Brew Water Alkalinity, Extract and Partial Mash Brewing

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JesterMage

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Right now I have covid and all I can do is sit here sleep and read. But I'm also having major brain fog so instead of Googling everything and getting confused I'm going to ask about Brew water with extract brewing and partial Mash brewing. It seems like everything that I've seem to have read gives information about All Grain Brewing and alkalinity of the water but what about extract Brewing or partial Mash Brewing? Is there something special you need to do to offset alkalinity if you're using extract and steeping and or partial Mash brewing? I am up to 48 Brews and it's time to take my one-dimensional beer and take the next step up. Can anyone tell me if I need to do something special other than bring the initial Brew water down to a alkaline level for the style of beer I'm doing other than salts or acid? I am not ready for all grain brewing. That will probably be the next step but not right now. I hope this makes sense since like I said I find myself staring at the carpet and forgetting to breathe cuz I have such brain frog from covid
 
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what about extract Brewing or partial Mash Brewing?
For extract brewing, How to Brew, 4e, chapter 8 has ppm values for the book's definition of "low mineral" water. It also contains insights on extract brewing when using low mineral water. I haven't spent much time in this chapter as I brew with 'no' mineral water.

With partial mash brewing, let's start with the wort 'A' / wort 'B' concept from How to Brew and assume a 5 gal batch.
  • For wort 'A', do a standard mash to produce 2.5 gal of wort. ('partial' refers to the volume of wort; nothing partial about the techniques used).
  • Adjust the wort volume to account for boil off
  • Do a normal boil for a 2.5 gal batch.
  • At the end of the boil, add the malts from wort 'B' and the top-off water at the appropriate time.
Another approach would be to a full volume boil with a 'partial' (2.5 gal) mash:
  • Do a standard mash to produce 2.5 gal of wort.
  • add water and ingredients to do a full volume boil
FWIW, I've used the wort 'A'/'B' approach a couple of times (before buying a bigger kettle :)) with good results for the 1st batch of each recipe [4].
  • I used distilled/RO water and did 'minimal' [1] adjustments to set up a good mash.
  • I could see doing a 'full' water treatment for the wort 'A' portion. The 'extract' added will also contain minerals as well [2] [3].



[1] just 50ppm Calcium and aciduated malt (modern Home Brew Recipes was the 'inspiration' for this approach).
[2] The Bru'n Water spreadsheet has some additional information on mineral content in some brands of extract
[3] Brewing Engineering, 2e (2015) has a couple of pages of information/opinion on extract brands, appropriate styles, and mineral content.
[4] The recipes were for lighter SRM styles (pales, ambers). The approach may need some adjustments for darker SRM styles (browns, ...)



eta: note 4
 
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ncbrewer

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In this thread, Martin Brungard explains alkalinity reduction: Bru’n water for Extract no boil
To summarize, he recommends reducing alkalinity in the brew water to below 50 PPM, and using the sparge water acidification tool in Bru'n Water to figure how much acid to add.

I don't remember the source, but the recommendation for brewing salts (CaCl and gypsum) is the same as for all-grain brewing, but the brewing water and the malt extract both contain these salts - generally in unknown amounts in the case of the extract. You can mix up a solution of the salts in water and add a known amount to a glass of beer - then taste it and compare the flavor with varying amounts of each salt. You can decide what amount you like, for your particular water and malt extract.
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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Thank you for these replies. After reading the chapter and the thread, I will start by using distilled water. Get me a base first. Then I can go from there. My minerals are low but my alkalinity is high. This may explain why I seem to have a funky flavor to all my beers. I usually only brew beers that do well with my temp range in the basement so I am pretty sure the temp range is not the issue. It is sort of a tangy flavor that lingers
 

ncbrewer

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Chlorine can give a medicinal flavor. Are you using campden, or other means of eliminating chlorine?
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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No I am not. My chlorine is low but I am getting some campden tablets anyhow. I guess I am going to go back to the beginning and start fresh. Distilled water and campden seems to be a good base starting point. Make sure the water and temperatures are correct first, then go from there. I seem to have hit a plateau with my Brewing. I think going back to the beginning and starting with a fresh slate might give me better beer in the long run
 
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On the subject of adding brewing salts in the glass to "season to taste" with the next batch, here's the approach I used when I was 'dialing in' amounts with my primary brand of DME.

