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Fake a Decoction?

I’m going to brew a mocktoberfest this weekend with US-05 and was wondering about decoction mashing. I have normally only done single infusion with a batch sparge.

Could I just pull a couple of gallons from my normal single infusion and bring it to a boil for a little while, then dump it back in at mash out? Then I would proceed as normal with a batch sparge.

Would this add anything to the beer in your opinion?

Decoction has a bad rap in terms of seeming overly complicated, which it ain’t and not adding anything, which is debatable.
BrauKaiser can give you a full explanation on it, but for a single decoction you could just infuse at 60 c, pull a thick decoction (mostly grain) after a few minutes, slowly raise the temp of that through to 70c, (1 degree/min), then crank it to a boil, boil 10 min, and add back to main mash to raise temp to 70c. Formulas for temps and volumes on Kai’s site.

Yes - you could do exactly that.

Based on my limited experience, and on what I have read, from people I trust, with much more experience - no, I don’t think it would add much/anything to the beer.

As always, the best way to tell is some day do two beers exactly the same in every way, except follow the outlined procedure on one, and infusion on the other. At some point down the road, do a blind tasting of the two equally aged, identical beers and see for yourself if you can detect a difference between them.

The key is to brew them the same day (or within days) and be able to taste them side by side, blind.

I should add, the key here is that you can add small amounts of melanoiden or similar malts and accomplish the same basic thing, without the process of decoction.

decoction developed as a strategy for dealing with poorly and inconsistently modified malt - that just is not a problem any more. It was not originally a strategy for “flavor” so much.

I don’t think it will matter much if you use ale yeast. The fruit flavors will cover up the delicate malt flavors that you would get from the decoction. If you were using lager yeast, it might be worth it.

Instead of pulling a decoction from a main mash. I do a separate mash (40% of the grain) that goes through steps at 122, 150, and boiling before adding it to the main mash with the other 60% of the grain. This main mash is started while the small mash rests at 150 for 10 min. I usually put it in at 130-140 depending on the style. When I add the boiling small mash 10-15 min later, it brings the whole mash up to 150-155. It is easy and is not as messy. I don’t have to worry about missing my temps. I have also used a small portion of melanoiden, but I usually get talked into doing at least one boiling mash addition by who ever shows up to brew with me. It takes an extra 20-30 min, but I like the flavors I get.

“Could I just pull a couple of gallons from my normal single infusion and bring it to a boil for a little while, then dump it back in at mash out?”

I have tried this with about 1/3 of the mash. A short boil (5 to 10 minutes) seems to make little or no difference in the final flavor. It takes longer for the melanoidin character to develop. If you try it aim for a longer boil. A helpful resource to check into is Randy Mosher’s book Radical Brewing, which describes some strategies for imitating a traditional decoction mash.

[quote=“Braufessor”]I should add, the key here is that you can add small amounts of melanoiden or similar malts and accomplish the same basic thing, without the process of decoction.

decoction developed as a strategy for dealing with poorly and inconsistently modified malt - that just is not a problem any more. It was not originally a strategy for “flavor” so much.[/quote]

There was recently an experiment done using melanoidin to “simulate” the effects of decoction. The conclusion of many tasters was that it did not…http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/f … #msg164416

The problem with using something to “mimic” decoction is that you first have to assume that decoction has an effect on flavor. I’m not so sure it does…http://www.ahaconference.org/wp-content … nyConn.pdf (start on pg. 25)

At any rate, boiling wort does not mimic the supposed effects pof decoction. Boiling down wort increases sweetness, while decoction supposedly increases maltiness…two different thinsg.

When I do a decoction I generally get a little boost in efficiency, and it generally shows up in the FG as well. I can’t say it has an effect on flavor, maybe a little on body and a hint more sweetness.

What you’re describing doing is actually a decoction in every sense of the word. I’d give the pull a good 30min simmer/boil since you’re just doing the one.

Maybe I misunderstood. It sounded to me like he was pulling only wort. While technically that’s a “thin” decoction, it has a different effect (IMO) than boiling grain.

I guess he didn’t specify whether he was pulling wort or mash from his single decoction. Then again the “fake decoction” title probably means you’re right.

While I’m not going to say whether decoction does or doesn’t affect the taste, there are a few reasons for doing one: most obviously to step up a mash temp, but also, as in one of my last brews, as part of the cereal mash. It’s certainly not the only way to do things.

The one point I will insist on, though, is that it is not difficult! At least for a single decoction. (That doesn’t mean it’s worth it, but if it fits your plans, just do it.)

Not sure if doing a mock decoction is really worth anything. Why not just do a real decoction? It is not actually that difficult, so might as well do it for real.

The procedure as described above is fine. Might add up to an extra hour or more to your brew day, so that is up to you.

I spent a couple of years only doing decoction mashes. Basically made up in efficiency where my lack of skill left off. Now I am very content with single infusion and a shorter brew day.

In your case, if you have never decocted, and you are having a special Octoberfest brew day, screw it. Decoct. Why not a double?

You wold be doing it for fun more than anything, but that’s why we brew in the first place.

My biggest problem with decoctions is that I lose so darned much temp doing them, that I rarely achieve much of a step up in temp when its done. If I take more out, it just seems like whats left cools off all the more. I guess if I decocted half the mash it might work. I’m using a cooler MLT.

I hear you. Actually I always found that my first decoction always worked very well. Temperatures ended where they should. However, by the end of a second decoction, my mash had lost enough heat that the final temp of the mash basically stayed where it was. After a while I compensated with some boiling water I’d have ready to add when needed.

I always pulled at least 50% more mash for the decoction that what I thought I needed. Usually needed it all.

I’ve typically found that when pulling 40% of the mash for a decoction I came up short on my temperature increase. 60% seems to be the right amount. Beyond raising the temperature decoction seems to add more to head texture and retention then flavor.

Ironically I got away from complex decoctions because of poor head retention. Too long at protein rest temps I think…

People seem to think that when they do a step mash, a protein rest has to be included. When I do the occasional step mash, I step from 145-160 and avoid a protein rest completely.

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