Stout, mash as pale or dark?

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TwogunRocky

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Hi guys, I'm a little confused....
I'm planning on doing my first AG stout (done a couple of AG's) and need some advice. If I were to cold steep the dark grains and add late to the boil, does the water chemistry need to be configured for a pale mash as there are no roast/dark malts in it.... Or do I mash with a stout water profile anyway?
My concern is the HCo3 level that needs to be low for a pale mash, but higher for a stout.
IMG_20221116_081022_827.jpg

Here's my salt/acid adjusted water with the dark grains omitted, pH drops to 5.39 if I include the chocolate & roast barley in the mash, so either will be fine, but if I'm only mashing the base malts does my water need to drastically change for that?
I'd like to cold steep as I've read it is really beneficial to reduce the harshness of the dark grains, could I add the cold steeped liquor to make up the total volume strike water, then heat and mash as usual?
I BiaB full volume 15L.

Appreciate any help👍🍻
 

Miraculix

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The water chemistry is done primarily for the mash ph, so if there are no roasted grains in the mash, the alkalinity should be low. Yours is already quite high on the picture, so there probably should be an acid addition if mashed pale. Otherwise, mash with the dark grains included. It's a stout after all!
 
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TwogunRocky

TwogunRocky

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I understand that mate, what's perplexing me is why a Stout mash benefits from high alkalinity, is the SOLE reason to buffer the acidic roasted grain?.... Or is the high alkalinity necessary for other chemical reasons, either in the mash or during fermentation?.
🤔
 

Miraculix

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I understand that mate, what's perplexing me is why a Stout mash benefits from high alkalinity, is the SOLE reason to buffer the acidic roasted grain?.... Or is the high alkalinity necessary for other chemical reasons, either in the mash or during fermentation?.
🤔
Nope, it's really just the buffering!
 
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TwogunRocky

TwogunRocky

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So what's best to achieve the correct colour with smooth roastyness?

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor to strike water (high alkalinity mash)

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor last 10 mins mash (low alkalinity mash)

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor last 15 mins of boil (low alkalinity mash)

• Just mash everything together and forget all this nonsense.
:lol:
 

Miraculix

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So what's best to achieve the correct colour with smooth roastyness?

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor to strike water (high alkalinity mash)

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor last 10 mins mash (low alkalinity mash)

• Overnight cold steep, add liquor last 15 mins of boil (low alkalinity mash)

• Just mash everything together and forget all this nonsense.
:lol:
The difference is not as big as it's often advertised online.

So for me, it's a stout, throw everything into the mash and be done with it. Don't go overboard with the roast, 10% of the grist is the limit for me. The stronger the stout, the lower the percentage. 10% is for something around 4.2 % abv. For 8.4% I'd go with about 5% roasted grains.

You can use something smoother like carafa special or dehusked roasted barley, although roasted barley is also not really harsh.


IF you decide to do the cold steep, throw the dark liquor in at flame out. Some of the astringent flavour develops with time and heat so you want to keep the time it's heated short, but long enough to pasteurize it. So throw it in at flame of and then begin to chill it.
 
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Miraculix

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Oh and you might need to recalculate the colour contribution of steeped grains, they don't contribute the same as mashed grains. The percentage I'm talking about is for the mash version.
 
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TwogunRocky

TwogunRocky

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Yeah my roast grain is only 8.7% of the grain bill for a 4.9% ABV.
I think I'll mash all in this time because I no chill, so any benefit from adding at flame out would be lost I suppose due to being at high temp for a sustained period of time.
To get my extremely hard tap water
IMG_20221116_111647_345.jpg
to pale mash alkalinity requires 20ml CRS which pushes the chloride & sulphate levels up too far..... I've got bottled water with low alk, but saving that for a different brew that'll require minimal adjustment.
Screenshot_20221116-110713.png

This is where I get including the roast grains in the mash along with 10ml CRS, 4ml lactic.... Looks ok to me.
 
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pvtpublic

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I add the specialty malt into the mash 15 minutes before recirculating, and I've always had a very smooth beer. Too high of a mash pH will extract tannins out of the husks, even from the base malts and result in an unpleasant astringency.
 
