I am still in persuit in the production of outstanding Bavarian brews at home, even though the rate at which I publish my notes is not as frequent.
The main reason for the relative inactivity is that the topic now requires a lot more empirical evidence. This is time-consuming and often a trial is not producing the anticipated result, which made it necessary to return to my textbooks from Narziss, Back, Kunze and Annemüller and dig deeper into the reasons and mechanism of this complex machinery known as “the brewing process“.
Thankfully I also have friends who are just as enthusiastic about Bavarian beers and together we were able to make good inroads.
The topic of mashing always attracted a lot of attention. When talking with friends who are also keen students of the very same texts, I noticed that, malting apart, the process can be divided into three principal sections
- Phase 1: Wort Production
- Phase 2: Fermentation
- Phase 3: Stability
Each of these phases is a huge topic on its own. Stability is probably the most underestimated in home brewing circles (believe me, nothing is as upsetting as seeing an incredible Helles suddenly deteriorate). Stability is likely the most difficult as well since the necessary products are generally not available to home brewers or are simply unsuitable.
Back to modern mashing…
It may surprise you that I stopped decoction mashing for various reasons. The biggest reason is that, time apart, the process is energy intensive and introduces too much air into the mash — which is undesirable for Bavarian brews.
Naturally, a professional system will transfer the mashes from below. That’s for decoctions as well as for filling the sparge tuns. Scooping simply introduced too much air. If you think oxygenation is not a problem in mashing, then I recommend obtaining a copy of Kunze in English, or Die Bierbrauerei: Vol II, where the negative effects are presented with plenty of data to support it.
One can also clearly notice oneself.
Mashes which are oxidised have the following characteristics
- Darker wort
- Coarser taste
- Lower stability
Therefore wort production for the home brewer needed a little re-think.
It is not out of reach and is achievable with slight modifications to the routine. It is a process that can be gradually improved (I’ve done this since last October). There are simple steps one can adopt immediately to see an improvement. Later one can refine it further.
Ironically I’ve ended up with a no-sparge system but with an agitator setup.
More about this later.