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Missed temps on decoction mash

So I just finished an epic brew day to say the least. I decocted an Oktoberfest in which I followed my instructions given to me via Beersmith and missed all of my temps when adding back my boiled decoctions. So where did I go wrong?

Obviously I should have followed the rule that says to take more than you think you need just in case but I didn’t and luckily had enough foresight to have some boiling water on hand to add in if needed. I pulled everything from the thickest part of the mash and wound up with very little liquid when trying to boil the grist so I’m wondering if this could have somehow contributed to an uneven heating when adding back to the mash??? (I think I remember hearing that somewhere) Otherwise I followed the directions pretty spot on and wound up low each time.

On the plus side though my brewhouse efficiency shot through the roof by almost ten percent! So now I’m stuck with an Imperial Oktoberfest? Imperial Fest? Festivus Imperialist?

Fest beers can be stronger than regular so I don’t think you shot out of range for an Ofest. I always get a good 5% additional efficiency when decocting, I assume the boiling opens up some of the more recalcitrant starch granules. I generally see a higher FG with these beers too so maybe its partly solubilizing some fiber type of carbs.

As for missing temps I’ve had this happen too. I chalk it up to the handling of the mash causing temp drop and having the MLT open so much. sounds like you compensated, and really any mash temp will work. No fun not feeling like you’re in control though. This is part of the reason I don’t care that much for doing decoction mashes.

I did a nice no-sparge, single infusion on mine. I did have some issues with runoff, I think I had my crush a little too fine.

I’d say you have probably answered your own question. Falling short on temp is common for decoction novices and not pulling enough mash is usually the reason. While the book amount is one third something a little more like 35-40% is more of a real world figure. Another factor could be not boiling the deocotion long enough. Even after you see the signs of boiling it takes additional time to fully heat all the grain mass to the same uniform temperature. Along with that it takes plenty of stirring to distribute the heat in both the decoction and in the mash after the pulled fraction is returned to the mash tun. In the end I think you will be fine and having the boiling water on hand was a good idea. :cheers:

I think the problem is that the main mash loses too much heat during the boiling of the decoction, which makes it even more difficult to get up to the next rest temp. Without a direct fired mashtun, it’s kinda hard to hit that next temp without adding more boiling water.

Yeah, I use a ten gallon cooler for my mashtun but it normally retains heat really well but I’m sure this added a bit too it. I boiled each decoction for about 10-15 minutes and definitely noticed that while it bubbled at first it really got going after a while. So I think it was boiling enough but when I stirred it back in I didn’t really stir any more than normal so maybe it just took a while to mix back in.

Either way, it took a lot longer than a normal brew day but I had some fun doing it so in the end I guess I kind of think it was worth it.

Might find a few helpful pointers in Brewing TV episode 34 “Decoction Day”, and also on Braukaiser’s website page regarding decoction mashing (has three cool YouTube video clips detailing the decoction technique that he employs):

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... on_Mashing

[quote=“brewdoc”]Might find a few helpful pointers in Brewing TV episode 34 “Decoction Day”, and also on Braukaiser’s website page regarding decoction mashing (has three cool YouTube video clips detailing the decoction technique that he employs):

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... on_Mashing[/quote]

I’ve watched both of those videos and they are quite enjoyable. I still miss my damn temps though! Lose too much heat in the main mash while boiling the decoction!
I need to get a heat stick or something for the main mash while the decoction is boiling…

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