Author Topic: Water Advice for Imperial Stout  (Read 3034 times)

Offline UnequivocalBrewing

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Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« on: December 26, 2016, 02:10:28 PM »
Hi Everyone,

Planning to brew a stout, targeting OG of 1.075.  Recipe:
58% Maris Otter
13% Vienna
13% Flaked Oats
6% C60
Remaining combination BlackPrinz and Chocolate Malts

WLP007 - Dry English Ale Yeast

I am starting with RO water.  I am trying to manipulate the water to hit around 5.4-5.5 mash PH.  Water treatment gets me to the following according to Bru'n:

136 Ca
5 Mg
43 Na
102 SO4
143 Cl
180 Bicarbonate

This is saying it will hit 5.46.  We are also going to drybean this with coffee and vanilla beans.  Going for a nice rich stout...but worried a little bit about getting an overly sweet beer hence the fair amount of Gypsum.  A couple questions:

1.  What does everyone think in general?
2.  Is the sodium at an acceptable level?  I'm using some baking soda to offset the dark grains and calcium.
3.  What mouthfeel could be expected from this?  Would like a really rich beer but don't want it to feel poorly attenuated.  Is that level of sulfate and chloride going to achieve this for me?

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2016, 05:10:57 PM »
That sodium level is fine. It could be higher without detriment in this beer, but I wouldn't necessarily go higher.

The sulfate level is fine. Going higher is also acceptable, if you want the beer finish to dry out better. That can be a good thing in a big beer like this. In fact, Burton on Trent was once known for its big beers like the original Imperial Stouts and Burton Ales. High sulfate does not make beers bitter. It makes them finish drier.

I do have concern with the chloride level since high chloride content with high sulfate content is the recipe for minerally beer flavor. If that is your goal, then the chloride content is fine. Lower chloride content would be my preference, but its not a requirement.

Do be sure to include enough bicarbonate in the mashing water to keep the mash pH above 5.4. Many brewers find that a mash pH in the 5.5 to 5.6 range helps smooth out the roast flavors.
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Offline bjanat

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2016, 06:49:25 PM »

Do be sure to include enough bicarbonate in the mashing water to keep the mash pH above 5.4. Many brewers find that a mash pH in the 5.5 to 5.6 range helps smooth out the roast flavors.
I've seen discussions about this on another thread. Would the smoother roast flavor with a higher ph also happen if you mash at 5.2 and then raise to 5.5 at the boil?


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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2016, 07:06:28 PM »
I have not tested that. But I can tell you that you are better off mashing somewhere near 5.4, than 5.2.
Martin B
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Offline curtdogg

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2016, 07:25:07 PM »
Their was much discussion on this topic in my last thread. Everybody was very helpful. Although there were a few different opinions on mash pH, there was one General consensus. The addition of roasted barley in the grist.  I used RO as my base and my desied water profile was Black Balanced. Their is a ton of info in the thread I mentioned.

https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Ehomebrewersassociation%2Eorg%2Fforum%2Findex%2Ephp%3Ftopic%3D28291%2E0&share_tid=28291&share_fid=40079&share_type=t
Oatmeal stout do over.

Cheers.

Offline UnequivocalBrewing

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2016, 09:44:58 PM »
Ok, thanks for sending me that link.  Interesting read.  Catching onto the roasted barley suggestion. 

Here's the thing....the information I'm getting about the "black balanced" water profile in that thread is in conflict with what Martin just wrote above.  The black balanced profile offers a sulfate level of 51 and chloride of 39.  In the profile I put above I had 102 SO4 and Martin is saying that I could push that even higher to dry it out.

So, while this link had a lot of good information in general about brewing stouts I don't think it had a lot of depth on brewing water for stouts per se. 

Any calcium level I go with I will balance off with chalk and/or baking soda to hit the appropriate mash PH so let's put that aside for a moment.

If I go with the "black balanced" profile I'm assuming I will get a softer stout, potentially even a little on the sweeter side.  If I go with something like 100-150 SO4 I'm assuming it will give the mouthfeel a bit more dryness?  Do I have that right?  I'm assuming there is a spectrum of dryness that plays well with the roasted grains.  I'm just not sure where that threshold is....between helping it not be a cloyingly sweet beer and to being a roasted campfire mess.

Do you know what I mean?

Offline curtdogg

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2016, 10:45:38 PM »
Ok, thanks for sending me that link.  Interesting read.  Catching onto the roasted barley suggestion. 

Here's the thing....the information I'm getting about the "black balanced" water profile in that thread is in conflict with what Martin just wrote above.  The black balanced profile offers a sulfate level of 51 and chloride of 39.  In the profile I put above I had 102 SO4 and Martin is saying that I could push that even higher to dry it out.

So, while this link had a lot of good information in general about brewing stouts I don't think it had a lot of depth on brewing water for stouts per se. 

Any calcium level I go with I will balance off with chalk and/or baking soda to hit the appropriate mash PH so let's put that aside for a moment.

