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Hello all. Been brewing all grain BIAB for about 9 months now. Started by using spring water with no salt additions or lactic acid. More recently, I’ve been playing around with “EZ Water Calculator Spreadsheet 3.0”. The results have been mixed. Nothing terrible, but I’ve brewed an IPA once with spring water, again with distilled water with salts + acid. The spring water version was better…

Anyhow, this weekend I’m brewing a big stout. The recipe is as follows (adjusted for my system):
16.28 lbs UK Pale 2-Row
1.100 lbs Carastan
1.100 Crystal 120
0.550 Chocolate malt
0.550 lbs Brown malt
0.275 Roasted barley

I asked the guy at the homebrew shop (shout out to Grape & Granary in Akron, oHIGHo) for all UK type malts.

I will be brewing this with distilled water. I need help figuring out what salts to add, and lactic acid if needed. Plan to mash at 152° F for about an hour.

I will save myself the humiliation of showing what I came up with for another time.
 
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I use spring water for all my brews and rarely use much in the way of additions other than to alter the hardness..... with the exception of stouts that is. For stouts I generally use a couple of grams of baking soda, calcium chloride and 1.5g gypsum, I dont bother dialing in exact ppm (although I'm sure most do) but for me as long as you get something roughly along those lines you'll have decent stout water. I'm currently drinking a guiness clone now which was made to a similar profile (I went a bit heavier on the baking soda) and it turned out great!!!
 
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I use spring water for all my brews and rarely use much in the way of additions other than to alter the hardness..... with the exception of stouts that is. For stouts I generally use a couple of grams of baking soda, calcium chloride and 1.5g gypsum, I dont bother dialing in exact ppm (although I'm sure most do) but for me as long as you get something roughly along those lines you'll have decent stout water. I'm currently drinking a guiness clone now which was made to a similar profile (I went a bit heavier on the baking soda) and it turned out great!!!

By "a couple of grams" do you mean 2?

Do you mess around with pH?
 

mabrungard

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Spring water is a red herring. You often don’t know what is in it.

Depending on the level of mineralization used to brew that IPA, it’s possible that the mashing water didn’t need acid and the guidance from your calculations was wrong. An overly low pH in IPA brewing can result in a thin beer and low hop utilization.
 
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Spring water is a red herring. You often don’t know what is in it.

Depending on the level of mineralization used to brew that IPA, it’s possible that the mashing water didn’t need acid and the guidance from your calculations was wrong. An overly low pH in IPA brewing can result in a thin beer and low hop utilization.
Fair enough.

Any advice on my stout recipe?
 

VikeMan

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As of now the plan is yes
Ok, I made some assumptions (e.g. grain wort absorption and boil off rate, 5 gallon batch) which may not match your own, but assuming you're mashing with approx. 7.9 gallon of water, here's what I would probably do.

In Mash: 2.5 grams CaCl2 (just to get a bit of calcium in the mash as an enzyme cofactor and alkalinity offsetter, and some chloride for rounded malty-ness). Mash pH should land in the vicinity of 5.5.

Add After Mash:
1.5 grams CaCl2 (calcium for yeast flocculation, Cl2 for rounded malty-ness)
2 grams CaSO4 (more calcium for yeast flocculation, and a bit of sulfate to balance all the chloride a little)
5.5 grams NaCl (Sodium enhances the chocolate-y flavors)

ETA: the above will result in a profile similar to my big stouts.
 
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Ok, I made some assumptions (e.g. grain wort absorption and boil off rate, 5 gallon batch) which may not match your own, but assuming you're mashing with approx. 7.9 gallon of water, here's what I would probably do.

In Mash: 2.5 grams CaCl2 (just to get a bit of calcium in the mash as an enzyme cofactor and alkalinity offsetter, and some chloride for rounded malty-ness). Mash pH should land in the vicinity of 5.5.

Add After Mash:
1.5 grams CaCl2 (calcium for yeast flocculation, Cl2 for rounded malty-ness)
2 grams CaSO4 (more calcium for yeast flocculation, and a bit of sulfate to balance all the chloride a little)
5.5 grams NaCl (Sodium enhances the chocolate-y flavors)
Wow. Awesome. Thanks.

