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RE: Mashing Techniques - Decoction vs. Infusion

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  • Mills, Scott
    ... I agree with you and Dave Miller that with the quality of today s barley malt there is no need to worry with a decoction just for grain utilization.
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 15, 1999
      > From: "The Brown Family" <NetGuru@...>
      >
      > I remember reading Dave Miller stated that grains are so
      > highly modified
      > these days that decoction is not beneficial to the outcome.
      > I am sure that
      > I have not done as many brews as some and probably more than
      > most, but as a
      > personal experience with one recipe that I have be tweaking
      > for several
      > years I can honestly say that for that style of brew it did not make a
      > difference in taste. I am willing to concede that there may
      > be a style out
      > there that it does make a difference on.
      >
      > When it comes down to it I am worried about grain utilization
      > and I know
      > that decoction methods yield higher so with my single
      > infusion system I add
      > more grain to compensate.
      >

      I agree with you and Dave Miller that with the quality of today's barley
      malt there is no need to worry with a decoction just for grain utilization.
      However, there are other reasons to decoct. Even if we set aside the
      historical and traditional significance there are still advantages.

      For instance, it is helpful on hard to mash grains like wheat, oats, rye,
      and rice. The boiling breaks down the grains and makes conversion easier
      for those grains that don't have the diastatic power of barley malt. Also
      the proteins break down and it reduces stuck sparges on those sticky, gummy
      grains. Additionally, it is a way to get a little color in a brew without
      using dark grains. There are other advantages that I won't go into now.

      Since Nathi asked after one of my previous posts, I am working on a post for
      this list explaining why I sometimes choose to do a decoction mash and how I
      do it.

      Regards,

      Ld Eadric
      _____

      Scott Mills
      Scott.Mills@... <mailto:Scott.Mills@...>
    • OxladeMac@xxx.xxx
      In a message dated 9/15/99 1:52:58 PM Central Daylight Time, Scott.Mills@COMPAQ.com writes:
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 15, 1999
        In a message dated 9/15/99 1:52:58 PM Central Daylight Time,
        Scott.Mills@... writes:

        << I agree with you and Dave Miller that with the quality of today's barley
        malt there is no need to worry with a decoction just for grain utilization.
        However, there are other reasons to decoct. Even if we set aside the
        historical and traditional significance there are still advantages. >>


        Could you please post information on the historical background of decoction
        mashing? I am not aware of its roots. Infusion mashing is well documented
        in historical references like Markham and Harrison. Who started decoction
        mashing, where, and when?

        Ox
      • Michael Bennett
        ... Actually AB doesn t use a true decoction. They have what s called a cereal cooker. In it AB gelatinizes the rice that they use in their beer. I guess
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 20, 1999
          "Mills, Scott" <Scott.Mills@...> wrote:

          > While it is true that modern malts are probably much better than
          > those found in period, that does not mean that there is no place
          > for decoction in modern brewing. After all AB uses decoction in the
          > production of Bud. The advantages of decoction are still as valid
          > today as they have ever been.

          Actually AB doesn't use a true decoction. They have what's called a
          cereal cooker. In it AB gelatinizes the rice that they use in their
          beer. I guess you could say they use a bastardized step-mash with a
          decoction of rice added.


          > Toasty yes, I never got a bready flavor but of course it has
          > always been fun to watch how two people will describe the same
          > flavor differently. My point is that there is a distinct
          > character derived from decoction.

          Point noted. All I was saying is that there is more than one way to
          acheive that flavor profile.

          > If it is indeed true that you can get the "same flavors" with
          > these malts then I wonder why the megabrewers of today still
          > use decoction when they could just add these specialty grains?

          First off, as I noted before, megabrewers don't normally use decoction
          anymore. Almost all large breweries built since WWII employ either a
          steam-fired or direct-fired mash tun and cereal cooker. IIRC, even a
          majority of German breweries have changed over to step-mashing, and
          getting the required Maillard reactions in the boil.

          > It is far easier to buy good beer than make good beer. It is far
          > easier to make extract beers than to do an all-grain infusion mash.
          > It is far easier to infusion mash than decoction mash. If I can
          > come to your brewery and buy a really great Octoberfest why should
          > I brew at all?

          Unfortunately, this sentiment is why the homebrew community is
          shrinking. The homebrew revolution spawned the microbrew revolution,
          and now the availability of good beer means people don't have to brew
          their own anymore. Only the diehards will continue.

          > A great deal of what we do is for the simple joy of doing it and
          > for the pride we feel at the accomplishment. Sometimes hardship
          > provides all new learning, deepens the joy, and certainly it
          > increases the pride.
          >
          > There is a great difference in art, craft, and science. I like
          > to think that I have a good understanding and a basic mastery of
          > the science of brewing. I now strive to develop the craft that
          > people will one day recognize me as an artisan.
          >
          > For me there is great joy in doing something in as absolutely
          > period a fashion as possible and still get it right. Just because
          > I have proven to myself that I can brew without a thermometer
          > doesn't mean that I am going to go out and throw all mine in the
          > garbage.

          > When I am brewing a modern beer, for a modern party, with modern
          > drinkers, I will use all the modern tools that I can get my hands
          > on. However, occasionally when brewing for an SCA event and people
          > who can appreciate my efforts at trying to live the current middle
          > ages hardship is worth it.

          Well said. I too try and do things medievally when brewing a period
          beer, but because of my training, I also try and take meticulous notes,
          and analyze what I'm doing and why. This doesn't seem to take away
          from my joy in the least.


          ===
          Mike Bennett
          Brewmaster, Oregon Trail Brewery
          aka Ld. Brenainn MacCuUladh, Barony of Adiantum
          aka Crim, Forbidden Fruit, Eugene OR
          mjb@...
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