Decoction thumbs up/down.

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Trialben, May 18, 2017.

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Decoction thumbs up or down

  1. Decoction every mash.

  2. Decoction depending upon beer style.

  3. Never decocted but will try this method.

  4. Never will dont see the point.

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  1. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    20170518_164250.jpg Well brew community im pitching this one to you do you use decoction in your mash schedule? Is it relevant with todays well modified Malts? If you do decoct your mash what is it do you think you gain from it?

    Im looking down the barrell of only a single decoction brew day with marris otter of all malts but @das alte has piqued my interest in a method of mashing i have recently thrown asside into the (not relevant for my brewing style box). Looking at brulosphers single variable tripple decoction brew day vs single infusion brew day exbeerments had put me in a state of minor inebriated confusion (too many german pilsners lol) ill flick a pic of why.

    So im putting together a poll to get your brew history on this have you used the decoction method why and what keeps you decocting ect ect...
     
  2. jimmyz

    jimmyz Member

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    I just did a decoction mash for a lagunitas ipa clone. Not sure i will do it again. Its in the keg now wont be ready for another week. Will let you know but not 100% sold this is required.
     
  3. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Cheers Jimmyz looking forward to your feedback ;).
     
  4. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    Never done it.
     
  5. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Why make life hard ? i have an element in my mash tun so can easily do a stepped mash for the same result
    And i rarely do lagers / pils anyway
     
  6. CRUNK

    CRUNK Well-Known Member

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    I have not YET, but I will try it sometime, to see with my own eyes the pros and cons.
     
  7. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    I believe that if it's done properly there's enough benefit to merit the extra effort. I think it's probably wasted on IPAs or for that matter most of the beers that we'll brew at home, being that the production/consumption cycle is fairly short in duration. For a clean, malty lager that may take an extra few months to reach it's peak, decoction mashing probably shows its real value.
    I think most of us still lack the rigid discipline and consistency to get fermentation and packaging so perfect that subtle nuances in flavor produced by superior mashing techniques can stand out.
    For my light summer "lagers" that will be turned around pretty quickly, I won't bother, but I intend to do some decoction mashing for dark, malty beers for the fall line-up and for trying to brew a really good, properly lagered Pils.
     
  8. Ozarks Mountain Brew

    Staff Member

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    I cant say anything bad about it my set up doesn't allow me to do it but Ive tasted some fine beers that had used that method, its an old but good way of brewing cheaply, it makes the brew day longer, more to clean up and possibility of scorching hands so don't drink while using the decoction method thats just from experience lol
     
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  9. KC

    KC Active Member

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    I sometimes do decoction as a dunk sparge for BIAB, but only where melanoidin is appropriate. The trouble with a full mash schedule is the amount of trial and error necessary to get your process to hit the correct temperatures.
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I can see the point of a single decoction to develop color and flavor in a light lager. Can't think of another good reason to put out that much effort, given today's well-modified malt. Step mash works just as well to convert starches and protein rests merely reduce head retention.
     
  11. emsroth

    emsroth Member

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    I've done it to raise mash temps. I've also taken the extra runnings and boiled them until thick and added to brew kettle. That adds a nice caramel note. But the best for malty beers is an extended boil. "They" claim that the kettle isn't hot enough for true caramelization, but i have gotten great caramelly bocks and browns this way.

    This was reinforced for me brewing an overly sweet Belgian Tripel. On my old, small system I opted for a 3 hr boil to get the wort concentrated without adding too much sugar. The tripel was cloyingly sweet at 1.011 and had a red hue. With pils and table sugar i assume it is all from the extended boil.
     
  12. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Ive done this too and it does work well, you have to be careful not to boil all your wort away its easy to do, Ive found one way is to over fly sparge and boil for 120 minutes
     
  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Cheers all for your feed back yes it does seem like a lot of work for very little return but burnt hands and a long brew day. Like Nosey said leave the protine rest too long or too low and you end up reversing the quality of the beer and killing head retention. I might just follow through with this single decoction to experience it for my self and so I can say been there done that it is/isn't for me.
     
  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    This is another potential use for decoction but it works just as well to pull a thin decoction, bring it to a boil and add it back immediately. It's true the kettle isn't hot enough for caramelization (heat and acid reactions with sugar, think caramel or candi syrup) but it does develop melanoidins (color and flavor compounds generated through reactions between sugars and amino acids - think of browning in bread or cookies). I use a two-hour boil for my Helles to generate just a bit more color and flavor.
     
  15. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    I have done decoction mashes and found there was little benefit. I have done them for kolsch, helles, octoberfest and Scottish ales and many of them went on to win with gold in competitions.

    But I found I could get as good, if not better malt flavor through controlling the mash pH in relation to the mash temperature. I start my mash pH high at the beginning of the mash (5.6-5.8 @ 80F) and I do a step up in temp to 158F and then drop the pH to 5.2-5.4 @ 80F. I finish with a mash out @ 168F. Your choice of malt can improve the overall flavor compare to a decoction mash.

    The kolshes and pilsners have a nice sweet maltiness up front and then finish dry when I use this method.

    I'm glad I did it just to say I know how to do a decoction mash, but I don't think I will be doing them in the future.
     
