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 Post subject: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sat Dec 04, 2010 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:32 pm
Posts: 222
Location: Germantown, MD
Howdy

I have never brewed a stout nor any beer this dark (37) or with this much roast ~10%

Here is my water report (ward labs)
calcium 54.0 mg/l
magnesium10.0 mg/l
sodium 20.0 mg/l
sulfate 66.0 mg/l
chloride 37.0 mg/l
bicarb 106.0 mg/l
alkalinity 97.0 ppm CaCO3
Residual alkalinity 53

Using Brukiaser's water sprsht
-beer color 37 SRM
-roasted % 25% (% roast of non base malts)
-estimated mash pH 4.8

To raise ph this low would call for chalk to and playing with the sprsht it seems like a lot of chalk @ +7gr. just get me to 5.1 ph.
Does this sound like a lot of chalk for 6gal batch and will it disolve fully in the mash/sparge?
What have you done with water for stouts?

-Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 12:13 am 
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:18 am
Posts: 1385
Don't believe anyone or any spreadsheet that tells you that you need to add that much (or really any) chalk to water or mash for stout brewing unless the water has appreciable negative RA. You do mention 2 levels of roast - 10% and then 25%. In my experience, 10% roast barley with 90% base malt) will, with water of your level of RA, give you a mash pH of about 5.5 (and, incidentally, color in the 60-80 SRM range). In laboratory experiments I required 30% roast barley (and the rest base malt) with distilled water (0 RA) to get me to pH slightly below pH 5.2 so I consider that the limit. IOW, below 30% dark/roast you should need no alkali even with water of 0 RA. Of course my experiments are not the universe of stout brewing but others have reported similar results here. What you should really do is make a test mash (about a pound of grist with however much water you normally dough in with) and check the pH with a meter (strips will most likely read about 0.3 pH low). You can, of course, skip the test mash and just stand by with some chalk to be added to the full mash should you check mash pH and find it low.

To answer your specific questions:

Yes, that is way too much chalk (any chalk is)
No, it will not dissolve in 6 gallons of water nor will it dissolve completely in the mash which is really good news. Your pH will be much higher than you want but not as high as it would be if all the chalk reacted.
What do I do with my water (similar to yours WRT RA) for stout? Nothing.


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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:32 pm
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Location: Germantown, MD
Thanks AJ

I usually do nothing with my water for darker beers but have never gone this dark or roasty. When doing lighter beers, I will cut with some distilled and add back CaCO3.

-Cheers

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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:26 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 29, 2008 3:01 pm
Posts: 117
Dang. AJ, when is your spreadsheet coming out? If it never is, could you point me to a "brewing water chemistry for dummies" book? Too stupid here.


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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 6:51 am 
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DBear wrote:
I usually do nothing with my water for darker beers but have never gone this dark or roasty. When doing lighter beers, I will cut with some distilled and add back CaCO3.


You shouldn't add CaCO3 for lighter beers either. In fact it is worse for those as there is no dark malt to offset the CaCO3.


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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 7:29 am 
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disasterbrew wrote:
Dang. AJ, when is your spreadsheet coming out? If it never is, could you point me to a "brewing water chemistry for dummies" book? Too stupid here.


I do have a spreadsheet but don't usually tell people about it because it is likely to make their heads spin. It started out as something I put together for a water class I did a couple of years back but I kept adding to is so it gets pretty far down into the nitty gritty of water chemistry but it does not attempt to predict mash pH except in the crudest way i.e. it does apply Kohlbach's pH shift with RA but does this only for base malt. It is available at www.wetnewf.org if you want it but be sure to download the manual. I really don't think it's of much use to guys starting out thinking about water chemistry but you are certainly welcome to it.

Brewing Water Chemistry for Dummies: I've been working at trying to come up with this for over 20 years and either it just can't be simplified or my pedagogical skills are limited (most likely the latter). After all the time and effort they asked me to put together a primer for the stickies section of another forum and that's at http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewin ... er-198460/. What's there certainly bypasses a lot of heavy stuff but, according to the feedback I get, seems to work most of the time. In addition to that I find that I am making much better beers (or lagers at least - that's what I like) essentially following the guidelines in that Primer. It hardly lends much understanding of the very complicated processes but it does seem to work in many cases.


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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 9:55 am 
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Location: Germantown, MD
AJ

DOH!! You are correct. CaCO3 for light beers is bad. I meant CaCl :roll:

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 Post subject: Re: Water for a Stout
PostPosted: Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:01 pm 
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I typically agree with comments from AJ and there are several comments in his posts on this subject that I agree with. I'm not sure how a spreadsheet predicted a need for 7 grams of chalk, but AJ is correct that this is too much for a 6 gallon batch size. I also agree that 25% roasted grain is probably not going to be a nice result. I would lean to the 10% range for a stout and the color is going to probably be in the 30 to 40 range.

I note that Dbear's water report has something wrong. I think that the bicarbonate is actually 117 ppm as opposed to the 106 indicated. The ion balance is better and that amount of bicarb matches the Alkalinity reported.

I do have to disagree with AJ's contention that this water does not need increased alkalinity for making a stout. A RA of around 50 is suitable for an amber beer and will be overwhelmed by the roasted malts and drive the mash pH too low. There is ample evidence in multiple brewing texts that low mash pH will produce a thinner and more attenuated beer. In addition, it will also push the pH of the finished beer lower than desirable. I have tasted numerous stouts and dark beers that lacked a softness and fullness that ended up being due to insufficient alkalinity. Appropriate elevated RA will make a better stout. Conversely, I've tasted too many pale beers that lack crispness due to excessive alkalinity that was not corrected prior to brewing.

For a typical mash volume for a 6 gal batch, there probably won't be more than about 3 gallons of water. My calculations show that about 1.2 grams of chalk will be needed for the mash. That will be sufficient to increase the RA of the mash water to the 130 range. This is a much more reasonable RA for a black beer and this amount will easily dissolve in the mash.

Possibly Dbear was assuming that he needs to add chalk to the sparge too. That is never needed in sparge water. In fact, all sparge water must be brought to a pH of less than 6 or there is a increased chance for tannin extraction and adding chalk is exactly opposite of that.

There is an alternative to adding chalk to mash water when brewing a stout with this water. Gordon Strong pointed out that all you have to do is reserve all your dark grains and mash the base malts without them. You add the roasted grains at the end of the mash to add the desired color and flavor. That avoids the mash pH issue all together, but can still leave you with a sharper than desired beer.

So sorry to disagree with AJ on this issue, but my judging of a few thousand beers indicates to me that having an appropriate RA still makes better beer. Dbear's water won't make a great stout, but could with just a little help. Its just that poor spreadsheets can lead brewers in the wrong direction. These spreadsheets assume too aggressive a need for high RA for darker beers. Every water profile from the world brewing centers have RA's of 180 or less. Any spreadsheet that recommends a RA of more than 200 is wrong.

Good luck with the stout!

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