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Porter water questions

I have GLBC Edmund Fitzgerald clone on deck for the wife tonight (named “Gordon Lightfoot”). I haven’t brewed dark beers in recent times and wanted to get some input from brewers from the dark side. Recipe is:

80% pale (edit)
10% 60L crystal
5% chocolate
5% roasted barley

OG 1.058

Neutral bittering/willamette finish/maybe a small cascade aroma to 40IBU

From memory I want a slightly higher mash and kettle pH to offset the acidic grains. I have found in the past using baking soda worked well since it’s sodium contribution melds well with the dark grains. In bru’n water I added Ca salts and baking soda to a pH of 5.5. I start getting fuzzy with sparge and kettle salt additions. I plan to acidify sparge to 5.5 and add “sparge” salts only to kettle. From memory my sparge pH for dark beers still crept up without acid. I am not sure how bru’n water is calculating total ppm, since the sparge shows baking soda not recommended. Also, I know adding baking soda to kettle will raise kettle pH. This could be a good thing. I suppose I could summarize by asking what is a recommended pre-boil or KO pH for dark beer? I think at least .2 units higher than a light beer.

Add baking soda to kettle? Forgo acidifying sparge? Any other thoughts? Thanks!

You don’t need the alkalinity in the sparging water addition if the mash pH is already in the correct range. Sparging won’t significantly change the overall wort pH since the sparging water has little buffering due to its low alkalinity. Adding the baking soda dose to the kettle will raise the overall wort pH and that can have undesirable effect due to increased hop polyphenol extraction.

Thanks Martin.

As fate would have it, I had to postpone the brew.

how are you getting 110% of the grist in there?

the water god, aka martinbrungard, has already spoken, but I was just going to say use his black balanced profile and you’ll be fine.

Got me! 80% pale. Thanks blatz.

if you don’t mind, keep me posted on your attempt. EF is my all time favorite porter and despite 4-5 attempts i’ve never been able to get it nailed - good beers, no doubt, but not EF.


I’ll try and remember when it’s done. I live less than an hour away from the brewery and it is my wife’s favorite beer so I can speak from experience once it’s done.,d.aWc

I know they use 1028 on this beer and I could probably get more info if needed but I bet mine will dang close since I did search quite a while to find recipes that show the same trends. I will prolly just use harvested 1056 and not look for 77L crystal since I am not getting scientific with it. I think the signature or key is the 50/50 chocolate/roasted barley and willamette finish.

I don’t have much to add, but I just happened to see the grain bill and noticed it is remarkably close to my Otter Creek Stovepipe Porter clone that I have almost finished dialing in, right down to IBU’s and hop schedule (I use Nugget for bittering, FYI). I predict that this will be a damn nice beer. :smiley:

Zwiller - any update? Looking to brew my porter next week and would love to hear your results

By the way, the supporter’s version of Bru’n Water now calculates the average concentrations of the main flavor ions (Na, SO4, and Cl) to account with instances where the minerals added to the mash are not added to the sparging water. It also accounts for the contributions of SO4 and Cl from acid additions such as hydrochloric, sulfuric, and CRS.

This approach is highly valuable when you use baking soda for adding mash alkalinity. The free version just presents the sodium concentration in the mash. Since you don’t add baking soda to the sparging water, the actual sodium content in the kettle is likely to be less than in the mash.

This same averaging of ions is not performed for the Ca and Mg, since there are several complexing reactions in the mash which tie up those ions. Its pointless to try and predict what their ‘true’ concentrations in the kettle would be. The flavor ions (Na, SO4, and Cl) are highly soluble and are not typically complexed out of the water during mashing or sparging, so the averaging technique is valid in their case.

Sorry Blatz. I haven’t brewed this yet (or anything). Too much going on. I will be definitely brew this and promise to report back. Would love to see your results well.

With various conversations with the missus who knows this beer inside and out, we suspect the grain bill might be up to 20% crystal but my beers are always bone dry from using a lower mash pH. I plan to stick to the recipe as posted but shoot for mash pH of 5.6 which is a bit higher than I would normally do and see if I can get some more body that way. EF is not a dry beer at all. In fact, all GLBC beers are a bit chewy IMO…

Thanks for info Martin. Time to show some support and check it out.

Am brewing it on Thursday. Using mostly your recipe:

1.058 - 12 gallons
80% 2row
10% English medium crystal
2.5% fawcett pale chocolate
2.5% Simpsons chocolate
5% crisp roasted barley
Mashed at 156df

Magnum for bittering
2oz EKG at 15 min
2oz EKG at 1 min

40 IBUs total
Chico yeast

Think I should target 5.5 pH ? I’d planned 5.4 but based on your comments…

I just sampled a stout brewed three weeks ago…grabbed a shot from the bottling bucket. It was amazing!

I mashed high at 156 and had a mash PH of 5.6. I used baking soda and chalk to get the ph up that last little bit.

By my accounts, it worked perfectly.

Last IPA I aimed for a mash and sparge pH of 5.5 and I like the results. In fact, next time I plan to try 5.6. In my research of beer pH I might have been relying too heavily on lager brewing literature which advocates the lower end… But recently I surmised this is due to the fact that lager yeasts do not lower pH as ales strains do, so I was overdoing it a bit for ales.

Blatz, recipe looks great. Good luck on the brew.

B, double E, double R, U, N, beer run!

^ :lol:

zwiller - brewed at the end of last week. targeted 1.060 since it made the grain measurements easier. mashed at 154 instead of 156, but overall very happy with how everything worked out.

I targeted 5.5 using brunwater, but my pH meter read 5.35 at 95df and my colorphast strips looked like they were in the 5.1 range (with correction 5.3-4) so pH was a little lower than I’d have liked it to be, so i might add more lime next time.

It started showing backpressure within 8 hours and was pounding away by about 15, so we’ll see soon enough.


Thanks for the update Blatz. (meant to tell you I like your moniker as I cut my teeth on their ice cold stubbies back in the day)

Never used the colorphast strips but I would 5.35 with a meter 5.35 @ 95F should be pretty dang close to 5.5 at 68F. So you used pickling lime for mash? Do anything to sparge? Measure pre or post?

This one got pushed back farther on the list… IPA is about to kick.

[quote=“zwiller”]Never used the colorphast strips but I would 5.35 with a meter 5.35 @ 95F should be pretty dang close to 5.5 at 68F. So you used pickling lime for mash? Do anything to sparge? Measure pre or post?


yes - martin recommends picking lime over chalk, so i switched to that a while ago.

the pH measurement was from a sample about 10-15min into the mash.

i treat the sparge water with gyspum, CaCl, and mgSO4 to keep the sulfate, chloride and magnesium levels the same, but don’t use any lime or chalk in the sparge water. occassionally, acid is needed, but that is rare since I use RO.

[quote=“zwiller”]Thanks for the update Blatz. (meant to tell you I like your moniker as I cut my teeth on their ice cold stubbies back in the day)


my “Blatz Beer” is much better, trust me.

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