Water used to brew Guinness is soft water according to Guinness.

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youngdh

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Touring the Guinness brewery I saw this about their water during the tour ( see last paragraph in attached photo). This is contrary to everything I've read about brewing dark beers and using higher mineral content waters and why dark grains are used. ImageUploadedByHome Brew1400936086.782261.jpg


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ajdelange

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Well there it is from the horse's mouth. I believe the days when it was thought that you had to add chalk and gypsum in tablespoonfulls to water for stout are long gone but there may still be some hold outs. I hope they see this.
 

The_Bishop

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All I've been doing is adding enough salts to soft (RO) water to get my mash PH right, and keeping the gypsum/calcium chloride roughly balanced. I might favor gypsum a bit more for hoppy beers and calcium chloride a bit more for maltier styles, but that's about it. I haven't killed myself chasing 'water profiles' and I'm not convinced it's necessary. I'm no expert on the subject by any means, but this has been working for me.
 

ajdelange

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All I've been doing is adding enough salts to soft (RO) water to get my mash PH right,
That's not really a job for salts. Calcium and magnesium do effect mash pH but to control it you should be using acids.


I haven't killed myself chasing 'water profiles' and I'm not convinced it's necessary.

That's the other major piece of wisdom that has come to home brewers in recent years. Chasing profiles results in over-engineered beers that often aren't as good as ones made from soft water with modest mineral additions guided only broadly by the style of the beer.
 

mabrungard

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Touring the Guinness brewery I saw this about their water during the tour ( see last paragraph in attached photo). This is contrary to everything I've read about brewing dark beers and using higher mineral content waters and why dark grains are used.

Thanks for illustrating this. Of course, AHA members already knew this from the article on Irish water in the Nov/Dec 2013 issue of Zymurgy.

However, Guinness is telling a bit of a fib since they do sometimes get their water from the Liffey River. The Dublin water supply draws from a couple of sources. When the water quality at the brewery is too mineralized, Guinness does employ RO technology to reduce the water to the more typical water they take from the Wicklow Mountains.

Unfortunately, you may be reading too much into the fact that dry stouts are more successfully brewed with low alkalinity water to produce their characteristic crisp acidity. Other stouts and porters are more often better with higher alkalinity water.

But this doesn't diminish the fact that there is a lot of advice directing brewers to over-mineralize their brewing water. Although the water in some historic dark beer producing regions do have very high alkalinity and mineralization, they probably did take measures to reduce those aspects. Pre-boiling the brewing water was an easily accomplished measure that often reduces alkalinity and mineralization to the point that the water is still ideal for brewing those typical stouts and porters.

Don't fall in that over-mineralized and excessively alkaline trap of city water profiles. In Bru'n Water, there are "boiled" versions of the water's from those historic brewing centers that are probably more representative of what brewers from those cities actually used. That is more likely to produce a desirable result in your brewing.
 

ajdelange

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Unfortunately, you may be reading too much into the fact that dry stouts are more successfully brewed with low alkalinity water to produce their characteristic crisp acidity. Other stouts and porters are more often better with higher alkalinity water.

The major determinant in the final pH of the beer is the yeast strain selected. Ale yeasts especially are able to put pH where they want it but lager yeasts do so too. This doesn't mean you can be totally cavalier about wort pH and buffering capacity (and especially not mash pH) because clearly if you present a yeast with high pH and alkalinity it will have to put more metabolic energy into acid secretion to get to the pH it wants than if you give it something more reasonable to work with. This may be, at least in part, why knockout pH as low as 5.0 - 5.2 is often recommended.
 

The_Bishop

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That's not really a job for salts. Calcium and magnesium do effect mash pH but to control it you should be using acids.

I do understand that. I'm not piling in the minerals, just adding 'enough' by bru'n water's calculations to get the calculated mash PH as close to 'right' as I can.

Haven't been able to decide on a PH meter, which I'll assume is necessary for acid additions so as to avoid over-acidifying the mash. It seems there are mixed bag reviews for nearly all of the meters, and I'm not in the market for a $200+ PH meter... Limits my options a bit.
 

SpeedYellow

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I do understand that. I'm not piling in the minerals, just adding 'enough' by bru'n water's calculations to get the calculated mash PH as close to 'right' as I can.
You shouldn't be adding minerals in order to play with the pH. Add acids for pH; add minerals for flavor.



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ajdelange

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Haven't been able to decide on a PH meter, which I'll assume is necessary for acid additions so as to avoid over-acidifying the mash.

No more necessary for acids than for salts. The place where the calculators and spreadsheets fall down is in their models for DI mash pH and buffering capacities of malt. For salts you have the additional uncertainties associated with the extent of the phytin/metal ion reaction.