A couple of years ago, I used the following technique to determine reasonable (for me) additions for Briess DME.
  • Create a 100ml solution for the salt (CaCl, CaS04) using 0.2 g of the salt
  • Using a 12 oz pour, add tablespoon(s) and/or teaspoon(s) of the solution to 'season to taste'.
  • Each tablespoon addition is roughly a 0.3 g per gallon addition of that salt in the recipe
(IIRC, someone over in AHA forums posted a similar approach that uses only a 4 oz pour).

Typically, I will add 0.25 g / gallon of CaS04 for classic hop forward styles.

eta: I scanned through my 'link' collection later this morning. A couple of random additions. I'm also one of those people who prefer lower levels of sulfate in beers (link). Adding salts at packaging time (link) was something I hadn't considered.
 
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Distilled water and campden seems to be a good base starting point.
Starting with "no mineral" (distilled/RO) water and campden is a good starting point. I would assume that you've seen the idea of blending tap water and 'no mineral' water to reduce mineral content and alkalinity.

funky flavor to all my beers
Perhaps the combination of a higher sodium in a brand of extract and high alkalinity?

If you can find a good sources for Muntons and Briess extracts, you may want to give each a try. I've brewed small batches (using 'no mineral' water) of each at the same time for side by side comparison. Each was enjoyable, but had a slightly different flavor. Each brand had a different 'best amount' for flavor salt additions.
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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If you can find a good sources for Muntons and Briess extracts, you may want to give each a try.
Well duh! Why didn't I think of that. I used to use Briess but switched to something cheaper. I will order some more Briess and test that against one of my off brand brews. I bet that will help a lot. That was such a simple answer I never saw it.
 

D.B.Moody

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If you can find a good sources for Muntons and Briess extracts, you may want to give each a try.
This is a topic I would like to see in the "Advanced extract brewing" thread. I'll be doing the first of a Briess vs Munton's batch tomorrow, so i won't have data for about six weeks. I know @DBhomebrew has explored this too.
Well duh! Why didn't I think of that. I used to use Briess but switched to something cheaper.
I didn't know that was even an option. What's cheaper than Briess and is it DME?
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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I didn't know that was even an option. What's cheaper than Briess and is it DME?
It is Brewmaster LME. I was getting it from Morebeer.com . I tried to save some $$ and it is not working out. I will be going back to Briess. I know you like Munton's from your other posts and I would like to find a source for them. Morebeer.com seems to always have everything in stock that I need all the time.
 

D.B.Moody

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Just for your consideration:

3 lbs Briess DME:
More Beer $17,99
Rite Brew $10.99
Home Brew Ohio #12.99
Label Peelers $12.30

3 lbs Muntons DME:
Home Brew Ohio $13.99
Label Peelers $12.20

Home Brew Ohio is cheaper for me for the Muntons DME due to shipping unless Label Peelers is having a sale. I order 6 or more brews at a time, and split the order among Rite Brew, Home Brew Ohio (or Label Peelers) and my local home brew supply store Missouri Malt.
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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Just doing a quick analysis of my Americana light, whether I do steeping grains or partial mash, Right Brew would cost me $24.23 to get enough stuff to do one batch and morebeer would cost me $40.72. Homebrew Ohio and label peelers seem to be a bit tougher on this particular Brew because I would have to buy 10 or 50 lb bags of one or two of my grains.
 

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I have no doubt you can make great beer with LME but I would just caution you to only use LMEs that have the packaging date stamped on the container so you can track if you're getting old product or not. This is really not a concern with DME as long as it's still powder and not a solid brick, it's all good.

PS: at 48 brews in, you're more than ready for all grain. I suspect you may have a process/system in your head about what brewing all grain means but I bet it's easier than you think.
 
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LME seems to be slightly off topic, but ...

I would just caution you to only use LMEs that have the packaging date stamped on the container so you can track if you're getting old product or not
That could be the first check.

But there is another check that I have been mentioning and will probably be mentioning for a while:

MEASURE THE COLOR OF THE LME WHEN IT GOES INTO THE KETTLE.

