Author Topic: Decoction Tips?  (Read 2420 times)

Offline surfin_mikeg

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Decoction Tips?
« on: September 23, 2013, 10:21:04 PM »
I need to brew a DoppelBock (club competition), and decoction is not something I've done before and I'd like to give it a try. 

I'm reading through Kai's documentation on Braukaiser.com and am thinking about a double or enhanced double decoction.  Does anyone know if I will get more complexity if I take the time to do the longer decoction?

Other questions:

Is there a recommended way for accounting for volume loss of the heated decoction, i.e., how much will it affect the pre-boil gravity?  I can plan it out but typically I end up needing to adjust either temps and times at some point.  I don't have the best heat control when stepping up a mash on an outdoor burner.

Can someone get by with using a cooler as the primary mash tun, or do both tuns need burners?

Lastly, I've never done proper checking for starch conversion, and Kai mentions testing for this.  Given that I'm working with fully modified malt, is it preferred to do this vs simply tracking time?

Thanks.

Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 09:13:52 AM »
I'd suggest a Hochkurz double decoction, starting with a rest between 140-146 for 20 minutes, then decoct, boil for 10 minutes or however long you can manage, add back till you get to 158-162, hold that for 45 minutes, decoct liquid portion of mash, boil for a bit, then add back to get to 168.
I think some refer to this as a single decoction, but to me, it's a double, since you're removing a thin mash as well as a thick mash.
Either way, I don't do them anymore as I always miss my next rest temps due to loss of heat during the decoction boil and perhaps not taking enough decoction out in the first place (even though I take almost all of the thick mash out I can). I do step mashes these days, typically of that same Hochkurz procedure using infusions.

You can have boiling water handy in case you miss your temps, but I always seem to miss them anyway, ugh. With fully modified malt, it's debatable whether decoction adds anything to the finished product other than YOU know that it was decocted and it's another layer of involvement you can have with your beer. It's fun to do once in a while, but I don't think it's worth it to do for most beers. A step mash or single infusion gets you there.
Decoction improves your efficiency a little, so plan for that. You might also lose a little volume depending on how long you boil your decoctions. Just have boiling water ready. Michael Dawson did a decoction episode on Brewing TV a while back where he said to pull 1 quart per pound of grist for each decoction. So that's a starting point. Good luck.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 09:17:56 AM by beersk »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 09:50:57 AM »
If you want more flavor development, boil the decoction longer.
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 05:24:00 PM »
Thanks guys, I'll roll with the Hochkurz double decoction and see how it goes.  I figured I'd pull enough wort to where the grist is still covered and have better temperature control using a cooler as the primary tun. 

I'll have time to let it lager and so I am targeting something that'll mellow but not loose too much complexity.

I appreciate the feedback.

Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2013, 05:50:22 AM »
Oh and I' suggest wrapping the mashtun in blankets for more insulation. I always have the problem of losing too much heat in the main mash while the decoction in boiling, then not having enough decoction to bring it up to my next rest temp. It's kind of hard to do when my grist is 7 pounds for a 4 gallon batch. I think it's just not big enough a batch to work, as it hasn't yet, even though I seem to pull nearly all the thick mash out...
Oh well, I'm cool with step infusions as I've read that many German breweries mostly perform step infusions these days. Who knows though...
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2013, 03:30:15 PM »
I've insulated mashtuns (using redwood) but only get success with that in windless and somewhat warm environment (outside is usually 55-65 degrees and gusty).  I'm back to using coolers as temp is easier to control.  The tip of having boiling water on the side is something I'll follow.

AFAIK, decoction and doppelbock comes down to two camps. Kinda need to see an n-factor experiment to validate.  Randy Mosher writes (Radical Brewing) that the mash-in temp needs to be 95 when there's a lot of Munich (and good water quality, i.e., PH), where as others say mash in once at 155 (re: http://byo.com/stories/item/283-brewing-doppelbock-tips-from-the-pros).

