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Old 02-13-2013, 09:24 PM   #31
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I tried using that method of just adding a tsp of either and it seemed even with the right pH the beer tasted great out of the fermentor but when carbonated it lacked in taste, it was a bit dull/watered down and maybe even a little minerally. I thought maybe by playing around with pH and different salts it would help aid in this problem. I will try that last water profile with roughly 80 alkalinity and 40 RA and see how that turns out. Thanks again for all the support. I appreciate it more than you know.
So this was your opinion of the beer created using just RO water and a tsp of either gypsum or calcium chloride? If they were stouts, then your result is typical. The reduced mash pH does enhance the fermentability of the resulting wort and adds a tartness. The low pH also reduces the extraction of color and flavor from the roast malts. A beer like this just doesn't taste like a stout should. That increased fermentability comes at the cost of breaking down more of the less fermentable sugars and dextrins and that reduces your perception of the beer's body and mouthfeel.

Feel free to try AJ's recommendations, but I'm pretty sure that you'll find that an appropriate level of alkalinity is quite beneficial for the flavor and other perceptions of a beer like this. It might need 80 ppm alkalinity or it might need a lot more. That is what Bru'n Water is there to help you with.
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Old 02-14-2013, 02:42 AM   #32
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So this was your opinion of the beer created using just RO water and a tsp of either gypsum or calcium chloride? If they were stouts, then your result is typical. The reduced mash pH does enhance the fermentability of the resulting wort and adds a tartness. The low pH also reduces the extraction of color and flavor from the roast malts. A beer like this just doesn't taste like a stout should. That increased fermentability comes at the cost of breaking down more of the less fermentable sugars and dextrins and that reduces your perception of the beer's body and mouthfeel.

Feel free to try AJ's recommendations, but I'm pretty sure that you'll find that an appropriate level of alkalinity is quite beneficial for the flavor and other perceptions of a beer like this. It might need 80 ppm alkalinity or it might need a lot more. That is what Bru'n Water is there to help you with.
You know I might just try with an alkalinity of about 90 just so I can keep my pH up around 5.4. I mean I was hoping to get to 5.5 but seems like that would mean I would be in the 100's for alkalinity and that may be stretching it...but then again maybe not...haha
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Old 02-14-2013, 05:19 AM   #33
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The reduced mash pH does enhance the fermentability of the resulting wort and adds a tartness. The low pH also reduces the extraction of color and flavor from the roast malts. A beer like this just doesn't taste like a stout should.
Then I guess you are saying that Guiness doesn't taste the way a stout should taste because what you are describing is a pretty good description of an Irish stout including the ones I've brewed using Lewis's recipe. So I'm a little confused here. I always thought Guiness was pretty good stuff but I do remember putting this beer in a contest and getting a low score back with the comment 'This tastes like Guiness' which I took as a compliment though it clearly wasn't meant as one. But the part about color extraction is off. I consistently measure 60 - 80 (and so does Guiness BTW). And I guess you are saying that pH 5.5 is too low. How high should he go to get a 'real' stout? And what should the color of a real stout be?
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Old 02-14-2013, 12:49 PM   #34
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Ah, thank you for asking. Yes, Guinness is a less than pleasant stout. Acrid, ashtray flavor and the only reason it has any body is the large dose of beta glucans from the barley. Another interesting component is that the nitrogen addition to Guinness dry stout is probably in part to reduce the acidity fostered by straight carbonation. Guinness is truly one of those strange animals where odd parts are added on until the creature is functioning. It does taste good enough, but it is a compilation of work-arounds and compromises. Better Irish stouts include Beamish and Murphys. Better stout can and is made with more alkaline water.

Both Beamish and Murphys are made by the same brewer in Cork, IRE where the water has significantly more alkalinity than the southside of Dublin where the Guinness James Gate brewery is located. Interestingly, some of the finest stouts and porters in the world are made (not surprisingly) in the Midwest where alkalinity is king. Using that terrior label, this is the result of that dumb luck where recipe and water mesh well. If I recall correctly, an Ohio brewery (Weasel Boy) won gold in either WBC or GABF with their stout. I've tasted it and can attest that it blows a beer like Guinness into the weeds. Do not mistake marketing success for good taste. If marketing success was the criterion, then Bud is the best tasting beer in the world.

I'm sorry that you received that 'tastes like Guinness' comment, but I have to say I would be one of the judges that may respond in the same way. Guinness is not a pleasant stout and is not the pinnacle of the style. Better stouts are made with more alkalinity.

