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Dry Irish Stout Water - advice needed.

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TimmyR

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I'm getting ready to build water (from distilled as the base) for a Dry Irish Stout today from Brewing Classic Styles. I am using Beersmith. I am planning to use the Wicklow Mountain Water profile as it's a soft, low alkalinity water. We will add the roasted barely in the last 15-20 mins of the mash. Here's what the water profile looks like after adding Baking Soda, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Sulfate, Chalk and Epsom salts.

  • 18 ppm calcium
  • 2 ppm magnesium
  • 13 ppm sodium
  • 22 ppm sulfate
  • 20 ppm chloride
  • 35 ppm bicarbonate
I typically use a water profile that favors hoppy, bitter beers (as that's what we've been brewing) so I wanted to bounce this off of someone. I also do not usually add any baking soda nor chalk to my water (the profile I've use is the one Mike "Tasty" McDole recommended for his hoppy beers).

Will that be enough calcium and magnesium for yeast health? Are there any concerns with adding chalk and baking soda? Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks Much!
 
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McKnuckle

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If brewing stout with soft water as the base, I would first add enough gypsum and CaCl in roughly equal amounts until Ca is at least 50 ppm. Then add baking soda until your mash pH is estimated to be about 5.5 or a touch lower. That's it. No chalk, no Epsom salts.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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If brewing stout with soft water as the base, I would first add enough gypsum and CaCl in roughly equal amounts until Ca is at least 50 ppm. Then add baking soda until your mash pH is estimated to be about 5.5 or a touch lower. That's it. No chalk, no Epsom salts.

Thank you. I understand dropping the chalk. Wouldn't Epsom salts be needed to bring the magnesium up to a minimum level (say >10 ppm)?
 

McKnuckle

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Magnesium is allegedly present in adequate amounts in the grain, so it doesn't need to be added. I have only added Epsom a couple of times in my earliest water treatment days. You can successfully stick with gypsum, CaCl, and baking soda as your water additives - plus lactic acid or acidulated malt when needed.

Does Magnesium Matter?

Note that some articles state that 5 ppm of Mg are useful for yeast flocculation. So it might be worth experimenting with that, but keep the concentration very low. For me, in over 130 batches with water treatments, I have never missed anything by omitting the Epsom. It's just a personal observation.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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Magnesium is allegedly present in adequate amounts in the grain, so it doesn't need to be added. I have only added Epsom a couple of times in my earliest water treatment days. You can successfully stick with gypsum, CaCl, and baking soda as your water additives - plus lactic acid or acidulated malt when needed.

Does Magnesium Matter?

Note that some articles state that 5 ppm of Mg are useful for yeast flocculation. So it might be worth experimenting with that, but keep the concentration very low. For me, in over 130 batches with water treatments, I have never missed anything by omitting the Epsom. It's just a personal observation.
Thanks. That's great input.

I have used the same water additions for most my beers in recent history (I took a few years off when I moved and lost some of my data for my older recipes). It's looking like for the Dry Stout recipe I am working on, adding the Roasted Barley in the mash is actually helping bring the estimated pH down to 5.5. We have no acid or acidulated malt handy, but have a pH meter (finally working).
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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If brewing stout with soft water as the base, I would first add enough gypsum and CaCl in roughly equal amounts until Ca is at least 50 ppm. Then add baking soda until your mash pH is estimated to be about 5.5 or a touch lower. That's it. No chalk, no Epsom salts.
I should add I am using distilled water as the base (original post edited).
 

ScrewyBrewer

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Here's a water profile, starting out with RO water, that I like using for a basic Dry Irish Stout.

10-gallon batch size.
HDIS.JPG
HDIS-b.JPG
 
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Beer666

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Not very scientific i know but i have forgotten to add the salts before to RO and could not tell any difference in a stout. Generally follow the advice above and never use epsom salts.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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Thanks all. Final decision was to use the Wicklow profile as a base, not use any chalk and bump calcium with equal additions of CaCl and CaSO4 to 50 ppm. There was small epsom addition (nominal at best). I mashed in without the roasted barley at first. Checked pH and it was a bit high so I added the roasted barely (ultimately all of it) until the pH came down. My pH meter settled in with temp correction at 5.3. Efficiency was higher than anticipated (by around 6%). It tasted good into fermenter.

Final water profile was
51 ppm Calcium
4 ppm Magnesium
60 ppm Sulfate
58 ppm Chloride
(0 sodium, 0 bicarbonate)

Thanks for the advice and help. The lack of bicarbonate when building water from distilled had concerned me.
 

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Guinness is traditionally made by cold steeping the roasted barley then adding it to the end of the boil. If you use that method you don’t really even need to worry about adding the alkalinity to your mash water. Not sure if you would want to add alkalinity to the cold steeping water or not. Always wondered that and one of these days should probably try that experiment to see if there’s any difference.
 

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Yes, low alkalinity water can be used for brewing Irish Dry Stout and it is the water used by Guinness at St James Gate. The secret is in how it’s mashed.