BTW, Here's the recipe so far, thinking that I should sub Vienna for the Pils.  Looking for an OG around 1.079:

10 lb, 64% Dark Munich
5 lb, 32% Pilsen
8 oz, 3% CaraAroma
3 oz, 1% Chocolate  // for fun, maybe remove

1 oz German Opal, 60 min  ~ 8.5% AA
.25 German Opal, 20 min
.25 German Opal, 5 min

Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2013, 06:46:15 AM »
Randy Mosher is probably recommending a triple decoction if he says to mash in at 95. I'd personally mash at 145 for 20-30 minutes, decoct, bring up to 158-162, let rest for 45, then pull thin mash of maybe 4 quarts or so, boil, and bring up to 168 for 10 minutes. Boil the decoctions as long as you can manage and stir like mad, constantly (for the thick decoction). If you can get it, use dehusked Carafa III instead of chocolate malt. But, I suppose chocolate malt would work fine in that small quantity as well.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2013, 06:57:11 AM »
One kettle I have is an old 5 gallon SS copper clad Revere Ware that I picked up for fairly cheap. That is my decoction kettle. No scorching problems to date, and I stir at a moderate to slowish pace.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2013, 07:11:50 AM »
One kettle I have is an old 5 gallon SS copper clad Revere Ware that I picked up for fairly cheap. That is my decoction kettle. No scorching problems to date, and I stir at a moderate to slowish pace.
Ah, well maybe I'm over doing it when I stir. I have a very thick bottomed 3 gallon kettle that I use for my decoctions. I want to say it's a sandwich of stainless and aluminum. Next decoction I do I'll back it off. Just hate standing over a hot, boiling kettle having to constantly stir for 10+ minutes. It's brutal.
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Offline denny

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 08:33:31 AM »
Just hate standing over a hot, boiling kettle having to constantly stir for 10+ minutes. It's brutal.

Yeah, especially when there's no benefit to it!   ;)
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Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 10:45:56 AM »
Just hate standing over a hot, boiling kettle having to constantly stir for 10+ minutes. It's brutal.

Yeah, especially when there's no benefit to it!   ;)
Ha! Was waiting for you to come in and say that! As Michael Dawson says on the "Decoction Day" episode of Brewing TV, "it's just another layer of involvement you can have with your beer". Whether you feel it adds anything or not, it's fun to do on occasion, I think.
Do you feel the same way about step mashes? Feel they add nothing?
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Offline denny

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2013, 11:53:12 AM »
Ha! Was waiting for you to come in and say that! As Michael Dawson says on the "Decoction Day" episode of Brewing TV, "it's just another layer of involvement you can have with your beer". Whether you feel it adds anything or not, it's fun to do on occasion, I think.
Do you feel the same way about step mashes? Feel they add nothing?

I do both decoctions and step mashes occasionally to see if maybe there was something there I missed.  So far, I haven't found it.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #12 on: September 26, 2013, 01:28:19 PM »
Ha! Was waiting for you to come in and say that! As Michael Dawson says on the "Decoction Day" episode of Brewing TV, "it's just another layer of involvement you can have with your beer". Whether you feel it adds anything or not, it's fun to do on occasion, I think.
Do you feel the same way about step mashes? Feel they add nothing?

I do both decoctions and step mashes occasionally to see if maybe there was something there I missed.  So far, I haven't found it.
Well, at least you know that from experience and can bestow unto us your vast knowledge. I will at least do step mashes, because they're easy enough.
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Offline dcbc

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2013, 08:19:09 AM »
Just hate standing over a hot, boiling kettle having to constantly stir for 10+ minutes. It's brutal.

I'm with you there.  I have done it enough and, like Denny, don't know if I think there's a tremendous flavor benefit to it.  The last time I did a decoction, I took stirring out of the mix.  It was a simple mash out decoction for flavor only.  I filled a stainless bowl with thick mash, covered it loosely with foil, and set it in the pressure cooker.  15 minutes at 15 psi and I got some nice darkening to my grist.  Smelled amazing, too.  No stirring, no scorching, no problem.  YMMV

Next time, I'm going to source a larger inner container so I can decoct a larger volume.  This was a good first experiment, however.



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« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 07:57:58 AM by dcbc »
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Offline jeffy

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Re: Decoction Tips?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2013, 10:51:47 AM »
This is how Jeff Renner does his cereal mash for CAP.  I think he has a really big pressure cooker.
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