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Acidulated malt in stouts and water adjustment

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Nick Z

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This may be a weirdly specific question but...

I've seen quite a few Irish stout recipes that call for acidulated malt or lactic acid I think that is there to try and emulate the Guinness "twang". Which sounds like a good idea.

But when I adjust my water for dark beers I always have to put in minerals to push the pH up, even without the acidulated malt. The acidulated malt pushes the pH even lower. Which means to hit the right pH in Bru'N Water I have to put in even more minerals.

My concern is that adding alkalinity will simply "cancel out" the lactic acid "twang" and defeat the purpose. Or, if I don't adjust the mash pH I will have a mash that is way too acidic and that will cause problems.

Does anyone have information on this? I pretty much treat my water based on the Bru'N Water suggestions.

Thanks.
 

McKnuckle

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I'm pretty sure that Guinness adds their infamously secret "twang" after the mash. And so should you. That way the extra acid won't mess with your mash pH. The recipes you've seen are probably overlooking that approach.
 

Pappers_

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When I make stouts, I do not adjust the mash pH, unlike when I make pale beers. I don't add any extra acid post mash for the Irish Stout, as McKnuckle suggested, but it seems like an interesting approach.
 

Vale71

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Guinness added soured beer to the regular beer post-fermentation. Adding any acid to the mash of such a dark beer would most certainly result in too low a mash PH.

Nowadays this is all just historical lore as most Guinness is made by combining roast malt and hop extract with standard lager beeers also port-fermentation in breweries operating under Guinness license all across the world...:confused:
 
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Nick Z

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Has anyone added oak chips to their dry Irish stouts? I read somewhere that the sour beer Guinness uses is barrel aged.
 

McKnuckle

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It's extremely unlikely that anything Guinness uses in their main line of beers has that kind of processing overhead. UK breweries, and let's include Ireland here, are historically economical (read: thrifty). The massive scale and distribution of Guinness stout precludes anything fiddly, time-consuming, and costly to maintain/replace like barrels.
 

dmtaylor

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Stouts with too much acidity taste to me like green olives. Blecch. Don't acidify. Dark roasted grains are acidic enough. I add baking soda and/or pickling lime to mine. Don't ever add both acid and soda or lime, they cancel out.
 

Vale71

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Has anyone added oak chips to their dry Irish stouts? I read somewhere that the sour beer Guinness uses is barrel aged.
The probably still did about 50 years ago. It's all stainless steel and extracts nowadays.
 

camonick

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Following to see if I can learn any secrets. I’ve been struggling with my quest to clone Guinness for many brew sessions now. I’ve recently decided the problem has to be my water. Extract brews never seemed to be problematic. When I try to match either the black dry or black balanced profile in Bru’n water, I always have to acidify the mash to get the estimated pH in the “acceptable” range after I get the mineral additions where they need to be ( I full volume BIAB). I’ve tried just about every “trick” I have read about to mimic the Guinness flavor. They definitely have some sort of proprietary ingredient to produce their flavor and/or I’m doing something completely wrong. I’ve also accepted that a true clone is probably impossible. Still I’d like to at least get something drinkable.
 
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Nick Z

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Following to see if I can learn any secrets. I’ve been struggling with my quest to clone Guinness for many brew sessions now. I’ve recently decided the problem has to be my water. Extract brews never seemed to be problematic. When I try to match either the black dry or black balanced profile in Bru’n water, I always have to acidify the mash to get the estimated pH in the “acceptable” range after I get the mineral additions where they need to be ( I full volume BIAB). I’ve tried just about every “trick” I have read about to mimic the Guinness flavor. They definitely have some sort of proprietary ingredient to produce their flavor and/or I’m doing something completely wrong. I’ve also accepted that a true clone is probably impossible. Still I’d like to at least get something drinkable.
I'm with you there. I've made over a dozen dry stouts that are attempting to clone Guinness and I've never come close. The lack of the "twang" is part of what's missing.

I use RO water and adjust the water according to the "black balanced" profile in Bru N Water.

Love the Irish ale yeast though. Reliable. Nice ester profile.

Maybe they don't use barrels anymore but they must do something unique.
 

camonick

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I would guess I’ve made that many batches or more and have never said “this is it!” Everyone talks about the twang, but I guess I’m not sure that I even know what that is.
Maybe they don't use barrels anymore but they must do something unique.