If I go with the "black balanced" profile I'm assuming I will get a softer stout, potentially even a little on the sweeter side.  If I go with something like 100-150 SO4 I'm assuming it will give the mouthfeel a bit more dryness?  Do I have that right?  I'm assuming there is a spectrum of dryness that plays well with the roasted grains.  I'm just not sure where that threshold is....between helping it not be a cloyingly sweet beer and to being a roasted campfire mess.

Do you know what I mean?
I know what you mean. Im still not too clear on that ratio and the outcome.
Mostly i just wanted to share the information in the link. Good luck with the RIS.
That sodium level is fine. It could be higher without detriment in this beer, but I wouldn't necessarily go higher.

The sulfate level is fine. Going higher is also acceptable, if you want the beer finish to dry out better. That can be a good thing in a big beer like this. In fact, Burton on Trent was once known for its big beers like the original Imperial Stouts and Burton Ales. High sulfate does not make beers bitter. It makes them finish drier.

I do have concern with the chloride level since high chloride content with high sulfate content is the recipe for minerally beer flavor. If that is your goal, then the chloride content is fine. Lower chloride content would be my preference, but its not a requirement.

Do be sure to include enough bicarbonate in the mashing water to keep the mash pH above 5.4. Many brewers find that a mash pH in the 5.5 to 5.6 range helps smooth out the roast flavors.

Offline JJeffers09

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #7 on: December 27, 2016, 02:03:08 PM »
Ok, thanks for sending me that link.  Interesting read.  Catching onto the roasted barley suggestion. 

Here's the thing....the information I'm getting about the "black balanced" water profile in that thread is in conflict with what Martin just wrote above.  The black balanced profile offers a sulfate level of 51 and chloride of 39.  In the profile I put above I had 102 SO4 and Martin is saying that I could push that even higher to dry it out.

So, while this link had a lot of good information in general about brewing stouts I don't think it had a lot of depth on brewing water for stouts per se. 

Any calcium level I go with I will balance off with chalk and/or baking soda to hit the appropriate mash PH so let's put that aside for a moment.

If I go with the "black balanced" profile I'm assuming I will get a softer stout, potentially even a little on the sweeter side.  If I go with something like 100-150 SO4 I'm assuming it will give the mouthfeel a bit more dryness?  Do I have that right?  I'm assuming there is a spectrum of dryness that plays well with the roasted grains.  I'm just not sure where that threshold is....between helping it not be a cloyingly sweet beer and to being a roasted campfire mess.

Do you know what I mean?

I think what you have will work.  Given the IBUs are somewhere in the 55-60, you will not get a malty stout.  The oats at 13%, the roast at 10%, the pH at 5.4-5.5, the SO4/Cl at 1.3, and your sodium at 43ppm to me means you will be closer to full body bitter stout.  Given you are using a dark chocolate malt (350+) with blackprinz.  If this was my beer I would swap the Vienna for carabrown or brown malt.  But that is just me, and my tastes.
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Offline bboy9000

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #8 on: December 27, 2016, 03:51:15 PM »
I'd use pickling lime instead of chalk or baking soda.   Chalk isn't easily soluble in water and baking soda may add some sodium ( I may be wrong on that).
Brian
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Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #9 on: December 27, 2016, 04:16:11 PM »
Here's the thing....the information I'm getting about the "black balanced" water profile in that thread is in conflict with what Martin just wrote above.  The black balanced profile offers a sulfate level of 51 and chloride of 39.  In the profile I put above I had 102 SO4 and Martin is saying that I could push that even higher to dry it out.

There is not one water profile right for all imperial stouts. Martin is saying you could go higher, not that you must. Do you want a drier finish on your stout? Lots of the popular imperial stouts out there are super sweet. If your goal is in that vein then you don't want too much sulfate.
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Offline SonnyK

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #10 on: December 27, 2016, 07:06:49 PM »
My advice is worry more about Fermentation than Water for the RIS.

I just brewed my first and thought we were pretty good at Fermenting, but you're stepping into another league here..  I would HIGHLY recommended an O2 tank and hit the wort at time of pitching and 12 hours later.  We got a great Fermentation but didn't hit final gravity..  Also, would definitely recommend Healthy yeast (mfg date in last 1-2 months), a good starter and decant off extra liquid.

Best of luck :)

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2016, 02:16:13 AM »
Mash it @ 5.6pH and black balanced works really well. Done it many times.
Jon H.

Offline curtdogg

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2016, 03:13:26 AM »
Mash it @ 5.6pH and black balanced works really well. Done it many times.
Should the sulfate/chloride ratio be adjusted in a big beer like that?

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2016, 03:19:24 AM »
Mash it @ 5.6pH and black balanced works really well. Done it many times.
Should the sulfate/chloride ratio be adjusted in a big beer like that?


Not necessary with that profile. You can back off the sulfate a tad if you like, but the pH is the key.
Jon H.

Offline UnequivocalBrewing

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Re: Water Advice for Imperial Stout
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2017, 02:33:28 PM »
Just checking back on this.  We went with:
62 Calcium
5 Magnesium
55 Sodium
106 Sulfate
56 Chloride
125 Bicarbonate

The beer came out really nice.  Really happy with the results. 

30 hours before packaging i dumped 12 oz of a columbian coffee bean coarsely ground and 2.5 madagascar vanilla beans.