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Old 08-18-2012, 10:46 PM   #1
Johnnyboy1012
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Default Water for Imperial Stout

Hey guys,
I'm going to be brewing a clone of Stone's Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. I got the recipe from BYO's Classic Clone recipes. I use EZ water calculator to make my water adjustments and get the correct mash pH. The problem I am having is when I adjust my water with salts and lactic acid to get the ratios I want and correct mash pH, according to the spreadsheet my Residual Alkalinity is in the negatives (which I know is for pale beers). Long story short I am confused what to do and how to adjust this. I've read on here not to worry about RA anymore, but with my RA in the the area used mostly for pilsners, it's concerning.

The grain bill for this beer is:
16.5# 2-row
.5# Carapils
.5# Crystal malt (15 L)
2# flaked oats
1# chocolate malt
.25# roasted barley
.25 # black malt

mash water 6.52 gallons and sparge 3.52 gallons.

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 35
Mg: 8
Na: 46
Cl: 77
SO4: 21 (listed as 7 on Ward Labs report so I multiplied by 3 as per EZ calc)
CaCO3: 90

Without water additions my mash pH is 5.67, so slightly high. I would like the chloride to sulfate ratio to obviously be on the chloride side. I notice that when I adjust my mash with lactic acid my RA goes way down to the negatives. Any suggestions or advice?

Thanks guys



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Old 08-19-2012, 12:27 AM   #2
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I don't have anything to add to help you, but if that happens to be the anniversary beer, I brewed it last year and it was up there with one if the best beers I've ever brewed. I can't wait to brew it again this year.



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Old 08-19-2012, 01:23 AM   #3
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In my opinion, you need to dilute with RO or distilled to get that sodium down below 10ppm for sure, I try to get to 5.
Also use camden tablet to neutralize that chlorine.
Then I'd add enough acid to mash water to get to 5.3-5.43 ph, and add just enough calcium chloride to get Ca to 50ppm. That's it for mash.
I'd then check sparge water to make sure it's below 5.5 ph, treating with acid if necessary.
I would also only mash my light grains (2-row, carapils, flaked oats), adding the dark grains only at vorlauf. This is the only way I do stouts anymore, and I'll never go back.

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Old 08-19-2012, 01:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by phoenixs4r View Post
I don't have anything to add to help you, but if that happens to be the anniversary beer, I brewed it last year and it was up there with one if the best beers I've ever brewed. I can't wait to brew it again this year.
thanks for the replies. phoenix, this is the 12th anniversary clone. I'm looking forward to it! what kind of cocoa did you use in the boil?
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:57 AM   #5
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I would also only mash my light grains (2-row, carapils, flaked oats), adding the dark grains only at vorlauf. This is the only way I do stouts anymore, and I'll never go back.
I do this, too. You can also cold steep the roasted grain for 24 hours and add the liquor to the boil. I like both methods..
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:08 AM   #6
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In my opinion, you need to dilute with RO or distilled to get that sodium down below 10ppm for sure, I try to get to 5.
Also use camden tablet to neutralize that chlorine.
Then I'd add enough acid to mash water to get to 5.3-5.43 ph, and add just enough calcium chloride to get Ca to 50ppm. That's it for mash.
I'd then check sparge water to make sure it's below 5.5 ph, treating with acid if necessary.
I would also only mash my light grains (2-row, carapils, flaked oats), adding the dark grains only at vorlauf. This is the only way I do stouts anymore, and I'll never go back.
I am considering using 100% RO. Do you think the Na will cause that much flavor difference? What kind of off flavor does sodium levels like mine give off?
Also, this goes back to my original question....by using 100% distilled water with enough CaCl2 to bring me to 50ppm of calcium and 2ml of lactic acid to bring my pH into appropriate range, my Residual Alkalinity is -134. Palmer mentions for stouts it should be 150-250 and mine is even below the range for light beers. Is this a problem and what kind of problems can it cause?

I do use a camden tablet every time I brew now. Can I ask what is your reason for only adding the dark malts only at vorlauf? Sorry for all the questions, it is just easy to get confused with this stuff.
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:17 AM   #7
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thanks for the replies. phoenix, this is the 12th anniversary clone. I'm looking forward to it! what kind of cocoa did you use in the boil?
Cocoa nibs I got my from supply shop

http://www.hoptech.com/products/jamaican-origin-cacao-1-oz

It was absolutely delicious. Had hoped to age it 6 months, did NOT happen between me and my friends. The only thing I thought it needed was more body. I went off the more beers instructions (it was a kit from them) and I think it gives u a range to mash in so I mashed low. It was also my second all grain brew so I may have gone wrong elsewhere but after the two lagers I brew next this, and the 15th anniversary clone will be brewed next and stored for winter.

