Add minerals to soft water (for a dark beer) even if mash pH is ok?

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SpeedYellow

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This may be a controversial question, but I'd like to hear opinions on this. Let's say you have relatively soft water and are brewing a stout, and you can get a good mash pH without any mineral additions. Are there any benefits to making mineral additions anyway (like trying to emulate Dublin water)?

I'm sure you can make a good stout with soft water, but the question is: would it be even better with harder water? Is this purely a matter of personal preference?
 

Nateo

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I really doubt, if you did a back-to-back comparison, that you would prefer the one made with hard water. I've found using the softest water possible to give me the best results over a wide range of beers.
 

mabrungard

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There are benefits to flavor with and without mineralization. Its dependent upon the style. But considering that the best brewing and fermentation conditions are produced with moderately hard water (in the vicinity of 50 ppm Ca), the term 'soft' may not be appropriate. One problem I've tasted over the years as a judge is that you can't add mineralization to correct some water problems. For instance, adding more sulfate to get a ratio in range may just produce an alka seltzer beer. As Nate said, keeping mineralization as low as possible is more likely to produce better tasting beer. Don't go too low though, there are plenty of beer styles that rely on mineralization to promote proper flavor.

I caution the OP that soft or hard is not a good criterion for brewing. The more important criterion is alkalinity. The proper alkalinity level helps establish proper pH in both the mash and kettle.
 

erikpete18

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Are you considering doing this, or just thinking out loud? No problem either way, but if this was something you were planning on doing, I'd leave the salts out this round. Assuming you can get your mash pH correct with the dark malts, and assuming your water has got enough Ca for the yeast (at least 50ppm), I'd brew this batch as is. If after this batch you think the bitterness is a little too pronounced, or it needs a little more depth, then you can think about tinkering with the minerals. Someone else on here brought up the point that I liked, that the trouble with matching a particular city's water is that you don't always know what the brewery did to treat the water after it entered the brewhouse. Now Dublin might be a little more well-researched than some places, but for starters I wouldn't try to match Dublin water. If you think your sulfate/chloride ratio is a little high and you want to supplement with some CaCl2, I also don't mind tinkering if its well thought out. But I can't think of a reason why adding carbonate to change your hardness would effect the flavor in a positive way, outside of pH considerations.
 

wolfman_48442

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I've had fantastic luck brewing stouts as yellow beers, keeping all the roasted and crystal grains out of the mash, adding them only at vorlauf.
Ph is way easier to manage, and the stout is tastier too.
Enough Calcium Chloride to get Ca to 50ppm is about all I do usually.
 
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