Author Topic: Decoction mashing with a cooler  (Read 4872 times)

Offline gmac

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Decoction mashing with a cooler
« on: April 20, 2011, 09:51:17 AM »
So, I've been reading a lot about decoction mashing and although I'm still not 100% if it actually makes any difference, I'm thinking about trying one with my next lager.  All I have to work with is a pot and a cooler.  Here's what I'm thinking of trying, please tell me if this is a waste of time.
I'm going to be using regular 2-row barley, Wyeast Bavarian Pilsner harvested from an existing batch that is in primary and Hallertau and Tettnanger hops (on order), volumes to be determined.

Mashing Proposal: 5 gal batch.

Add 1.2 quarts of water per lb of grain (probably 11 lbs total) to cooler at 145 degrees.  Add grain and adjust water temp to hit mash temp of 133F.  Leave for 20 mins. 
Add boiling water to raise temp to 144-146.  Close cooler for 30 mins. 
After 30 mins,remove thick mash and transfer to kettle.  Boil thick mash 10-15 mins and add back to mash to raise temp to 155-158.  Close cooler.
After 45 mins, drain off a volume of wort and boil, return to cooler to reach mashout temps.  Batch sparge as per usual.

Thoughts?

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2011, 10:02:16 AM »
A good friend in the club, who has multiple National medals, brews this way.

When you pull the thick part, make sure to do the rest at 158 to 160F, on your way to the boil.  You are talking about the Hochkurz (high-short) decoction schedule, which is on Kai's page.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Decoction_Mashing

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Offline denny

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2011, 10:03:48 AM »
Well, I'm one of those who hasn't found a lot of benefit to a decoction.  I'd recommend that if you're going to do one, you skip the 133 protein rest.  IIRC, you're using pale malt and it will not benefit from that rest and it might even be detrimental.  Mash in at your beta rest, then decoct to an alpha rest.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2011, 10:06:42 AM »
If you're trying to make a low SRM color beer (e.g., Pilsner), be sure to keep the stove top burner (or propane burner, as your case may be) on a lower heat setting (not full-blast) and stir the thick mash constantly to avoid scorching/darkening of the decoction.  To be safe, I tend to add a little wort in the decoction to help with stirring and tempering the heat transfer to the grains.

Nonetheless, given the extra work involved, I almost never perform a decoction.  If I want the extra "maltiness", I just add aromatic/melanoidin or other specialty malts to get the "complexity" while batch sparging.

Offline gmac

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2011, 10:23:35 AM »
Well, I'm one of those who hasn't found a lot of benefit to a decoction.  I'd recommend that if you're going to do one, you skip the 133 protein rest.  IIRC, you're using pale malt and it will not benefit from that rest and it might even be detrimental.  Mash in at your beta rest, then decoct to an alpha rest.

OK, that makes it easier if I don't do the protein rest.  
See, this is the problem, I don't know if it's worth the effort or not and from what I can tell on the forum, there are some great brewers who swear by it, and some great brewers who swear at it.  Not sure.  I guess I just feel like it's one of those things that I should try at least once so I can say I did it.  Plus, I have too much time to think about new things to try and not enough time/room/yeast to actually brew anything right now.  

Offline denny

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2011, 10:56:20 AM »
OK, that makes it easier if I don't do the protein rest.  
See, this is the problem, I don't know if it's worth the effort or not and from what I can tell on the forum, there are some great brewers who swear by it, and some great brewers who swear at it.  Not sure.  I guess I just feel like it's one of those things that I should try at least once so I can say I did it.  Plus, I have too much time to think about new things to try and not enough time/room/yeast to actually brew anything right now.  

I completely agree that you should try it and decide for yourself.  I still do one every once in a while to see if my opinion will change.  The best way to decide is to do one batch decocted, then another exactly the same but with no decoction.  Then do a blind triangle test.
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Offline maxieboy

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #6 on: April 20, 2011, 11:47:15 AM »
Wow! A couple AG batches in and considering decoction mashing. You go, son! I really don't have an interest in brewing lagers, so it really hasn't crossed my mind. I'm pretty sure if I did, it still wouldn't cross my mind!  ;)
Let us know how it goes!
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Offline gmac

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #7 on: April 20, 2011, 01:01:51 PM »
Wow! A couple AG batches in and considering decoction mashing. You go, son! I really don't have an interest in brewing lagers, so it really hasn't crossed my mind. I'm pretty sure if I did, it still wouldn't cross my mind!  ;)
Let us know how it goes!
Hmmm...maybe you're making a subtle point here.  Maybe I should get some more experience before I start complicating things.  I used to want to try AG but I was intimidated to do it.  But, Denny and everyone on here made it so darn easy that I need to complicate things. The way things are going, I expect to be malting my own barley by fall...