I’ll be doing a 5-1/2 gallon batch. Starting water is 8.97 gallons as I use .32 qt/lb grain absorption. 90 minute boil using 1.5 gallon/hour boil off rate.
 

VikeMan

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Wow. Awesome. Thanks.

I’ll be doing a 5-1/2 gallon batch. Starting water is 8.97 gallons as I use .32 qt/lb grain absorption. 90 minute boil using 1.5 gallon/hour boil off rate.
Gotcha. In that case, if it were me, I'd scale up the minerals above by 10%.
 
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Gotcha. In that case, if it were me, I'd scale up the minerals above by 10%.
Can do. Last question, what should I use for the NaCl? I know that is "salt", but what kind? Kosher salt, regular table salt?
 

VikeMan

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Can do. Last question, what should I use for the NaCl? I know that is "salt", but what kind? Kosher salt, regular table salt?
Kosher is good. I avoid salt with iodine. Truthfully, it probably wouldn't hurt anything, but with non-iodized salt readily available, why not use it?
 
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Kosher is good. I avoid salt with iodine. Truthfully, it probably wouldn't hurt anything, but with non-iodized salt readily available, why not use it?
Thank you so much for the help. Fingers now crossed that all this grain and water fits in my grain bag...
 
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By "a couple of grams" do you mean 2?

Do you mess around with pH?
Sorry yeah, 2 grams. I use 80% lactic acid in the mash, the water I use starts at about 7.8PH, so with say 5kg / 11lb of grain in 20 ltrs (I sparge the balance) of water I'll need to add about 10ml of lactic acid to get that down to 5.2ph / 5.4ph. Like some one mentioned earlier you cant guarantee the mineral content of spring water but it's generally so low that if you use the mineral content listed on the bottle you can quite easily get in the ball park for the style you're making.
 

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I would strongly suggest not doing anything .. yet.

Basic rule on water chemistry is if it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough to brew.

If you really want to get into it, great! You can make noticeable improvements. But you have to know what you’re doing. I’m copying mabrungard here but just saying you have spring water isn’t good enough, nor is using a utility water report. You need to know what is in your water before you do anything.

Palmer and Kaminsky’s book is a great resource as is a quality testing kit.
 
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I would strongly suggest not doing anything .. yet.

Basic rule on water chemistry is if it’s good enough to drink, it’s good enough to brew.

If you really want to get into it, great! You can make noticeable improvements. But you have to know what you’re doing. I’m copying mabrungard here but just saying you have spring water isn’t good enough, nor is using a utility water report. You need to know what is in your water before you do anything.

Palmer and Kaminsky’s book is a great resource as is a quality testing kit.
The 'if it's good enough to drink' rule couldnt be further from the truth. My tap water tastes absolutely fine but makes truly awful beer even if treated with metabisulfite. I'm not saying spring water is perfect and I'm not saying the mineral content on the bottle is going to be gospel, but here in the UK as a rule spring water is very soft and almost devoid of any minerals so making simple adjustments is relatively easy. I stick with the same brand so I know what I'm working with and have been able to make consistently great beer! I know loads of people still use municipal water and well water and have great results so RO water isn't the only thing that makes great beer.
 

jerrylotto

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The 'if it's good enough to drink' rule couldnt be further from the truth. My tap water tastes absolutely fine but makes truly awful beer even if treated with metabisulfite. I'm not saying spring water is perfect and I'm not saying the mineral content on the bottle is going to be gospel, but here in the UK as a rule spring water is very soft and almost devoid of any minerals so making simple adjustments is relatively easy. I stick with the same brand so I know what I'm working with and have been able to make consistently great beer! I know loads of people still use municipal water and well water and have great results so RO water isn't the only thing that makes great beer.
Tap water contains incredibly high levels of chlorine and chloramines in order to prevent bacteria growth. You can probably get a chemistry report from your town, but be prepared to add even MORE sodium metabisulfite AKA Campden tablets to get the chlorine and chloramine down to reasonable levels. I find starting with RO water is a much more predictable and reproducible solution. If you got poor results with salt additions to distilled or RO water then adjust your salt additions!
 
