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-   -   Sweet stout water- building from scratch (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/sweet-stout-water-building-scratch-357333/)

diS 09-28-2012 04:46 AM

Sweet stout water- building from scratch
I am brewing sweet stout this weekend and I have two options:

- use 100% RO water and manage water profile completely
- use RO and tap water in certain percentage

My tap water profile:


Ca- 170 ppm
Mg- 65 ppm
Na- 4 ppm
Cl- 13 ppm
SO4- 17 ppm
HCO2- 305 ppm

Grain bill (10 gal batch):

Pale malt- 6 kg
Crystal- 1 kg
Chocolate- 0,75 kg
Roasted barely- 0,50 kg

I read some articles about sweet stout water profile and I understand that I need sodium and chloride level between 100 and 150 ppm.
Greatest challenge is how to increase sodium, since I got only one source of sodium and that is baking soda, by reading general water artices I understood that we dont want great amount of baking soda in our water.

Second challenge is to add chloride and avoid pH decrease. I think I"ll solve it by mashing special grains (crystal, chocolate and roasted barely) separately and mix it in boil kettle.

What option would you choose (RO or mix) and how would you manage low sodium level?

mabrungard 09-28-2012 11:21 AM

I disagree with increasing the Na and Cl levels to the degree mentioned above. I recommend a much lower concentration for the Na and the Cl might approach 100 ppm.

An option to control the mash pH is to dilute the tap water only to the degree needed to produce an acceptable mash pH. Then use only RO water to sparge with. Then go back and recalculate what the actual RO water and tap water percentages are for the entire batch. Check to see if the overall ionic profile of the water will be acceptable. I see that the Mg is very high and that could produce negative flavor impacts if its over 20 to 30 ppm. Hopefully the overall dilution will reduce the Mg sufficiently.

Regarding Na and Cl addition, don't you have table salt or sea salt? That may be better than baking soda.

ajdelange 09-28-2012 12:44 PM

You do have a very convenient source of sodium and chloride: sodium chloride i.e. table salt. Be sure to use kosher or some other form that is not iodized as iodine is a yeast poison. Now chloride is a sweetener and a high chloride level may be entirely appropriate for this beer even at the level you mentioned but paired with sodium at that level you could be approaching the point where the beer will taste salty. This, of course, may be exactly what the person who formulated the recipe has in mind but I'd approach that level gradually. I'd suggest, assuming mostly RO, starting with 100 mg/L calcium chloride. This will get you a calcium level of 36 mg/L and chloride at 64. This should make a fine beer. Brew it and taste it. Then add some table salt. If you like the result then use sodium chloride in the next brew. You can also do the experiment with some calcium chloride. If you like the way it tastes with extra calcium chloride then use more calcium chloride in the next brew. Calcium chloride will get you more sweetness and body from the chloride with out the early onset of the salty taste that comes from sodium. Calcium does give a minerally taste but it's not quite the same.

As for pH control you are in that tricky region where you may or may not need alkali. It depends on how acidic the dark and crystal malts, and, really, the base malt too, are. The only way to know for sure is by use of a pH meter. To be on the safe side I'd dilute 4:1 with RO. This will leave you alkalinity at 60 which should be enough but again a pH meter would be the only way to know for sure. That will also give you an extra 34 mg/L calcium which can't hurt.

diS 09-28-2012 03:59 PM

Thanks guys.
That is the reason why I didnt want to add sea salt since it is only source of Na (besides baking soda) that is currently available to me.

AJ, you gave me an idea, I think I"m gonna mix calcium chloride in 1L of RO water and then gradually add sea salt to notice threshold point.

I allways measure pH and I think it shouldnt be a problem.

And what about baking soda, is it worth a try?

ajdelange 09-28-2012 05:49 PM

If you find you need more sodium and are also low in pH then baking soda is a natural choice.

As far as pH is concerned if you have a meter you can do a test mash using a mix of the grains identical to what you will do in the whole mash. You can keep tweaking bicarbonate (or the proportion of non RO water) until the pH is right. If pH comes out high then don't worry about it unless it is quite high (above 5.6). Or you can add a little sauermalz or lactic acid.

diS 09-28-2012 09:34 PM

I"d love to do a test mash and gradually adjust salts, but with kids and SWMBO on FT job, allowing myself a simple threshold taste test is five of a kind.

Since its a sweet/tasty beer I dont want extra astrigency from spec-grains husk and I"ll mash it separately, or add it @last 5 mins.

To be on safe side target pH is 5.5, according to EZwater it will probably be close but I"ll have lactic on hand and if needed adjust it after 1st pH sample.

So far, I have this on mind (without salt and baking soda)

RO water
CaCl2- 7 g
CaSO4- 5 g

Ca- 58 ppm
Mg- 2
Na- 0
Cl- 59
SO4- 48

What about Ca and bicarbonate, are they always preferable in these dark beers- regards to taste, not pH since it shouldn't be a problem?

diS 09-30-2012 09:58 AM

I brewed it with above profile, we"ll see how it will turn out.
Thanks for help guys.

cooper 10-05-2012 06:22 PM

What did your PH end up being during the mash?

Also, isn't it true when doing darker beers from brown ales to stouts that you can keep the minerals out of the mash water (to help out that much more with keeping the PH from going lower depending on how many dark malts are in the grain bill) and add to the kettle for yeast health (50ppm Ca), and Cl for malt accentuation? I don't really like the idea of adding CaCO3 to the mash all that much.

I understand that you can always add the darker grains at vorlauf as well but my LHBS doesnt have a lot of the grains and when I asked Northern Brewer if they could bag the specialty grains separate I was told they could not, so that throws out the adding the grains at vorlauf.

mabrungard 10-05-2012 07:19 PM


Originally Posted by cooper (Post 4473197)

I understand that you can always add the darker grains at vorlauf as well but my LHBS doesnt have a lot of the grains and when I asked Northern Brewer if they could bag the specialty grains separate I was told they could not, so that throws out the adding the grains at vorlauf.

They certainly can keep them separate. Tell them there are two separate grain bills in your order and that they are not to be combined. If they won't follow your instructions, you need to find a new supplier.

cooper 10-05-2012 07:50 PM

I'll probably have to order the grains separately instead of getting an already built all grain kit and tell them this is for two separate batches. Doesn't really seem like a big deal though but I'm sure they have their processes they have to follow.

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