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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: sharg54 on December 14, 2010, 11:37:06 pm

Title: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 14, 2010, 11:37:06 pm
Ok this appears to be a big debate around here. Why are you step mashing why not do a single infusion? Are you using fully modified grains or not or an adjust.   Correct me if I'm wrong but there are advantages to step mashing such as if I'm making a lager that is going to be in the fridge for say a month and a half, I would want to start out between 113 F and 122 F to beef up the enzymes the yeast thrive off of to help them through the long hall of a cold fermentation. Also from what I understand it helps out the mash and can give a better efficiency for starch conversion to fermentable sugar. You can control body and alcohol content, dryness and head retention depending on the temps and the times you keep at various temps. If you want a dry lite body beer like a CAP with higher alcohol content than you may want it at say 153 F for 20 minuets and 158 for 10 minuets. If you want a  stout you may want to reverse it to get more body and less fermentable sugar. I guess my question is really why all the hubbub about multi step mashing and single step mashing?   Sure single step is fine and works for most beers but isn't the idea to control and craft the beer the way it should be rather than just one shot everything and say " look I got Beer"? Or am I missing something? ???
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: euge on December 14, 2010, 11:47:50 pm
My opinion and suspicion is: how one learned to brew. Some people learned fly-sparge and step mash. Or no-sparge single infusion. I'm a batch sparger myself. The most I'll do is a decoction but not to manipulate the temps.

As I know it and have been taught is that modern malt doesn't need step mashing- even for a protein rest. I do like your manipulation of the upper range 153-158. Might have to play with that.

I think you also answered your own question LOL but to me it's how one learned, what makes sense and/or a combination of the two.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 15, 2010, 12:15:32 am
Guess I'm a tinker at heart and like to play with things to make them work better. I can see your point though about being a matter of how you are taught. Guess not having a teacher and learning it on your own makes you investigate more and ask a lot of questions. To me it's a cross between chemistry and cooking two things I love, and if you can make it good one way how much better can you make it if you tinker with the temps and times a bit to push it in the direction you want it to go. It may take a little longer but I think it's worth the effort. I had a friend of ours come over after I made my first porter. Woman hated beer of any type she said and was a mixed drink girl . She drank 3 bottles before she left that night and raved about it. Now that was time well spent. lol.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 12:23:13 am
1. To me it's a cross between chemistry and cooking two things I love
2. Guess I'm a tinker at heart  

1. Don’t feel alone
2. Umm that sounds like personal info that might be better left unsaid, or perhaps you're a tinkerer? ;D
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 12:34:24 am
Correct me if I'm wrong but there are advantages to step mashing such as if I'm making a lager that is going to be in the fridge for say a month and a half, I would want to start out between 113 F and 122 F to beef up the enzymes the yeast thrive off of to help them through the long hall of a cold fermentation.
I assume you mean peptides or amino acids instead of enzymes?  Why not just add a little yeast nutrient instead?  And why is the lager taking 6 weeks to ferment, are you talking about cold conditioning?  You should rack off of the yeast before lagering.

There are good reasons to step mash, but those reasons can be addressed in a single infusion with ingredient changes.  Do it however you like, that's part of the art/science of brewing ;)
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 15, 2010, 01:35:28 am
Yeah your right tschmidlin on both counts. I only ferment a lager for two weeks max the rest of the time is in a secondary but the yeast is still working there as well so why not help it out? Adding chemicals to the beer to me is short stepping things just like one stepping the mash but than that is personal preference besides I have put enough chemicals in me over the years I don't need more. With proper steps and care you can do the same job with out adding things to the brew. After all they didn't have yeast additives in the past did they? So why spend the extra money on additives if you don't need to? Save the money and buy a new brew pot of something. People use Irish moss to clean up a brew and it's perfectly exceptable and a lot of people do it but did you know it causes ulcers? You can do the same thing with quick cooling the wort and moving into a secondary after fermentation than leaving a little beer behind when you bottle or keg. Sure it's a few extra steps and you have to plan a little more but so what. I'm not in a rush. Some of the terms are confused but like it shows with the one star and like I have said I'm new at this and learning on my own, proper terms will come in time though I don't find it very important at this time, besides you knew what I was talking about. My point is really quite simple, brewing is a craft and an art form if you will. If your short stepping things and that makes you happy that's fine by me but if you really want to get a feel for it, do it old school and make the extra effort, you may find you enjoy it more, or you may not. You make really good beer now, but could you make fantastic beer by taking a few extra steps? It's your brew and your way and that's cool... Yo Jay spelling is not my strong point it looked wrong to me so I short stepped it. lol.  ::)  
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 09:03:47 am
I think you overlook something...personal experience.  I've brewed a lot of batches with a step mash and a lot of batches with out.  while I think that _possibly_ there's something to be gained in _some_ beers from a beta/alpha step mash, I've also found nothing to be gained and possibly damage to the beer from a low temp protein rest step.  Now, if you've tried both ways and carefully evaluated (as in a blind triangle tasting) the results and found you prefer the protein rest and want to keep doing it, more power to you.  Many people just take what they've read and do it without an evaluation, blindly believing that if they did more work the beer MUST be better.  I've done a lot of research on that phenomenon and can provide you examples if you wish.  But to say that people who disagree with you are "short stepping" is just plain wrong.  You say you are a new brewer, and as a new brewer I once believed as you do.  With experience comes knowledge.  You'll get there.

