Author Topic: Nov/Dec Zymurgy  (Read 1997 times)

Offline klickitat jim

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Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« on: October 29, 2014, 07:39:43 AM »
First, congrats to Steve Parr! I am 99% sure that I judged with him at 2014 NHC in Seattle. He's a super nice guy and very helpful. Or the guy who I judged with from AHA, who looks just like him is....

What do you guys think of the Decoction article? I enjoyed reading it and it would be nice to have a club that dedicated! I was not surprised by their findings.

What caught my eye was that they under pitched by at least a third (assuming the wyeast smack packs were brand new) and that they pitched at 62º, 11º higher than their desired fermentation temp, and left it there for 12 hrs, then crashed it to 51º. Not surprised to see too much esters, alcohol warmth, and phenols in the judges comments.

So anyway, if curiosity ever kills this cat, I don't think I would boil the actual grains. Yes, I know, they say that a true decoction calls for that. But since Dr Denny's study and this one show no clear difference or improvement from doing it the way you're supposed to, maybe I can get away with drifting from the way you're supposed to. I would do more of a step mash but bringing calculated amounts of runnings to a boil to accomplish the step temps. I can't wrap my mind around why you would want to have a near dry glob of malt grains in a pan with enough heat to boil. But then when we're talking about direct fire on a mash tun the worry is scorching the grains... doesn't make sense to me. Later this winter maybe I'll try it out. Then again, maybe I won't since I have direct fire recirculation for my mash tun, why not just do a step mash and call it good?

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #1 on: October 29, 2014, 11:04:07 AM »
Agreed, Jim on the process they used, but decoction for me has never been a near dry gob - thick, yes, but not near dry.  So there is plenty of liquid to keep it from burning and the boiling allows for the "complex Maillard reactions".  But I found anecdotally the same thing and so I don't bother with a decoction.  A touch of Melanoiden malt gets me where I want to be typically (and even that is omitted most of the time anymore).

With well modified malts, I am not convinced that the protein rest gets anything, so I typically go single infusion or just a step mash rest to get the beta conversion then on to the alpha sweet spot.
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2014, 01:00:50 PM »
Jim, I think one of the main reasons to bring the thick part of the mash to a boil is that the enzymes are dissolved in the liquid by that point. If you boil your liquid, then you're denaturing a lot of your enzymes. If you boil what is largely husk material, then you are denaturing a lot less of your enzymes.

I'm very happy with my lagers without doing a decoction, and it's hard enough to find time to brew as it is. Maybe I'll play around with it when I retire.
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Offline Hillside Brewing

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2014, 01:02:25 PM »
Hey guys, thanks for reading our article on decoction. I really appreciate the comments and feedback. There are definitely loop holes in the process and decisions behind details. As we were doing it and writing it, we knew there would be questions and comments and even acknowledged right away where we would have done it differently. In order to control all of the variables, we let other things slip. If we were to do it again, there are definitely things we would change about it. It was a huge under-taking both in the brew day itself, as well as putting all of the details together to make sense. I don't even want to know how much time Joe (co-author) and I spent writing it and re-writing it. It was an amazing experience, with an amazing amount that we learned.

We've considered conducting the experiment again, but not control as many variables and times to see what differences we would come up with. Maybe some day we will do it!

Thanks!
Tim

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2014, 01:08:00 PM »
 Personally, after losing a couple all day sessions to decoctions that didn't give me appreciably better beer, I bailed on the decoction idea. Never say never, though.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2014, 01:34:41 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2014, 02:08:43 PM »
I read very early on when I started AG that decoction might not have great rewards for the work; being someone who hates to add an extra step on brew day without a clear benefit and despises adding something else to clean up that was all it took.
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Offline braufessor

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2014, 02:13:21 PM »
I appreciate articles like this one as well - the ones that kind of focus in on experimenting and evaluating various process/ingredient aspects in an unbiased way.  In particular, I find it interesting to look at these decisions on process at a "homebrew" scale...... when often, commercial scale is compared to homebrew scale - which may, or may not hold up.

In regard to decoction, I brew a variety of german lagers (Helles, Dortmunder, Pilsner, Oktoberfest) on a pretty regular basis.  I have tried various decoction methods, various infusion mashes, etc.  And, for me, I have sort of settled in on a direct fired, recirculating step mash.  This seems to give me the clearest, cleanest beer, with a good malt profile. 

Generally, I mash in to an initial temp that settles right around 128-130.  I only let it sit at this point for 5 minutes or so, and I turn on the flame under my mash tun and start to recirculate (No pumps, just manually opening the spigot and draining into a small stainless pot and pouring gently over the grain bed.)From the time of dough in, until my mash reaches 145-149 range is probably 15 minutes, 20 tops....... So, I am spending a pretty short time in the 130 range.  I leave it in the 145-149 range for about 30 minutes and then turn the flame on, recirculate and take it up into the 154-156 range for about 20-30 minutes.  Then recirculate and sparge in the 165-167 range to collect wort. 