It seems there are mixed bag reviews for nearly all of the meters, and I'm not in the market for a $200+ PH meter... Limits my options a bit.

There are now a couple of offerings at the $125 or so level which are quite good (stable and reliable).
 

zwiller

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I cannot cite anything but I recall exported Guinness is brewed without dark grains and a syrup much alike Coke or Pepsi is added later in the process to give it the dark color and "tang". I recall the syrup and its the formulation is proprietary and secret (OOOOHH!) and only a limited number of folks with access to it. Apparently they use the syrup in different ratios for each beer. More in the exported bottles, less in the exported draft or nitro cans. I also recall that Guinness made locally Ireland is made old school with dark grains from the old water source etc and is supposedly a magical tasting beverage.

It has taken a better part of 2 decades for me to distinguish the horses mouth from the other end with regard to historical water quality and proper water treatment for homebrewing. The crafty germans can do quite a bit with water treatment which is contrary to a layman's interpretation of Reinheitsgebot. I suspect the Guinness we drink here in the USA is actually brewed with soft water since it is a pale beer until the syrup hits it, so there could be truth to them using soft water.

All that being said, unless you are using some really hard water odds are that you need additional alkalinity from the dark grains when brewing a stout. Pickling lime is a great tool for this. These days, I am aiming a tad higher in the mash (5.5-5.6) to great effect on dark beers. But, this is all coming from a guy that prefers Murphy's over Guinness. :mug:
 

ajdelange

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I cannot cite anything but I recall exported Guinness is brewed without dark grains and a syrup much alike Coke or Pepsi is added later in the process to give it the dark color and "tang". I recall the syrup and its the formulation is proprietary and secret (OOOOHH!) and only a limited number of folks with access to it. Apparently they use the syrup in different ratios for each beer. More in the exported bottles, less in the exported draft or nitro cans. I also recall that Guinness made locally Ireland is made old school with dark grains from the old water source etc and is supposedly a magical tasting beverage.
I doubt that the syrups used by Coke and Guiness are similar except in the broadest sense (no coca leaf in the Guiness, for example) but perhaps you meant that the process of mixing the extract in is similar. I have no idea whether all the dark beer color and flavor in international Guiness come from extract but it is possible. By making farbebier and extracting low molecular weight fractions one gets a flavor extract and from the high molecular weight fractions a color extract. I do note that the Guiness sold by Phoenix in Mauritius does not taste much like a stout but more like a very strong ale (think its 8 or 9%). But we do 'drink with our eyes' as Bamforth likes to say. I've described elsewhere here an experiment in which I gave samples of the same beer with Sinamar in one to experienced judges and asked them to describe the difference. The dark one was richer, maltier (nose and taste) etc. to most of them (some of whom still aren't speaking to me).

It has taken a better part of 2 decades for me to distinguish the horses mouth from the other end with regard to historical water quality and proper water treatment for homebrewing.
The home brewers knowledge of this subject has advanced a great deal in the last 20 years. The advent of computers and affordable pH meters and RO machines has made this possible.

The crafty germans can do quite a bit with water treatment which is contrary to a layman's interpretation of Reinheitsgebot. I suspect the Guinness we drink here in the USA is actually brewed with soft water since it is a pale beer until the syrup hits it, so there could be truth to them using soft water.
More and more commercial operations are using the 'blank sheet of paper' that homebrewers are also adopting. As an example of this there is a picture of the 'water softener' at s brewery in LAncaster, CA in the Water book (p183). Sitting in front of the other components is an RO skid.

Biersteuergesetz talks about what one can and cannot put into beer but it doesn't say much about what's allowable in water treatment. Running water from whatever source through microfiltration/RO and blending back would allow quite bit of control over the mineral profile of the water so obtained and, as nothing has been added, wouldn't violate Biersteurgesetz (or Reinheitsgebot). Judging from the number of ads and articles I used to see on this in Brauwelt a lot of German (and other European) breweries are doing this.

All that being said, unless you are using some really hard water odds are that you need additional alkalinity from the dark grains when brewing a stout.
If your water is really, really hard that might lower pH and extra 0.1 or even a bit more to the extent that some alkali might be needed but otherwise you generally will not need alkali (or acid) in brewing an Irish stout for typical north American mains water (hardness and alkalinity ~ 100 each). At least that has been my experience but others have noticed the same thing. With such water and nominal (10%) roast malt content mash pH seems to come in at around 5.55 - 5.6.

Pickling lime is a great tool for this.
If you get above 20% on the roast and/or use a lot of dark crystal/caramel in a stout you might indeed need some alkali and lime and bicarbonate are the best ways to get this.

