The Benefits of Decoction Mashing

It’s Oktoberfest season, and with the Docktoberfest Homebrew Competition quickly approaching, it’s a great time to give decoction mashing a try. Decoction mashing is step mashing, in which the brewer removes a portion of the mash, boils it, and returns it to the main mash.

Decoction mashing was traditionally used as a way to counteract inconsistent and undermodified malts. The prevalence of high-quality homebrewers’ grains like those that we sell at The Brew Hut has changed the function of decoction mashing.

“The flavor in the Dry Dock Docktoberfest is driven from decoction mashing,” says Brett Williams, the head brewer at Dry Dock Brewing Co.’s production facility North Dock. “It adds melanoidins and gives the malt flavor more richness.”

Created by maillard reactions (essentially the chemical browning process), melanoidins are polymers that form when sugars and amino acids combine. They bring both color and flavor to beer.

“The decoction mashing process, although appropriate for all German styles, best brings out the maltiness of dark German beers such as bock, Märzen, and dunkel,” said Brew Your Own Magazine in a decoction starter guide. On top of color and flavor, decoction mashing also creates better clarity in a beer, as proteins in the mash tend to coagulate, or solidify, during the boil and are easier to filter out later during lautering.

There is a step-by-step decoction process, decoction calculators, and more details on the benefits of decoction mashing on our friend Brad Smith’s The Beer Smith blog. Click here for more information.

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