And Irish moss causes ulcers????????
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 15, 2010, 10:12:11 am
not accusing anyone. Like I said it's your beer. Short stepping is just a term not an insult. One stepping a mash works and works well 90 percent of the time and if that's what you do and like than more power to you. I step mash you don't, both work well and it's what we do. Euge said it best I think, it's how you learned to brew. It's an exchange of ideas and information is all. I have tried both ways and the one thing I did notice is I get better results with less grain step mashing. Better conversion from a solid to a liquid state and a much higher OG on my worts. Guess the book was right, when ever you talk about mashing you open a can of worms. No harm intended.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 10:48:53 am
Google says Irish moss is a treatment for ulcers and gastritis.  And one website I read says the dose is 1 to 1.5 tsp in a cup of water 3x per day, compared to the tsp per 5 gallons that we use, most of which settles out.

Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 11:00:16 am
Yo Jay spelling is not my strong point it looked wrong to me so I short stepped it. lol.  ::)  
Lol, yeah it just so happens that we use to call a, well built and anger prone, co-worker "tinker" (i.e. tinkerbell).

1. But to say that people who disagree with you are "short stepping" is just plain wrong.
2. Now, if you've tried both ways and carefully evaluated (as in a blind triangle tasting) the results and found you prefer the protein rest and want to keep doing it, more power to you.  Many people just take what they've read and do it without an evaluation, blindly believing that if they did more work the beer MUST be better.  I've done a lot of research on that phenomenon and can provide you examples if you wish.  .  You say you are a new brewer, and as a new brewer I once believed as you do.  With experience comes knowledge.  You'll get there.

1. [edit; deleted due to my misreading the original post]
2.  This is always an interesting topic.  I suppose I fall somewhere in the middle between you and sharg54 on this topic. Denny, could you list styles that you feel would benefit from a step or decoction mash.  Are there styles like wheats, german beers, etc. that you've found to NOT benefit from step or decoction mash?  I do want to say that I agree with the thought that sometimes what seems to be BETTER technique can be frivolous or even harmful.  That said, I often argue the flip-side because I do feel that "The enemy of excellence is proficiency."  cheers, j  
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: euge on December 15, 2010, 11:05:56 am
Or "the enemy of good is better."  :o
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 11:18:57 am
Or "the enemy of good is better."  :o

Oh man!!! Damn!  Now my mind will be bogged down with internal debate, so many things to consider!  :)
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 15, 2010, 11:37:43 am
Now that would be a good idea Denny. When to step when not to, that would really help out. The irish moss thing, the wife showed it to me on line at a medical site she uses. She's a little strange about things like that. LoL  I don't think it's a matter of whos right or wrong and I would bet you can locate sites on both sides of the coin. Just information and ideas and a matter of what you like to do. My self if I want to use something to clear up a beer I used gelatin. Didn't like the mess stuck to the bottom of the carboy but it did the trick.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 11:38:52 am
If your short stepping things and that makes you happy that's fine by me but if you really want to get a feel for it, do it old school and make the extra effort, you may find you enjoy it more, or you may not. You make really good beer now, but could you make fantastic beer by taking a few extra steps?

This time you've just misunderstood his comment
Are you sure?  Because that reads to me like he's saying single infusion mashes are the lazy way of doing it.  Ultimately I get his point, but this is hard not to read that way.  No harm done though :)

And I know you directed this at Denny, but as for beers that benefit from decoctions, I would say many German beers do, including hefeweizens and the bock family of beers.  I don't include that as step mashing in my head though, even though you raise it through a series of steps.  The decocting process is just way different than adding boiling water or gentle heating (RIMS, HERMS, direct fire) to increase your mash temp - to me those are step mashing, and decocting is decocting.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 11:43:11 am
 Are there styles like wheats, german beers, etc. that you've found to NOT benefit from step or decoction mash?

Off the top of my head, based on my experience and experiments, I can think of witbier, dunkel, maibock, and German pils as styles that I found did not benefit from step or decoction mashes.  There may be others, but I'm not in a position to look at my notes at the moment.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 11:50:40 am
Are there styles like wheats, german beers, etc. that you've found to NOT benefit from step or decoction mash?

Off the top of my head, based on my experience and experiments, I can think of witbier, dunkel, maibock, and German pils as styles that I found did not benefit from step or decoction mashes.  There may be others, but I'm not in a position to look at my notes at the moment.
Right, I'll agree with those.  Above should be "bock family of beers except maibock". :)  I was thinking of the darker maltier ones, melanoidin malt just isn't the same as doing decoctions.  It's close though, and better than nothing if you can't/don't want to decoct.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 11:54:28 am
I need to brew a couple batches of bock to test.  Hopefully I can get to that this winter.  How many decoctions do you do on a bock, Tom?
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 15, 2010, 11:57:56 am
Yes, brewing background has a lot to do with a brewer’s preference. German home brewers, for example, are taught to step mash and some of them question that a single infusion mash would work.

This topic has caught my interest a while back. I currently have a side-by-side experiment going where I want to evaluate the difference between single infusion and Hochkurz mashing. Unfortunately life got in the way of getting the 2nd batch brewed in time and the yeast had to sit 2 days longer than planned. This has shown a noticeable effect on the fermentation performance and may invalidate the experiment. But I’ll try this experiment again.

At this point my position is that the differences aren’t expected to be significant. There are many brewers who swear that there is no difference and there are also many other reputable brewers who contest this and state the opposite. The discussion is mainly around protein rest or not.

If you don’t want to mess with step mashes, don’t feel compelled you have to just because some brewers do.

Kai

Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 11:59:54 am
I need to brew a couple batches of bock to test.  Hopefully I can get to that this winter.  How many decoctions do you do on a bock, Tom?
I've done 3, but mostly I just do two.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 12:00:44 pm
1. Are you sure?  Because that reads to me like he's saying single infusion mashes are the lazy way of doing it.  Ultimately I get his point, but this is hard not to read that way.  No harm done though :)
2. I would say many German beers do [benefit from decoction], including hefeweizens and the bock family of beers.
3. I don't include that as step mashing in my head though, even though you raise it through a series of steps.  The decocting process is just way different than adding boiling water or gentle heating (RIMS, HERMS, direct fire) to increase your mash temp - to me those are step mashing, and decocting is decocting.