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TwogunRocky

TwogunRocky

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So what's your mash pH at the start→45 mins, and how is it affected when adding the roast malts 45 mins into the mash....?

Is it the case that after 45 mins the majority of conversion is done and the critical pH has served it's purpose, then adding the roast malts at that point makes the pH irrelevant?

Smoothness is what I'm after.
 
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brewbama

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I brew every beer with just the grain that requires mashing. Dark grains that don’t require mashing go in after the mash is complete for a 30 min hot steep. That makes every mash nearly the same regardless of recipe. This leads to very consistent results.

this method is described in detail in G Strong’s book Brewing Better Beer. Every time I use it my mash pH is 5.3+/-.1.

so… beginning with RO or distilled water, every mash gets 1 tsp CaCl,or gypsum, or a combination of the two depending on the style per 5 gal brewhaus liquor to get at least 50 ppm Ca. I don’t use any other brewing salts though I do use .5 tsp Brewtan B and 1 tsp Ascorbic Acid per batch.
 
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pvtpublic

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Always as close to 5.3 as possible. I'll adjust with homemade sauergut if necessary (there's many different things you can use). It will stay right around 5.3 throughout the mash. The first 15 minutes of your mash constitutes 90+% of all your starch conversion. It converts pretty quick, and that's where you want your pH to be just right. The other time you want to watch the pH is during sparging and lautering. Once you start adding water to rinse those grains, the pH will start to rise. Usually about 5.8 is when you run the risk of tannin extraction, especially if you sparge too hot, like above 170F/76C. The heat will dissolve the tannins out of the husks (the husk is where those polyphenols that we call tannic acids reside). The dark malts will definitely add those tannins so watch those metrics. However, you can get huskless dark malts to help alleviate that tannic extraction, and those can be added to the mash. I still put those in the end, because that's just my process - only grains that need to be converted go in.
 

Miraculix

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I wouldn't say that the benefit of cold steep would be completely lost with no chill, but probably reduced.

You could also use midnight wheat instead, that one is the smoothest of all the roasted grains I know of.
 
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TwogunRocky

TwogunRocky

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I'm stovetop BiaB full volume mash, 30min boil & no chill.... so no Sparge but I'm fully aware the Sparge water needs to be low alkalinity and limit it to no more than 77°c.
I will however in this case Sparge the grain with 3L of water for a kit that'll be going on right after to get a bit of added efficiency.

Had this in mind for 6 months or so, I am actually using 43% wheat as I want to try something different with this stout, I wish I could get midnight wheat from my supplier as I've read good things as you alluded to, also acidulated malt would be handy but both not available currently.

So with my set-up and water I think i will now add the cold steeped roast grain liquor with 5 mins left of the boil... this should achieve the smoothness I'm seeking 🤞

Thanks for all your advice lads👍
 

cire

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I understand that mate, what's perplexing me is why a Stout mash benefits from high alkalinity, is the SOLE reason to buffer the acidic roasted grain?.... Or is the high alkalinity necessary for other chemical reasons, either in the mash or during fermentation?.
🤔
As already said, alkalinity will buffer the tendency of darker and acidic grains from lowering pH of the mash. When mash pH is lower than 5.0, the time necessary to convert starch to sugar can be more than an hour, and worse, the wort so produced will contain a higher proportion of unfermentable sugars than might be desirable.

While high sulfate and low chloride levels have little adverse effect in pale beers, such brewing liquor can extract harshness from dark and highly kilned grains.

The first water profile displayed would appear to be a suitable starting point for mashing with all grains.
 

Miraculix

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I'm stovetop BiaB full volume mash, 30min boil & no chill.... so no Sparge but I'm fully aware the Sparge water needs to be low alkalinity and limit it to no more than 77°c.
I will however in this case Sparge the grain with 3L of water for a kit that'll be going on right after to get a bit of added efficiency.

Had this in mind for 6 months or so, I am actually using 43% wheat as I want to try something different with this stout, I wish I could get midnight wheat from my supplier as I've read good things as you alluded to, also acidulated malt would be handy but both not available currently.

