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Old 08-19-2012, 03:41 PM   #11
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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).
Residual alkalinity can be whatever it needs to be in order to make the beer you want. Tuning RA to beer color is more likely to detriment your beer than improve it. What you are striving for is proper mash pH - not a particular RA.

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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.
I wouldn't say you should ignore it but remember that the basic idea behind it is as a tool for comparing waters to one another and as a crude predictor of wort (not mash - this point is often missed) pH for beers which employ mostly base malts (the kind of beers brewed in Kolbach's Germany.

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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
When I started brewing it was generally accepted that one's first all grain brews should be stouts because the strong flavors of the roast malt/barley would mask errors. It's actually the other way around. Dark beers are harder to do because it's harder to predict the mash pH when you have dark malts of unknown acidity in the grist.


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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.
My guess, based on nothing more than intuition and experience is that the EZ estimate is a bit high given the percentages of roast malts and the somewhat high alkalinity of the water. My guess would be 5.60 if you were using a base malt with a DI pH of about 5.7. But base malts sometimes have lower DI pH's - I have seen lower than 5.6 reported. Not sure I believe that but I have seen it.

I wouldn't be who I am if I didn't strongly encourage the purchase and use of a pH meter especially for cases like this.

The only 'sure' alternative is to dilute the water down to the point where is is 'soft' as defined in the Primer in the Sticky in the Brew Science thread. But even this is not 'sure' because of the uncertainty of the malts.



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I would like the chloride to sulfate ratio to obviously be on the chloride side.
That's really a matter of your personal taste preference. Chloride generally moves beers in a direction drinkers like because of its mellowing, rounding, sweetening effect so I would certainly suggest brewing the beer for the first time with lots of chloride. Some drinkers would find the bitterness insipid if you do this however. You can get an idea as to how sulfate might improve or degrade a finished beer by adding some gypsum in the glass.

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I notice that when I adjust my mash with lactic acid my RA goes way down to the negatives. Any suggestions or advice?
I don't think RA is properly applied to mash. It's for characterizing water. Alkalinity is the buffering capacity of base (in this case bicarbonate) and acid will, if course, reduce alkalinity by neutralizing that bicarbonate so, given that RA is alkalinity minus a fraction of the hardness adding acid will cause alkalinty to plummet. But this doesn't take into effect the buffering capacity of the malts - acid for the dark ones, basic for the base malts.

Another poster indicated that sodium needs to be below 10. Sodium at 10 and even quite a bit above is fine. Too much is where you notice it. 46 is probably OK but of course if you take the dilution route that will lower it. Dilution will also reduce the alkalinity. 1:1 dilution cuts everything in half. Your sodium would go to 23 and your alkalinity to 45 but your calcium would also drop to the point where you would probably want to supplement it. Once you start down the path of RO dilution you might as go far enough that the Primer recommendations kick in.

That same poster indicated that campden tablets would be needed to neutralize the 'chlorine'. He is confusing chloride with chlorine here. If your water does indeed contain chloramine then a campden tablet is the solution. If only free chlorine is involved standing overnight and/or heating in the HLT is sufficient.
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:44 PM   #12
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It would be interesting to do a side by side tasting with mashed dark grains vs grains added at recirculation.

I'm assuming the bitterness is acceptable from the dark grains as well as some from the chocolate.
I've done the comparison, and the difference is like day and night! As mentioned by others, I'll never go back to mashing roasted grain. You still get the color and roast flavor you would expect from a dark beer, but no pucker face bitterness.
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Old 08-19-2012, 06:42 PM   #13
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How does adding the roasted grains later affect the OG, i assume it would be lower b/c you would not get the conversion?

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:25 PM   #14
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How does adding the roasted grains later affect the OG, i assume it would be lower b/c you would not get the conversion?
I actually hit my normal numbers with both methods. Using late malt additions and with cold steeping as well..

Roasted grains can be steeped, and don't need to be mashed with a base malt. When you add them into the MLT and then sparge, they basically get steeped. I added them to the last 5 minutes of the mash, then let my first (of two) sparge's rest for about 10 minutes to steep a little more. Then I just ran off like normal.

My second (more preferred) method is when I cold steep the roasted grain for 24 hours in the fridge instead of adding to the MLT. It actually makes a very thick, dark and rich wort, which you toss in to the boil.
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:25 PM   #15
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There is no extract to speak of in roasted grains so adding them later has little or no effect on OG.