1. You're right, I misread the op.  Apparently I'm not very good at multitasking anymore.
2.  This has been my experience as well (mostly in brews from other brewers)
3.  This is a subject that I will further explore in my own brewing.

cheers, j
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 12:07:05 pm
I need to brew a couple batches of bock to test.  Hopefully I can get to that this winter.  How many decoctions do you do on a bock, Tom?
Did you get a chance to try the decoction experiment beers we poured in Oakland?  There was a decocted bock, one made with melanoidin, and one without melanoidin.  There was noticeable differences according to the crowd at NHC who were tasting them blind.  I don't remember the numbers, Tim Hayner ran everything.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 12:15:44 pm
I need to brew a couple batches of bock to test.  Hopefully I can get to that this winter.  How many decoctions do you do on a bock, Tom?
Did you get a chance to try the decoction experiment beers we poured in Oakland?  There was a decocted bock, one made with melanoidin, and one without melanoidin.  There was noticeable differences according to the crowd at NHC who were tasting them blind.  I don't remember the numbers, Tim Hayner ran everything.

Yeah, I did taste them and Tim sent me the results.  I can't recall which I preferred, but I seem to remember that the results didn't show the decocted beer was far preferred.  Am I remembering wrong?
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 15, 2010, 12:47:32 pm
Not lazy. From what you go through in brewing with all the cleaning and prep work and such lazy would be my last thoughts. More on the line of missing out on something. I'm not the best speaker and this is a learning thing for me. I have to admit it's giving me a lot to think about and consider but that's what teaches. Am I over doing it? It would not be the first time. Am I hard nosed and stuck in what I do? Not a chance but I am learning and that's the real point for me.  ;D
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 15, 2010, 01:06:00 pm
2.  This has been my experience as well (mostly in brews from other brewers)

But have you had decocted and non-decocted versions of the same beer from the same brewer? It may have simply been the fact that the brewer made the difference.

Kai
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 01:14:15 pm
I need to brew a couple batches of bock to test.  Hopefully I can get to that this winter.  How many decoctions do you do on a bock, Tom?
Did you get a chance to try the decoction experiment beers we poured in Oakland?  There was a decocted bock, one made with melanoidin, and one without melanoidin.  There was noticeable differences according to the crowd at NHC who were tasting them blind.  I don't remember the numbers, Tim Hayner ran everything.

Yeah, I did taste them and Tim sent me the results.  I can't recall which I preferred, but I seem to remember that the results didn't show the decocted beer was far preferred.  Am I remembering wrong?
I think you're right, the decocted one was preferred but it was close to the melanoidin one.  However it was correctly identified as the decocted one by a large majority, it was not confused with the melanoidin one, so melanoidin and decoctions are not completely interchangeable for side by side tasting of the same recipe.  It might be just a matter of taste, you either prefer melanoidin or prefer decocted.  On the other hand I don't think it was tightly enough controlled to say that for sure, it's also possible that a recipe adjustment could have made one or the other a clearer favorite or made them less distinguishable from each other.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 01:23:57 pm
More on the line of missing out on something.

But are you considering that I (and others) have tested what you advocate and determined that we're not missing anything?  If I could demonstrate to myself that it made demonstrably better beer, I'd do it.  It's a hobby and I want to do the best I can, so if step mashes and decoctions did that, I'd be doing it.  I still do those just to be certain I'm not missing anything.  Just last weekend, I made a German pi;s using a beta/alpha step mash.  I want to know what's what, not be guided by my own prejudices.  Have you done that kind of test?  Have you brewed back to back batches of the same beer using 2 different techniques and then doing a blind triangle tasting to determine if there's a difference?  That's all I really ask of anyone who advocates this.  If you do that and fine that you consistently prefer beers made with one technique or the other, then you have a valid reason to continue with that technique.  Otherwise, you're simply guessing.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 01:26:00 pm
2.  This has been my experience as well (mostly in brews from other brewers)

But have you had decocted and non-decocted versions of the same beer from the same brewer? It may have simply been the fact that the brewer made the difference.

Kai

In a recent article on alts in BYO (IIRC), Horst Dornbusch, long a proponent of decoction and traditional German brewing techniques, said that he no longer feels that decoction makes a difference.  He attributed the flavors to the malts used, not the decoction process.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 01:28:21 pm
1. But have you had decocted and non-decocted versions of the same beer from the same brewer?
2. It may have simply been the fact that the brewer made the difference.

Kai
1. Yes
2. [personally I'm not for or against decoction]  It's very possible even with my answer to the first question; I can see this particular brewer subconsciously putting extra effort into his decoction batch.  Another possibility is that my palate picks up on decocted beer while missing character(s) that your (or anyone else) palate detects.  

This is a subject that I'm still toying with and haven't reached any concrete personal conclusions.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 01:30:55 pm
2. [personally I'm not for or against decoction]  It's very possible even with my answer to the first question; I can see this particular brewer subconsciously putting extra effort into his decoction batch.  Another possibility is that my palate picks up on decocted beer while missing character(s) that your (or anyone else) palate detects.  

This is a subject that I'm still toying with and haven't reached any concrete personal conclusions.

Just to be clear, I'm not against decoction, either.  I'm against expending effort that doesn't have a payoff!  Anyway, did you do a blind tasting?  was it a triangle tasting?  I've come to the conclusion that that's really the only way to get somewhat objective results.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 15, 2010, 01:36:40 pm
This is a subject that I'm still toying with and haven't reached any concrete personal conclusions.

Same here.

