 30 minutes might (I have not tried this hence the might) have the effect of nicely decocting the grain local to the immersion heater, but also raising the temp of the rest of the grain above what is viable for converstion.
I am assuming that the decocting is done at an early stage of the mash, rather than decocting to get a mashout temp.

On a tangent, I've been considering starting the first decoction, prior to the main mash, e.g seperate approximately 40% of the mashing grist into the kettle, add enough water to for the grain to soak up it's fill, heat to 70C, rest for 15-20 minutes, heat to simmering/boiling/blurbing point and decoct for 45-60 minutes. After this is humming along you could get the mash tun going with the rest of the grain and remaining strike water at desired step temp.
Only thinking of this, to reduce the time the rest of the grain bed is resting at low temps waiting for a long decoction to finish. I'm assuming that our highly modified grain shouldn't have too long at low temperture rests, not that my limited experience has resulted in anything bad, just something that has bugged me when doing a long decoction or long double decoctions.
Sorry for wandering off topic

edit added the qualifier "limited" to experience
 

barfridge

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I have an oktoberfest in primary at the moment, it was done with a double decoction. In hindsight, maybe a single would have been easier, as I had to add quite a bit of boiling water to get my temperatures up.

In the end my volume was spot on, but the OG was slightly down. But I think much of that was due to my crappy braid arrangement in the mash tun.

So my advice is....go for it, its an adventure!
 

Borret

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Did a bit of browsing last night on decoction and found these couple of good general articles on decoction and its purpose. Interesting is the notion that it is almost mandatory in achieving the full maltiness of some European brews and the claim it produces a clearer beer with better efficiency.
I found it a good read anyhow. Also under the same menu is an article on no-sparge lautering which wasnt bad either.

Enjoy

Borret
 

Ross

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Borret said:
Did a bit of browsing last night on decoction and found these couple of good general articles on decoction and its purpose. Interesting is the notion that it is almost mandatory in achieving the full maltiness of some European brews and the claim it produces a clearer beer with better efficiency.
I found it a good read anyhow. Also under the same menu is an article on no-sparge lautering which wasnt bad either.

Enjoy

Borret
[post="66606"][/post]​
Great link Borret - best explaination/guide I've seen - cheers...
 

warrenlw63

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The second-last paragraph more or less sums things up. Bear in mind that any malt that we can buy from major Euro maltsters (read; German) are highly modified and work perfectly well in an infusion mash.

With the exception of a Weizen and perhaps a Bock, decoction mashing is really a trip down nostalgia lane and adds extra time to the brewday. In terms of gain, the time outweighs the results.

I've done several decoction mashes just because I feel I'm learning something as an all-grain brewer. Personally the resultant beers didn't seem to have any real wow-factor to justify the manic process(es) decoction mashing involves.

If it's not done with care it's even a good way to introduce HSA. That said I'd recommend anybody should give it a go just to see what they think.

Warren -
 

colinw

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warrenlw63 said:
With the exception of a Weizen and perhaps a Bock, decoction mashing is really a trip down nostalgia lane and adds extra time to the brewday. In terms of gain, the time outweighs the results.
For nearly everything I brew a simple infusion mash is fine, but I suspect decoction may be necessary for accurate replication of the weizen styles. Certainly the most authentic tasting hefeweizen I've tasted at a club meeting was made with a decoction mash.

In an attempt to brew a better weizen, tomorrow I'm performing my first attempt at a decoction mash. Actually, I'll be attempting a combination step infusion and single decoction:

For a 5Kg grain bill.

- Mash in at 44C for a ferulic acid rest for 30 minutes
(9 litres of strike water at 52C, mash at 1.8 litre/kilo ratio)

- Raise to a sacc. rest at 64C by infusion. Rest at 64C for 20 minutes.
(6 litres of boiling water, mash now at 3 litre/kilo ratio)

- Pull a 30% decoction. Hold the decoction at 72C for 10 minutes, then boil for 10-15 minutes and return, raising the main mash to about 72C.
- Hold a 72C rest for about 30 minutes then sparge.

I'm looking for a bit more clove character from the ferulic acid rest, and a better malty character than I've achieved with infusion mashes and melanoidin malt.

Personally I can't stand the flavour introduced by Hoepfner melanoidin malt. Every time I've used it, even a couple of hundred grams, I've ended up with a sort of exagerrated one dimensional malty flavour which isn't at all like the complex caramelly malt character of a good German or Czech beer.

cheers,
Colin
 

Trough Lolly

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colinw said:
warrenlw63 said:
With the exception of a Weizen and perhaps a Bock, decoction mashing is really a trip down nostalgia lane and adds extra time to the brewday. In terms of gain, the time outweighs the results.
For nearly everything I brew a simple infusion mash is fine, but I suspect decoction may be necessary for accurate replication of the weizen styles. Certainly the most authentic tasting hefeweizen I've tasted at a club meeting was made with a decoction mash.
[snip]
G'day Colin,
And you've echo'ed my thoughts on decoction mashing - I don't do it for every brew since I'm using good quality (non mouldy ;) ) malts that are highly modified - but for authentic malt character, I reckon the decoction is well worth the extra bit of time...

But then again, I'm a brewing tragic...I get as much enjoyment out of making the brew, as I do drinking it!! :ph34r:

Cheers,
TL
 

colinw

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Brewing tragic! I love it! :beerbang:

Yeah, I'm the same. I've developed an infusion mash process and a couple of good recipes which make session beers nearly ideal for my tastes, but somehow I just can't help stuffing around and experimenting.

Even when I make a bad batch, I usually learn at least one thing which makes it all worthwhile.
 

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