Czech lager, decoction and step mashing

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UKSkydiver

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Hi All
I'm planning my next brew and have decided on a Czech dark lager, but all the recipes I've been looking at so far either have a decoction mash or step mash required. This will only be my second all grain (and will be a small batch BIAB) and fourth overall, so I'm a baby brewer.

I've done a bit (lot) of reading and posts from 8-10 years ago go through the decoction theory, but then effectively say, that with modern malts, or by replacing a percentage with melanoidin malt, you can by pass the decoction.

Then some seem to go on about step mashing. I'm getting my nickers in a twist about all this. If I'm honest, I don't think I want the faff of a decoction, especially since the need seems not to be there anymore.

So a couple of questions to you please:

At the very worst, if I just did a "standard" one step, one temperature, single infusion mash - would it make good / great beer?

If I do a standard mash, what should the temp be?

A stepped mash doesn't sound too difficult, but there are a couple of different techniques. Is there a simple one to follow e.g. the method described in James Morton's book seems pretty straight forward (40-50-60-70) but doesn't supply times for raising the temp and time to hold at each temp.

As ever, I appreciate your time.
Cheers, Phil

Oh - the grain bill is:

47.4% — Pilsner
42.1% — CaraMunich I
5.3% — Carafa II
5.3% — Munich Light

. . . unless anyone disagrees.
 

Brew_DD2

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I did a Kozel Cerny clone recently with a single infusion. Came out great. I can imagine it makes more of a difference with lighter Pilsners where you want a little colour from a decoction. Even then though, I'd just add a little Munich instead.
 

Brew_DD2

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42% CaraMunich sounds incredibly high for a caramel malt. Is that meant to read Munich I?
 

UKSkydiver

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@Brew_DD2 I'm glad you asked about the grain bill. That is certainly the correct amount as per the guy's recipe on Brewer's Friend, but when you compare to other Kozel dark recipes, it does look way too high. As I said previously, I know nothing, so it was well worth pointing out. I've modified from 4.0 to 0.4 and it looks better, (pic: bottom centre and bottom right) but still not a clue to be honest.

Can I ask your grain bill for your Kozel to compare please?
Thanks

KozelGrainBill.JPG
 

Hanglow

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Step mashes allow you to target the right temp for particular enzymes so you can maximise fermentability of the wort. Single infusions are always going to be a bit of a compromise, but plenty of great beers are made with single infusions so I wouldn't worry too much.

Also I agree with Brew_DD2, the Caramunich and Munich light are certainly odd, I'd change the % about for them and it would make much more sense
 
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Brew_DD2

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@Brew_DD2 I'm glad you asked about the grain bill. That is certainly the correct amount as per the guy's recipe on Brewer's Friend, but when you compare to other Kozel dark recipes, it does look way too high. As I said previously, I know nothing, so it was well worth pointing out. I've modified from 4.0 to 0.4 and it looks better, (pic: bottom centre and bottom right) but still not a clue to be honest.

Can I ask your grain bill for your Kozel to compare please?
Thanks

View attachment 22609
 

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HarryFlatters

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I've been having a read about decoction mashes, and it seems like a massive pain in the backside.

I'm making Munich Helles either tomorrow or next weekend, and while I could do a triple decoction mash like Augustiner do, I'll add in 125g of melanoidin malt to the mash instead. Should give similar results and it'll save lots of time, effort and electricity.
 

foxbat

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Go easy on the melanoidin malt. It adds a pleasing honey flavour to the beer and I've found that 1% is plenty.

(I used the Weyermann melanoidin from GEB at 60-80 EBC)
 

matt76

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Oh my good lord! That does sound like an awful lot of fuss..... whether it makes much difference I really don't know but my brewing is about simplicity so I wouldn't bother personally. But it really depends on you and what makes brewing enjoyable for you.

I think you could do an awful lot worse than take a look at the "Make your best....." series by Josh Weikert on beerandbrewing.com . This is pretty much my go-to now if I want to brew anything along the lines of a BJCP category. If you search you will generally find other recipes for the same style too, but the Make Your Best recipes are a good starting point.

At the moment I've got a Czech Pilsner in the FV, once it's done I plan to pitch a Czech Amber or Dark Lager onto the same yeast - recipes here:
https://beerandbrewing.com/make-your-best-czech-amber-lager/
https://beerandbrewing.com/make-your-best-czech-dark-lager/

I do genuinely think there is merit in trying these techniques - I really would like to have a go at a decoction mash, but more out of curiosity and a desire to experiment. But I'd probably do a simple version first with a single temperature mash so I have a baseline to compare against.

I've done 2-step mashes a few times before - I think I mashed in at 50 or 55degC then added boiling water to bring the temp up to 65degC or whatever. The mash calculator on Brewer's Friend was useful and pretty accurate for me.

Good luck - I'll be very interested in the result, however you get there athumb..
 

the baron

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I think modern malts can be done in a single step. As Matt says seems a lot of fuss I personally would maybe do a step mash but not a decoction so early in your brewing career in fact I would not do one myself and would look at a different recipe if it is absolutely essential which as I have said I believe it isn't with the modern malts
 

strange-steve

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I've done a few decoction mashes over the years, it's not really that much of a fuss but it is definitely time consuming. I would say it's not really necessary but I do believe it adds something to the finished product, although I've not done a side-by-side comparison so I could well be imagining it.
 

MrRook

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Do a batch first with a simple infusion mash, maybe add a bit of munich and/or melanoiden. Then some time in the future do the decoction/step mash and see if it's worth the effort to your taste.
Keep really good notes on both.
 
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