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Old 10-31-2011, 02:38 PM   #1
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Default 1st AG w Soft water - can I just forget about it?

In preparation for my first AG Dry Stout, I've been reading a lot and am caught up on water adjustments. I'd like to save water adjustments for later brews and get to it, but my water is really soft (under 10ppm everything but bicarbonate @ 19ppm, 7.2 PH) and I need someone to weigh in on if I will destroy my Stout brewing without adjustment. It is hard for me to determine how essential adjustment is versus preferential.

This is a 3gal batch @ ~1.045 OG / 42 IBU / 38 SRM

I was going to simply adjust the PH of my mash and brew. Much thanks!

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Old 10-31-2011, 02:45 PM   #2
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The mash itself will bring down the PH, so I wouldn't worry about it. I say brew away without modifying anything. BTW... that would be some great water to brew a Czech Pilsner.

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Old 10-31-2011, 03:47 PM   #3
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It seems to me water adjustments become more critical the 'lighter' the beer is.
Pale ales, wheat beers, blondes, etc. - adjustment can make a remarkable difference.
Stouts, porters, IIPA's - not so much.
I think you'll make a stout that you'll really enjoy. Can it be better with water adjustments? Sure.

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Old 10-31-2011, 03:56 PM   #4
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I didn't think you can make a good stout with really soft water just like you can't make a good pilsner with really hard water. I'd do at least a bit of calcium carbonate.

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Old 10-31-2011, 04:05 PM   #5
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I'd certainly add some salts to buffer the mash ph. Depending on the amount of roast, it can easily drop the ph of the mash below its optimal ranges when using soft water. I also have really soft water and typically do a healthy chalk or baking soda addition on my roasty beers.

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Old 10-31-2011, 04:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by HomebrewMTB View Post
I didn't think you can make a good stout with really soft water just like you can't make a good pilsner with really hard water. I'd do at least a bit of calcium carbonate.
That contention is part of my hesitation to just brew it. I planned on adding calcium carbonate if I added anything.

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I'd certainly add some salts to buffer the mash ph. Depending on the amount of roast, it can easily drop the ph of the mash below its optimal ranges when using soft water. I also have really soft water and typically do a healthy chalk or baking soda addition on my roasty beers.
3gal batch, this is my (WIP) BeerSmith recipe

2.4oz Black Patent
4.8oz Chocolate
8oz Flaked Barley
8oz Roast Barely
4lb Pale

I'm feeling like I might want to be prepared to add Calcium Carbonate to the mash.
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Old 10-31-2011, 04:45 PM   #7
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If it's your first AG you'll have lots of other things to worry about without tinkering with the water. I also have super soft water and the batches I have done have all come out fine without adjustments (though I will say I have not done a stout, did do a red and a holiday brew that had a nice roasty character to them). If it were me I'd save water adjustments for when you have the rest of your AG process down pat.

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Old 10-31-2011, 07:26 PM   #8
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Without adding calcium in some form, most of the pH drop will be from the roasted malts. With those amounts I'd be surprised if the pH could drop too low. The historical preference for harder water with darker beers is because the malts can get the mash into the correct pH range. I've done stouts with Hetch-hetchy water in SF and they were fine with just the normal addition of gypsum or calcium chloride.

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Old 10-31-2011, 07:54 PM   #9
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I just did a Robust porter with 100% reverse osmosis water. I hit 80% efficiency (according to the calculator). The wort was perfectly sweet and in 12 hours I had a 3 inch high krausen.

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Old 10-31-2011, 10:24 PM   #10
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I would definitely think it would be lacking in some desired minerals.

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