Mashing all the grains of a stout in low alkalinity water is going to crater the pH and that will kill body. To avoid this issue, the roast grains are not included in the main mash. At Guinness, they steep the roast barley separately in the low alkalinity water and they create their Guinness Flavor Extract that is added back to the pale wort late in the process. A homebrewer can simulate that process by adding the roast barley very late in the mash. In both processes, the wort pH ends up low, but it avoids the body killing effect. The low pH of the wort contributes to the overall taste and perception of the beer.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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Guinness is traditionally made by cold steeping the roasted barley then adding it to the end of the boil. If you use that method you don’t really even need to worry about adding the alkalinity to your mash water. Not sure if you would want to add alkalinity to the cold steeping water or not. Always wondered that and one of these days should probably try that experiment to see if there’s any difference.
After lots of reading, I wasn't concerned about the alkalinity anymore. Seemed like the numbers worked out. I planned to add the roasted barley last 15 mins, but since my pH was a touch high and it almost matched BeerSmith perfectly I added it.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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Yes, low alkalinity water can be used for brewing Irish Dry Stout and it is the water used by Guinness at St James Gate. The secret is in how it’s mashed.

Mashing all the grains of a stout in low alkalinity water is going to crater the pH and that will kill body. To avoid this issue, the roast grains are not included in the main mash. At Guinness, they steep the roast barley separately in the low alkalinity water and they create their Guinness Flavor Extract that is added back to the pale wort late in the process. A homebrewer can simulate that process by adding the roast barley very late in the mash. In both processes, the wort pH ends up low, but it avoids the body killing effect. The low pH of the wort contributes to the overall taste and perception of the beer.
Thanks! I've read lots of your posts. This one was our first. I've brewed stouts before but not a Dry Irish. The great news is I have a baseline from which to start and move forward.
 

cire

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The recipe for Guinness its water profile depend more upon the period of concern than might be told. Today the majority of the world's supply of Guinness is made in Nigeria, not from barley, but using sorghum and artificial enzymes. To that is added the roasted barley essence produced in Dublin at St James' Gate.

A description of the Dublin brewery and process towards the end of the nineteenth century can be read in the first chapters found here, where it is noted that the roasted malts(?) were included in the main mash. Water for brewing then and nearly all the 20th century came from the Grand Canal, as had much of Dublin's supply. The Wicklow supply was introduced in 1863, but was used by Guinness only for the boilers, it was too soft to produce their then world-famous beer.

Hope all goes well with the brew, it's highly probable you will produce a better beer than Gunness market today.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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Follow-up question on recipe and my perceived color of the beer in the hydrometer tube (it's been a while since I brewed a stout). My recipe followed the Brewing Classic Styles grain bill and I ground the roasted barley in a coffee grinder. I was concerned about the color early on so I called the shop where my partner purchased the ingredients to confirm I had 500L roasted barley. They told me yes, and it was Weyerman. Below is my grain ratio in percentages:

70.5% English Pale Malt (Maris Otter I think)
18.8% Flaked Barley
9.4% Roasted Barley
1.3% Rice Hulls

BeerSmith tells me I'm in the zone

Screen Shot 2020-12-05 at 8.47.09 AM.png


The numbers all came in close with a slightly high OG due to better efficiency than planned.

I am just curious what many of you use for the roasted barley component.

Thanks!
 

mabrungard

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I like Muntons Roast Barley. I find that their Roast Barley has a nice coffee note and its really pungent in the early part of the mash. Adding the Roast Barley in the late stage of mashing will probably preserve more of that coffee flavor and aroma and get it into the beer.
 
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TimmyR

TimmyR

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I like Muntons Roast Barley. I find that their Roast Barley has a nice coffee note and its really pungent in the early part of the mash. Adding the Roast Barley in the late stage of mashing will probably preserve more of that coffee flavor and aroma and get it into the beer.
Thanks Martin. I'll look for that next time. The good news is it's clean and almost at FG after 7 days.
 

Mr. Vern

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The recipe for Guinness its water profile depend more upon the period of concern than might be told. Today the majority of the world's supply of Guinness is made in Nigeria, not from barley, but using sorghum and artificial enzymes. To that is added the roasted barley essence produced in Dublin at St James' Gate.

A description of the Dublin brewery and process towards the end of the nineteenth century can be read in the first chapters found here, where it is noted that the roasted malts(?) were included in the main mash. Water for brewing then and nearly all the 20th century came from the Grand Canal, as had much of Dublin's supply. The Wicklow supply was introduced in 1863, but was used by Guinness only for the boilers, it was too soft to produce their then world-famous beer.

Hope all goes well with the brew, it's highly probable you will produce a better beer than Gunness market today.
well that was one helluva rabbit hole... The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland was a fun read, once I located it on Google Books it was much easier to read. Thanks for the link!
 

cire

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well that was one helluva rabbit hole... The Noted Breweries of Great Britain and Ireland was a fun read, once I located it on Google Books it was much easier to read. Thanks for the link!
Thanks in return, I didn't know it was available on Google Books.

All Barnard's 4 volumes can be downloaded in .pdf here. Lots to read from a period that might be thought to have been at the pinnacle of British Brewing. Many aspects of those breweries are covered, but not a vast amount of detail on brewing, although some myths are exposed.

Glad you found the read was worthwhile.
 

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