If Amazon ever gets around to delivering Gordon's book, maybe there will be something more complicated in there that I can try  ;)

I'll let you know if I give it a try.

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2011, 01:04:36 PM »
Decoction mashing is not that hard.  Just takes some time and lots of stirring.  It helps if your wife co-brewer can stir while you do other stuff.
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Offline denny

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #9 on: April 20, 2011, 01:09:18 PM »
It helps if your wife co-brewer can stir while you do other stuff.

Fat chance of that happening around here.  As much as my wife encourages my brewing and enjoys the beer, she has no time for or interest in actually doing it.
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Offline gmac

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #10 on: April 20, 2011, 01:19:19 PM »
Decoction mashing is not that hard.  Just takes some time and lots of stirring.  It helps if your wife co-brewer can stir while you do other stuff.
I don't play well with others so my co-brewer usually leaves me alone.  She may hold a strainer but that's about it. Apparently she can't read my mind...

Offline smoga

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #11 on: April 20, 2011, 02:17:45 PM »
It helps if your wife co-brewer can stir while you do other stuff.

Fat chance of that happening around here.  As much as my wife encourages my brewing and enjoys the beer, she has no time for or interest in actually doing it.

+1 on that. When we were young and in love, she would help out. Since the arrival of the children, no such luck.

The problem I found with Decoctions was the time factor. My usual efficient 5 - 5 1/2 hour brew session turns into a grueling 9 hour marathon, and I really have a hard time justifying those extra 4 hours. All the more power to you if you can get away with it....

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #12 on: April 20, 2011, 05:54:55 PM »
It helps if your wife co-brewer can stir while you do other stuff.

Fat chance of that happening around here.  As much as my wife encourages my brewing and enjoys the beer, she has no time for or interest in actually doing it.

The problem I found with Decoctions was the time factor. My usual efficient 5 - 5 1/2 hour brew session turns into a grueling 9 hour marathon, and I really have a hard time justifying those extra 4 hours. All the more power to you if you can get away with it....
I did a long 10.5 hour day for a Bo-Pils, mostly by myself (wife works part time).  It was a Hochkurz double decoction, with a 2.25 hour boil, and it was chilled down to 40F to pitch the yeast.  I like the beer I am drinking now, but was it the Moravian malt, decoction, long boil, or the yeast (the PU yeast I had not used before)?

One advantage of retirement is that you can spend that amount of time on a homebrew.
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Offline maxieboy

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2011, 07:18:32 PM »
Hmmm...maybe you're making a subtle point here.  Maybe I should get some more experience before I start complicating things.  I used to want to try AG but I was intimidated to do it. 

 Everyone's got a different level of learning, ability, and risk tolerance. IMO, reasonably limiting variables when starting out is wise.
 For me, the investment vs. return thing would hang me up.
 Intimidation? Nah, it's just beer...  ;)
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Offline anthony

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Re: Decoction mashing with a cooler
« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2011, 12:21:59 AM »
While I am well aware of the various stances on decoction... and I think it is commendable that it is being recommended that individual brewers try it for themselves... but then in the same breath, the recommendation becomes, "Well try it, but don't bother following any of the sort of industry standard or traditional ways of doing this."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to try and become a champion of decoction here... for one thing, I've seen what happens to all of those folks over the years  :P (search for mashweasel and decoction on the Northern Brewer forums for instance).. but I will say this, if you're going to try and objectively evaluate decoction versus a specialty malt recipe, do yourself a favor and evaluate a classic recipe using the classic process versus a new recipe (with specialty malts). A protein rest at above 125F but below 140F (i.e. a proteinase rest) will not negatively impact the head retention or the resulting beer's body... and I believe for a simple, single malt beer, even with a "well modified" malt, the proteinase rest is crucial to getting the right mouthfeel/body. During triple decoctions, I've left the majority of the mash at a 135F rest for 30+ minutes with no resulting issues. And if you're getting significant color development from your decoction, then you need to do thinner pulls.

I think a reasonable test is a pilsner only, triple decocted Helles versus a pilsner+munich+melanoidin single infusion Helles... choose for yourself which you like best.