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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: akr71 on December 17, 2010, 05:46:44 PM

Title: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: akr71 on December 17, 2010, 05:46:44 PM
I've been following along the 'Mashing Confusion' thread and learning quite a bit, but I'm left with a nagging question.  Rather than de-rail the other discussion, I figured it best to ask a new question.

I'm only 20 AG batches into this wonderful hobby obbsession and never attempted a decoction mash (curiosity is building, but I'll probably wait a while longer).

If skipping the decoction on a recipe that would tradionally use one, how much melanoidin malt would you add to compensate for not doing the decoction?  I imagine the amount would depend on the type of decoction you are skipping (more for a triple, less for a single)?  Would you sub out a portion of the grain bill, and if so, which part?
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: bonjour on December 17, 2010, 05:55:06 PM
Look up Kevin Kutskill's presentation from I believe the Baltimore NHC.  His decocted beers used 10% aromatic if I recall correctly.

In preparation for this presentation Kevin brewed many German Lagers with a decoction and with the Aromatic malt substitution

In a blind taste test one beer had a pronounced preference for the decocted beer, one beer had a pronounced preference for the aromatic addition, and the rest (there were several others) were too close to call. 
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: tschmidlin on December 17, 2010, 06:11:12 PM
For my friend Tim's experiment, he replaced 4% of the base malt (and I'm not sure what that was) with melanoidin malt.  They were both good according to blind tasters.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: MDixon on December 17, 2010, 06:28:38 PM
How about tasters who could see (http://beermapping.com/forum/Smileys/smiles/emot-rimshot.gif)
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: bonjour on December 17, 2010, 06:36:10 PM
Seriously,
all those that could "see", that is knew which beer was decocted, prefered that beer, the decocted one,  go figure.

Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: akr71 on December 17, 2010, 07:14:11 PM
For my friend Tim's experiment, he replaced 4% of the base malt (and I'm not sure what that was) with melanoidin malt.  They were both good according to blind tasters.

Thanks Tom, that's very helpful!

and yes, I understand that there is no one 'right' answer here - I just needed to be nudged in an appropriate direction.  That is, 'how much is needed to be noticeable, but not overwhelming?'
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: skyler on December 17, 2010, 07:35:40 PM
I have never decocted, either, but frequently enjoy 3-10% Aromatic Malt or Melanoidin Malt in my pale beers. I was planning on trying it out in a K├Âlsch in a bit - 96% Pils and 4% Melanoidin.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Mikey on December 18, 2010, 05:11:28 AM
Seriously,
all those that could "see", that is knew which beer was decocted, prefered that beer, the decocted one,  go figure.



Huh???
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 18, 2010, 02:16:37 PM
At the 2009 Oakland NHC there was a blind tasting at the WAHO (SP) club booth.  3 Doppelbocks were presented.  You were challenged to pick out the tripple decocted doppelbock, which I did.  The others were an infusion and a step mash (or was it infusion with melanoidin malt?).  Michael Ferguson said all he had to do was look at the beers and he picked out the tripple decocted one, as it was the one that had the brilliant clarity. 

Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: malzig on December 30, 2010, 02:17:53 PM
Seriously,
all those that could "see", that is knew which beer was decocted, prefered... the decocted one, go figure.
That's often the problem with decoction experiments.  "This beer is decocted, doesn't it taste better than this other one?"
The other frequent problem is, "One of these beers is decocted, which is better?", leading the tasters to try and figure out which beer is decocted, not which they prefer.
Michael Ferguson said all he had to do was look at the beers and he picked out the tripple decocted one, as it was the one that had the brilliant clarity. 
If only the decocted beer was clear, it defeats the experiment.  Of course there will be a preference for the clearer beer.
My question is, why can't they brew clear beer without decoction?
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Mikey on December 30, 2010, 02:47:48 PM
A decoction will definitely help some beer styles. It gets down to whether the extra work is worth the effort.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: malzig on December 30, 2010, 03:13:52 PM
A decoction will definitely help some beer styles.
It's certainly a popular belief.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: thcipriani on December 30, 2010, 04:04:59 PM
I'm not an expert on decoction by any means and I've never setup any formal experiments, but anecdotally I think that people are searching for the wrong things in decoctions. There may or may not be too much of a flavor difference - I've never brewed a side-by-side - but there's definitely a brewing difference. What I mean is my mash runoff is clearer with a decoction, the amount of kettle break I get with a decoction is reduced, and my efficiency is increased. The difference in the appearance of your mash and wort is very evident with a decoction. The change in appearance of a decocted beer in the kettle would lead you to believe that the beer you are producing will be cleaner than in other examples; although, as I've said, I don't have any evidence of this.

Also, it seems logical, a priori, that there would be more of a difference than could be compensated for by just adding some other malt. No one would argue that you could make up for not boiling your wort by adding crystal malts - there are too many processes that occur in the boil, not just carmelization of sugars. Likewise with decoction mashing there is more at work than the formation of melanoidins.