Gordon Strong is a big proponent of adding roast grains later. Whatever he says is definitely worth considering.

I have a slightly different take on this and that is that if you are getting harshness from the roast grains it is because you are using too much of them. I don't do a lot of beers that use these grains, really just an occasional Irish stout, but I find that used in sensible proportion these malts give you all the roast, coffee like qualities you want without the harshness or bitterness.

Yet another approach is to use the Carafa malts - roast malts which have been de-husked thus removing the source of the harsh bitterness.

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:44 PM   #16
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I actually hit my normal numbers with both methods. Using late malt additions and with cold steeping as well..

My second (more preferred) method is when I cold steep the roasted grain for 24 hours in the fridge instead of adding to the MLT. It actually makes a very thick, dark and rich wort, which you toss in to the boil.
what is your method for steeping the grains?
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Old 08-19-2012, 08:08 PM   #17
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do you think by adding the roasted grains later in the mash, I should keep them off of my EZ water calculator? therefore affecting how acidic my mash is by keeping out the dark grains till the end? and would chocolate malt be considered a dark grain? I know they are roasted but not sure how roasted/acidic they are in comparison to black malt and roasted barley. I feel like there is a low percentage of dark grains in this recipe...do you guys think there is there a specific percentage of dark grains that should be added late in the mash or do you think any amount of dark grains should be added late?

My original question is what kind of water profile should I use for this style of beer? Recommendations? Thanks guys! I'm very interested in trying this late addition dark grains but would like to know more about it first! Cheers!

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Old 08-19-2012, 09:09 PM   #18
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I have a slightly different take on this and that is that if you are getting harshness from the roast grains it is because you are using too much of them..
I used to think this way, as well. After making a few proven recipes from this forum and getting a lot of astringancy in my beer, I figured I had a pH problem. I didn't have a lot of experience with water chemistry nor a meter, so I figured I'd give the late additions a try. I liked the difference so much I figured it was worth continuing even if I gained more knowledge regarding water chemistry..
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what is your method for steeping the grains?
I mill the grain like normal and steep it in the fridge with 2qt/lb for 24 hours. Then when I'm ready to start the boil I strain the wort thru voile into the kettle with the rest of the wort from the mash..
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do you think by adding the roasted grains later in the mash, I should keep them off of my EZ water calculator? therefore affecting how acidic my mash is by keeping out the dark grains till the end? and would chocolate malt be considered a dark grain? I know they are roasted but not sure how roasted/acidic they are in comparison to black malt and roasted barley. I feel like there is a low percentage of dark grains in this recipe...do you guys think there is there a specific percentage of dark grains that should be added late in the mash or do you think any amount of dark grains should be added late?

My original question is what kind of water profile should I use for this style of beer? Recommendations? Thanks guys! I'm very interested in trying this late addition dark grains but would like to know more about it first! Cheers!
I do indeed keep the roasted grains out of the grain bill when using EZ, and chocolate is a roasted grain. I add all of the dark grain later (or steep all of the dark grain) as opposed to splitting it up as you asked. As far as water goes, when I made my RIS I used pure RO and added gypsum and calcium chloride according to what EZ told me.
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Old 08-20-2012, 12:31 AM   #19
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I used to think this way, as well. After making a few proven recipes from this forum and getting a lot of astringancy in my beer, I figured I had a pH problem. I didn't have a lot of experience with water chemistry nor a meter, so I figured I'd give the late additions a try. I liked the difference so much I figured it was worth continuing...
Hard to argue against success!
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:07 AM   #20
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So I feel the general consensus of this thread is to
1. use RO water or at least dilute
2. use EZ water calc for proper mash pH of all grains other then the dark grains and add brewing salts and lactic acid to hit proper pH
3. add dark grains to the mash during recirculation

What are thoughts on proper mineral levels for an imperial stout? Ca, Mg, Cl, SO4? I would like my chloride to sulfate ratio to be balanced to the chloride side to give the perception of maltiness.
I would like something like this: Ca= 100ppm, Mg= 15ppm, Cl=150, SO4= 50....does this look about right? Should I increase the Cl even more and would that give more perception of a maltier beer? I want to try to at least hit minimums and I would split the additions up as per EZ water calc between the mash and the boil. Thoughts?

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