What a mess! My first decoction brew is a success!
Dont let anyone tell you that a decoction mash is easy peasy…. I was physically hard! Imagine stirring 5 gallons of porridge for three hours then you’ll know.
I started this brew a few days before with making a five liter starter for the White Labs WLP820 yeast to get growing in. I needed 958 billion yeast cells and each package of yeast is only 100 billion cells. In order to multiply these cells, I use a starter on a stir plate. I was able to take two packages of yeast and make 900 billion cells – saving about $60 bucks in yeast!
Brew day was New Years Day 2017.
The temperature for a lager was good! It’s the first time I’ve brewed with snow flurrys!
I heated up the rinse water and sanitized my chiller with boiling water. Next was heating the strike water for a protein rest at around 105f and then I doughed in the 25 pounds of grain.
I immediately pulled the first decoction. I pulled about nine quarts of the thickest part of the mash and brought it to a boil. Initially I was a bit lazy on stirring and added too much heat. It began to scorch on the bottom of the pot! Luckily it wasn’t enough to cause a scorched taste in the wort.
The next decoction was 17 quarts, about 4.5 gallons in my 5 gallon pot! I brought it to a boil and stirred like a mad man!
It took over two hours to do an hour mash but it was successful. My efficiency seemed to suffer slightly at 70% but just a couple of points shouldn’t make much difference in the final product. Decoction mashing is interesting. The Maillard reactions that occurred caused the wort to darken quite a bit and it smelled like I was cooking candy while boiling the decoction.
I sparged the mash and collected 14 gallons of wort, added the hops per schedule and boiled for 60 minutes as the recipe called for. I ended up with 12.5 gallons of wort at 1.054. I was expecting 11 gallons at 1.063, I may have needed to boil it longer.
I cooled it and pumped it into my fermenter and set my Brewpi to 52f constant beer temp and put it into the chamber. I waited until the next morning to oxegenate and pitch the yeast, after the wort had cooled the rest of the way to 52f. I miss calculated a bit on my plate chiller, the wort was below 50f and the chamber actually heated it up a bit!
Will I do another decoction??? I doubt it. I will probably make this recipe again but with a single infusion as I normally do with my ales. I know the color will be different but I doubt the taste will be much different. I’ll save a bottle or two for a taste test on the next batch. This beer wont be ready until February some time – I’ll report on it’s taste then!