Tag Archives: plzen

The Pilsner Urquell Showdown: Decoction vs. Single Infusion… was it worth it?

Standing over my temperature controlled chest freezer, looking down at my 2 kegs of fully carbonated Bohemian Pilsner, is a very pleasant sight indeed. I used the exact same recipe and maintained the same fermentation schedule for both a single infusion and a decoction version to see what differences could be had. (See original post: Pilsner Urquell: Decoction mash or Single Infusion?) It’s been a long time in the making. Two separate brew days, with the decoction taking me a whopping 11.5 hours (!), 14 days in primary, and another 40 days of lagering. The fact that it is ready to bottle this week, lines up perfectly with us being at the height of summer.

So was it worth it?

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The Pilsner Urquell showdown: Decoction Day

By not brewing this beer when I first posted my original article, I think I psyched myself out on the whole ‘decoction’ thing. “Single Decoction“, “Double Decoction“, “Enhanced Double Decoction“,”Hochkurz Decoction“, “Triple Decoction“, ahh!!! What have I got myself into!!

When I finally got up the courage and picked a weekend for this experiment, I had to watch and re-watch some videos on decoction mashing. Braukaiser’s video, which I had mentioned in my original post, was one I referred to a lot. I also came across a really good video on Brewing TV: Episode 34 – “Decoction Day”. In this video, Michael Dawson shows us how to do a double decoction on a Munich Dunkel. He was quite entertaining and demonstrated the steps wonderfully and clearly. So off I was to start boiling away!

Which decoction schedule did I decide to use? I decided to go with the Enhanced Double Decoction. This schedule pulls a large enough decoction from the acid rest to be able to hit the protein rest with part of the decoction, and with the remaining portion, you reach the saccrification rest. On the one side, I thought a single decoction would fail to bring out enough of the decoction character. On the other side, a traditional triple decoction really isn’t needed with today’s well modified malts, and the lengthy protein rest can actually be detrimental to head formation and mouth feel due to excessive protein breakdown. (See footnote at bottom) I modified the temperature steps slightly to hit those specified by the brewer from Pilsner Urquell in the Brewing Techniques article: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell. Continue reading

Pilsner Urquell – decoction mash or single infusion?

It’s that time of year again when my cellar reaches optimum fermenting temperatures for lager style beers. Over the past year, I’ve become more familiar with the various styles and I can’t wait to take a stab at some of them.  I’ve researched and learned a tremendous amount since I started brewing, and along with that research comes, of course, many new beers to try.

There has also been countless hours spent talking with my father-in-law about all things beer, wine, and gardening. He is originally from the Czech Republic, and because of that, is always promoting the superb quality of the world’s only true Pilsner; Pilsner Urquell. The history of Pilsner Urquell and how it came to be is a wonderful, informative tale of brewing history. One that is too large for the scope of this post, but is touched upon in a fantastic article from Brewing Techniques titled: The History and Brewing Methods of Pilsner Urquell.

Up until this point, I’ve been brewing completely with a single infusion mash, which works for most styles of beer. (and keeps the brew day at a reasonable length) Recently I’ve become intrigued by the traditional decoction mash that is used by European brewers. Thus far, I’ve seen it as too advanced for me, but after coming across an excellent 3 part video from Braukaiser explaining in great detail the double decoction mash, (See video here) I feel I’m ready to give it a try. Every time I have a sip of the buttery golden yellow of a Pilsner Urquell at my in-laws, the more I want to discover how the heck they actually brew it.

I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m doing with a decoction mash as I’m a virgin in such territory. Braukaiser’s video is the one to watch, but I do want to learn what effect it has on the resulting beer. In order to do this, I’m going to do 2 things: Continue reading