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Old 01-06-2013, 11:19 PM   #1
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Default I want to brew dark beers (Water report)

I want to brew some dark beers but never have with my water. Other people have told me that my alkalinity is too low and that dark malts will lower the PH too much. How can I change this? Thanks.

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Old 01-07-2013, 12:24 AM   #2
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Some slaked lime will be all you need. Use a spreadsheet like Bru'n Water to get you in the ball park.

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Old 01-07-2013, 12:51 AM   #3
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as long as there is no chloromine, that looks like great water. Its low enough in ions you might be able to just follow the recommendations for RO water here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/

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Old 01-07-2013, 12:54 AM   #4
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That is pretty nice water for brewing. But you are correct that its not well suited for brewing darker or more acidic grists. As mentioned above, the slaked lime (pickling lime) is one of the better alternatives for adding alkalinity. Just be careful in the amount of alkalinity added to mashing water. You don't want too much, as that is typically more damaging to beer flavor and quality than having too little alkalinity.

Baking soda is another alternative, but there is less latitude for adding alkalinity since you're also adding sodium. Sodium is OK for beer flavor at low levels, but can produce antagonistic flavor effects when sulfate and chloride are also elevated. I'm less enthused with baking soda, but it could be a decent alternative if the amount of needed alkalinity is minor.

Another option for brewing with this water is to use the Guinness method and withhold the dark grains from the main mash to avoid depressing the main mash pH. The only problem is that the wort pH in the kettle might be lower than desired when the dark grain steeped wort is added to the kettle.

Although the OP's water is approaching RO quality, the recommendations of the Water Primer don't provide guidance for brewing dark beers well.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:40 PM   #5
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So how much pickling lime would I need for a 5 gallon batch(ballpark)? I'm new to brewing water chemistry and I don't understand much about it.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:46 PM   #6
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The amount of pickling lime needed in most cases is tiny. You really have to use a scale with 0.1 gram resolution to use lime without overdosing. Bru'n Water has the calculations for figuring out lime additions and the amount of alkalinity needed for a particular mash grist. There isn't a way to ballpark something as powerful (and dangerous) as a lime addition. Lime is definitely a mineral addition that unless you know exactly how much to add, don't add it at all. Overdosing with lime has very negative effects on beer quality.

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Old 01-07-2013, 01:54 PM   #7
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Would it be easier for me to add the dark malt at the end of the mash? Do I need the starch in the dark malts to be converted or do I just need to steep them?

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Old 01-07-2013, 02:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zach1288 View Post
Would it be easier for me to add the dark malt at the end of the mash? Do I need the starch in the dark malts to be converted or do I just need to steep them?
Yes, that is definitely the easy way to do it. Crystals, black, chocolate, roast barley does not need to be mashed and the difference between doing it that way and successfully adjusting your alkalinity is subtle - any improvement from perfect water chemistry is overwhelmed by even minor fermentation issues. Definitely get a pH meter if you are going to think about adding alkalinity. If you don't want to mess around with pH meters, just brew and see how it turns out (either mashing everything or holding back dark grains).
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Old 01-07-2013, 02:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx View Post
Yes, that is definitely the easy way to do it. Crystals, black, chocolate, roast barley does not need to be mashed and the difference between doing it that way and successfully adjusting your alkalinity is subtle - any improvement from perfect water chemistry is overwhelmed by even minor fermentation issues. Definitely get a pH meter if you are going to think about adding alkalinity. If you don't want to mess around with pH meters, just brew and see how it turns out (either mashing everything or holding back dark grains).
What is the process for this technique? Should I add the dark malt in the last few minutes of the mash? How long do they need to be steeped? Also will I loose any gravity points by not converting the starches of those grains?
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Old 01-07-2013, 03:34 PM   #10
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No, don't hold back the dark grains. You need to add them and the acidity they bring in at one point or another.

Kai

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