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Old 02-14-2013, 02:03 PM   #35
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Well...it seems as if this has turned into a pretty good conversation. Tell you what...I will brew this next stout with higher alkalinity and higher pH and compare it to my existing recipe of 1 tsp of calcium chloride. From there I can determine if there is a difference. I will keep you posted. BTW I think Guinness is great and is my go to beer when I am at the pub...I agree it could be more but I think many out there can agree that Guinness was their gateway drug that got them into either craft beer or home brewing. I have won contests with my 4.3% stout with only adding 1 tsp additions...but being who I am, I am always seeking to make things better...which I know I don't have the best stout but it could be better...I have the advantage of using Irish whiskey infused oak cubes that add a little more flavor and complex into my stout but without that I know it should be more flavorful I guess. So all in all, I agree with both of you but we'll see what happens...

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Old 02-14-2013, 02:50 PM   #36
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Going back to the discussions of going through the trouble of dissolving chalk to emulate certain styles I was under the impression that it was considered a waste of time because when you corrected your mash pH it would precipitate out anyhow. Did I come away with a wrong impression there? I just used a calculator and dumped some baking soda in and then neutralized it with enough acid to get the mash pH back to where it had been and the alkalinity and RA are both higher now.

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Old 02-14-2013, 03:23 PM   #37
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Interesting comments. They got me to haul Lewis off the shelf and have a quick glance through. I'm posting one diagram here, a spiderweb plot comparing Guiness, Beamish and Murphy's, neither of which I like nearly as much a Guiness - de gustibus non est disputandem I suppose. I'm not quite in agreement with the fellow that wrote "The beer [from Cork] is by far the worst I have ever tasted." but I'll take a Guiness over a Murphy's or Beamish any time it's available. But that's my personal taste. I'll come back to that.

Anyway there are substantial differences in the hoppy, sweet and fruity/estery axes none of which you mentioned as being responsible for the supposedly poor quality of Guiness. Astringent/phenolic variation is much less than these as is roasted.

I also found the acidity comment interesting as while it is true that Guiness does contain somewhat more titratable acidity than the other 2 Murphy's pH is lower at 3.97. And while on the subject of pH (to which the palate responds - it doesn't care about the buffering behind it)
I'm also attaching the cumulative pH distribution of the 21 stouts Lewis studied. The data show the median pH to be 4.25 and the mean 4.02. Stouts are sour beers. Note that the pH of Guiness at 4 puts it in the bottom decile whereas Beamish at 4.3 is in the 40%tile and Murphy's is off the chart to the left at 3.88.

As to the alkalinity issue. Lewis brewed 9 experimental beers in which he varied the amounts of roast barley and used 3 different waters: DI, DI + CaSO4 and simulated Dublin. Rather than paraphrase I'll quote:

"We found that when additional roasted material was added it increased the roasted and burnt flavor and aroma characters - not a very surprising result. Furthermore, the more alkaline water consistently increased the total sensory bitterness of the stouts, though as far as we could tell it did not much change the sensory quality of that bitterness. These two effects were quite marked, but no other consistent sensory effect of brewing water showed up in these trials."

But that's sensory. The pH's of the beers made with more alkaline water were higher (that's a note to Kai if he is reading this).

So higher alkalinity water doesn't make a better stout. It makes one that Martin prefers. This is classic confirmation (or cognigtive) bias. It is hard as hell to fight that and win (I can't). Guiness isn't bad beer or a bad example of a stout. It is typical (look at the other spider diagrams and the PC plots in Lewis's book if you have it. Nor, though he calls Guiness "the quintessential stout" does he say it is the best stout. It is a typical stout. I prefer it to Murphys or Beamish and I prefer the qualities that Martin doesn't like - in particular the dry tartness with the hint of coffee and of course the head. But I won't tell anyone that he has to like it or that Murphy's and Beamish aren't good beers. They can't be as they enjoy pretty wide markets.

stouts.jpg   stoutph.jpg  
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Old 02-14-2013, 03:57 PM   #38
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How much of the pH in the final product is related to carbonation? Doing a quick google I see references to bicarbonate playing a buffering roll in the process. Would this play a role in what volume of CO2 you wished to carb at?

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Old 02-14-2013, 05:10 PM   #39
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Carbonic acid is an acid and clearly the more you dissolve the lower the pH is going to be but it is a weak acid with first pK = 6.38. This is more than 2 units from the pH of all but two of the beers Lewis studied. Thus the pH of the beer will be determined mostly by the acids secreted by the yeast and less so by the carbon dioxide.

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Old 02-14-2013, 05:29 PM   #40
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So...back to the old saying...I will have to just experiment. I didn't mean to stir up such a ruckus...but definitely some good insight into Stouts and most importantly I have learned some things as well.

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