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Old 11-27-2013, 02:29 AM   #1
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Default Late Mash Addtions of Dark Grains & Salt Additions

I've been reading a few threads that both Martin & AJ have chimed in on. I'm hoping to get your input on a question I have.

As others have noted, Gordon Strong says he adds dark grains at the end of the mash instead of the beginning. I know this is useful for keeping the mash pH in the right range. I'm doing it more for flavor than pH though. I also know that whenever you add the dark grains, they'll adjust the pH, whether in the mash or on their way to the kettle.

A friend of mine just waits until the end of the mash to add his dark grains AND his salts. I'm brewing a Porter on Saturday. Using Bru'n Water, it's telling me that with my Base Malts and Crystal Malts and NO salts added, my pH will be at 5.7. With my dark grains added at the end along with the salt adjustments, it drops the pH down to 5.5.

Is there any reason I shouldn't/couldn't do this on this particular beer? Thanks for the help.

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Old 11-27-2013, 08:50 PM   #2
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In the case of this brew, mashing at 5.7 is really pushing the upper limits for mashing and could incur the 'wrath' of tannin and silicate extraction into your wort. In addition, that elevated pH is getting outside the 'ideal' range for the enzyme activity.

I suggest that you DON'T want to delay adding the roast malts in this case. The beer will actually be worse. Be aware that Gordon brews with RO water and he NEEDS to reserve those roast malts from the main mash in order to avoid a TOO LOW mash pH. You are in the opposite camp.

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Old 11-27-2013, 09:17 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
In the case of this brew, mashing at 5.7 is really pushing the upper limits for mashing and could incur the 'wrath' of tannin and silicate extraction into your wort. In addition, that elevated pH is getting outside the 'ideal' range for the enzyme activity.

I suggest that you DON'T want to delay adding the roast malts in this case. The beer will actually be worse. Be aware that Gordon brews with RO water and he NEEDS to reserve those roast malts from the main mash in order to avoid a TOO LOW mash pH. You are in the opposite camp.
Excellent advice Martin. Thanks! Let me probe your brain a little further if I may.

If in the future, my pH is in the proper range WITHOUT the roast malts, would it be OK or advisable to hold off on adding the roast malts and any pH buffers until the end?

What about those cases where only some of the roast malts are needed to lower the pH to the proper range?

I guess my main questions are these:

I don't typically use RO water to brew with. So when (if ever?) is it appropriate to wait until the end of the mash to add the roast malts? And if I do wait until the end of the mash to add the roast malts, would I also want to wait to add the salts that increase and/or buffer the pH?

I would like to be able to try Gordon's method to see what kind of flavor impact not mashing the roast malts makes on a dark beer. Is there any way to do this without using RO water?
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:48 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post

As others have noted, Gordon Strong says he adds dark grains at the end of the mash instead of the beginning. I know this is useful for keeping the mash pH in the right range. I'm doing it more for flavor than pH though.
Thus far the people I have spoken to about doing this, home brewer and pro, are doing it for flavor control - not pH control.

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I also know that whenever you add the dark grains, they'll adjust the pH, whether in the mash or on their way to the kettle.
True, and you need to account for that.

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Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
A friend of mine just waits until the end of the mash to add his dark grains AND his salts. I'm brewing a Porter on Saturday. Using Bru'n Water, it's telling me that with my Base Malts and Crystal Malts and NO salts added, my pH will be at 5.7. With my dark grains added at the end along with the salt adjustments, it drops the pH down to 5.5.

Is there any reason I shouldn't/couldn't do this on this particular beer? Thanks for the help.
Your beer should be fine at 5.7. That's higher than the oft quoted ideal and, were this a light beer I would say that your flavors wouldn't be as 'bright' as they would if you were to mash at 5.4 - 5.6. But in a beer like a Porter much of the sought after flavor come from the roast malts so mash pH shouldn't be so critical from the 'bright flavors' perspective. But you should also keep in mind that roast malts added after the mash are going to result in flavors different from the ones you would get from those same grains added to the mash. I assume you are doing this because you have determined that different means better here but are you sure of that?

I assume your water is fairly alkaline (otherwise the mash pH wouldn't be as low as 5.7 with crystal malt present). This, of course, depends on the DI mash pH of the base malt and the amount, DI mash pH and buffering of the crystal malt. Some base malts have DI pH's of right around 5.6. If you add add acid to the brewing liquor until its pH is 5.5 you will wipe out its alkalinity (or, more correctly, its proton deficit with respect to intended mash pH) and then use that treated water to mash the crystal and base malts you should get a mash pH closer to 5.6 and even a bit below depending, again, on the properties of the malts. Adding any calcium salts will give you an extra bit of a nudge. Why are you holding those back from the main mash?

