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Brews & Views Bulletin Board Service * Brews and Views Archive 2007 * Archive through February 12, 2007 * Need a mash schedule for a helles < Previous Next >

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Little Dipper
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 173
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 206.114.61.199
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 03:10 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm brewing a Munich Helles this weekend with all German Pils malt. I'm planning on doing it the 'traditional' way - decoction mashing. Can anyone recommend a good mash schedule for decocting a helles? I've got some ideas, but I really don't know what the traditional helles mash follows.

Just a disclaimer - I realize a step/decoction mash isn't necessarily needed with modern malts, etc. etc. It's something I'd like to try out.

Thanks.
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6440
Registered: 01-2002
Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 03:22 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

There's no reason you can't decoct a helles if that is your inclination. I'd suggest a two-stage decoction with rests at 60 C and 70 C (140 F and 158 F). The best source I know for the process is in Noonan's New brewing Lager Beer. I also wrote an article about it for BYO a couple of years back, but it's not available online.
 

Little Dipper
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 174
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 206.114.61.199
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 03:50 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Bill. I have your article at home and I plan on reviewing it again before I brew. I guess my biggest gray area is the different decoction schedules for light beers vs. darker beers and such. Thanks for the input.

(Message edited by littledipper on February 02, 2007)
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6442
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Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 04:02 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm not sure there are many absolutes about decoction regimes. I think it's best to experiment and find what you like best. The differences are subtle.
 

Little Dipper
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 175
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 206.114.61.199
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 04:15 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, do the lengths of your decoction boils vary depending on the darkness or maltiness of your desired beer? Or perhaps is it better to only do a single decoction with a lighter beer to avoid too much darkening or something like that. I guess I'm just looking for tips on stuff like that if anyone has any.

Thanks again.
 

Geoff Buschur
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Username: Avmech

Post Number: 1420
Registered: 06-2004
Posted From: 208.8.57.2
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:13 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

TBN did show on decoction. Doc was a little drunk, but JP helped pick up the slack.
"I've been drunk for 14 years...my judgment isn't what it used to be."
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4612
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:20 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I generally boil decoctions for lighter-colored lagers (pils, helles) for 10-15 minutes, darker ones (bocks, O'fests, dunkels) for 20-25 minutes.
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4613
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Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

To answer your other question, for pils/helles I generally mash in around 140, immediately pull the decoction, heat it up to 150, rest for 15 min, then heat it to boiling, boil 10-15 min, then add it back to the kettle to hit 155 or so. Rest for 30 more min, then add more boiling water to raise to 170, and sparge.
 

davidw
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Username: Davidw

Post Number: 1695
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Posted From: 65.163.6.62
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:27 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

On that note Chumster, do you (or anyone for that matter), feel that a thinner decoction portion would be less likely to darken the resulting wort? Thinner, in my mind, would reduce the chances of scorching. And perhaps a more equal ratio of liquid to solid in the decoction itself would lend to a lighter extract?
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4614
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Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:33 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, thinner definitely makes a difference, but I'd rather not take more liquid out of the mash. What I usually do is have some extra boiling water in the decoction kettle (like 1-2 qt for a 5 gallon batch of beer), and add the thick decoction (I pull it out with a kitchen seive) into the hot water. That way I hit the 150 right away.

Lynn O'Conner used to have an excellent right up on Czech decoction mashing on the St. Pats website. The Czech use a lot thinner mash (2qt/lb), so scorching a pils is less likely for them.
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4615
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Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 05:37 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Ahh, here it is:

http://www.stpats.com/augnewsletter.pdf

I did this when the Budvar undermodified malt was available. Makes an excellent pils, but what a PITA. For regular pils malt, I now do single decoctions as described above.
 

Steve Funk
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Username: Tundra45

Post Number: 275
Registered: 06-2004
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Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 06:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'm pretty much follow Chumley's method too. I'll add that you should stir alomst constantly during the heating process. Have fun.
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

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Posted From: 24.57.224.220
Posted on Friday, February 02, 2007 - 06:45 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If the decoction gets too thick and starts to stick (and burn) while boiling, keep some near-boiling water on hand to thin it. Yes, depending on your pot and heat source, it may require almost constant stirring.

(Message edited by BillPierce on February 02, 2007)
 

Dave Witt
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Username: Davew

Post Number: 932
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Posted From: 64.53.226.78
Posted on Saturday, February 03, 2007 - 01:36 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I obtained an aluminum clad ss pot for doing decoctions and cereal mashes. I get much less scorching and sticking than with the old thin ss pot I used to use.
 