So with my set-up and water I think i will now add the cold steeped roast grain liquor with 5 mins left of the boil... this should achieve the smoothness I'm seeking 🤞

Thanks for all your advice lads👍
I think midnight wheat is actually a trademark, black wheat tastes the same to me so if you can get that, that would be an option too.
 

mashpaddled

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Gordon Strong published this technique in his book as the solution to overly harsh stouts and suddenly it became the thing to do. It occurred right around the time when stouts were losing their roasty edge in favor of increasingly sweeter flavors, so maybe it has some good utility in making modern stouts.

Personally I've never done it because I manage water chemistry and build a water profile from RO every time. I don't think the steeping process is necessary if you have good control over your water and mash on the higher side (5.4-5.5). If you're adjusting an existing water source, it may make sense to do this. It might also make sense if you want to make a stout built more for the pastry side of things. Generally my position is if your water source and process produces beers without problems with too much acidity or chalkiness this may not change anything in a meaningful way about your beer.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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If you were to mash this grist in 16.32 Liters of distilled water I have it mashing at a pH of about 5.61. And if you mash it in 16.32 Liters of your tap water it will hit about 5.94 pH during the mash. Both of these figures are for no acid being added to the mash.

As an aside, your tap water indicates a bad check for cation/anion mEq/L balance, so that should raise a red flag. Such water isn't possible in the real world. You can't use mean mineral values. You must know current actual values. Until you know these, decent mash pH prediction is impossible.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I'll toss this into the mix for consideration. Years ago, AJ deLange noticed (via actual measurement) that his Stouts were not mashing anywhere near as low in pH as the then currently prevailing mash pH predicting methods were indicating. He attested to this several times on this forum. At the time most of us thought he was smoking something. Then he observed that calcium and magnesium only drop mash pH by about half of what the Kolbach model predicts. And this sent everyone into fits of derision. Eventually I realized that he was correct in both assessments, but only after kicking and screaming in denial for awhile.

If you stir the pH probe into the Wort while taking the reading you can suppress the pH reading by quite a bit, but this is cheating. It induces a false low pH due to what AJ termed as "stirring error". AJ listed a number of potential pH meter handling and methodology mistakes, all of which suppress the actual pH and lead to a false low pH reading.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Expanding upon what I wrote above about AJ's findings, and if my recollection is correct, he even went so far as to mention that for his Dry Stout he was finding it necessary to add acid to the mash instead of Alkalinity.
 

tracer bullet

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If you stir the pH probe into the Wort while taking the reading you can suppress the pH reading by quite a bit, but this is cheating. It induces a false low pH due to what AJ termed as "stirring error". AJ listed a number of potential pH meter handling and methodology mistakes, all of which suppress the actual pH and lead to a false low pH reading.

Hmmm. I hate to 2nd guess AJ but I'm not sold on this one. I recall that gentle stirring is considered best. Something about refreshing the solution at the electrode, as the measurement itself can cause the solution to change. I feel certain that a gentle stir for at least a moment may help "wash off" any DI water used to clean it from a recent measurement or any KCL storage solution that might be on it, preparing it for a good measurement. As for after that... I do also think that gently stirring is supposed to give the best results.

I'd also venture a guess that you should be sure to measure your mash however you perform your calibration. Different methods here will almost certainly give incorrect results.

As for acid into a dark beer, I can believe it. Base malts can seem to vary SO much that one with a fairly high pH to start with (meaning of course the pH measurement of the malt + water) might actually need to be lowered. Don't quote me but I think one or more Maris Otter maltsters put out a high pH product. I do know that if I change the base malt in a recipe, even with no other changes, my pH measurement is pretty unlikely to match the previous results. I could easily see a particular base malt, even with some roasted malt additions, not needing any baking soda (nor any other additions) to raise the pH to a desired level, it may be there right off the bat.

***EDIT***


"Recommendations are to stir the solution to achieve a uniform solution, then stop stirring and perform the measurement. The calibration should be carried out with standard buffers under the same conditions without stirring."

I've also sent the question to Apera, I'll share any replies.
 
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Silver_Is_Money

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If anyone wondered, Apera confirmed to do enough stirring to ensure a good sample (not storage solution, bubbles, or otherwise) is at the meter itself, and then to let it sit until the reading stabilizes.
Good advice, sans that the stability indicator on Apera pH meters indicates stability has been achieved way too soon. Or at least it does so on my Apera pH60.
 
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