I have talked to German brew masters who said that decoction has little impact on taste. In addition to that on tours, targeted at the common audience, it is difficult to get a good answer on this topic. There is a lot of pride in traditional brewing techniques and what brewer wants to admit that they are doing something that that has only little impact on the final product. Similar to AB's use of beechwood chips which could easily be replaced by a stainless steel matrix or completely be eliminated w/o affecting the product.

Kai
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: jaybeerman on December 15, 2010, 01:47:47 pm
1. Just to be clear, I'm not against decoction, either. I'm against expending effort that doesn't have a payoff!  
2. Anyway, did you do a blind tasting?  was it a triangle tasting?  I've come to the conclusion that that's really the only way to get somewhat objective results.

1. Yeah I know and mostly agree with your basic stance.  
2. No the tastings I'm refering to were not scientific, just sampling of brew with fellow home brewers.  I agree with your thoughts and would like to do further experiments.  I still feel that the differences between all of our palates can have a huge effect, that has been my experience while sitting on a tasting panel although we never had decocted beers to try.

This has been a great discussion.  cheers, j
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 02:01:17 pm

I have talked to German brew masters who said that decoction has little impact on taste.

when I was doing research after my decoction experiment, I heard from beer writer Lew Bryson.  He had been to Weinstephan (I probably butchered that!) and a brewing professor there said that they had a tasting panel try decocted and non decocted version of their weizen.  Most of the tasters found no difference.  The professor claimed that there was probably something wrong with the panel!
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 02:26:54 pm

I have talked to German brew masters who said that decoction has little impact on taste.

when I was doing research after my decoction experiment, I heard from beer writer Lew Bryson.  He had been to Weinstephan (I probably butchered that!) and a brewing professor there said that they had a tasting panel try decocted and non decocted version of their weizen.  Most of the tasters found no difference.  The professor claimed that there was probably something wrong with the panel!
That's hilarious!

But I have trouble reconciling it with Tim's decoction experiments, because he did a batch that had identical ingredients as the decocted batch and it was noticeably different.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 15, 2010, 02:45:14 pm
An Oktoberfest without a decoction is just another mediocre beer.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 02:46:09 pm
That's hilarious!

But I have trouble reconciling it with Tim's decoction experiments, because he did a batch that had identical ingredients as the decocted batch and it was noticeably different.

However, in the decoction experiment I did, many of the beers with identical ingredients were found to have no noticeable differences and a significant number of tasters misidentified which was which.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 02:46:32 pm
An Oktoberfest without a decoction is just another mediocre beer.

Maybe, maybe not...I'd have to test that to say for certain.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 02:57:27 pm
That's hilarious!

But I have trouble reconciling it with Tim's decoction experiments, because he did a batch that had identical ingredients as the decocted batch and it was noticeably different.

However, in the decoction experiment I did, many of the beers with identical ingredients were found to have no noticeable differences and a significant number of tasters misidentified which was which.
Interesting, because he found the opposite.  I'll have to bug him for details, maybe there will be a clue in what he did.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tomsawyer on December 15, 2010, 07:52:07 pm
Not entirely on topic expect as it pertain to mashing in general, but I've often thought that it would be preferable from a digestibility standpoint to have the alpha amylase work first, followed by the beta.  Then you'd break the long chains into smaller ones before letting the alpha chew from many more ends instead of fewer longer ones.  I guess thats going on in a single infusion more than a step mash, so I do single infusion and rarely do decoctions.  And I understadn that the beta doesn't stay active at the temps favoring alpha, so I really cant do a backwards decoction.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 08:14:17 pm
At least not until you figure out how to negate the laws of physics!
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 09:53:52 pm
I got the details from Tim, the full thing is here:
http://www.wahomebrewers.org/clinics/242-decoction-clinic-notes

Quote
1. Which beer was the triple decoction mash?
Single Infusion Mash: 13.89%
Single Infusion Mash with 4% Melanoidin Malt: 40.28%
Triple Decocted Mash: 45.83%

2. Which beer do you like best?
1. Triple Decocted Mash
2. Single Infusion Mash with 4% Melanoidin Malt
3. Single Infusion Mash
But the main problem is these were brewed on 3 different systems by 3 different brewers, so it's essentially meaningless without other controls.

Anyway, I feel like decoctions make a difference in my beers, but I haven't brewed back to back.  Looks like I need to now. :-\
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 15, 2010, 10:13:44 pm
I see you did a triple decoction.  All the beers in my experiment were single.  I think that if decoction does make a difference, it's gonna show up in a triple decoction.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 15, 2010, 10:25:36 pm
Yeah, it would seem if there is an effect then it would be more likely to show up with more decoctions.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 15, 2010, 10:56:52 pm
I had to search for that Lew Bryson story and found it here: http://www.drinksforum.com/beer/Lewis-on-decoction-1788-6.htm

"Just to horn in... We were at Weihenstephan back in December, and got a
lecture from one of the profs there on this. They did a decoction and a
non-decoction batch, otherwise identical, then put the beers to a tasting
panel. They could not taste e difference. The prof was shocked, but pointed
out that while the panel could not...he could, blinded, repeatedly. He's
still a decoction disciple, but he's not sure what's going on. Is it subtle,
or is it not recognizable?
"

It's the last sentence that might be key. I have heard that from others as well that decoction might be too subtle to taste unless you know what you are looking for. And based on my reading it is not so much an increase in melanoidens as it is an increase in tannins and other grain compounds that come out during the boil and make the beer taste more "robust". I though that I did notice this in my last decoction experiment but when I did a triple triangle test (3 triangle tests done blind) I was not able to discern the beers.