Bill Pierce
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Username: Billpierce

Post Number: 6454
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Posted on Saturday, February 03, 2007 - 01:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have a large aluminum pot that is 1/4 inch thick. It's older than I am (that's older than dirt ) and was used for countless batches of spaghetti sauce and chili in my mother's kitchen. It does a great job for cereal mashes and decoctions.
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

Post Number: 6146
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Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 08:21 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley, those seem like short boil times for your decoctions. Have you compared the results to longer boils?
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4619
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Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 09:30 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

No...other than boiling a pils decoction for 20-25 minutes did darken the decoction considerable, which resulted more in a golden amber color than a pils color.

I got my times from Noonan's Lager book back when I first started brewing decoctions around 1995 or so. Can't say I have ever researched it much after that - I have been happy with the results.
 

Chris Vejnovich
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Username: Cjv85vmax

Post Number: 548
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Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 10:58 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley, Bill, or Denny,

Recently I listened to a BBR show where Charlie P. talks about using like 3-5% Aromatic Malt instead of doing a decoction. What do you think about that. I have a Helles, Vienna, Dunkel, and CAP that have all had some Aromatic malt added. I liked the results. I can't say the judges were exactly thrilled. I entered the Helles and the Vienna in the Upper Miss Mashout and the Helles scored a 31 with the Vienna a 24. The Vienna is quite young, but the Helles is right around 2.5 months old at the time of judging.

Anyway, the judges gave very valued comments. The comments on the Helles were that it was too light for style and did not have enough breadiness for the style. I am assuming by breadiness they mean strong Munich type maltiness. That flavor was what I was trying to infuse by using some Vienna Malt in the Helles beer and using around 5% Aromatic Malt.

Anyway, comments are welcomed.

I can post recipe specifics if need be.
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4620
Registered: 02-2003
Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 05:18 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have been known to cheat a little, skipping decoctions and using a little aromatic malt, around the quantities that you suggest, Chris. But lately I have been getting away from that.

The reason why is I just don't think that Dingemann's aromatic malt is the same malt as the old Dewolf Cosyns aromatic malt we used to get back in the 1990s. The old DWC aromatic gave a nice malty touch to a beer. The Dingemann's aromatic, to my taste, gives more of a honey flavor than the DWC, more akin to the Gambrinus honey malt. And the Weyermann melanoidin (IMHO) kind of falls somewhere in between the DWC/Gambrinus honey malt.

Lately if I skip a decoction, I usually have been using a 90% pils/10% Weyermann or Durst light munich malt combination for both pils and helles. That'll get you where you want to go.

Damn, I miss those old DWC malts. Their munich was the best malt I ever used. I used to brew an alt that was 90% DWC munich/10% DWC aromatic back in the late 1990s that was just incredible. After 5 years of coming up short using other malts, I gave up on trying to repeat that success.
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

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Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 07:00 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumley, ythe reason I asked is because there was supposition from some people thet the reason more people couldn't tell the difference between the decocted and non decocted beers in the experiment was because the decoction weren't boiled long enough. But the average boil time was 30+ min., which is longer than you boil, so I think I can discount that from the experiment.

Chris, in order to "mimic" the effects of a decoction, you have to believe there are effects to mimic. I'm not convinced.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Little Dipper
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 179
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 206.114.61.199
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 07:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, I ended up doing a double decoction - 126->140->155. I boiled the decoctions for just 10 minutes each.

This was my first decoction ever, but I can't imagine that doing a decoction doesn't make a perceivable difference in the end result. I mean, just the color change alone after the decoction was so significant. The smells were so much richer than I've ever noticed before. I guess we'll see how it turns out. Of course I've never brewed this beer before without the decoction, so I don't really have anything to compare it to.
 

Chris Vejnovich
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Username: Cjv85vmax

Post Number: 549
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Posted From: 71.28.134.108
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 07:28 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chumbley,

Thanks for the advice. I am going to have to take a taste of the Helles and see if I get some honey there. I do think that maybe some water mods would help in the flavor dept as our water source is 175-225ppm CaCO3. My recipe used 90% Pils, 7% Vienna, and 3% Aromatic if I am correct without looking at the recipe. So, I am going to change the grain bill next time to 90% Pils and 10% Munich to see what happens.

Denny,

You make a good point there with your statement. Interestingly, with brewing there seems to be a few different practices and theories that don't have a ton of science to back them up but seem to have some followings. I would imagine that most if any comerical Helles Biers are not decoctioned mashed any longer. But then, how do they get such nice deep malt flavors from their beers? Is it the size of the kettle and surface area so that they (comercial brewers) get a proportionally higher amount of melandoidan production???

Thanks for your thought guys.

Peace out
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

Post Number: 6152
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Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 07:40 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris, it's all in the ingredients and techniques...especially the ingredients.

Little dipper, you say that you can't imagine a decoction wouldn't make a perceptable difference in a beer. I thought so too until I did the experiment. Seems there's a wide gap between what we want to believe and what is.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Chris Vejnovich
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Username: Cjv85vmax

Post Number: 550
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Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 11:41 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Denny,

Yes I think most likely freshness of ingredients probably makes a huge difference. I also would imagine that if you are buying hundreds of thousands of lbs of malt per year from a certain malster that a pro brewer can basically set the standards for the malt in which they are purchasing.

