Author Topic: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale  (Read 1719 times)

Offline paulhart

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Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« on: August 19, 2015, 10:10:43 PM »
I’m brewing an all grain American Brown Ale this weekend, and I’m planning to make water adjustments for the first time. Well, I’ve blindly thrown Gypsum in IPAs before, but this is my first brew with an actual water report. I know people post questions constantly about water adjustments, and I tried to glean answers from those posts, but I’m still pretty confused.

First, here’s my planned recipe. I’ve brewed mostly pales, IPAs, and a few Belgians over the years, so any feedback is appreciated.

OG 1.064
FG 1.016
IBU 36
ABV 6.2 %
SRM 21

10 lbs Golden Promise (74.1%)
1 lb Carapils (7.4%)
1 lb Crystal 40 (7.4%)
1 lb Wheat malt (7.4%)
.5 lb Chocolate (3.7%)

.5 oz Galaxy 60 min
.5 oz Galaxy 20 min
1.5 oz Galaxy FO
1.5 oz Galaxy Hop Stand

The general idea is a hoppy brown, so I’m shooting for a pale/IPA-style water profile. Here's my starting water from Ward Labs:

pH 7.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 187
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.31
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.0 / 3.0
Sodium, Na 14
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 35
Magnesium, Mg 8
Total Hardness, CaCO3 121
Nitrate, NO3-N 1.2
Sulfate, SO4-S 4
Chloride, Cl 31
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 112
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 92
Total Phosphorus, P 0.01
Total Iron, Fe 0.03

Reviewing various posts for hoppy beer water profiles, I settled on the following additions (listed amount added separately to mash water and sparge water): 5g Gypsum; .5g CaCl2; 2g Epsom Salt. This gives me a final water profile of 83 Ca; 19 Mg; 14 Na; 45 Cl; 156 SO4 (.29 Cl/SO4 ratio).

The main model is Tasty’s profile he uses for Janet’s Brown, which is bigger, but similar to the beer I’m shooting for. I didn’t go so high on Sulfates (he uses 350 ppm), but the other numbers are in the same ballpark. Does this look generally ok? Anything I should reconsider?

One big point of confusion is my mash pH/RA target. From what I’ve read, darker grains lower the mash pH, so adjustments are necessary to hit a pH target. When I plug my numbers into EZ Water Calculator, my room temp mash pH was actually high. I had to throw in a few ounces of acid malt to get it in range. Am I missing something here or does this seem right based on my starting water and adjustments? I’m sure the preference is to actually test the pH prior to my mash rest, but I don’t have a pH meter, so I’m trying to account for pH somewhat blind here. Is blindly adding 3 oz of acid malt a bad idea with a darker beer?

Thanks in advance for the help.

Offline 69franx

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 10:33:19 PM »
Just a quick starting point: when I plug that grist into beersmith, it gives me 20.7SRM. This is darker, but at the very low end for American Brown. So your mash water is really looking at it as lighter than I think you are expecting. When you say high pH, what was initial projection? A number of folks on here are in favor of 5.5-5.6 pH for darker brews. Were you in that range, or even higher. I guess I just think we need some more specifics about your projected numbers and expectations
Frank L.
Fermenting:
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In the works: Hopefully brewing 10 gallons of Pilsner tomorrow for a family reunion in July, then back to IPA and  a barleywine to age

Offline paulhart

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2015, 10:42:02 PM »
EZ Water Calc gives me a 5.67 estimated room temp mash pH without any acid malt. This is all brand new to me, so I'm just taking the calculator's advice that my desired range should be between 5.4 and 5.6. Adding 3 oz. of acid malt brings that estimate down to 5.54.

Also, I screwed up the anticipated salt additions. I'm planning to add 3g gypsum, not 5g. The resulting water profile in my original post is correct with that correction.