Kai

Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: bluesman on December 16, 2010, 04:43:07 am
I got the details from Tim, the full thing is here:
http://www.wahomebrewers.org/clinics/242-decoction-clinic-notes

Quote
1. Which beer was the triple decoction mash?
Single Infusion Mash: 13.89%
Single Infusion Mash with 4% Melanoidin Malt: 40.28%
Triple Decocted Mash: 45.83%

2. Which beer do you like best?
1. Triple Decocted Mash
2. Single Infusion Mash with 4% Melanoidin Malt
3. Single Infusion Mash
But the main problem is these were brewed on 3 different systems by 3 different brewers, so it's essentially meaningless without other controls.

Anyway, I feel like decoctions make a difference in my beers, but I haven't brewed back to back.  Looks like I need to now. :-\

Interesting findings.

I also believe that my decocted beers are different than the single infusion mashed but haven't confirmed it with a tasting panel. I also hope to do it someday. I think that the decoctions being boiled will extract some tannins and develop melanoidins which will influence the taste of the end product. This is my theory.

The jury is still out.  8)
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 09:49:04 am
Ron, you may know this, but melanoidins are a color, not a flavor.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: bluesman on December 16, 2010, 10:18:28 am
Ron, you may know this, but melanoidins are a color, not a flavor.

I haven't heard that before Denny.

My understanding is that melanoidin malt will improve flavor stability, fullness and rounding of the beer color.

This is from Weyermann's website.

http://www.weyermann.de/eng/produkte.asp?idkat=16&umenue=yes&idmenue=37&sprache=2

Melanoidins are brown, high molecular weight heterogeneous polymers that are formed when sugars and amino acids combine (through the Maillard reaction) at high temperatures and low water activity. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. It is vitally important in the preparation or presentation of many types of food, and, like caramelization, is a form of non-enzymatic browning.

Therefore I am percieving the non-enzymatic browning reaction as a flavor or at least a percieved flavor by some tasters.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 16, 2010, 10:58:27 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: johnf on December 16, 2010, 11:08:15 am
Ron, you may know this, but melanoidins are a color, not a flavor.

I haven't heard that before Denny.

My understanding is that melanoidin malt will improve flavor stability, fullness and rounding of the beer color.

This is from Weyermann's website.

http://www.weyermann.de/eng/produkte.asp?idkat=16&umenue=yes&idmenue=37&sprache=2

Melanoidins are brown, high molecular weight heterogeneous polymers that are formed when sugars and amino acids combine (through the Maillard reaction) at high temperatures and low water activity. The Maillard reaction is a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, usually requiring heat. It is vitally important in the preparation or presentation of many types of food, and, like caramelization, is a form of non-enzymatic browning.

Therefore I am percieving the non-enzymatic browning reaction as a flavor or at least a percieved flavor by some tasters.

Non-enzymatic browning clearly creates flavors as anyone who has had a steak knows but strictly speaking melanoidins are flavorless and the flavors are from other compounds created in the same process.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: sharg54 on December 16, 2010, 11:14:53 am
I haven't learned the little quote thing but I'ed like to respond to Dannys earlier statement.

"Just to be clear, I'm not against decoction, either.  I'm against expending effort that doesn't have a payoff!"

Personaly I think there is a payoff in spending the time to step mash. After all this is where the subject was started at and seams to have been side tracked.

 First off you get a better conversion from solids to liquids because the enzymes that do that have more time to work and you can also build up the amino acids ( or what ever they are)  that feed the yeast so you don't have to add things to help the yeast along as it's already there. This boils down to better extraction with less grain used and additives required thus money saved, just a few bucks but now a days a few bucks is a few bucks.

Secondly you can control things like alcohol content and body of the brew by adjusting your heats and times you spend at the various temps. If I want a higher alcohol content in my stout I can stay at a lower temp a little longer before I raise it up. If I want lower maybe I don't go to the lower temp at all I make the choice. With single step you get what you get. Mash in at 158 and you get higher body and lower alcohol and that's it.
 
Lastly I have to use less water to batch sparge and take less of a chance of washing out things that cause off flavors in the beer because most of my water is already in the turn. I don't have to worry about trashing my ph during the sparge because I'm not doing it that long.

Expending energy is a matter of opinion and personal preference. What one man calls expending effort with no payoff  another one calls time well spent, money saved and problems avoided.

Sorry for the interruption feel free to go on with your topic.  :)


   
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 11:24:09 am
Non-enzymatic browning clearly creates flavors as anyone who has had a steak knows but strictly speaking melanoidins are flavorless and the flavors are from other compounds created in the same process.

Thank you, John.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 16, 2010, 11:26:25 am
sharg54, as much as I like step mashing since it is such an inherently German way to brew I have to admit that most of what you listed you also get with a single infusion mash given the grain is modified enough.

Kai
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 11:29:18 am
First off you get a better conversion from solids to liquids because the enzymes that do that have more time to work and you can also build up the amino acids ( or what ever they are)  that feed the yeast so you don't have to add things to help the yeast along as it's already there. This boils down to better extraction with less grain used and additives required thus money saved, just a few bucks but now a days a few bucks is a few bucks.

As I said in another post, I did a step mash on my latest brew.  I got the same 85% efficiency I always get, so no gain there.  And if I can get 85% doing a single infusion, I don't see a reason to do a step mash to improve efficiency.

Secondly you can control things like alcohol content and body of the brew by adjusting your heats and times you spend at the various temps. If I want a higher alcohol content in my stout I can stay at a lower temp a little longer before I raise it up. If I want lower maybe I don't go to the lower temp at all I make the choice. With single step you get what you get. Mash in at 158 and you get higher body and lower alcohol and that's it.

But I can do that perfectly well by manipulating temp and time in a single infusion mash.
 
Lastly I have to use less water to batch sparge and take less of a chance of washing out things that cause off flavors in the beer because most of my water is already in the turn. I don't have to worry about trashing my ph during the sparge because I'm not doing it that long.