I do truly believe that water quality and mineral contents do play a big role in the quality of the brew. Especially if one is using a water which posesses some sort of really polarized mineral content.

So, I guess I will continue to make minor changes to my recipes and my water via the use of RO dilution.

Peace out
 

Little Dipper
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Username: Littledipper

Post Number: 180
Registered: 02-2004
Posted From: 70.226.91.161
Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 11:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yep, that's what I hear, Denny. I read about your expriment and found it quite interesting. That's really one of the reasons I wanted to try a decoction to see for myself what it's all about. I'm all for simple, but if nothing else, I had to try it once.
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

Post Number: 6156
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Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 11:53 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I highly recommend you try a decoction and see what you think. You'll never know otherwise. It's really hard to be objective about your own beer, though, especially after all that work! I read more than one pro brewer say that they WANT to believe decoction makes a difference just because of that! I started questioning decoction when I made the same beer back to back, one decocted and the other single infusion. I was stunned by the lack of a difference I found and it made me wonder....
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Chris Vejnovich
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Username: Cjv85vmax

Post Number: 552
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Posted on Wednesday, February 07, 2007 - 12:05 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I have done a few decoctions. What I believe those mash schedules did for me more than anything is drop most of the HCO3 out of my mash. The resulting beers cleared much, much faster than any other beers I have brewed unless I mixed my water with RO or distilled water. Recently John Palmer has talked about how pH can affect the clarity of your brews. So, I guess I need to start mixing water all the time and really need to do some pH testing so that I can put numbers to my theories.

BTW Denny, I too believe it is very hard for a brewer, either pro or homebrewer to be completely objective about their product. The brewer just has way too much invested in the brew to say that they screwed the pooch on a beer unless the beer is truly just bad or infected.

I think that reading the judges comments and actually making changes to your product are what separates those who win comps, and those who don't. Oh, that and the fact that those who have the time to brew 52 batches per year have the time to make the changes that judges recommend and re-enter their beers again in a reasonable time period. I am not that lucky in the time department. I brew more like 15-20 times per year.
 

GaryP6
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Username: Garyp6

Post Number: 61
Registered: 05-2003
Posted From: 75.10.99.231
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 04:52 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Speaking of cheating...A member of my homebrew club says he boils a couple of quarts of the first runnings as it drains from the mash/lauter tun for fifteen minutes. He uses this technique instead of a decoction and has been pleased with the results. That being said, I haven't tasted any of his beers that were subject to this method. I thought it was interesting though.
 

Ron Siddall
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Username: El_cid

Post Number: 264
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 198.135.241.18
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 04:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Boiling first runnings?

I don't think that counts as a decoction or a replacement there of.

The idea of a decoction is to boil the hydrated grains, not the liquor.
This space open to interpretation
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

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Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 05:24 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Yeah, I'd say if there IS a "decoction effect", boiling first runnings isn't a bad way to try to get something like it. My experiecne with trying it is that it makes the wort a bit too sweet, though.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Ron Siddall
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Username: El_cid

Post Number: 265
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Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 05:35 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Denny, I have yet to read an article about decoction that says you can boil first runnings in place of the grain. Not to say that there isn't one, I just have never read about it.

I thought the prime purpose of a decoction was to break down the starch molecules making them more available for conversion when put back into the mash. I do not see how boiling first runnings achieves that.

If you are looking for more of a carmelized flavor, then boiling first runnings might do that.

Oh Great One, please tell me where I am wrong for Grasshopper still needs to learn much.
This space open to interpretation
 

Chumley
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Username: Chumley

Post Number: 4627
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Posted From: 63.118.227.254
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 05:42 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

>>Oh Great One, please tell me where I am wrong for Grasshopper still needs to learn much.

Listermann is out feeding the pigeons...
 

Denny Conn
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Username: Denny

Post Number: 6164
Registered: 01-2001
Posted From: 140.211.82.4
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 05:56 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't see a Great One around here, so I'll answer instead....

AFAIAC, the main reason people do decoction mashes is for the flavor that the melanoidins created in decoction provide. While it does aid in breaking down the grain, which likely hard a large bearing on the original reason for decoctions, these days most people cite taste as the reason. Boiling the first runnings does something very similar in melanoidin creation.
LIfe begins at 60...1.060, that is.
 

Ron Siddall
Intermediate Member
Username: El_cid

Post Number: 266
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 198.135.241.18
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 - 06:46 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP    Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Denny, I have learned something today.

Chumley, you are a card. However, I am not sure if you are the Queen of Hearts or the Ace of Spades......
This space open to interpretation