NOTE: This Instructable assumes that you are already accustomed to brewing extract beer, and familiar at least in passing with how all-grain brewing is done. (This could, however, be your first all-grain beer; it's also easy to adapt to partial-mash brewing.)
Decoction mashing is a traditional technique in central European brewing which produces the deliciously malty flavors for which German beers are best known. (It can also get lovely results in other malt-forward styles such as Scottish ales.) While many German breweries have been moving away from using it, especially for their palest beers, on a homebrew scale it is an easy way to impart this flavor into your beer. The essence of decoction mashing is to boil some of your mash, grains and all, and then combine it with the rest (which has not been boiled) to reach desired rest temperatures. It's common to repeat this process two or three times to reach several desired temperature ranges.
Unfortunately, most homebrewers are put off by decoction mashing, and for good reason - traditional decoction mash methods are challenging and very time-consuming, and abbreviated ones don't cook quite as much of that delicious melanoidin flavor into the beer, effectively compromising between a decoction mash and a more typical infusion mash.
The Schmitz process is a relatively modern variant on the decoction mash that develops a very full flavor while being faster and easier than a classic double or triple decoction mash. As long as you are willing to stand by the stove stirring for a while, this is your path to classic German styles.
Step 1: Assemble Supplies
To brew with the Schmitz process, you will need:
- Your brewing kettle.
- Another decently large pot (I'm using the three-gallon one I brew extract beers in; if you are doing this as the mashed part of a partial-mash beer, you could make do with a large saucepan).
- A cooking thermometer, ideally one with a probe.
- A mash tun. I actually don't have a dedicated mash tun even though I brew almost entirely all-grain beer; you don't need this to be as insulated as some people's, and I find a bottling bucket with a spigot, a steamer insert that fits inside and keeps things off the spigot hole, and a large pillowcase do the job nicely.
- A long-handled spoon that can reach all the way to the bottom of your kettle.
- Something (I like a large Pyrex measuring cup) to transfer hot liquid from one pot to the other.
- Your ingredients.