You ask when, if ever, is it appropriate to hold the dark grains. The answer is 'Whenever it improves the beer'. I have zero experience with this so I have no guidance to give but I will say that I believe that if you are getting the 'coffee in the carafe over night at the office' flavors that Gordon describes you are overdoing the roast malts. I have found it possible to brew stouts without any of those effects putting the roast stuff in the main mash. OTOH I know one of the local Gordon Biersch brewers witholds them from his Schwartzbier. I guess my advice is to experiment.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:26 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
Excellent advice Martin. Thanks! Let me probe your brain a little further if I may.

If in the future, my pH is in the proper range WITHOUT the roast malts, would it be OK or advisable to hold off on adding the roast malts and any pH buffers until the end?

What about those cases where only some of the roast malts are needed to lower the pH to the proper range?

I guess my main questions are these:

I don't typically use RO water to brew with. So when (if ever?) is it appropriate to wait until the end of the mash to add the roast malts? And if I do wait until the end of the mash to add the roast malts, would I also want to wait to add the salts that increase and/or buffer the pH?

I would like to be able to try Gordon's method to see what kind of flavor impact not mashing the roast malts makes on a dark beer. Is there any way to do this without using RO water?
Be aware that 'Gordon's Method' is actually long been used by Guinness at their St James Gate brewery in Dublin. Their water supply has low alkalinity. They do reserve the roast grain from the main mash. However, at their London brewery, they DO add a portion of the roast grain to reduce the pH of their main mash since their London water supply DOES have a bit of alkalinity.

The main goal needs to be creating a mashing pH that is within the desirable range of around 5.2 to 5.6 to promote the enzyme activity and produce the beer flavor and quality you desire. While AJ is correct that 5.7 is only slightly outside that range, I'm cautious when venturing outside the range. Your beer may be fine, but I'm betting it is more likely to be better if you keep it within range.
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Old 11-28-2013, 01:32 AM   #6
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...you should also keep in mind that roast malts added after the mash are going to result in flavors different from the ones you would get from those same grains added to the mash. I assume you are doing this because you have determined that different means better here but are you sure of that?
No I'm not sure. It was just something I thought I might try. The recipe is from Brewing Classic Styles. The grain bill has been scaled up and reworked so that my equipment will give me the numbers the original recipe said I should expect. Here is the recipe:

US 2-Row - 21lb 3oz
US Munich 10L - 2lb 11oz
US Rice Hulls - 2lb 0oz
US Caramel 40L Malt - 1lb 13oz
US Chocolate Malt - 1lb 6oz
US Black Malt - 14.44 oz

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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
I assume your water is fairly alkaline (otherwise the mash pH wouldn't be as low as 5.7 with crystal malt present).
Here is my water profile as entered in Bru'n Water:
Calcium (Ca) 28.0
Magnesium (Mg) 8.0
Sodium (Na) 23.0
Potassium (K) 2.0
Iron (Fe) 0.0
Bicarbonate (HCO3) 67.0
Carbonate (CO3) 0.6
Sulfate (SO4) 54.0
Chloride (Cl) 28.0
Nitrate (NO3) 4.0
Nitrite (NO2) 0.0
Fluoride (F) 0.0
Total Reported Alkalinity 56
pH 8.3

[quote=ajdelange;5701812]If you add add acid to the brewing liquor until its pH is 5.5 you will wipe out its alkalinity (or, more correctly, its proton deficit with respect to intended mash pH) and then use that treated water to mash the crystal and base malts you should get a mash pH closer to 5.6 and even a bit below depending, again, on the properties of the malts.[/[QUOTE]

Wouldn't this also drive the final beer pH down? Thus affecting the final beer flavor? Is that a good thing?

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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Adding any calcium salts will give you an extra bit of a nudge. Why are you holding those back from the main mash?
I was only going to hold back the chalk that would work against the base malt lowering the pH to the proper range. There is only a bit added to get the bicarbonate up into the proper range for Bru'n Water's Brown Balanced profile.

The final worksheet is attached.

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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
You ask when, if ever, is it appropriate to hold the dark grains. The answer is 'Whenever it improves the beer'.
You have never done it. Would you ever? If you did, what would be your process for figuring out your salt additions/acidification/etc?

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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
I have zero experience with this so I have no guidance to give but I will say that I believe that if you are getting the 'coffee in the carafe over night at the office' flavors that Gordon describes you are overdoing the roast malts.
I have not brewed this beer before, so I really don't know what character I'm going to get. I just wanted to get a great beer the first round.

