Saturday is brew day

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Saturday is brew day

Today was my brew day for the doppelbock. This 21lb, 7 1/2 hour journey has whipped me out! but I am done and it was a great experience that should yield a great beer. Before I go through some of the high points on the brew day, this was my first time doing a decoction mash so I am going to go through the steps.

For those of you that have not tried a decoct mash, it's not actually that difficult, it's simply VERY time consuming. You can add an extra hour on your mashing for every decoction step in your process. A summary of a decoction is taking 1/3 of your grain out of your mash tun after you have doughed in your mash and putting it into a separate pot. The consistency should be pretty think, it reminded me of oatmeal. You get it up to 152f, give it a 20min rest at that temp and raise it up to a boil, boil it for 20 min and return the grain back to the mash tun. Mix in well and watch for hot spots. Pretty simple, right? Well it actually is. It just takes a while. Here is my time line:

Look inside the Decoc Pot

7:30am wake up, start heating 10 gallons of water for 2qt per lb of grain mix
8:30am(ish) dough in grains at 152f strike temp, 144f grain bed
8:45am take out 1/3 of the grains, add to heat get up to 152, rest 20min
9:30am get the decoc grain up to a boil, boil for 20 min
10:00 am add grains back to mash tun, grain bed temp at 152f, let rest 70min (mowed my lawn)
10:40am draw off grains for 2nd decoc, get onto heat and go straight to boil, wait 20 min
11:10am add grains back to the mash tun, get grain bed temp up above 165f for mashout
11:30am mashout, wait for sparge water to heat up
11:45am start sparge...
And so on...

The left shot is the grains in the decoc pot and the right is the non-decoc grains. It's not easy to see, but the decoc grains got a little darker.

There was a 90min boil to boot. Like I said, this was a very involved beer (did I say that?). In the end it would up being a lot more quantity than I planned, and the OG was not exactly what I wanted either. It was 1.052 before the boil and finished at 1.061. I am not good at checking quantity on my keg kettle, I could have used some more boil, but I am not sure I could have handled another minute of this brew day.

I got the idea to try a doppelbock after reading a great article on it in BYO and they indicated how difficult and time consuming this beer was if brewed in a traditional fashion. I have to agree. However, it was a great experience and I am a fan of the decoction. However, I am not sure there enough days left in my life to make a habit of it.

The other new things about the brew is that I reused my Bohemian yeast from my Oktoberfest. I basically just racked my Oktoberfest to the secondary and left the stuff at the bottom of the bucket. I added my wort and walla! The good news is that it is already bubbling, so I know it worked.

One last note- regarding my comment on the last post about being the smartest man alive; not in fact true. Come to find out my shower head sparge arm sucked ass. Back to the drawing board.



Jonathan said...

Wow. Intense. I'm curious to see how that beer turn out... and a showerhead was a good idea, even if it didn't work.

Travis said...

Thanks, yea I think the idea was on point, but it's to tough to get the pressure needed through gravity.

I think this will be a good beer and after some introspection, I realized that if I had hit my target quantity, I would have been on point with my OG, I used 2.0 qt per lb for dough in when I should have used 1.5qt.

Live and learn!

Brian said...

That is really cool, using the showerhead nice! But I do see how the pressure would be difficult to maintain pushing the liquid through...still an interesting addition, cant wait to see what this evolves into..

Travis said...

I just hope it evolves into something that works ;-)

Ted Danyluk said...

Travis, congrats on conducting your first decoction mash. I'm sure it will turn out great.

When I did one...a Munich Dunkel...the beer had an interesting "grainy" taste, that actually worked very well with the soft/subtle chocolate malt flavor. It also had an all-grain yeast starter. But I found that I needed to decoct with more than 1/3 the mash...especially with a thinner mash. This was definitely different from previous beers. I'll definitely try it again.

One way to check volume very quickly and accurately, is to use a dip-stick. I simply made marks on bamboo skewers with little tally-marks indicating how many gallons are in there. (fill the pot with water, marking the stick one gallon at a time) So you'd simply run the dip-stick along the side of the pot and stop the dip-end at the surface of the wort. Then read the volume at the brim of the pot. When the boil resides at times, I check it, cause it get a little tricky during very vigorous boils. I've got a different dip-stick for each pot. It's very simple, and it works very well...and no melting tape or stupid looking sharpie marks.

If you have a keg kettle and the opening is smaller than the diameter of the keg, it might be a kindof tricky.