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I guess I should have mentioned earlier, I live on a small farm in a rural area. We have well water that contains high levels of iron and sulfur. High enough that we have an oxygen infusion filter before our softener to remove the iron and sulfur. That being said, it's not great to drink, so I don't brew with it.

This is why I started with spring water when I wasn't messing with water chem. Now that I'm trying to learn water chem, I'm using distilled because my believe is it has no minerals.

I'm going to brew this stout using VikeMan's chemistry recommendations. It should be fine... Thanks to all who have contributed.

Perhaps I'll start another post, but what I'm struggling with is using the “EZ Water Calculator Spreadsheet 3.0” as it seems a bit limited in the choice of grains. I've downloaded the BrunWater1.25 spreadsheet but it's too complicated for me.

I'm leaning toward just using this wonderful forum and the advice of you wonderful people to prepare water chem for each brew I make.
 
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BrewnWKopperKat

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Now that I'm trying to learn water chem, I'm using distilled because my believe is it has no minerals.
Perhaps I'll start another post, but what I'm struggling with ...
There are a couple of approaches to water that don't require a spreadsheet. They are intended as a starting point, with ideas on how to "season to taste".

Let's start with the "free" (as in money) one. Have you seen the topic: A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer ?

The approach in the book Brewing Better Beer is similar in concept, but has a different approach to mash pH adjustments and mashing with dark grains.
 
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Looks like I've got a lot of reading to do. Thanks for all the support. Only wish I'd found this forum 9 months ago.
 

1HW

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This is why I started with spring water when I wasn't messing with water chem. Now that I'm trying to learn water chem, I'm using distilled because my believe is it has no minerals.
Good choice on Distilled...you have a clean slate to build upon. It helps to think about water chem in two parts: 1) how can I get the mash water to the right pH, and then 2) can I do it in a way that also allows me to balance chlorides/sulfates for the style of beer I’m trying to brew. Generally speaking, brewers have trouble getting the pH down into the sweet spot without using additions that acidify the mash water. The challenge is worse for light-colored beers. Darker beers, like your recipe, will naturally have a more acidic mash, and so brewers who ignore water chem can sometimes hit their target pH by doing nothing. Kudos for endeavoring to learn water chem.
 

BrewnWKopperKat

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It helps to think about water chem in two parts: 1) how can I get the mash water to the right pH, and then 2) can I do it in a way that also allows me to balance chlorides/sulfates for the style of beer I’m trying to brew.
YES!

Generally speaking, brewers have trouble getting the pH down into the sweet spot without using additions that acidify the mash water.
Speaking just for me, I haven't had this problem when using the ideas in A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer (see also "How to build your own water" - pay attention to the "credits" paragraph at the end of the article). For my APAs/Ambers - RO/distilled water + 2% acidulated malt + some calcium in the mash. Season to style with CaCl/CaS04 at the start of the boil.

Understanding the "why" (brewing science?) behind the mash adjustments and flavor adjustments can be challenging. Understanding "what to do" (brewing techniques/technology?) can be much easier.
 

1HW

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Speaking just for me, I haven't had this problem when using the ideas in A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer (see also "How to build your own water" - pay attention to the "credits" paragraph at the end of the article). For my APAs/Ambers - RO/distilled water + 2% acidulated malt + some calcium in the mash. Season to style with CaCl/CaS04 at the start of the boil.
I should have chosen my words a bit better; Calcium and Acidulated both help to lower the mash pH.
 

mabrungard

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How the water tastes is no indicator of its ability to make good beer, but bad tasting water is almost certain to make bad beer. So there is a bit of truth in that 'If the water tastes good' quote.

With regard to 'spring waters', if the provider quotes the water quality concentrations that we need for brewing, you should be able to get spring water to work for many brews. The problem is too many brewers think that just using untreated spring water is going to get them to great beer...that's not true. You still probably need to treat that spring water to fit your current brew. When they provide the water quality numbers, you can then knowledgably adjust the water to fit the brew.
 
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mabrungard

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I've downloaded the BrunWater1.25 spreadsheet but it's too complicated for me.
Question? Did you read the directions or just look at the various sheets?

Brewing water chemistry is actually not EZ, but its not that difficult with a tool that you can use effectively. In the case of Bru'n Water, that does mean that you have to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS to grasp how it works. Once you've done that and play with it for a few minutes, its actually very simple.
 
