Hybrid Infusion/Decoction Mash

Hey Folks,
So, I’m 16 batches in for the past 12 months, mostly partial mashes.
Having a blast, making some good brew. :smiley:
At this point I find myself running up against the limits of my equipment. I have a 5 gallon round cooler with a braid, and a 4 gallon brewpot. I can do up to 7-8 lb grain, usually using 3 step mash infusions.
So, until I upgrade my equipment, I had a thought.
What if I mashin at 122, do an infusion to get to 146, then a decoction to get to 155. That should allow me to do a lower volume and get good conversion.
So, in the collected wisdom of the masses, is this a good idea, totally stupid,or eh might work?
My next scheduled brewdate is in a couple weeks, and I will give it a try unless the vote is “Don’t”.
Thanks,
J.R.

Sounds like a good idea, although personally I would simplify by skipping the protein rest at 122 F. You’re just making it harder on yourself, plus a protein rest can be detrimental to your beer – it kills body and head retention. I’ll never do a protein rest again, after, well, it didn’t ruin a couple of batches for me but it did but worsen them, batches that otherwise would have been excellent.

The vast majority of modern malts ( all? ) are highly modified and do not need a protein rest.

http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

According to the “can I mash this” calculator, 11lbs of grain @ 1.25q/lb takes up 4.32 gallons of space. Depending on if the lid is considered part of the 5 gallons, that would give you .5g of mash out water. Then sparge with the amount needed to get to your boil volume.

11lb should make a beer in the mid 1.040’s for 5 gallons.

If you want to tinker with a decoction, that up to you. From what I have read, some didn’t feel it did anything for the beer. So the never did them again.

I just decocted my last beer (a maibock) and will do the same for my next two beers (helles and Oktoberfest) just to see if I like the results. Then I figured next cold season in 2014, I’ll make similar beers without decoction, and compare results. Or if any of these turn out great, I’ll brew them again right away with standard infusion and compare results more directly. I know there is a ton of skepticism about decoction, but what I can tell you is that the one beer I decocted a couple of years ago was the best lager I have ever made. Coincidence? I am thinking yes. But I will keep on decocting, for the fun of it if nothing else, until I know for sure which method is better for me, if any. My guess is that it probably does NOT really make a difference and was a coincidence. But, who knows until you try it. And the results can be a little different for every brewer and their own methods and systems. So for some brewers, maybe it really does make a difference, and for others not, etc. I don’t think anybody can ever really know if their conclusions apply to everyone else on earth, or not. So I am one to encourage experimentation, on the parts of all brewers.

Except maybe for that protein rest thing. Believe us – you can skip that.

Thanks for the input folks!
Bottling today an Oktoberfest that I did back in November, and have been lagering out in my garage(hovers around 35-45 out there). This was my largest grain bill to date at 8 lbs. mashed in for the protein rest with 1 qt/lb= 2 gallon(plus the grain). Stepping up to 146 had me adding about another gallon of boiling water, and going up to 156-157 had me adding about 2 qts. So I was right up to the rim. Hence my question. I have read lately about dropping the need for the protein rest, but figured it would give me a better, longer lasting head. I guess I misinterpreted my original reading. If I skip that, mash in at 146 with 1.5 qt/lb, and maybe decoct up to 157, if my calculations are right I should be able to do 10 lbs, and still have room to add mashout water.
Then I run into the limits of my 4 gallon brewpot, but I can do what I did for the Oktoberfest and use two boilpots and combinme when the volume is down. And start looking for a bigger pot!
I really appreciate your wisdom. I haven’t posted much, but I ‘hover’ alot. :smiley: