« on: April 05, 2014, 07:48:23 AM »
You can and should safely skip the decoction mash. While it might be fun to try, it doesn't improve flavor and is pretty much a waste of time.
If you do want to try it, you'll need a colander where you can pull out the grains every few minutes to boil the decoctions. Essentially it goes something like this:
Dough in at 95-105 F with the usual 1.25 to 2.0 qt water per lb grain. After about 10 minutes, use the colander to pull most of the grains into a kettle. The liquid that is left behind contains all the enzymes and is called "the main mash". Bring the grains (not the main mash!) up to about 150 F for about 10-20 minutes, then boil for another 10-20 minutes, then return it to your main mash. Stir well, let it rest for a minute or two, then pull the grains out and bring to a boil again. Now your main mash should be somewhere in the neighborhood of 120-130 F. Boil the grains for just 2-10 minutes, then put back into the main mash again. This should bring your main mash up to 150-ish. If not, repeat until it does. Once you hit 150-ish in the main mash, rest for about 30-40 minutes. Then you can either repeat for a mashout at 170 F, or you can skip the mashout and just runoff and sparge and brew as normal. That's the streamlined decoction process in a nutshell. You can do all the rests for 20-40 minutes if you like, some people do, but I find this unnecessary and perhaps even detrimental, as you don't want to do a protein rest at 120-ish for more than a couple of minutes with modern well-modified malts or it will kill your beer's body and head retention.
Optionally, you can skip all this hassle and just mash at 150 F for 40-45 minutes, runoff and sparge, and you're done. Results will be approximately the same, with the exception that decoction produces a slightly darker beer that is perhaps 2-3 SRM points darker.
Either way, you're going to make a great beer. Enjoy.