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Messages - mabrungard

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Yes as you already found, post fermentation pH adjustment is fine. It is primarily affecting taste.

The same thing can be performed in any beer...either raising or lowering the beer pH to meet taste expectations.

Those that read the article on London water a few months ago, saw that the water in central London had a somewhat high sodium content through some its history. The porter breweries were reputed to make the most tasty beers for the style, even when compared to other porters from around the world. Having brewed that brown porter recipe that I created for the article and having brewed it with the 'London Porter' water profile, I can attest that the 110 ppm sodium content is not detrimental to the beer. If anything, I would say that you would want at least 50 ppm sodium in a porter to help round the flavor. For that reason, using baking soda is well suited to dark beer brewing.

Another consideration is that since you only add baking soda to the mashing water, the high sodium content that might be shown from the baking soda addition will be diluted when you add the sparging water. In the free version of Bru'n Water, you would have to perform that calculation by yourself. But in the supporter's version, the diluted ion concentrations that are produced in the kettle are shown automatically.

Commercial Beer Reviews / Sun King Fistful of Hops
« on: August 26, 2014, 05:27:07 PM »
Well, I'm going to have to say that there may be two masterful breweries in Indiana now...3Floyds and Sun King. Sun King's Fistful of Hops IPA is a wonderfully flavorful hop bomb that still provides a drinkable balance. The current version includes a notable orange flavor to the hopping when the beer warms. Well worth searching for if you are in Indiana. I'm not sure that it's available out of state.

My hat is off to the brewery.

I'm going to be making an Imperial Stout soon, and I've been doing a 2 step mash, as per Gordon Strong's suggestion, just the base malts for most of the time (~40 min.), and then add the dark malts for the last 15 min. or so.  I'm convinced this helps the dark malt flavors, thanks, Gordon.

Gordon's method (it's actually Guinness' method) is ONLY suited when brewing with very low alkalinity water like distilled or RO water. Under that condition, if the dark malts were added to the main mash, the mash pH would be too low and there would be issues with both the acidity of the wort and the conversion of starch. When you use the Guinness method, you avoid problems with starch conversion...but you still end up with a potentially too acidic wort. Extra acidity is OK in dry stouts, but it's not OK in other stout and porter styles. Interestingly, one of the World Beer Cup gold medal winning beers was brewed in an Ohio city a few hours from Gordon's home. That brewer is blessed?? with typical hard and alkaline Midwestern water that happens to make fantastic dark beers.  They could not have done it with the Guinness method.

I get a chuckle out of brewers that state that this method reduces the edge of their roast malt flavors. The real reason that the roast flavors are reduced is that the overly low pH reduces the extraction of color and flavor from those dark grains. I suggest that those of you that want to reduce the roasty flavor in your dark beers might try reducing the quantity of those roasted grains in the's cheaper that way.

As you can tell by now, I'm not impressed by this method. Brewers do make better dark beers when they understand and manipulate the alkalinity of their mashing water. I find that there are only a few beer styles that actually benefit from this technique. Irish dry stout and Schwartzbier are examples.

In the case of an Imperial Stout, using mashing water with the proper alkalinity level is more likely to produce pleasant and full roast flavors instead of the dry and potentially acrid roast flavors that accompany overly low wort pH.


Hop Growing / Re: 2014 Harvest
« on: August 24, 2014, 10:13:20 AM »
I now pound my dried hops into plugs before sealing and freezing. It certainly reduces the bulk and I'm guessing that the action of a 1" wood dowel driven by a 3 lb sledge probably helps rupture some lupulin glands.

Ingredients / Re: brown malt for porter
« on: August 21, 2014, 06:09:03 AM »
Beware that Crisp brown malt includes a bit of smoke in it. I used almost 9% in a brown porter and the smoke was too apparent for a few months.
That is interesting. I wonder how it would be in a recipe for a historic porter.

Did you go to the talk that John Mallett and Andrea Stanley presented at the NHC? They served a historic porter made with malt that was dried over a hornbeam fire. A little smokey, but I really liked it.

Yep! I was in there and it was an excellent presentation. The beer made with Andrea's malt was similar in smokiness with my porter.

Ingredients / Re: brown malt for porter
« on: August 20, 2014, 05:38:02 AM »
Beware that Crisp brown malt includes a bit of smoke in it. I used almost 9% in a brown porter and the smoke was too apparent for a few months.

Boy, I recently got jumped all over by AJ when I recommended that using a high alpha hop like Magnum was preferrable for the bittering charge than using Noble hops for bittering in continental Pils. I am happy to hear some confirmation in other styles.

I personally like to keep the vegetative content as low as possible in the kettle and using high alpha hops in a bittering capacity makes sense to me.

Almost. Unfortunately, the quality of RO water varies with the quality of the raw water and the condition of the RO system. In many cases, RO water does still have some alkalinity and that means that it would take a little more than a linear assumption to reach your desired diluted alkalinity. In addition, you mention RA. That is a combination of Ca, Mg, and alkalinity and its possible that the linear assumption is again off. You are best finding out the water quality of the RO water being used and plug that into a calculator to find out how much dilution you actually need to achieve your desired water quality.

Another thing that could be done is to use distilled water. Then the linear assumption would be valid and that dilution ratio would equate to the resulting diluted water quality as proposed in your post.

The only things that get cleaned and sanitized in my system are the plate chiller and the discharge tubing. Everything else is just cleaned of all debris and sprayed down. I never scrub or otherwise perform extensive cleaning and sanitization of my tun or kettle. Both have a nice tea-colored patina.