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Question? Did you read the directions or just look at the various sheets?

Brewing water chemistry is actually not EZ, but its not that difficult with a tool that you can use effectively. In the case of Bru'n Water, that does mean that you have to READ THE INSTRUCTIONS to grasp how it works. Once you've done that and play with it for a few minutes, its actually very simple.
Ahhhhh, no Sir. I of course did not read the instructions. I also refuse to ask for directions... Jokes aside, point taken. The only times I've bothered to open Bru'n Water is when I needed something, i.e. water chem. I've not yet taken the time to sit down and study it to figure it out. But I will...

The brewday went swimmingly. Hit 1.096 OG (recipe was 1.094, think I boiled off a wee bit too much). Followed the advice I was given on here in another thread regarding building up a massive 2 stage yeast starter and added yeast nutrients. That thing fermented so hard it was like a CO2 bottle sprung a leak. As I type this, it's about 54 hours after pitching yeast and I suspect it's almost finished fermenting.
 

Nick Poggetti

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Ahhhhh, no Sir. I of course did not read the instructions. I also refuse to ask for directions... Jokes aside, point taken. The only times I've bothered to open Bru'n Water is when I needed something, i.e. water chem. I've not yet taken the time to sit down and study it to figure it out. But I will...
Right here on Martin's website will get you started: Frequently Asked Questions and Bru'n Water Troubleshooting | Bru'n Water

Follow each tab of these tabs as you go through each tab in the spreadsheet and you should be well on your way:
1601654310271.png




If pictures are more your thing, I did my best to put together a text + picture guide with my awesome MS Paint skills... but the disclaimer is I'm far from an expert and the info on Brunwater.com will be better than the info in my guide because you know, that info is coming straight from the source. I made my guide to help people who, like myself, opened up Bru'n Water and then decided I would find another day to learn about water because it looks super intimidating - When in fact once you get poking around in the spreadsheet... It's really super easy.

Also note: My guide may be missing a lot of info because it's tailored to my set up, so some things may not apply to you or vice versa.
 

Knightshade

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Ok, I made some assumptions (e.g. grain wort absorption and boil off rate, 5 gallon batch) which may not match your own, but assuming you're mashing with approx. 7.9 gallon of water, here's what I would probably do.

In Mash: 2.5 grams CaCl2 (just to get a bit of calcium in the mash as an enzyme cofactor and alkalinity offsetter, and some chloride for rounded malty-ness). Mash pH should land in the vicinity of 5.5.

Add After Mash:
1.5 grams CaCl2 (calcium for yeast flocculation, Cl2 for rounded malty-ness)
2 grams CaSO4 (more calcium for yeast flocculation, and a bit of sulfate to balance all the chloride a little)
5.5 grams NaCl (Sodium enhances the chocolate-y flavors)

ETA: the above will result in a profile similar to my big stouts.
So..I threw these numbers into BrewersFriend, and this is the result. Is this accurate?

I thought you wanted your Ca and Sulfate numbers to be at least 50? Or is the Sulfate number just on the cusp what is generally accepted as a 2:1 ratio and you stretched it to 3:1?

Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 12.14.45 PM.png
 

VikeMan

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So..I threw these numbers into BrewersFriend, and this is the result. Is this accurate?

I thought you wanted your Ca and Sulfate numbers to be at least 50?
If you followed what I posted, including the "add 10% more minerals" comment after I knew the actual water volume, you should have come up with an overall Ca concentration of close to 50 ppm. I can't tell from your Brewer's Friend screen cap what you actually added. If you can lay that out here, I can tell you what the actual concentrations would be. What were your water volumes and your additions? (Don't forget to include both the mash additions and the after mash additions.)
 

Knightshade

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If you followed what I posted, including the "add 10% more minerals" comment after I knew the actual water volume, you should have come up with an overall Ca concentration of close to 50 ppm. I can't tell from your Brewer's Friend screen cap what you actually added. If you can lay that out here, I can tell you what the actual concentrations would be. What were your water volumes and your additions? (Don't forget to include both the mash additions and the after mash additions.)
I did base this on 8G of water and did add the 10% more that you mentioned. I noticed that BF didn't seem to change any of the values for .1G, so I just left it at 8 for simplicity. And since the Op confirmed full volume mash based on your inquiry, I'm just assuming no sparge calculations are needed.