I brewed a batch with LME recently. The "best by" date (on the date I brewed) was about a year in the future. The color sample of the pilsen LME was light red.

I constructed the wort with the water at about 160F (before the start of the boil) and took the color sample at that time (before the start of the boil). There were additional steps that I took to verify that the LME was completly dissolved.

A basic technique for measuring LME color in the kettle can be found in the BYO Big Book of Homebrewing, 1e (2015).
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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I just checked my LME and there is no date on it. So the next batch I make, so I can use up all the cheap LME I have, is with distilled water and then go back to the good stuff
 
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If one is curious about how to measure LME color before the boil starts.

BYO Big Book of Homebewing 1e (2015) p19 said:
If you want to test the color of your malt extract, dissolve [the extract to] make a wort of specific gravity 1.048. This will show you approximately the color of a 5 percent ABV beer made from that malt extract, assuming it does not pick up any additional color from a long boil.
If the recipe includes steeping grains, make a slurry with some of the LME in a side pot, extract a sample, dilute it to OG 48, look at the color, then add the sample and slurry to the kettle.

eta: if the style/brand of extract has product information sheets online and these product information sheets have SRM/OG color information, that can also be used to measure/compare color of the extract just before the boil starts. Note that some styles ('pale ale DME/LME' are naturally darker than pilsen or extra light extract).
 
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If you can find a good sources for Muntons and Briess extracts, you may want to give each a try.
This is a topic I would like to see in the "Advanced extract brewing" thread. I'll be doing the first of a Briess vs Munton's batch tomorrow, so i won't have data for about six weeks. I know @DBhomebrew has explored this too.
Looking forward to reading the results.

I see that Home Brew Ohio currently lists Muntons Amber DME. I have a couple of test recipes using Briess Amber that are producing good results - so maybe it's time to 'finalize' a couple of recipes and do a couple of side-by-side batches.
 

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Ok folks, things went off the rails here. If you have a problem with what someone posts, use the "Report" button to bring it to the mod team's attention. Do not try to take moderation into your own hands. The mods take all reports seriously. If no action appears to take place because of your report, you can usually interpret that to mean the moderators did not agree with you.

Gonna lock this thread for a day or two to let people cool down.

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doug293cz

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Thread reopened. Please follow HBT rules everyone, keep things civil, and remember other people are allowed to express opinions different from yours.

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JesterMage

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I was going to try to brew another Americana Light with distilled water this weekend and compare it to the one I started about two weeks ago but COVID is still kicking my butt
 
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I need to order some base malts ;) in order to participate - probably some pilsen and some amber.

Brew day(s) will likely be split batches. A six pack of 8% Amber with 'fall seasonal spices (link)' sounds yummy ( :yes: ).

Probably time to re-visit Brewing Classic Styles and Home Brew Recipe Bible for recipe ideas.
 
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JesterMage

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I decide to to a brew today. Brewing usually of hurry up and wait. Figured COVID could not stop that. I did another Americana Light Lager. I should have results in 6 to 8 weeks.
 
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Topic is: Brew Water Alkalinity, Extract and Partial Mash Brewing

For AHA members, John Palmer presented today at a BA/AHA webinar on Brewing Water Adjustments (link). [2]

While the focus is on 'all-grain' brewing, the slides on initial water quality and yeast health apply to all methods of wort creation.

The presentation has a couple of slides specific to water adjustments with partial mash brewing.

There are also some slides (e.g. slide 25) that might lead to an experimental brew or two related to steeping crystal / roasted malts.

The presentation offers a couple of measurements that could be taken pre-boil, post-boil, and at packaging time. Those measurements would apply to all methods of wort preparation after the wort has been made [1].



aside and off topic: this is the presentation for 'all-grain' water adjustments I wish I had seen six years ago. IIRC, the word 'chemistry' was spoken zero times in the presentation.



[1] it may be time to verify that the pH meter is calibrated. 🤔

[2] Note that the presentation covers more than just the "Learning Objectives".
 
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JesterMage

JesterMage

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Well, here is an update. The Lager I made with tap water smells foul. I see no fluff or anything bad but is smells worse than a normal lager. The one I made with distilled water smells much better. The tap water brew smells like the distilled water one times 10 🤢
 
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