These days, I am aiming a tad higher in the mash (5.5-5.6) to great effect on dark beers. But, this is all coming from a guy that prefers Murphy's over Guinness. :mug:

I too prefer this pH range for my Irish stout but, as noted, that's the pH I get with untreated well water. The product has been so good that even though I would normally consider that pH range highish I figure if it ain't broke I ain't gonna fix it. I do not like being that high for dark lagers (bock) and will use sauermalz to get lower.

We all go about proclaiming that pH 5.3 - 5.6 is the ideal range for mash. That may not really be true. The ideal pH is the one that produces the best tasting beer. It is entirely possible that within that range there exists, for each beer, and optimum pH. It is also possible that ultimate beer quality pH band is relatively broad. I don't have enough brews behind me to tell.
 

SpeedYellow

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We all go about proclaiming that pH 5.3 - 5.6 is the ideal range for mash. That may not really be true. The ideal pH is the one that produces the best tasting beer. It is entirely possible that within that range there exists, for each beer, and optimum pH. It is also possible that ultimate beer quality is relatively broad. I don't have enough brews behind me to tell.
Agreed; homebrewer knowledge is still in its infancy here. Even if 5.3-5.5 optimizes mash conditions, that doesn't make it the best pH -- like you say, it's all about flavor. I suspect yeast is a big factor here; even given the same wort, a different yeast may need a different pH. And even worse, yeast HEALTH may also have a big impact -- my favorite yeast seems to reduce the pH (pre- to post-fermentation) at unpredictable amounts.

My current thinking is that there really are no rules re. pH; you can only brew and re-brew a given recipe to find what works best for it.


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mabrungard

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I cannot cite anything but I recall exported Guinness is brewed without dark grains and a syrup much alike Coke or Pepsi is added later in the process to give it the dark color and "tang". I recall the syrup and its the formulation is proprietary and secret (OOOOHH!) and only a limited number of folks with access to it.

Yes, Guinness Flavor Extract (GFE), it is widely known.

Since the Wicklow Mountain water has very little mineralization and alkalinity, it would differ from most water supplies in the world. Looking at the Total Alkalinity of Surface Waters map of the US https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge, you can see that alkaline waters (light yellow on that map) are the predominant condition.

Brewing GFE with those waters would not produce the crisp acidic flavor that their dry stout is known for. Exporting that product to each brewery was probably a necessary thing. With the use of RO technology, I'm betting that they don't have to do that any more. To my knowledge, GFE is just a steep with roast barley. They might put a little pale malt in there for some diastatic power since roast barley does provide some extract. I don't know that, though.

By the way, Zymurgy readers also know that Beamish and Murphy's dry stouts are also brewed with relatively low alkalinity water. The River Lee in Cork is their water source and it has little limestone contact and little mineralization. A similar acidic bite is present in both, but I find that they aren't as tart.
 

ajdelange

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Since the Wicklow Mountain water has very little mineralization and alkalinity, it would differ from most water supplies in the world. Looking at the Total Alkalinity of Surface Waters map of the US https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge, you can see that alkaline waters (light yellow on that map) are the predominant condition.
If Wicklow Mtn water is unusually low in minerals (which we don't doubt) then it is going to be low in alkalinity but that chart also shows very low alkalinity water for most of the US. The highest band is > 400 µEq/L. Now they don't say how much higher but 400 µEq/L is 20 ppm as CaCO3. Water in equilibrium with air and limestone is at 1000 µEq/L alkalinity. I don't live in a < 50 band according to the chart but my alkalinity runs from 1000 - 2000 µEq/L. So something is fishy about that chart.

Brewing GFE with those waters would not produce the crisp acidic flavor that their dry stout is known for.
With out knowing for sure I am nevertheless confidant that the pH of the 'mash' used to prepare the extract is controlled to give them the properties they want. Any road the tartness of the finished product is probably determined mostly by the choice of yeast.

They might put a little pale malt in there for some diastatic power since roast barley does provide some extract. I don't know that, though.
This stuff isn't for extract. It's for color and or flavor (depending on how they fractionate it if at all).
 

yyvjpv

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Interesting. So when I brewed my oatmeal stout, I guess I didn't need to worry about using tap water (we have a water softener system) as much as I did. Well, too late now, we'll see how it turns out! :)
 

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Are you saying that your fermented beer made with that yeast finishes over a wide range of pH's?

Yes, although I should clarify that I rarely brew the exact recipe twice. But over several brews, I've seen finished beer with Wyeast 2308 spanning 4.56 - 4.80 (all measured together). The drop from mash to beer pH varied wild&#322;y. I see no rhyme or reason with pH, but I really need to look more closely at how FLAVOR correlates to pH. But it's just so complicated!