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  16. das alte

    das alte Member

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    "I have done decoction mashes and found there was little benefit."

    The statement is common.

    "I can see the point of a single decoction to develop color and flavor in a light lager. Can't think of another good reason to put out that much effort, given today's well-modified malt. Step mash works just as well to convert starches and protein rests merely reduce head retention."

    Except for the conversion part, the part about well modified malt and about the protein rest are absolutely correct.
    It would be a waste of time to use the malt with the decoction method due to the quality of the malt. The malt is enzymatically wiped out except for Alpha.

    "I start my mash pH high at the beginning of the mash (5.6-5.8 @ 80F) and I do a step up in temp to 158F and then drop the pH."
    It is an interesting procedure.
    Why do you establish mash pH at 5.8-5.6 @ 80F?
    How long does the mash rest at 80F?
    Why was 158F chosen as the final rest period?
    How long was the 158F rest period?
    High modified, high protein malt?

    Back to the thumbs. In 1984, I began to learn about the single infusion method. In 1986, I began to learn about the decoction method and stayed with it.
    Cons:
    It takes a long time to learn the process and a long time to dial it in
    Can be frustrating
    Requires being very patient
    Requires more equipment
    More BTU's
    Wait months for the beer to age
    Storage for the beer being aged
    Work like crazy pretty much non stop for a bunch of hours
    Brewers grade malt might not be available
    Multi-tasking is impossible
    Long brew day
    People do not like to hang around for 10 hours watching a person work like mad
    People who like to hang around for 10 hours watching a person work like mad, are mad
    Explaining to the lady of the house why you can't be bothered for about 12 hours
    Coming up with a story of why money is needed more for a 20 gallon kettle than for her Mom's birthday present

    Pro's:
    You have conquered the Cons
    People who like to hang around for 10 hours can be worked to death when the need arises
     
  17. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    On my third step of my double decoction mash ATM I mashed in for short 15min protine rest of 56c then using direct fire raised mash to 64c waited 20 min then pulled out my first decoction. Raised Decoction temp to 71c rested 15 min then boiled 15 min added back to main mash to raise temp to 71c rested main mash 20min now I've just pulled out second decoction will boil this for 20 then add back to mash out at 75 ish c for ten min then Sparge FWH and boil wort few working for the beers this arvo lol.
     

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  18. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Do you contend that any beer brewed with a decoction method must be aged or that beer styles that are traditionally aged for long periods are coincidentally styles that benefit most from decoction....Chicken or egg? :)
    "Brewers grade" malt is desirable for decoction then? In what ways different from other malt? Is the easily available malt we would normally use for infusion or step-mashing not brewers grade malt?...not to be used for dabbling in decoction? ...inferior in any way to this brewer grade?
     
  19. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    #19 Trialben, May 20, 2017
    Last edited: May 20, 2017
    Well 6.5 hours later and the wort if in the fermentor chilling down. Fg of wort is .055 same as recipe estimate @ 75% brewhouse ive included a pic of hydrometer sample picture makes it look darker than it is its more golden than amber. Glad to finally do a decoction mash double decoction at that not too strenuous i only boiled both decoctios for 15 min though but i did it so i can tick that one off. I noticed the first decoction boil had a good hot break second one not so much and the kettle boil didn't hardly even have one. Time will tell how it turns out but the FWH of equinox was bliss it smelt real fruity for some reason. 20170520_133831.jpg
     
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  20. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    Yes it is common, for good reason.

    I have tried decoction 8-10 times and I have found almost no benefit. My extraction has always been very good on my system (RIMS), it's ranges from 85-90+% and decoction did not improve it at all, I brew a lot of German style beers and the maltiest were not decocted. The choice of grain, the freshness of the grain, the mashing methods, pH ect, all lend themselves to the malt character of the beer. Decoction is not a silver bullet for a better beer. It's not to say that it's a waste of time. I'm glad I did it, because I learned a lot doing it and I would encouraged others to find out for themselves if it's worth it.
    I could have wrote this a little better to make it less confusing.

    I usually mash in around 145-149 for most lagers. What I was referring to was the temperature I measure the pH. I always measure pH @ 80F, the actual pH at mash temp will be .2-.3 points lower. So when someone says I mash at a pH of 5.2, it's important to ask at what temperature was the pH taken. If it was taken at 70-80F, then the actual mash pH at 149F would be somewhere between 4.9-5.0. So a pH of 5.6-5.8 at 80F would equate to somewhere around 5.3-5.6 at mash temperature. Most rests at 145-149 last about 45-60 minutes. This allows the beta amylase enzyme to do its job, then I raise the temperature to 158F for @ 15 minutes. At 158F the alpha enzyme is dominant and the beta is denatured. This will allow the alpha enzyme to covert the remaining starches that the beta couldn't, beta begins to denature @ 150F. I watch the gravity during all these steps with a refractometer and the gravity continues to rise even during mashout at 168F. I rest at 168 for @ 10-15 minutes.

    I hope that was a little more clear, I'm not the best writer that's for sure. I use this method for my "competition beers" and I have managed to pile up about 90+ medals in the past 6 years. It's not to say I'm the best brewer, but I was looking for an independent opinion whether these type of methods improved the quality of my beer, I believe they have.
     
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