170 ppm alkalinity as CaCO3 is fairly high. I'm not surprised that lactate may be tasted at that level. Another consideration is that the reported taste threshold for compounds is often the median or average value. Some tasters will be able to taste a compound at a much lower level. Maybe the OP is one of those individuals.

This is probably a case where other acids might be considered for this neutralization task. Dilution is another option. For the comment regarding the pH of RO water, pH is NOT a concern with brewing water. It is the alkalinity that is the concern. Brewers mistakenly use pH as the criterion for sparging water acidification, however it is really the alkalinity that needs to be considered. Even in Bru'n Water, the user sets a desired pH level in the sparge acidification page in order to end up with an acceptably low alkalinity...that is confusing, but it is what it is.

Depending upon the alkalinity of the raw water, the pH target you will need to set for sparge acidification may be well below 5.8. Conversely, if the alkalinity of the water is already low, it doesn't matter that the pH of that water is above the typical 5.2 to 5.6 mash pH range. That water's low alkalinity should not overwhelm the mash and its buffer system. So there is no need to acidify low alkalinity water like RO or distilled sources.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: adding chilis to beer
« on: August 11, 2014, 06:30:45 PM »
I just tasted a pale ale with jalapeno that one of my clubmates made. He used 1/2 jalapeno, deseeded and deveined, in secondary, per gallon of beer. It had a notable jalapeno flavor with virtually no heat. At that level, anyone could tell what the additive was and was not offended.

Mr. Gladish is another expert at adding peppers to beer since he won the ProAm at GABF with his Poblano Wit. Very tasty beer.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Lager color adjustment
« on: August 10, 2014, 02:39:19 PM »
Lower temperature steeping and/or low pH steeping will help reduce the extraction of flavor from roasted grains. You can make your own form of black liquor by cold steeping dark malts in water with very low alkalinity (RO or DI). You will be able to sample that liquor before use to assess its roastiness.

Be aware that this method is not as effective in extracting color from the malt, so don't be surprised if you have to use more dark malts to produce your color objective.

To the OP, I'm assuming that your tap water is not ideal for brewing. But what are the actual problems? If it's a question of overmineralization and high alkalinity, then maybe your solution to the overly low alkalinity in that new Walmart water is blending? That is the first place I would seek my alkalinity.

The second option would be to use baking soda, since its readily available. As Jon pointed out, it is important to keep the sodium level modest in most cases. The thing he didn't point out is that if you are adding sparging water to the mash, then the baking soda free sparging water addition will dilute that high sodium content that may exist in the mash. The resulting sodium content in the kettle can be much lower than that required in the mash due to the baking soda use. The supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes this dilution feature, so that you know what your ending sodium content is in the kettle and you can safely add extra baking soda to the mash to meet your pH target. The next supporter's version will be even better. Be aware that the free version is probably never going to be updated. There are good reasons to become a supporter.

By the way, you really have to push the sodium level well above 100 ppm to have any significant taste effects and they only rear their head when you also have a lot of sulfate in the water. Don't be too afraid of sodium. That 50 ppm level is safe.   

Yes, Pickling Lime does have to be added directly to the mash or you will cause calcium in your existing water to precipitate out. But in most cases, you are starting out with a water like RO or DI and you don't really need to worry about precipitating calcium out. I still add my lime directly to the mash.  PS: All the rest of your mineral and acid additions should be added to the water BEFORE you add the grains. This helps assure that you get all the additions completely mixed and dissolved in the water and EVENLY distributed in your mash. DON'T add minerals to the mash and expect to be able to mix everything well. Matt already proved that it is very difficult to get the additions mixed in the mash.

Gordon's method is good in Dry Stouts and in beers where you DON'T want the roasty flavors in your finished beer. But it is generally a poor substitute for getting the water chemistry correct in the first place and mashing the dark grains in the main mash. In addition, the recipe is likely to need to be modified with much higher dark grain content to account for the poorer color and roast flavor extraction that Gordon's method produces. It is not a panacea. BETTER CHEMISTRY = BETTER BEER

Ingredients / Re: Water for Märzen
« on: August 06, 2014, 08:20:00 AM »
Brewers Association members should have seen the article in their New Brewer magazine last month that highlights the fallacy of needing calcium in brewing water. AHA members will see that article in next month's Zymurgy magazine. If you are not an AHA member, you really should be!

Calcium is not needed at all for yeast health in brewing. However, it is needed in ale brewing in order to produce a timely clearing of the beer. Too little calcium will create flocculation deficiencies. The other thing calcium is desirable for is causing oxalate to precipitate out in the mash tun instead of your kidneys.

In the case of lager brewing, it turns out that having too much calcium in the water is actually detrimental to yeast performance and the calcium can actually create metabolism problems and some sugars may not be digested as they should. Ale yeast does not suffer from this problem.

It appears that for lager brewing, a minimum Ca content of around 20 ppm tends to produce fine tasting lagers. Bumping that Ca content to at least 40 ppm tends to get most of the oxalate to precipitate. For ale brewing, that long-held belief for brewing water to have at least 50 ppm Ca does have validity. Then the Ca content is sufficient to get most ale yeast to flocculate adequately.

In the case of this Marzen, I suggest that the Boiled Munich profile in Bru'n Water be studied. The low Ca content may need to be boosted a bit, but the Cl and SO4 content are fairly low and should not interfere with the malt flavor. The somewhat high bicarbonate content of that water should be taken down to whatever level is necessary to produce a mash pH of around 5.2 to 5.4. The bicarb should be neutralized with lactic acid or acid malt so that the beer is infused with a low level of lactate that I feel is part of the German beer flavor. Other acids won't do.


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