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ajdelange

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That's most interesting. The yeast should regulate to their preferred pH. That's how they beat the competition for nutrients. Now it is the same as any other feedback system. If you put a 150% load on a voltage regulator it doesn't regulate as well as if you put an 80% load. Also, as noted in an earlier post, ale yeast are better at this than lager.
 

SpeedYellow

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Aj, I just checked and it turns out the lowest beer pH of 4.56 was distilled water and the highest of 4.80 was Chicago tap (110 alkalinity). So that seems to be an issue, although the data seems to show other factors at play too. Of course, this doesnt tell me WHICH end of the pH spectrum I prefer, but it's a factor. Thanks for pointing this out! :mug:
 

SpeedYellow

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My mistake; I fixed it above. Should have been 4.xx not 5.xx.


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ajdelange

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Figured as much but wanted to be sure. I have to guess that if your yeast can't pull the pH of the beer below 5.8 they can't be that healthy or may not have been given enough O2 or perhaps there just aren't enough of them. Or the kettle pH was just too high but if mash pH was right that really shouldn't happen.
 

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I recall GFE also has the hallmark lactic acid/acid malt twang Guinness is known for. Might have dig out Dr. Lewis book, I think that's the one with this info.

Some other brewers have decided to post results of the pH of their finished beers. It is exciting to see the results. At minimum there is small set of data to indicate some yeasts produce less acid and some produce more. Very oversimplified, but at least they are finding some correlations.

Finding your preference for pH is easy enough to emulate by dosing the finished beer with acid. You can always measure your favorite beers. De-gas and bring to room temp first.
 
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youngdh

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Warning! Long post.

I just returned from my Irish Odyssey and see my post kicked up some good conversation :). The day after posting this about the Guinness source water my crew and I picked up our rental van in Dublin for the rest of our odyssey and drove up into the Wicklow Mountains which by the way isn't a drive for the "faint of heart" especially when it's your first day driving on "the wrong side of the road" :-0. Anyway, I took the photo below of a Wicklow Mountain stream. My running joke with my group was that "Guinness is really just the dark tea colored Wicklow Mtn water and a bit of grain alcohol ;-)". We never had a chance to ask anyone why the water is tea colored, but, my guess is its due to the "peat'y soil it's been percolating through". Assuming that's true I have to imagine the water pH is well below 7 especially given its low alkalinity (according to Guinness). I also question if Guinness truly takes the Wicklow Mtn water "as is". As an aside, in touring the Bushmill distillery in N. Ireland towards the end of our trip I asked our tour guide if they treat or manipulate the water profile. He actually admitted that they start with RO water and build the desired profile up from scratch! What do you bet Guinness does the same to assure consistency batch to batch. They could still claim they start with Wicklow Mtn water :-/.

With regard to a previous poster saying Guinness is tarter than Beamish or Murphy's that would explain why I felt Guinness had slightly more "bite" in the mouth than Murphy's. Two of the ladies on our trip who were not fans of dark beers or really beer in general both loved the Guinness as it has such a creamy and balanced mouthfeel. I told them to enjoy it in Ireland 'cause you won't get that same creamy and balanced taste back in the states :-(. I also noticed the further we got from Dublin especially up around Derry in N. Ireland the Guinness became bitter and less creamy tasting. I'm going to attribute that to those pubs not being on a routine "line cleaning" regime that I know Guinness has pubs in and around Dublin on (every 21 days the Guinness service tech performs that service). I'm now on a mission to see if I can replicate the Dublin Guinness experience with a homebrew. Anyone got a good Guinness clone recipe? I also realize that a big contributing factor to the creamy flavor and thick foam head is the nitrogen delivery system. I won't be replicating that easily since I bottle and don't keg.

On the Guinness self guided tour I learned how to do a proper Guinness pour. Without going into a step by step explanation, for the initial draw the tap handle is pulled completely forward filling glass just below the harp symbol on the Guinness glass. This is the nitrogen pour. After letting the nitrogen "surge" for 90 sec, for the final pour you push the tap handle away from you until the foam head is "proud" of the top of the glass. That final pour is a "beer only, no gas" pour. I noticed bartenders elsewhere during our trip and outside of Dublin doing the final pour incorrectly (pulling, not pushing tap handle). This results in too much carbonation and less beer in the glass. I asked a bartender who was not doing the "push" while pouring another patron's pint if he knew about the second pour technique and he gave me a coy look and said "yes". When he poured my pint he did it correctly :). My guess is by skipping the "push tap handle, no gas" technique they make the keg last longer (I.e., cheat the unknowing patron from the full pint they're paying for) by creating excess foam. Moral to that story is that when ordering Guinness on tap explicitly request the final pour be a "push tap handle pour". ImageUploadedByHome Brew1401967937.529059.jpg


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