I think the direct firing of the mash as well as direct fire on the boil kettle as wort collects provides some caramelization/melanoiden flavors.  However, the main thing I have noticed with the step mash is that I tend to get clearer beer than I do with the infusion mash.  Any flavor differences are probably minimal if I am being honest.  However, I really was hit and miss with hazy/cloudy beers when going straight infusion.  The quick step mash seems (at least so far) to give me absolutely brilliantly clear beer.

I have also played around with boiling the first runnings of oktoberfests (maybe a half gallon or so) for about 10 minutes in the boil kettle before proceeding with the sparge as a way of attaining that "melanoiden" type flavor/profile.  I can't say, definitively, that it made a difference..... it was good, but, was it better????

In my experience, I will say that I have found no evidence or trend that would ever want to make be repeat doing double or triple decoction type mashes - as I just have not experienced any real benefit from them.  I like the step mash for sure in regard to clarity and fermentability of my wort.  I am still playing around with quick single decoctions toward the end of the mash, or boiling down early runnings a bit to accentuate some of those flavors.  My opinion on these, from my experience, is still out.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2014, 02:15:01 PM by braufessor »

Offline denny

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2014, 03:45:56 PM »
First, congrats to Steve Parr! I am 99% sure that I judged with him at 2014 NHC in Seattle. He's a super nice guy and very helpful. Or the guy who I judged with from AHA, who looks just like him is....

What do you guys think of the Decoction article? I enjoyed reading it and it would be nice to have a club that dedicated! I was not surprised by their findings.

What caught my eye was that they under pitched by at least a third (assuming the wyeast smack packs were brand new) and that they pitched at 62º, 11º higher than their desired fermentation temp, and left it there for 12 hrs, then crashed it to 51º. Not surprised to see too much esters, alcohol warmth, and phenols in the judges comments.

So anyway, if curiosity ever kills this cat, I don't think I would boil the actual grains. Yes, I know, they say that a true decoction calls for that. But since Dr Denny's study and this one show no clear difference or improvement from doing it the way you're supposed to, maybe I can get away with drifting from the way you're supposed to. I would do more of a step mash but bringing calculated amounts of runnings to a boil to accomplish the step temps. I can't wrap my mind around why you would want to have a near dry glob of malt grains in a pan with enough heat to boil. But then when we're talking about direct fire on a mash tun the worry is scorching the grains... doesn't make sense to me. Later this winter maybe I'll try it out. Then again, maybe I won't since I have direct fire recirculation for my mash tun, why not just do a step mash and call it good?

I found it interesting that they reached the same conclusion I did 12-15 years ago.
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Offline denny

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2014, 03:47:55 PM »
Hey guys, thanks for reading our article on decoction. I really appreciate the comments and feedback. There are definitely loop holes in the process and decisions behind details. As we were doing it and writing it, we knew there would be questions and comments and even acknowledged right away where we would have done it differently. In order to control all of the variables, we let other things slip. If we were to do it again, there are definitely things we would change about it. It was a huge under-taking both in the brew day itself, as well as putting all of the details together to make sense. I don't even want to know how much time Joe (co-author) and I spent writing it and re-writing it. It was an amazing experience, with an amazing amount that we learned.

We've considered conducting the experiment again, but not control as many variables and times to see what differences we would come up with. Maybe some day we will do it!

Thanks!
Tim

Thanks for undertaking it, Tim.  If yo do it again, please try to do a triangle evaluation.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline kramerog

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2014, 01:56:55 AM »
I didn't read the article carefully.  Were the beers force-ranked or did the scores reflect a force ranking?

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Offline majorvices

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2014, 11:57:51 AM »

What caught my eye was that they under pitched by at least a third (assuming the wyeast smack packs were brand new) and that they pitched at 62º, 11º higher than their desired fermentation temp, and left it there for 12 hrs, then crashed it to 51º. Not surprised to see too much esters, alcohol warmth, and phenols in the judges comments.


I have that earmarked to read, but honestly when I saw them pouring the yeast directly from the smack pack into the carboy on a "lager" I cringed a good bit. If the reasoning that the beer was pitched with only a smack pack was to keep a tighter control over the experiment dry lager yeast would have been a better choice, or multiple smack packs.

Offline Hillside Brewing

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2014, 12:37:09 PM »
We actually did use 2 smack packs per batch. The photo only shows one, but in the ingredients list, it is noted that we used two packs per batch.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #13 on: October 30, 2014, 12:38:58 PM »
We actually did use 2 smack packs per batch. The photo only shows one, but in the ingredients list, it is noted that we used two packs per batch.

Well, that makes me feel a little better. ;)

Offline Hillside Brewing

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Re: Nov/Dec Zymurgy
« Reply #14 on: October 30, 2014, 12:46:17 PM »
Good to know! ha.

As I mentioned, there are definitely loop holes in what we did, and we certainly learned a ton. I'm glad its garnering some conversation. As we know, everyone has their own way of doing something and if you ask 3 people the same question on process, etc., you will get 3 different answers. It makes brewing always exciting!