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Wheat beer recipe deconstruction (dark wheat/pH)

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DVCNick

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My usual wheat beer recipe is about half 2-row and half white wheat malt with a little bit of carapils. I do a couple mL of lactic acid to get the mash pH estimate down to about 5.3x.

I did an experimental batch replacing the white wheat with Weyermann dark wheat malt. I wasn't sure how to categorize this grain for the mash pH estimators.
Leaving white wheat an no acid addition in the calculator estimates 5.8.

Quick searching indicated that dark grains tend to drop the pH, so I just went with no acid addition and figured the pH would drop a little.
Actual measured pH was 5.7.... it does not appear to have dropped much from what the calculator said it should be based on white wheat. My pH meter is pretty new and I haven't actually measured the recipe with the white wheat, but others that I have measured have come out within .1 of the estimate.

Does this match everyone else's experience with the dark wheat? Is my beer going to not be good with the higher than intended mash pH?
Thanks for any thoughts.
 
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DVCNick

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Thanks... I guess that explains it. Hopefully it's drinkable.
 

Yooper

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If you use some water calculator software (I use Brewer's Friend), it can really help you estimate your mash pH beforehand and I find it really helpful.
 
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DVCNick

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Yes, so far EZ water calc has been +/- .1 of my measured values, not bad, and hopefully won't have to break out the meter for every batch once I get more actual measured values of my usual recipes.
 

IslandLizard

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Actual measured pH was 5.7....
When using larger percentages of unknown malt or adjuncts, in addition to estimating your mash pH based on similar grains, you could perform a test mash with a half pound of your grist mix. Stir it well. Measure the pH at least 30 minutes into the mash, or best, at the end. Then make adjustments from there for mashing the main batch. Add the test batch to it, so no wort is lost. ;)
 

IslandLizard

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Is my beer going to not be good with the higher than intended mash pH?
It should taste differently, mainly due to substituting a large percentage of your grist with a similar, but somewhat higher temp, or longer kilned wheat malt. I doubt the somewhat higher mash pH would make it less good. You kept the pH under 6.0 (even under 5.8), so tannin extraction should have been minimal. Did you sparge with acidified water?

If you still have some of an older batch left, compare them for peace of mind. Or science.

I'm interested to hear the results, please add them when it's all done and you had a good evaluative tasting.

I wasn't aware of the existence of a darker wheat malt, it may very well fill a nice niche. Here's why:
In my early brewing days I started to double decoct Witbiers (40% Flaked Wheat, 20% Red Wheat malt, 10% Flaked Oats). And they were darned awesome, but was a lot of hands-on work, 3.5 hours spent on mashing alone!
I won first place with it in a wheat beer competition with 15-some entries of Hefes, American wheats, flavored wheats, and one Witbier. The rich wheaty maltiness stood out. They're still talking about it at times...
 
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DVCNick

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My sparge water was exactly the same profile as mash water.

The "original recipe" with the white wheat is the one I've done the most tweaking and experimenting with in all my time brewing. Some versions have been good (one came in 3rd out of 51 entries in a local competition, all styles combined) Some not so much... the last iteration was really pretty much tasteless; it was fermented in the low 60's so I'm hoping that's what the issue was.

This one is fermenting in the low 70's and except for the lack of acid addition and the dark wheat, is the same as versions that have been good in the past.
I'm hoping to take it to a party in about 3 weeks so hopefully it doesn't suck. I'll report back. It is currently four days in and visible activity is starting to trail off.
 

rhys333

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At 5.7 it's going to lack that nice crispness you'll get from your usual wheat beers mashed at 5.3. It might even be a bit flabby tasting, but as long as you know to anticipate this you can try adjusting the pH down before packaging.

I tasted a commercial wheat beer recently that clearly had too high a pH and it wasn't enjoyable. It seemed cloying and lacked flavor definition. If it were in your shoes, I would adjust it for sure.
 
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DVCNick

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How do you do that, add a little bit of acid at kegging time? This is a new one on me.
 

rhys333

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How do you do that, add a little bit of acid at kegging time? This is a new one on me.
I've never done it, but I might try one of two approaches. If you have a way to measure small amounts, you could pull a half pint of beer and dose it with lactic acid until it tastes right. Then scale up for the full batch. Or you could dose the entire batch with 1 - 2mm or so acid at a time until you get something that tastes close to where you like it.

Either way, I would stop just a bit higher than where you think it would taste perfect. Once chilled and carbonated, the perceived acidity will increase just a smidge. Keep in mind, I'm just spitballing ideas here because I haven't had to contend with the issue. Taste it post-fermentation and see what you think before attempting anything.
 
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DVCNick

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Kegged today at 1.009, a couple points higher than in normally goes with white wheat in the same conditions, but probably no big deal.

I added 2mL of lactic acid to the keg... it's chilling and force carbing now; we'll see how it's coming along in a week or so.
 
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DVCNick

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Ok, so final verdict (you're about to learn that I'm not a BJCP judge) with most of the keg drank at a get together last weekend; I still have a little left.
Certainly drinkable. Just a little bland. Far better than my last batch of the regular recipe that was fermented at 68. In my opinion, consistently now, this yeast (WB-06) is better in the mid 70's.

The color, once excessive yeast has settled out, is a very pretty orange, and it probably has a little bit of a "darker" flavor but it could be my imagination not having them back to back.

I'll probably try it again and get the mash pH down next time.
 
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