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Author Topic: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash  (Read 859 times)

Offline HopDen

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Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« on: January 02, 2024, 01:16:23 pm »
I want to perform a decoction mash on a Munich Helles. Will be the first time doing a decoction mash. My old brew system of a keggle and propane burner will work perfectly, I hope. After doing some reading about decoction mashing it seems pretty straight forward although a bit time consuming which is ok with me to be honest.

Should I use an under-modified pilsner malt for a decoction mash? I tend to use Weyermann's floor malted for a number of my lager recipes. I think there is some disagreement on Weyermann FM actually being under-modified. I believe it is on a small degree.

I also like to use as close to traditional grains when feasible. Are there any truly under-modified grains that are available? I would prefer continental grain over domestic but if under-modified is crucial for a decoction mash then the former is a mute choice.

Any tips/opinions on decoction mashing and/or grain choice is appreciated.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2024, 01:25:15 pm »
Domestically you may find a craft maltster with under-modified, otherwise consider a heritage or "heirloom" malt that is produced in England, Czech Republic, or Germany.

I recently tried Crisp's Hana pilsner malt.  The lagers I made with it are still maturing in keg, so I can't say yet how they turned out, but I have hope.  It is expensive, though, some offer specials occasionally:

https://www.howdybrewer.com/products/crisp-hana-heritage-malt-55lb?currency=USD&variant=43731431915736&utm_medium=cpc&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=Google%20Shopping&stkn=2e325e8a11f6&gclid=Cj0KCQiAhc-sBhCEARIsAOVwHuTdnAa2NPb7UY0ZxZSkrwa5PHKfpO7llotL-9TARbRbO5g2EhHd6J4aApIoEALw_wcB

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Offline denny

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2024, 01:27:01 pm »
Crisp Hana would be a great choice.

Strangely, Weyermann doesn't list the DP of the malt. The do say the max Kolbach is 44, which indicates a well modified malt.
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Offline HopDen

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2024, 03:27:09 pm »
Thanks for the link Ynot! IIRC Denny, you have stated before how good Hana' Crisp is. I have been wanting to try this malt and it looks as if I might use on this recipe. If I may ask again though, Is it better to use an under-modified grain for decoction mashing? I don't remember if I read that it is preferable.
Thanks!

Offline OttoKringer

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2024, 11:39:55 am »
I just used Crisp Hana three days ago for a Czech Premium Pale Lager and did a decoction from beta to alpha rest (145F to 158F). The mash went well and I was actually a few points above my target OG. From reading the Crisp website I don't think you "need" to do a decoction, but I do it when brewing certain styles such as Czech lagers or Kellerbiers, regardless of malt modification.

Offline denny

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2024, 01:18:43 pm »
I just used Crisp Hana three days ago for a Czech Premium Pale Lager and did a decoction from beta to alpha rest (145F to 158F). The mash went well and I was actually a few points above my target OG. From reading the Crisp website I don't think you "need" to do a decoction, but I do it when brewing certain styles such as Czech lagers or Kellerbiers, regardless of malt modification.

When I spoke with Crisp about it on the podcast, they recommended at least a step mash and preferred decoction. I went with step.
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Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2024, 03:18:27 pm »
Step mashed Hana pils here, also.  I do about one decoction every other year - 2023 wasn't the year for decoction, but I may do one this year....(if I can justify the extra time and effort).
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Offline denny

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2024, 03:38:01 pm »
Step mashed Hana pils here, also.  I do about one decoction every other year - 2023 wasn't the year for decoction, but I may do one this year....(if I can justify the extra time and effort).

I don't do them as often as you do, but I do one occasionally to see if my opion of the process has changed.
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Offline HopDen

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2024, 09:04:23 am »
In researching recipes that employ decoction mashing for pilsners/lagers I have noticed most if not all use only pilsner malt with no added specialty malts such as carapils, carafoam and the like. In my Czech Lager I will use 14% carafoam and 2.5% acidulated malt. I will assume that the decoction process eliminates the need for specialty grain. As in the case of carafoam that I use for building body and head/foam retention in my original recipe will be replaced by a decoction mash.

Please confirm my thoughts on this. Eliminate specialty grain and use only base grain.

Offline OttoKringer

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2024, 11:52:37 am »
I'm afraid I can't confirm this since I always use at least 2 or 3% Cara malt, even when I decoct. I should probably omit it someday to see if there's a difference. It's also my understanding that some Czech brewers use Cara malts in their lagers, so my guess is there's no hard and fast rule regarding Cara malts and decoctions.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2024, 12:06:34 pm »
I think the commonly accepted aspect is that decoction exposes the pulled mash to Maillard reactions that bring a caramel-like toastiness to the fore as to flavor, as well as a slight color darkening (depending on length of the decoction and the boil).  The acidulated malt is used as an adjustment for pH, which may not be needed, if the pH of the decocted mash is within the pH parameters of the brew (either as measured or as contemplated by the recipe calculator used).

Cheers!

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Offline Finn Berger

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2024, 12:58:47 am »
In researching recipes that employ decoction mashing for pilsners/lagers I have noticed most if not all use only pilsner malt with no added specialty malts such as carapils, carafoam and the like. In my Czech Lager I will use 14% carafoam and 2.5% acidulated malt. I will assume that the decoction process eliminates the need for specialty grain. As in the case of carafoam that I use for building body and head/foam retention in my original recipe will be replaced by a decoction mash.

Please confirm my thoughts on this. Eliminate specialty grain and use only base grain.

Carafoam/Carapils and the like doesn't do much for you, I think: http://scottjanish.com/dextrins-and-mouthfeel/ So dropping that won't make much difference.

But I think the idea of using only base malt (pilsner malt) is sound. Maillard reactions depend of several factors to happen, and one of them is pH. I'd go for a fairly high pH in the mash when decocting, and darker grains will work against that. (You might do several things to manipulate the pH in the decoction, but I won't go into that.)

That being said, I must confess I'm no decocter. I can't say I'm certain it's a waste of time, but I'm sceptical. However, I'm doing a decoction every now and then. It would be great if it worked - and worked the purported wonders - and I'm willing to accept facts that hit me in the face :).

Decoction is actually quite fun to do, so that's a reason for spending the time if you have it. It gives that great feeling of crafting the beer. I like doing something when I'm brewing. But I still need to believe that what I'm doing makes sense - so it does take some time to work up new belief after each disappointment :).
« Last Edit: March 02, 2024, 01:05:40 am by Finn Berger »

Offline goose

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Re: Best Pilsner Malt for Decoction Mash
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2024, 08:43:20 am »
I used to do a decoction for my Helles (I've done a single, double and triple for this beer) using Durst Pilsner malt when I could get it and never saw a bunch of difference in the flavor as opposed to a steep mash.   So I gave up on it.  However, I get the itch once in a while to try it again so maybe one of these days......
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