Thanks for any additional input.
bcs-porter.jpg  
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:57 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
If you add add acid to the brewing liquor until its pH is 5.5 you will wipe out its alkalinity (or, more correctly, its proton deficit with respect to intended mash pH) and then use that treated water to mash the crystal and base malts you should get a mash pH closer to 5.6 and even a bit below depending, again, on the properties of the malts.
Your alkalinity is low enough that you don't need to do that. I pushed some numbers from the data on the water. For a base malt model I used Weyermann's Pils, the only base malt on which I have a full set of measurements. For the black malts I used a 600L chocolate malt, the only black malt on which I have complete data. For the carmels I used Kai Troesters data which is partial and wasn't measured very robustly. I got an estimated mash pH of 5.48 for the full mash and 5.62 for a mash from which the black malt was witheld. This is without any salt additions (and you don't really need any). If you want to up the calcium by 20 mg/L then the full mash estimate is 5.47 and the estimate with the black malt witheld 5.59. In other words, the addition of the black malt doesn't make that much difference because the quantities are small.

Note that this malt data is all kind of iffy. I have a very precise model of the two malts I measured but no assurance that they closely (or even roughly) resemble the malts you are actually using. The DI pH from the particular batch of Weyermann's Pils I measured is low. I've seen mash tun pH's with that malt that demonstrate that it's average pH is higher. If the base malt you are using has a DI pH 0.1 higher (5.72 which is pretty typical) and similar buffering you could expect pH numbers about 0.08 pH higher.

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Wouldn't this also drive the final beer pH down? Thus affecting the final beer flavor? Is that a good thing?
Beer pH is quite insensitive to wort pH. Wort pH (5 - 5.4?) is usually quite a bit higher than beer pH (4 - 4.6?) and the individual strains have a pH range they like. They secrete acid in order to get into their preferred range in order to enhance their competitive position. They only excrete as much as they need to get to that range. Yes, if you give them high pH wort they may have trouble getting down to where they want to be and the converse is doubtless true as well but there is definitely regulation.


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Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
I was only going to hold back the chalk that would work against the base malt lowering the pH to the proper range. There is only a bit added to get the bicarbonate up into the proper range for Bru'n Water's Brown Balanced profile.
You probably don't need to do anything to your water to brew this beer unless you want to get calcium up to the popular 50 mg/L level and/or enhance the sulfate which would be a matter of personal taste. That's why I did the calculations with the extra mVal of calcium as well as with your straight water. It appears, even assuming a base malt DI pH of 5.62, that you shouldn't need any supplemental alkalinity and even if you did chalk isn't a good way to get it.


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Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
You have never done it. Would you ever?
Probably not as I'm not a big fan of that class of beers. As I mentioned in the earlier post I get something very like Guiness just following a basic dry stout recipe with the roast barley in the mash.


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If you did, what would be your process for figuring out your salt additions/acidification/etc?
Pretty much what I've set out earlier in this post, that is, looking at the individual proton deficits and surfeits from the individual mash componets, calculating mash pH's with and without the dark malts, trying different levels of calcium additions (in order to get desired chloride and sulfate), trying caramel malts of different colors etc. To do that you'd need my spreadsheet which you are welcome to but it is definitely 'not quite ready for prime time' and it is not for beginners.


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Originally Posted by hafmpty View Post
I have not brewed this beer before, so I really don't know what character I'm going to get. I just wanted to get a great beer the first round.
That's what we all hope for but it is an unrealistic goal. About the best we can expect is a good beer. I'd love to tell you that my models are so good that you can rely on the pH numbers I gave you. Actually, the models are quite robust but I don't have good malt data to put into them so you must take the pH estimates with a grain of salt. Far better than all these calculations are a set of measurements on test mashes. Much more realistic and a hell of a lot easier to get than good malt data.
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Old 11-28-2013, 04:55 AM   #8
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Thank you AJ. I am very appreciative of the amount of time you spend answering so many people's questions so thoroughly. I think I'm going to take your advice and leave the water alone apart from bumping the Ca up a bit to the minimum 50ppm level. Again...thank you!

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:14 PM   #9
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I ended #7 by saying that a good beer was about the best we could hope for but I didn't make clear that I meant that for early attempts. One hopes to get a good beer on the first go and then refine it into a great beer by repeated brewing tweaking this or that until the sweet spot is found.

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:54 PM   #10
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I ended #7 by saying that a good beer was about the best we could hope for but I didn't make clear that I meant that for early attempts. One hopes to get a good beer on the first go and then refine it into a great beer by repeated brewing tweaking this or that until the sweet spot is found.
I knew what you meant . Thanks again.
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