Author Topic: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?  (Read 2101 times)

Offline el_capitan

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Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« on: August 06, 2015, 02:55:54 AM »
I'm preparing to brew the "Doing it in the Dark" Schwarzbier recipe from BCS. I'm using Bru'nWater for water adjustments and starting from RO.  I'm using the "brown malty" profile but skewing the numbers toward the "brown balanced" profile, shooting for somewhere in between.  My problem is that I'm having a hard time raising the pH to an acceptable level.  I can get the pH to 5.3 by adding plenty of chalk and baking soda, but the problem then is that my sodium level is way up at 44.4.  I do plan to dissolve the chalk under CO2 gas ahead of time.

So, first question - is that sodium level too high, or should I just go with it?

Otherwise, should I leave the dark grains out of the main mash, and just use them to cap the mash before the sparge?  I guess I'd be losing some gravity points by doing it that way. 

This recipe calls for chocolate malt, Carafa II, and roasted barley.  I'm kind of at a loss here, but thankfully the brewday is about a week out and I have a whole community of pros at my fingertips here.  Help a brother out!  Thanks.

Offline el_capitan

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2015, 05:37:44 AM »
Ok, I take it all back.  I forgot to select the appropriate grain type on the mash acidification tab, so everything was set as base malt.  Once I got that fixed, things quickly became easier. 

Never mind! 

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2015, 01:53:24 PM »
I'm assuming you are using the free version of Bru'n Water? It does not have the calculation that tells you that the sodium addition in the final wort is actually much lower since you add baking soda only to the mashing water and its diluted in the final wort. If you were using the supporter's version and that was the final wort concentration, 44 ppm sodium is actually not that bad and even desirable in darker styles.

Glad you found the incorrect setting, but I do want you to know that having somewhat elevated sodium is OK when adding baking soda for increasing pH.
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Offline beersk

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2015, 02:46:09 PM »
I'm surprised Martin didn't mention it, but don't bother with the chalk. Just use the baking soda.

If you're using RO water, then adding dark malts at the end of the mash is not a bad idea if you don't want to bother with having to raise the pH. I'd suggest a pH in the 5.4 or 5.5 range for a smoother roast character.

It's probably easier just adding baking soda to the mash water instead of making sure to acidify the mash enough without the roast malts, then adding them back in.
I always wonder how it affects the pH post mash into the boil kettle by adding roasted malts at the end of the mash vs just mashing with them in and making sure the pH is in the proper range. Anyone have any thoughts on that?
die Schönheit der bier...

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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2015, 05:22:43 PM »
Thanks for the feedback, Martin!  Sounds to me like the supporter's version is well worth it.  I know I've gotten a ton of help from the free version, and it's been instrumental in advancing my knowledge of water chemistry.  Consider me your newest supporter. 

Offline wobdee

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2015, 10:55:34 AM »
So how much ppm sodium is too much?

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2015, 01:25:16 PM »
So how much ppm sodium is too much?

Personally, I try to always stay under 50ppm. Using RO, I never get near that except on stouts where I raise pH with baking soda.
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Offline el_capitan

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2015, 05:32:09 AM »
FWIW, I'm really enjoying the supporter's version of Bru'n Water.  I also revisited the online Water Knowledge page, and was pleased to find a lot of info that I wasn't aware of.  I applaud Martin for presenting in-depth water chemistry knowledge at a level that any brewer can understand.  It's much appreciated! 

Tomorrow I'll be brewing both a Schwarzbier and an Oktoberfest.  These are probably my last two brews of summer vacation, then it's back to the grind for another 9 months.  It's funny - even though I have summers off as a teacher, I always get so busy that inevitably I run out of beer by August.  One of these years I'll get my act together and keep the pipeline full.  In the interim, there's always the whiskey ginger.  Cheers!

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #8 on: August 17, 2015, 08:27:55 PM »
Could always add some pickling lime to the mash instead or in addition to the baking soda if your Na levels get too high...you won't need much to bump up that pH.

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #9 on: August 17, 2015, 10:00:08 PM »
Could always add some pickling lime to the mash instead or in addition to the baking soda if your Na levels get too high...you won't need much to bump up that pH.

You can absolutely do that but FWIW, using RO water, pretty much any grist will stay within the good sodium range using baking soda to raise pH. I brew a roasty American stout (Rogue Sheakespeare-ish) every year that has a substantial amount of roasted malt (and some dark crystal too), and balancing that grist up to 5.5-5.6 pH with baking soda leaves my Na at 47ppm. I believe Martin said that ideally it's best to have 50ppm or less. The trick in using baking soda comes when you try to use it with your tap water which could already have a moderate Na level.
Jon H.

Offline brewinhard

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2015, 04:24:44 PM »
Good point.  As I type this I plan on adding some baking soda to my next big old ale mash next week.  I just liked the mineral additions better than what pickling lime was giving me on Brun water.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Profile for a Schwarzbier?
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2015, 08:59:52 PM »
I have used up to 110 ppm sodium in a London Porter and I think it was just slightly too much. It wasn't salty, but it and the chloride it was paired with, were just a little too minerally for my tastes. Still good, but I wasn't used to the minerally nature. I think something in the 80 to 90 ppm Na range might meet my taste preference.

Don't forget that you are only adding an alkali like baking soda to the mash and when the sparging water is added, the total sodium content is substantially diluted. My experience is that it is easy to keep sodium content in your overall brewing water below 50 ppm when using baking soda for the mash. I find that not much baking soda is needed to keep the pH up. 
Martin B
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