I don't know what your experience is thus far but I found the mash to be incredibly sticky. Also for such a big brew at 5 gallons you might want to cut your mash water ratio and add extra sparge. Your efficiencies gonna suffer no matter what though.
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:29 AM   #8
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Cocoa nibs I got my from supply shop

http://www.hoptech.com/products/jamaican-origin-cacao-1-oz

It was absolutely delicious. Had hoped to age it 6 months, did NOT happen between me and my friends. The only thing I thought it needed was more body. I went off the more beers instructions (it was a kit from them) and I think it gives u a range to mash in so I mashed low. It was also my second all grain brew so I may have gone wrong elsewhere but after the two lagers I brew next this, and the 15th anniversary clone will be brewed next and stored for winter.

I don't know what your experience is thus far but I found the mash to be incredibly sticky. Also for such a big brew at 5 gallons you might want to cut your mash water ratio and add extra sparge. Your efficiencies gonna suffer no matter what though.
Nice! I ordered 4oz of organic cocoa nibs with my grains. I'm going to soak them in a small jar with vodka for 2 weeks and add them to the beer after primary is finished. I don't crush my own grain so I asked the shop I get my grains from to crush them slightly finer or crush them twice to possible help with my efficiency. Plus it's a 90 min boil so that should help concentrate the wort.
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Old 08-19-2012, 01:39 PM   #9
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I am considering using 100% RO. Do you think the Na will cause that much flavor difference? What kind of off flavor does sodium levels like mine give off?
Also, this goes back to my original question....by using 100% distilled water with enough CaCl2 to bring me to 50ppm of calcium and 2ml of lactic acid to bring my pH into appropriate range, my Residual Alkalinity is -134. Palmer mentions for stouts it should be 150-250 and mine is even below the range for light beers. Is this a problem and what kind of problems can it cause?

I do use a camden tablet every time I brew now. Can I ask what is your reason for only adding the dark malts only at vorlauf? Sorry for all the questions, it is just easy to get confused with this stuff.
No problem on the questions, they show you're interested in the why, not just 'gimmie a recipe'

Higher sodium levels can lead to a 'sour/sharp' flavor perception, and at higher levels can start to taste salty (usually above 100ppm).
There is a style (I can't remember off the top of my head) that does call for higher sodium levels than are typical, but for very specific flavor reasons.

Residual Alkalinity (to my understanding) is more an indication of the ability of your water to resist changes in ph; a buffering potential - which doesn't really matter if you're not mashing dark grains!

The dark, roasted or crystal grains all lower mash ph significantly, which is why Palmer says you need high Residual Alkalinity for a stout, and why I and others don't mash our dark grains.

I also like stouts that are roasty, chocolate, toffee, etc. but not bitter. Not mashing your dark grains really reduces the bitterness. It's exactly like a cold-pressed coffee; you get the delicious flavors without the bitterness.

Hope all that's useful!
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Old 08-19-2012, 02:24 PM   #10
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No problem on the questions, they show you're interested in the why, not just 'gimmie a recipe'

Higher sodium levels can lead to a 'sour/sharp' flavor perception, and at higher levels can start to taste salty (usually above 100ppm).
There is a style (I can't remember off the top of my head) that does call for higher sodium levels than are typical, but for very specific flavor reasons.

Residual Alkalinity (to my understanding) is more an indication of the ability of your water to resist changes in ph; a buffering potential - which doesn't really matter if you're not mashing dark grains!

The dark, roasted or crystal grains all lower mash ph significantly, which is why Palmer says you need high Residual Alkalinity for a stout, and why I and others don't mash our dark grains.

I also like stouts that are roasty, chocolate, toffee, etc. but not bitter. Not mashing your dark grains really reduces the bitterness. It's exactly like a cold-pressed coffee; you get the delicious flavors without the bitterness.

Hope all that's useful!
Thanks for the help wolfman! It would be interesting to do a side by side tasting with mashed dark grains vs grains added at recirculation.

I am though trying to brew a clone of Stone's Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout....and it's only about 45 IBUs so I'm assuming the bitterness is acceptable from the dark grains as well as some from the chocolate.

A problem I am having is that when I put all of my grains and water numbers into the EZ water calculator, my pH is still high. I understand that the dark grains are more acidic and should lower mash pH but I am still having to add lactic acid and salts to bring the pH down. This sound correct? Or is my mash pH still high because there is only 1.5lb of dark grains along with 16.5lb of 2-row?


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