I do know one thing... I can taste a similar taste in Smithwicks beer and it’s brewed by Guinness too. I emailed them once to ask for advice and they told me no.
It’s got to be one of three things or a combination of all 3 that we could never possibly duplicate.
1- Unique water profile
2- Unique strain of house yeast
3- A proprietary ingredient that we are unaware of.
 
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Nick Z

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I would guess I’ve made that many batches or more and have never said “this is it!” Everyone talks about the twang, but I guess I’m not sure that I even know what that is.



I do know one thing... I can taste a similar taste in Smithwicks beer and it’s brewed by Guinness too. I emailed them once to ask for advice and they told me no.
It’s got to be one of three things or a combination of all 3 that we could never possibly duplicate.
1- Unique water profile
2- Unique strain of house yeast
3- A proprietary ingredient that we are unaware of.
I'm betting it's #3. The Irish ale yeast is supposedly the Guinness yeast. And I would think we could build a similar water profile, if we knew what it was. Since they brew Guinness all over the world I would think they would start with RO water and build a water profile.
 

Vale71

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I'm betting it's #3. The Irish ale yeast is supposedly the Guinness yeast. And I would think we could build a similar water profile, if we knew what it was. Since they brew Guinness all over the world I would think they would start with RO water and build a water profile.
Again, they start with watever pale lager their are manufacturing and turn it into a Guinness using flavor extract produced by Guinness according to Guinness' directions. It's a well know fact, besides keeping the actual composition of the flavor extract secret Guinness is not making any effort to keep this a secret.
 

Conehead

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I'm pretty sure that Guinness adds their infamously secret "twang" after the mash. And so should you. That way the extra acid won't mess with your mash pH. The recipes you've seen are probably overlooking that approach.
They make an extract sour and ship it to their breweries.
 

bierhaus15

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The proprietary Guinness extract was called CMB or "concentrated mature beer." It is added into the brite tank just before bottling. It is basically a high gravity-unfermented wort that is soured to around 2.5% acidity, or around 3.0 pH. The usage rate is less than 1% of the total volume.
 

McKnuckle

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It is interesting that everyone seems to know how Guinness makes their stout, despite there being a paucity of official info available.

The acidified concentrate (CMB) is not so much of a controversy. But I'm especially interested in the claim that Guinness does nothing more than add some sort of extract to "whatever lager" they are brewing, and that this is a "well-known fact."

I would love to see this particular claim corroborated somewhere.
 

Vale71

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There's Guinness coming out of large industrial breweries (outside of Ireland that is) that are set up to do one thing and one thing only: brew a standard high-gravity warm-and-pressure fermented base lager beer that is then "adjusted" post-fermentation to become several different beer styles/brands. GFE extract then comes in and out comes Guinness Stout. You do the math...

Anything else would just negate the advantages of using the extract. If you're going to mash to a specific recipe then there is no cost saving in just adding the roast portion of the recipe as an extract that has to be shipped all the way from Dublin to wherever the brewery is located. Any modern large industrial brewery that does not operate in this manner won't be able to survive in the current market. The fact that a brewery does not go bust is all the corroboration one needs.

Of course we can cherish all the romantic phantasies we want about oak casks and soured beer and all that but the current reality of industrial breweries does not bear even the slightest resemblace to that romanitc image, whether we like it or not.
 

McKnuckle

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I have heard about the foreign breweries, particularly in Africa, that brew Guinness in the way you describe. But I don't think that home brewers are looking to recreate that approach. :)

I am assuming that Guinness is brewed at St. James Gate in Ireland in a relatively traditional way. And even if it is brewed by blending a pale beer base with a concentrated dark one, again even if, then even that process evolved from a standard single gyle recipe. It's not somehow artificial if they blend these components. It would be similar to how Fuller's blends 3 worts at different strengths to form Chiswick Bitter, London Pride, and ESB.

So this is still something that can be approached by the home brewer. It's pale ale malt, roasted barley, flaked barley, a smattering of Goldings and/or Fuggle, and a nice Irish or English yeast and one should be good to start formulating. Then we get to the funky acid addition if, and only if, we choose to go over the top.

And don't forget fermentation temperature... it's allegedly much higher than one would guess:

Zymurgy magazine, Vol. 21 No. 1 Spring 1998
"The yeast is pitched at a wort temperature of about 63 degrees F (19 degrees C), which may rise to 74 to 80 degrees F during the brief but vigorous primary fermentation. The result is what [Michael] Jackson describes as a moderate degree of fruitiness."
 
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