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Old 08-12-2012, 06:21 PM   #11
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It's puzzling, but I don't think it's pH related otherwise there would be flavor impacts. (Plus, don't EVER add calcium carbonate to your mash- ever, ever, ever). If it is a pH issue, then there are better alternatives to raising mash pH, but I seriously doubt that is an issue. A too-low pH beer would taste a bit tart or sour, or have conversion issues, and not taste fantastic except with poor head retention.

Anyway, I'm at a loss. You could try checking your thermometer that you use in the mash, just to make sure you weren't mashing too low.

The next time you make a darker beer, add 1/2 pound flaked barley. You can use it in lighter beers also, but it can cause a haze so it's normally just used in darker colored beers where a haze won't be apparent.
If you aren't supposed to add CaCO3 to your mash, then what are you supposed to do to get higher alkaline water? The first RIS I brewed had 2 lbs of roasted grains and another 1.5 lbs of dark crystal malts, and my mash pH ended up at like 5.0. Since then, raising the alkalinity of my mash water with CaCO3 for beers like that has kept me around 5.2-5.3.
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Old 08-12-2012, 07:04 PM   #12
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I took one of my often-used beer glasses and did the salt rub as far as my fingers could reach inside of the glass. After letting it sit for a few minutes, it was obvious that the bottom of the glass...where my fingers could not reach...had some kind of residue on it, and the salt got rid of it where my fingers could reach. I got out a bottle brush, wetted the glass, shook in some salt, and put a dishrag around the brush bristles and scrubbed away for a bit. Noticeable improvement...but that still doesn't explain why those two stouts don't have a head, while my other beers do.

I'll try out the salt-rubbed glass at dinner tonight with one of the Oatmeal Stouts. Dinner is gonna be flounder stuffed with crab meat along with wild rice. The beer should pair nicely.

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Old 08-12-2012, 08:13 PM   #13
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If you aren't supposed to add CaCO3 to your mash, then what are you supposed to do to get higher alkaline water? The first RIS I brewed had 2 lbs of roasted grains and another 1.5 lbs of dark crystal malts, and my mash pH ended up at like 5.0. Since then, raising the alkalinity of my mash water with CaCO3 for beers like that has kept me around 5.2-5.3.
It's beyond the scope of this discussion as it's off topic, but there is a lot of info in the brewing science forum. You could post that exact question there, and get a great scientific answer from the water chemistry experts.

But the short answer is that chalk just won't really dissolve in the mash. If you must adjust the pH upwards, you could use something like pickling lime or baking soda. I don't like baking soda, as I think it has a flavor impact in even minute amounts but it does work.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:22 PM   #14
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It's beyond the scope of this discussion as it's off topic, but there is a lot of info in the brewing science forum. You could post that exact question there, and get a great scientific answer from the water chemistry experts.

But the short answer is that chalk just won't really dissolve in the mash. If you must adjust the pH upwards, you could use something like pickling lime or baking soda. I don't like baking soda, as I think it has a flavor impact in even minute amounts but it does work.
Sorry to continue this off topic discussion, but is there actually pickling lime available that doesn't have a bunch of other stuff added in? I have yet to find some plain old CaOH2 in stores. And since my water is already pretty high in sodium, chalk is basically my last option.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:47 PM   #15
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Sorry to continue this off topic discussion, but is there actually pickling lime available that doesn't have a bunch of other stuff added in? I have yet to find some plain old CaOH2 in stores. And since my water is already pretty high in sodium, chalk is basically my last option.
Yes. I bought some from Ebay. It's 100% pickling lime, made for pickles.
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Old 08-12-2012, 08:54 PM   #16
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Most people don't realize what a large effect that pitching rate and proper fermentation practices have on foam formation and retention. Check out...

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques

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Old 08-12-2012, 09:07 PM   #17
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What is your mash program look like (temps, times, etc.)? Carbonation with no head and clean glassware sounds like you might be doing something to kill foam-forming proteins in your beer.

Also, how are you cleaning your bottles, kegs, lines, whatever, etc.?

Are your final gravities especially low?

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Old 08-13-2012, 11:21 AM   #18
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Well, friends, apparently it is the glassware! I took one of my usual beer glasses, and used the salt-rub method of removing any layer of crud. Not only did the glass sparkle, but I got a decent head when I poured my dinnertime Oatmeal Stout last night. My son-in-law gave me some brand new beer mugs for Christmas...and they kill the head, too. Looks like I'll do the salt-rub thing to ALL of my beer-drinking glassware! And thanks for all the advice! This board just never fails to amaze me!

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Old 08-13-2012, 12:01 PM   #19
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I found this to be an informative thread:

>>As far as the actual grains, I'm sure those beers have crystal malt and/or flaked wheat or flaked barley. That should be sufficient. But in oatmeal stout, sometimes too much oatmeal can kill head retention. The oils in the oats can make a wonderfully silky mouthfeel, but that can interfere with the head, so I add flaked barley to make up for it.

>>http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques

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Old 08-13-2012, 12:05 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glenn514 View Post
Well, friends, apparently it is the glassware! I took one of my usual beer glasses, and used the salt-rub method of removing any layer of crud. Not only did the glass sparkle, but I got a decent head when I poured my dinnertime Oatmeal Stout last night. My son-in-law gave me some brand new beer mugs for Christmas...and they kill the head, too. Looks like I'll do the salt-rub thing to ALL of my beer-drinking glassware! And thanks for all the advice! This board just never fails to amaze me!

glenn514[now, cleaned with salt!]
Ha! Glad it was such an easy fix. I was starting to think more and more about mashing technique (especially if you were multi-step mashing but I didn't think so) and what was going on.

I'm no expert on brewing, but I am a damn good dishwasher!
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