But neither of those things has ever caused me problems in a single infusion.  Why should I try to fix something that's fine already?

Expending energy is a matter of opinion and personal preference. What one man calls expending effort with no payoff  another one calls time well spent, money saved and problems avoided.
 

And if you want to do it for that reason, fine by me.  But I'm not convinced by your argument that there are benefits to be had.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 11:30:35 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 16, 2010, 11:33:34 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.

So it's a moot point.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: bonjour on December 16, 2010, 11:34:50 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.

So it's a moot point.
Only if you don't want to be precise
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 16, 2010, 11:35:27 am
I haven't learned the little quote thing but I'ed like to respond to Dannys earlier statement.

"Just to be clear, I'm not against decoction, either.  I'm against expending effort that doesn't have a payoff!"

Personaly I think there is a payoff in spending the time to step mash. After all this is where the subject was started at and seams to have been side tracked.

 First off you get a better conversion from solids to liquids because the enzymes that do that have more time to work and you can also build up the amino acids ( or what ever they are)  that feed the yeast so you don't have to add things to help the yeast along as it's already there. This boils down to better extraction with less grain used and additives required thus money saved, just a few bucks but now a days a few bucks is a few bucks.

Secondly you can control things like alcohol content and body of the brew by adjusting your heats and times you spend at the various temps. If I want a higher alcohol content in my stout I can stay at a lower temp a little longer before I raise it up. If I want lower maybe I don't go to the lower temp at all I make the choice. With single step you get what you get. Mash in at 158 and you get higher body and lower alcohol and that's it.
 
Lastly I have to use less water to batch sparge and take less of a chance of washing out things that cause off flavors in the beer because most of my water is already in the turn. I don't have to worry about trashing my ph during the sparge because I'm not doing it that long.

Expending energy is a matter of opinion and personal preference. What one man calls expending effort with no payoff  another one calls time well spent, money saved and problems avoided.

Sorry for the interruption feel free to go on with your topic.  :)


  
I'm not saying don't do it your way, but you need better reasons.  The main reason I use nutrient is for the trace minerals, step mashing isn't going to increase those.  Alcohol content and body are closely dependent on each other for a given grist, and what you're describing can be achieved by changing your single infusion temperature and/or time.  Also, you're using the same amount of water to batch sparge, unless you're saying that step mashing reduces the amount of water the grain absorbs.  And with more water in your first batch sparge, you're actually more likely to extract off flavors, not less likely.  The efficiency might be your best selling point, but are you sure yours is really that much better than a single infuser?  I'm not convinced.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 11:37:45 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.

So it's a moot point.

Not to those of us who care.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 16, 2010, 11:38:18 am
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.

So it's a moot point.
Only if you don't want to be precise

It's precisely a moot point. :D

In our processes, can you have one without the other?
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 16, 2010, 11:42:05 am
I hope this doesn't seem like we're piling on, but for some things you need to back it up.

If you say "I like step mashing, and I like my beer" I'm not going to try to convince you to change anything.

But with the number of science-minded people here, when you say one way has an advantage over another you're going to need to show it.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 16, 2010, 11:47:42 am
I hope this doesn't seem like we're piling on, but for some things you need to back it up.

If you say "I like step mashing, and I like my beer" I'm not going to try to convince you to change anything.

But with the number of science-minded people here, when you say one way has an advantage over another you're going to need to show it.

I disagree. Everyone has different tastes. Just because some say it doesn't work for them, doesn't mean it's not a valid procedure. I don't step mash, because I'm lazy, but it's been done for years and others believe in it. You can certainly squeeze out a little better efficiency, so that, in and of itself, is an advantage.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: gordonstrong on December 16, 2010, 11:48:24 am
I guess I don't understand why people think there should only be one way to brew.  Why does it bother people if someone else step mashes or does decoctions?  If you are able to control your processes on your system to get the kind of beer you want, who gives a rip what someone else does?

This is the basic problem I have with the spreadsheet crowd.  If you know how to use it and it works for you, that's great.  But to then extend that to say that everyone should do that is a leap of logic that is entirely without support.

Anyone who has ever taken formal logic will recognize immediately the problems with people mistaking "there exists" for "for all".

There is more than one way to brew.  Accept it.  You'll live a happier life.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: blatz on December 16, 2010, 11:50:51 am
sharg

you should brew the same beer using step and single infusion and then decide for yourself what you like - it doesn't really matter, IMO, but there's no one way that's right.

frankly, for someone with 8 batches under their belt, 3 all grain, IIRC, you're making a lot of absolute assertions without a lot practical experience to back them up.  not that you may not be right, but a lot of these guys that are debating with you have tried many different techniques and compared the results - those results are what they are reporting to you, but you still should experiment and figure out on your own.

sounds to me like you're doing a lot of research and homework, which I applaud, but keep in mind a lot of brewing literature is dated and refers to brewing with less modified malts which are pretty hard to come by these days, especially on the homebrew level.

Keep at it - its a journey not a destination and all that- Cheers!
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 16, 2010, 11:51:20 am
I guess I don't understand why people think there should only be one way to brew.  Why does it bother people if someone else step mashes or does decoctions?  If you are able to control your processes on your system to get the kind of beer you want, who gives a rip what someone else does?

This is the basic problem I have with the spreadsheet crowd.  If you know how to use it and it works for you, that's great.  But to then extend that to say that everyone should do that is a leap of logic that is entirely without support.

Anyone who has ever taken formal logic will recognize immediately the problems with people mistaking "there exists" for "for all".

There is more than one way to brew.  Accept it.  You'll live a happier life.

Well said. And if the science minded experts want to ignore other people's results, then that's their loss.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 12:01:31 pm
I guess I don't understand why people think there should only be one way to brew.  Why does it bother people if someone else step mashes or does decoctions?  If you are able to control your processes on your system to get the kind of beer you want, who gives a rip what someone else does?

