Author Topic: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?  (Read 1544 times)

Offline yeastmaster

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Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« on: February 19, 2011, 12:43:32 PM »
I'm doing a strong dark Belgian and I want to do my mash in the mid 140's F to help get keep the FG from being too high.  Would it be inappropriate at the end of a long mash to do a decoction to raise the temp up enough for a mashout and to help get everything flowing better when I sparge?

I batch sparge and last time I did a mash like this I had a lot of trouble draining my first runnings.  I think the problem was my fairly low temp because it ran a lot better when I warmed the mash up with my batch sparge water

Offline hokerer

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #1 on: February 19, 2011, 01:02:39 PM »
Wouldn't it just be simpler to do a real mashout?  That is, just add whatever amount of boiling water it takes to get the mash temp up to what you want.
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Offline denny

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #2 on: February 19, 2011, 01:04:26 PM »
Decoction is not a standard techniques for Belgian beers, AFAIK.  Doesn't mean you can't do one, though.  A couple questions...how long is your sacc rest?  I'd recommend at least 90n min. at that temp, and that might also aid your runoff.  And do you have room in your cooler to just do an infusion to raise the temp?
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Offline yeastmaster

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #3 on: February 19, 2011, 01:06:41 PM »
I have plenty of room for an infusion, the only problem with that is it doesn't leave me a lot of water for my batch sparge.  I suppose that I could decrease my water to grain ratio in my initial step to try and compensate.

I was planning on at least 90 minute rest

Offline andyi

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #4 on: February 19, 2011, 02:04:44 PM »

For big belgians on my system  I normally  do single infusion @ 1.5 - 1.8qts/1lb mash ratio (depends on grain bill sizie) for 90m at 150F.   A 145F mash @ 90min. plus a sugar addtion may push this style beer too lean/dry, it's always a balancing act.  Whatever your mash routine make an appropriate yeast starter and include yeast nutrient in the starter and also the boil.

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Offline tygo

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2011, 02:37:11 PM »
I'd go a little low on the water to grain ratio, say down to 1.25 qts/lb.  Then use whatever water you need to hit your infusion temps.  That may result in more than half the volume from the initial running but just use less sparge water.  Your runoffs won't be even and you may take a little hit in efficiency but you can compensate for that in your calculations.
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Offline nateo

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2011, 05:32:37 PM »
I use decoction mashes with my big Belgians, but I use a two-stepped sacc. rest. Barley starch doesn't fully gelatinize under 149*, so I do a step at 145-ish, then pull a decoction to raise the temp up to 158-160. At that temp the enzymes denature within 30-45min, but most of the conversion is done already, and the enzymes are just working on the newly-liberated starches.
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Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2011, 10:47:00 PM »
Inappropriate?  Not if it works for you.  It won't do anything of your beer to make it out of style, if that's what you're worrying about.  It's not traditional, but it won't break anything.

You might get a richer malt flavor (not a problem), more color development (not a problem), and better attenuation (not a problem).

There are certainly easier ways to mash out, but you didn't ask that.  So I'd guess you just wanted to try this technique.  It's as good a place as any to give it a go.

If lautering is your problem, you can also try a thinner mash, a slower runoff rate, and rice hulls.
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Offline narvin

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2011, 06:40:53 AM »
If you pull a thin decoction (all liquid) and only boil it briefly, I doubt you will see any flavor or color changes.  It's not traditional, as others have mentioned, but I don't see any reason not to do it.
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Offline yeastmaster

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2011, 06:43:13 PM »
If you pull a thin decoction (all liquid) and only boil it briefly, I doubt you will see any flavor or color changes.  It's not traditional, as others have mentioned, but I don't see any reason not to do it.

This is exactly what I ended up doing and it worked out great.  The sweet wort tasted pretty good and fermented pretty vigorously.  I haven't tried a post fermentation sample yet for flavor or gravity.  The whole batch was a bit of an experiment but I have high hopes for it. 8)

Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #10 on: March 05, 2011, 06:26:32 AM »
I don't think your efficiency would have suffered from a step mashout.  I've been doing no-sparge and adding my entire sparge volume as a mashout, and my efficiency has barely been affected (<5% difference).  Thats compared to single infusion/no mashout/batch sparge.  I think the mashout compensates a bit for the lack of a second extraction, I'm finding I get a little more body this way which is most likely from the stimulation of alpha-amylase late in the mash.
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Offline ndcube

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Re: Decotion in a strong dark Belgian?
« Reply #11 on: March 05, 2011, 06:32:47 AM »
I use decoction mashes with my big Belgians, but I use a two-stepped sacc. rest. Barley starch doesn't fully gelatinize under 149*, so I do a step at 145-ish, then pull a decoction to raise the temp up to 158-160. At that temp the enzymes denature within 30-45min, but most of the conversion is done already, and the enzymes are just working on the newly-liberated starches.

This is what I like to do except I switched to infusions (less messy).  No need to worry about having enough water/room for a mashout.  Just skip it since your batch sparging.