I looked briefly back through some of the info I've collected on decoction mashing and thought I'd post a couple quotes. Boldface is mine...
"> This excerpt from an article by Charlie Bamforth, Ph.D. of UC Davis in
> the "Brewers Guardian" sums things up nicely:
> "Imagine if you will that this is not a publication devoted to beer,
> but rather one focussed on transportation. Consider, then, your
> response to an article that espoused the merits of the ox-drawn cart
> or the Penny-Farthing bicycle as superior modes of transport to the
> Jaguar, the Ferrari or the Challenger space shuttle. You would think
> the writer an idiot. Just as likely, by suggesting (as I will now)
> that the matter of beer style is blown out of all proportion, there
> will be plenty amongst you that will believe me to have taken complete
> leave of my senses.
> Don't misinterpret me. The thesis I wish to convey is that it is the
> duty of every brewer to generate beers of excellence to delight the
> customer. They do not need to conform to a stereotype, far less must
> they somehow adhere to outmoded concepts of brewing and of style which
> should long-since have passed into folklore or historic curiosity.
> Let me illustrate. The original lager-style beers were brewed using
> decoction techniques, on account of the fact that the malt was poor
> and needed low temperature mashing-in to complete the degradation of
> cell wall material. The only recourse the early lager brewers had to
> subsequently raise the temperature was by boiling part of the goods
> and shoving it back in to the main mash. There is not one smidgen of
> experimental data to justify the belief that decoction mashing leads
> to better lager-style beers, but this doesn't stop the protestations
> of the obdurate artisan, convinced that the only way to brew is to
> adhere to time honoured traditions, that decoction approaches is the
> one true route to lager excellence. If it helps preserve the technique
> as a marketing ploy then go for it. Otherwise, go with the times."
Excerpt from HBD 2395 (posted by Louis K. Bonham)
On the decoction thread, Dr. Fix recently sent me a copy
of an article with lots of very interesting data on a
number of points that Dr. Pivo (sorry about that earlier
misspelling, BTW), Steve A., and other have raised.
Check it out:
G. Sommer, "Trials for the Optimisation of Mashing Procedure,"
Brauwelt International 1986 (1), p. 23.
This article details Henninger-Brau AG's evaluation of
infusion v. decoction mashing, both in laboratory and
brewhouse conditions. (It concludes that the qualitative
differences in beers produced with decoction vs. infusion
mashes were "extradinordinally small," and that, "based on a
large number of tasting trials it could be confirmed that the
taste was not changed" by converting from decoction to infusion
This article contains lots of good info on other aspects of
mashing, incluing the 50-60-70 schedule and data that
contradicts the notion that thick mashes contribute
anything *except* in the rare case where you need to do
a protein rest. Well worth reading.