This is the basic problem I have with the spreadsheet crowd.  If you know how to use it and it works for you, that's great.  But to then extend that to say that everyone should do that is a leap of logic that is entirely without support.

Anyone who has ever taken formal logic will recognize immediately the problems with people mistaking "there exists" for "for all".

There is more than one way to brew.  Accept it.  You'll live a happier life.

Gordon, I totally accept that there's more than one way to brew and I'm sorry if that doesn't come through in my posts.  The point I'm trying to make is that the reasons given for this particular method don't add up based on my experience.  We're being told by sharg that his methods makes better beer and the experience of many of us don't support that.  That's all I'm saying...not that his way is "bad" or "wrong".
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: denny on December 16, 2010, 12:04:56 pm
Well said. And if the science minded experts want to ignore other people's results, then that's their loss.

You mean just as those people want to ignore the experience of the "science minded"?  I couldn't give a rip about the science...I care about my own experience and results.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: gordonstrong on December 16, 2010, 12:18:11 pm
My post wasn't directed at any individual.  It was an appeal to avoid taking absolutist positions in areas where there isn't a right or wrong answer.

I've seen a trend in the last few years where dogma is repeated over and over as if it were absolute truth.  It's good to know that brewing a certain way works, but that doesn't deny that other ways also work.  I like to see creativity and brewers producing interesting results, and that can't happen if everyone is striving to be a clone.

I know enough great brewers to know that there are multiple (valid) ways of doing almost every step of brewing. 
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Kaiser on December 16, 2010, 12:20:04 pm
Gordon,

I myself object to the idea of a “one size fits all” brewing process and I’m trying many different techniques myself. Most of my beers are step mashed. However, so far I’m still trying to figure out if and how big a difference there is compared to single infusion mashing.

Like Denny I’m just pointing out where the benefits, that brewers attribute to step mashing, cannot be attributed to step mashing. And believe me, if I have fairly solid data that a more complex mashing scheme than single infusion mashing does make a noticeable difference in my beers I’ll be happy to share that information.

I’m also trying to hear arguments that I haven’t heard or read before.

Kai
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: BrewArk on December 16, 2010, 12:22:14 pm
Now I'm confused.  It's the old hippies supporting the simpler methodology that are "science-minded", and the supporters of century old tradition that are ... let's say "open minded"?

I love this forum!

(BTW, the way I brew is the right way!)
 ;D
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: weithman5 on December 16, 2010, 12:26:59 pm
i think i will just brew in a bag ;)
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: bluesman on December 16, 2010, 12:56:13 pm
This is a great debate. I wish I had the time to experiment with the varying mash methods. One of the benefits that I enjoy most in this great hobby is the freedom of choice. We have severals ways to get to the finish line and we can choose the way that we deem best. It may not be the best choice but we will hopefully learn from our misgivings and move forward to better brewing as a community.

I can certainly appreciate Denny's point. Furthermore, I am a proponent of experimentation and the creative aspects of this fine craft at the expense of failure. I am a science minded guy who believes in only that which is tangible. In other words "show me the results" or "I'll believe it when I taste it".

I hope the OP can learn from this debate and take what we are professing in a positive way. There are some awesome brewers and extremely knowledgeable folks here.  

Cheers!
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: johnf on December 16, 2010, 12:58:00 pm
I would question that they are color only and without a change in flavor.

Question away, but science says that melanoidins are a color.  However, as pointed out, the same process that creates melanoidins also creates Maillard reaction flavor products.

So it's a moot point.
Only if you don't want to be precise

It's precisely a moot point. :D

In our processes, can you have one without the other?

You would probably cringe if I said "The alcohol in my beer tastes like fruit and the esters really get me drunk." despite the fact that something in there tastes like fruit and something in there gets me drunk.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: johnf on December 16, 2010, 01:01:17 pm


I know enough great brewers to know that there are multiple (valid) ways of doing almost every step of brewing. 

I know a guy that pitches lagers with a single smack pack, warm, waits for krausen and then drops the temperature. He has a few UMMO first place medals for his lagers doing basically everything "wrong". I think his experience is what finally convinced me that results matter and it's hard to predict results on paper.

That said, I certainly agree with Denny on the value of validating impressions via blind tasting.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: tschmidlin on December 16, 2010, 11:46:39 pm
I hope this doesn't seem like we're piling on, but for some things you need to back it up.

If you say "I like step mashing, and I like my beer" I'm not going to try to convince you to change anything.

But with the number of science-minded people here, when you say one way has an advantage over another you're going to need to show it.

I disagree. Everyone has different tastes. Just because some say it doesn't work for them, doesn't mean it's not a valid procedure. I don't step mash, because I'm lazy, but it's been done for years and others believe in it. You can certainly squeeze out a little better efficiency, so that, in and of itself, is an advantage.
Where did I say something wasn't valid?  I'm saying back it up.  Your statement that "you can certainly squeeze out a little better efficiency" isn't certain at all.  Maybe for you on your system, but not for Denny on his.  All that means is it's not one size fits all, not that one method is more valid than another.

Now I'm confused.  It's the old hippies supporting the simpler methodology that are "science-minded", and the supporters of century old tradition that are ... let's say "open minded"?
Yeah, it's the people who want evidence and trust their personal experiments that are science minded, and that goes for old (he's not that old) hippies as much as for anyone.  It is people who support century old tradition without really knowing why that are not.  Question stuff.  Why do we do it that way?  No one needs to go around doing experiments for themselves (although it's encouraged) but you can't discount the results of someone else's experiments out of hand.  Discount them for flawed procedures, sure.  But with all of the variations in ingredients, equipment, and methodology, not to mention the differences just from a different person brewing, I'd expect there to be variations in results.  Figure out why there are variations, exactly what is causing it.  Show your work :)
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 17, 2010, 06:04:55 am
If you have limited access to the interwebs for a few days, a discussion like this breaks out, and makes for good reading.  I learned a little on the melanoidin and Malliard discussion.