I think the Brewing Network and Jamil have some hand in every forum discussion of decoction mashing I've ever seen. Jamil takes new brewers up the learning curve so quickly that people begin to repeat his opinions as homebrewing fact when they've been presented as Jamil's opinions. Jamil has stated on more than one occasion that he's proven to himself that there isn't enough of a difference between the flavor derived from a single infusion mash with melanoidin malt and the flavor derived from a decoction mash - which is fine. The problem, to me, is that new brewers won't try a decoction and even if they do are consciously or sub-consciously biased against decoctions. I guess my problem is that almost every new brewer has heard Jamil's thoughts on a decoction mash before they've tried one so any "experimental results" they find are likely to be biased.

I think if people were brought up the learning curve by someone like Greg Noonan their opinions would be different because they would have different expectations.

I think the Brewing Network does an amazing job of moving new brewers up the learning curve and introducing new concepts to old brewers it just seems that people often appropriate the opinions of those people whom they respect more than they are willing to search for their own answers. End rant.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: denny on December 30, 2010, 04:54:03 PM
I think if people were brought up the learning curve by someone like Greg Noonan their opinions would be different because they would have different expectations.

I think the Brewing Network does an amazing job of moving new brewers up the learning curve and introducing new concepts to old brewers it just seems that people often appropriate the opinions of those people whom they respect more than they are willing to search for their own answers. End rant.

Well, I'm one of those who _was_ "brought up t he learning curve" by Noonan and others like him.  That's why I began doing decoctions.  But after a few times, I began to question whether he was right and they were worth the time and effort.  I made those decisions on my own, and by using blind tasting experiments.  And that's all I encourage others to do...try it for themselves and evaluate the results objectively.  Otherwise, people can be just as influenced by Noonan's point of view as Jamil's.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Kirk on December 30, 2010, 07:05:56 PM
I've tasted melanoidin on its own, in a steeped and boiled sample.  Not impressed.  Some aroma and flavor but not much.  Dextrinous, kind of yucch really.  I'll never use it again.  Dark Munich has way more flavor and aroma.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: malzig on December 30, 2010, 07:21:40 PM
I decoct quite frequently, maybe as often as every other beer, because I find it a convenient way to do step mashes to control fermentability for some beer styles.  I don't expect and I don't really see any obvious flavor differences from the standard recipe, so I wouldn't add any melanoidin malt unless you think the recipe would benefit from melanoidin malt flavor. 

To the other point: not that decoction won't make your beer clearer, but both my decocted and non-decocted beers are crystal clear. I think water chemistry is the primary factor instrumental in achieving clear beer, not boiling the grain.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Thirsty_Monk on December 31, 2010, 01:07:40 AM
I've tasted melanoidin on its own, in a steeped and boiled sample.  Not impressed.  Some aroma and flavor but not much.  Dextrinous, kind of yucch really.  I'll never use it again.  Dark Munich has way more flavor and aroma.

I also had NOT positive experience with Melanoidin malt.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Malticulous on December 31, 2010, 01:50:46 AM
I decocted many beers and I do think 2%-4% of Weyermann Melanoidin Malt is in the ballpark of a triple decoction. I have experiance with both but haven't done side by side three way blind tastings (too much effort for me.)  ::)

I wish Kristan England would write up the results of his experiments.
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?p=716196#p716196
I think he summed it up well in one post but more info would be interesting to me.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: yugamrap on January 01, 2011, 04:43:02 AM
I've done decoction brewing for a variety of German styles - both lagers and ales.  I can't say there's a dramatic difference in the finished beers, but I like the technique for stepping mash temps.  I also like the history/tradition of the technique for German styles.  I've done full triple decoction several times, but most often do a double decoction.  Sometimes I just do a decoction to step to mash-out temperatures.  I know it might seem a bit silly, but somehow it just feels like the right thing to do when brewing those beers.  Sorry that doesn't help with the aromatic/melanoidin malt question, but it's my two cents. 
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: Pawtucket Patriot on January 02, 2011, 03:20:36 PM
I've never done a decoction, so I can't speak to whether melanoidin closely approximates any flavor addition resulting from a decoction.  However, when used in small amounts, I like what melanoidin adds to my beer.  It's got a unique malt flavor (almost an "exaggerated" Munich malt flavor with some extra magic thrown in).  I use 1-3% in a 5 gallon batch, depending on how much of that malt flavor I want.
Title: Re: Decoction vs Melanoidin Malt Question(s)
Post by: speed on January 08, 2011, 03:38:26 AM
i did my first triple decoction last sunday and the beer, doppelbock, is still fermenting so i can't comment on what the differences are,but i tried it once and for what the trouble is, i doubt that i will try it again.