Offline 69franx

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 01:25:30 AM »
I have not used acid malt in any of my brews in my brief 2+ years of experience. I do however knock pH down a touch with lactic acid when I need to. Either should work
edit for poor typing shills
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 04:51:46 PM by 69franx »
Frank L.
Fermenting:
Conditioning:
In keg:
In Bottles:  
In the works: Hopefully brewing 10 gallons of Pilsner tomorrow for a family reunion in July, then back to IPA and  a barleywine to age

Offline denny

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2015, 03:54:57 PM »
Before you adjust your water, you might want to think about adjusting that recipe.
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Offline paulhart

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2015, 04:15:28 PM »
Very helpful. Any specific changes you have in mind, Denny?

Offline denny

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2015, 04:34:45 PM »
Very helpful. Any specific changes you have in mind, Denny?

You have 2 lb. of crystal in there.  Ask yourself why it's there and remove what you can't justify.  Same with wheat malt...why is there a lb. in there?  There really doesn't need to be any, but that's a lot.
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Offline paulhart

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2015, 04:56:10 PM »
I share your concern on the high level of non-base malts. I rarely include more than 10%, and I usually keep the crystal low or use none at all in my pales/ipa. From my perspective, the crystals serve to balance the hops and the wheat is mostly for head retention and mouthfeel, so I'm leaning toward including them in some amounts.

This was intended to scale down Tasty's recipe for Janet's Brown, which uses similar percentages of the ingredients in my planned recipe, presumably to balance out the abnormally high hopping for a brown ale:  http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=&t=18509

Folks seem to really like that recipe, and it's won awards, but I tend to like drier beers and I'm similarly concerned  that the beer won't have the crispness I'm shooting for. I neglected to include in my initial post, but I'm planning to mash ~152 and pitch our local Denver yeast co.'s version of Chico.

If I scaled down the two crystals and wheat to .75 lb each, would you have a similar concern about the recipe?

Offline denny

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2015, 05:30:50 PM »
I share your concern on the high level of non-base malts. I rarely include more than 10%, and I usually keep the crystal low or use none at all in my pales/ipa. From my perspective, the crystals serve to balance the hops and the wheat is mostly for head retention and mouthfeel, so I'm leaning toward including them in some amounts.

This was intended to scale down Tasty's recipe for Janet's Brown, which uses similar percentages of the ingredients in my planned recipe, presumably to balance out the abnormally high hopping for a brown ale:  http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=&t=18509

Folks seem to really like that recipe, and it's won awards, but I tend to like drier beers and I'm similarly concerned  that the beer won't have the crispness I'm shooting for. I neglected to include in my initial post, but I'm planning to mash ~152 and pitch our local Denver yeast co.'s version of Chico.

If I scaled down the two crystals and wheat to .75 lb each, would you have a similar concern about the recipe?

I think that would be great for the crystal.  I still struggle with why there's any wheat at all, but JB is a killer beer and Mike knows his stuff.  Have you brewed the "original" recipe?
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Offline paulhart

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2015, 06:37:12 PM »
Thanks for the help here, Denny.

I haven't brewed the original. At almost 7.5%, it's a bigger beer than I'm looking for.


Offline Biran

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #10 on: September 11, 2015, 06:21:39 PM »
Thanks for the help here, Denny.

I haven't brewed the original. At almost 7.5%, it's a bigger beer than I'm looking for.

I believe Denny is referring to the recipe in Brewing Classic Styles, which is 6.6%.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2015, 01:16:13 PM »
I have Tasty's Janet's Brown on tap right now.  The fastest 10 gallons my taps have gone through on a dark ale yet.  It will be gone this weekend by halftime Sunday and was just tapped last weekend.  The lager crew goes for that ale in a big way.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Adjustments for Brown Ale
« Reply #12 on: September 12, 2015, 01:29:37 PM »
I have Tasty's Janet's Brown on tap right now.  The fastest 10 gallons my taps have gone through on a dark ale yet.  It will be gone this weekend by halftime Sunday and was just tapped last weekend.  The lager crew goes for that ale in a big way.

Great beer. I've tweaked it and tried different hops/schedule with it, but I keep coming back to it. Mine never lasts long either !
Jon H.