One can change the mash procedure for the style of beer being made and malts used in that beer.  For the British beers with the British malts, single infusion.  A Cereal mash for a CAP. For a beer that uses a large portion of Vienna or Munich from continental Europe as the base, I might choose to do a step mash, and that is easy to do on my system.  For a Pilsner we have done single decoctions.  For the next Doppelbock, I might consider a double decoction, or if I want to do that much work, a tripple decoction.

You can make your beer anyway you want.

One of the benefits of going to the AHA BIg Brew is to see all of the systems in one place, and to talk to the others to see what they are doing.  I find it a great way to learn new techniques.  One guy was doing a brew in a bag.

Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: kerneldustjacket on December 17, 2010, 09:01:37 am
I have hesitated to post this...but what the hell.
I humbly propose that I am just sharing my own thoughts/opinions.

Art – Science – Truth – Theory – Belief

There is certainly an art to homebrewing…that intangible “skill” that some brewers posses; it lies beyond scientific explanation…call it an algorithm that springs up in the brewers’ brain, spurred by environment and genetics.

But there is also science to homebrewing. Certain conditions of various physical phenomenon – temperature, pH, ion concentrations – all have a bearing on the outcomes of the brewing process. Through formulating hypotheses, conducting experiments, and making empirical observations, we can come closer to understanding the science of homebrewing, and move to formulate “best practice” guidelines…or what is “true” in a given brewing circumstance.

So what is truth? The consensus theory of truth states that what is held in consensus is true…so if we all agree to something, it is true. This might work for where a group may decide to go for lunch, BUT not for something like gravity; you cannot by consensus make gravity cease. This theory of truth certainly works for the BJCP style guidelines…but not so when determining how mash enzymes function.

The correspondence theory of truth holds that what is true is that which corresponds to the actual state of affairs. For example, what effect does temperature have on mashing? To find this out, you must devise a hypothesis, do research, make empirical observations, and conduct experiments. In the end, you may not be fully right, but you’ll likely be closer to what corresponds with reality.

Belief. All homebrewers have it. Belief that their beer is good, that using a blue cooler makes better beer, that how they brew is the best way. Belief is a personal thing…often expressed in personal terms: I believe this, I believe that. And it’s OK to have our personal beliefs; where we run afoul is when we try to force our beliefs on others…insist that they accept what we say is nothing short of truth. That generally offends people…especially when the belief runs contrary to a correspondence theory of truth, or the belief lacks reasonable research to support it.

Now I’m no genius homebrewer, I do well and enjoy the fruits of my labor, and would certainly relate my brewing practices to anyone that may ask. But, I would not insist that what I do is “best practice,” but I would rather defer to those who have greater experience, arrived at through empirical evidence, experimentation, and reasoned research. Especially when those people express their “discoveries” in humble terms and without the expectation that I “drink the Koolaid.”

Thus I choose to brew in a white cooler.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: Mikey on December 17, 2010, 09:42:54 am
I truthfully believe that science will someday prove, beyond theory, that my beer is art to behold.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: gmwren on December 20, 2010, 11:35:07 am


Art – Science – Truth – Theory – Belief




Don't forget Tribal Lore!
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: kerneldustjacket on December 20, 2010, 12:23:32 pm

Don't forget Tribal Lore!

You know...I suppose homebrewers could be thought of as a tribe (a tribe of head-hunters --get it?)...and the "Lore" is our shared collective experience.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: narvin on December 20, 2010, 12:42:29 pm
I guess I don't understand why people think there should only be one way to brew.  Why does it bother people if someone else step mashes or does decoctions?  If you are able to control your processes on your system to get the kind of beer you want, who gives a rip what someone else does?

This is the basic problem I have with the spreadsheet crowd.  If you know how to use it and it works for you, that's great.  But to then extend that to say that everyone should do that is a leap of logic that is entirely without support.

Anyone who has ever taken formal logic will recognize immediately the problems with people mistaking "there exists" for "for all".

There is more than one way to brew.  Accept it.  You'll live a happier life.

Well said. And if the science minded experts want to ignore other people's results, then that's their loss.

Not ignoring your results... just your conclusion  ;D.  Your step mash most likely has a longer time, higher water to grain ratio, and too many other different variables versus a single infusion mash to determine any cause and effect relationship.  If you like the beer you make, I wouldn't change your procedure.  But I doubt you have identified what is actually going on.
Title: Re: Mashing confusion
Post by: bfogt on December 21, 2010, 12:34:26 pm
The only two things I can convince myself to add to the discussion are:

It seems to me important for serious brewers to learn how to use all the standard techniques that have been used to make good beer.  I've thrown decoctions into recipes when the temperature drops fast outside and I can't get enough hot water into the mash to hit my marks.  Step mashing gives you an appreciation of all the different enzymes at play in various temperature ranges.  Then when you're designing your flavors or run into problems, you have a few ways to get to a satisfactory result. 

Second, I use a triple decoction for my Lenten brew of a BPA.  It's not called for, but I use the excuse that it's how we can brew without technology.  It feels more authentic for the participants, I have lots of hands that need something to do and it helps keep requests to teach brewing to people quite low.  Beer that you had to suffer for seems to taste better and it eliminates the casual potential beer maker from drawing me into their new halfhearted hobby.  We also do a 4 week bottle conditioning process to make it seem like it takes the whole length of Lent.

So there are practical reasons to have those armaments in your arsenal other than science or tradition.