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Old 03-19-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
robertvrabel
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Default My water for a Stout, confused with john palmers spreadsheet

So here is the spreadsheet filled out if you'd like to take a look

My water:
Calcium - 29
Magnesium - 8
Alkalinity as CaC03 - 61
Sodium - 7
Chloride - 10
Sulfate - 8
Water PH - 7.5

Beer SRM - 47.7 (morey)

Basically from what i'm getting i need to increase my alkalinity by 434. I've read i need to use a combination of CaC03 and NaHC03 to achieve this. But when I use CaC03 it also increases my hardness which i don't need?

I'm new to this, so I could totally be wrong on how i'm using this. Any help would be appreciated on how I could be adjusting my water for very dark beers.

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Old 03-19-2012, 09:37 PM   #2
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The most important thing for you to understand is that you do not need to increase your alkalinity by 434. No beer will benefit from alkalinity that high. Your water should brew a fine beer at 47 SRM with no additions. Exceptions would be super stouts with tons of black barley/malt but those tend to be darker than 47 SRM. See the Primer for general guidance.

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Old 03-19-2012, 09:44 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
The most important thing for you to understand is that you do not need to increase your alkalinity by 434. No beer will benefit from alkalinity that high. Your water should brew a fine beer at 47 SRM with no additions. Exceptions would be super stouts with tons of black barley/malt but those tend to be darker than 47 SRM. See the Primer for general guidance.
Thank you for your help! I was just reading up about that and found a thread discussing that you really should never go above 200 alkalinity, as its unnecessary.

So if I don't need to add anything -- Is there still something I need to do to get my mash to the right PH? I guess i'm also confused when doing these additions if I should still be using 5 star 5.2 stabilizer or not? Or any other additions to change it..
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:29 PM   #4
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I actually brewed a brown porter recipe recently with a pound of brown malt, pound of crystal 60, and a half pound of carafa special I. I used my untreated 214 alkalinity water, and it came out at 5.42 pH. I had done a sample mash with ~53 alkalinity water, but the pH on that mash was 5.18. I don't know if this would be considered in the super stout range, though.

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Old 03-19-2012, 10:29 PM   #5
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Your mash pH should come out OK unless you get crazy with black malts. 5.2 doesn't work so don't waste your brass on that.

Dark beers are tricky on the one hand because it is difficult to predict mash pH (because of all the variables which must be considered some of which are not practically speaking knowable - if they were they'd be on malt spec sheets) but on the other hand forgiving because the strong flavors of the dark malt tend to cover other errors. There are those who will tell you that if the mash pH goes too low the beer is thin and lifeless and those who will tell you that if the mash pH goes too high the beer is dull and lifeless and there is truth in both these POV's. Unfortunately there is no way to know where your pH is other than to measure it (and there are plenty of issues there too). What you should eventually do is obtain and learn to use a pH meter but that is hardly something to recommend to someone just starting out. I think the best advice for you would be to just brew the beer. You might want to add a half tsp of calcium chloride to get the calcium and chloride levels up a bit. If you are using English or American hops (as opposed to German) and you want to emphasize those you could use half a tsp (or more but not on a first attempt) of calcium sulfate instead (or in addition). See the Primer.

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Old 03-19-2012, 10:31 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robertvrabel View Post
Thank you for your help! I was just reading up about that and found a thread discussing that you really should never go above 200 alkalinity, as its unnecessary.

So if I don't need to add anything -- Is there still something I need to do to get my mash to the right PH? I guess i'm also confused when doing these additions if I should still be using 5 star 5.2 stabilizer or not? Or any other additions to change it..
You shouldn't be using 5.2 in the first place, in my opinion. There's a lot of sodium in there.
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Old 03-19-2012, 10:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Your mash pH should come out OK unless you get crazy with black malts. 5.2 doesn't work so don't waste your brass on that.

Dark beers are tricky on the one hand because it is difficult to predict mash pH (because of all the variables which must be considered some of which are not practically speaking knowable - if they were they'd be on malt spec sheets) but on the other hand forgiving because the strong flavors of the dark malt tend to cover other errors. There are those who will tell you that if the mash pH goes too low the beer is thin and lifeless and those who will tell you that if the mash pH goes too high the beer is dull and lifeless and there is truth in both these POV's. Unfortunately there is no way to know where your pH is other than to measure it (and there are plenty of issues there too). What you should eventually do is obtain and learn to use a pH meter but that is hardly something to recommend to someone just starting out. I think the best advice for you would be to just brew the beer. You might want to add a half tsp of calcium chloride to get the calcium and chloride levels up a bit. If you are using English or American hops (as opposed to German) and you want to emphasize those you could use half a tsp (or more but not on a first attempt) of calcium sulfate instead (or in addition). See the Primer.
Sounds good, I actually purchased a PH meter from northern brewer recently so I will be trying that with my next beers and see how it goes.

So it sounds like i should probably just brew it and see where my mash PH is. Then follow up next time with something with a simliar grain bill and make adjustments as needed.
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Old 03-20-2012, 02:09 AM   #8
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You can't do much better than that! Familiarize yourself with the meter before brew day - that's not the time to be learning the quirks or pH meters. Measure stuff around the house like beer, milk, lemon juice etc. Be sure to calibrate at least once a day using fresh buffers. See the pH Calibration Sticky. Be sure to do the Step 11b check for calibration stability.

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Old 03-20-2012, 12:47 PM   #9
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Wow! I didn't know that Palmer's sheet was so far out of the park. That recommendation of increasing the alkalinity by 434 is way out of line. I'm not sure I've seen a case where alkalinity needs to be greater than about 200 ppm.

Its apparent that the OP's water is pretty good for brewing many lighter colored beers, but brewing a darker beer will require either more alkalinity or special measures to avoid over-acidifying the mash. There are options and learning how to navigate the quest to brew dark beers with this water will require knowledge. Unfortunately, a brewer won't find the answer to brewing dark beers in the Primer. The Primer does a great service for those brewing lighter colored beers when using RO or distilled water. That is not an option for those brewing dark beers. I suggest reading the Water Knowledge page on the Bru'n Water web site for information on how to work with dark grists and the water it demands.

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Old 03-20-2012, 03:32 PM   #10
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There are 2 kinds of people who should use the Primer: novices and experts. I brew all my beers using its principles, including dark ones. But I know what to expect and what to look for. Now how does one get from tyro to expert? That's where study and experience (repeated brewing) come in.

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