And clearly I don't know how to add...but the numbers still look off? The source water has 0 values for everything.

Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 1.02.28 PM.png



Screen Shot 2020-11-10 at 12.55.40 PM.png
 

VikeMan

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Here's what I originally recommended:
In Mash: 2.5 grams CaCl2
Add After Mash:
1.5 grams CaCl2
2 grams CaSO4
5.5 grams NaCl

Then, when OP stated 8.97 gallons, I recommended increasing by ~10%. That would get us to:

In Mash: 2.75 grams CaCl2
Add After Mash:
1.65 grams CaCl2
2.2 grams CaSO4
6.05 grams NaCl

Here's the result:


I don't know how you do separate, non-proportional mash and kettle additions in Brewer's Friend, but I would assume there's a way.
 

Knightshade

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Too many tabs..and trying to work. I completely missed the initial "In Mash" of CaCl2. I get close enough to the numbers that you posted that I feel better about where/what I missed. I put in the Op's grain bill...or at least a rough approximation of it and end up with numbers fairly close to yours.

53.9 / 0 / 61 / 166.3 / 31.5 / 0
mash pH 5.45

(and I've read, read, and re-read the preso you oftentimes link regarding water chemistry. I now see that you're pretty much laying out Slide 9. I had been operating under the assumption up to this point that you just dumped all the salts into your hot water, then add your grains and have at it.

I imagine...you'd want to try and bump up the pH a little closer to 5.5 and alkalinity in the 180-200 range, which would also be added to the kettle vs. the mash.

Regardless learned quite a bit today, thanks!
 
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VikeMan

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I imagine...you'd want to try and bump up the pH a little closer to 5.5 and alkalinity in the 180-200 range, which would also be added to the kettle vs. the mash.
You could target a mash pH of 5.5, using bit of baking soda or slaked lime. But 5.45 is, IMO, also fine for a stout.

Regarding Alkalinity (HCO3), IMO it should never have any sort of independent target. If you have to add it to reach a desired mash pH (i.e. to increase the pH), that's fine. But other than that, it doesn't really "do" anything for your beer, other than make it harder (for many grists) to get down to the desired mash pH. And I can't think of a good reason to add it to the kettle after the mash.

ETA: Regarding the mash pH of 5.45 you saw in Brewer's Friend... you should make sure that you didn't add all of the salts (both mash and kettle) to the mash (as far as Brewer's friend is concerned). You don't want "kettle salts" impacting your mash pH projection. I mention this because if I put all of the salts (mash + kettle) into the mash in BrewCipher, I get a predicted mash pH of 5.43...pretty close to your 5.45.
 
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Knightshade

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If I got straight up all into the mash with 8.97G of water, 2.2 CaSo4, 6.05 NaCl and 4.4 CaCl (all grams of course) I end up with 5.40 pH and of course, the 'actual' water values are all screwed up again.

61.9 / 0 / 70.1 / 190.9 / 36.1 / 0

I'm guessing this is just underlying math, Lovibond values?

Hear ya on the Alkalinity, I'll just let it fall where it may.
 

VikeMan

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I'm guessing this is just underlying math, Lovibond values?
I don't know what Brewer's Friend does, but years ago, Lovibond numbers were commonly used in mash pH calculations. The issue with that is that you can get the same wort SRM different ways, e.g. you can get (the same) color from crystal malts or from darkly roasted malts, and they don't add the same amount of acidity "per color unit."

Next came models that use generic information about general malt types (e.g. base, wheat, crystal, roasted). These were/are an improvement on the straight SRM models.

Then came models that use specific measured data about specific malts, like "Briess Caramel 60" or "Dingemans Aromatic" where available and generic data where specific data is not available.

You might find any/all of these methods, depending on the mash pH model you choose.
 

Knightshade

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I need a beer...so damn complicated.

I just want something that says...this style, start HERE. It won't be award winning, but it won't suck either.

Not give a range between 50-150 or similar. That is alot of variance.
 

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