Last Saturday I brewed up an Edmund Fitzgerald Porter clone from HomeBrew Talk:
I had the recipe planned out in my brew log since last year but just now decided to try it out. I was planning on brewing a Gonzo Imperial Porter recipe but I wanted to try adjusting my water chemistry for the first time and didnt want to go “imperial” in case it didnt work out. I dont think I planned the right adjustments but will have to see how the final product is.
I used an aquarium test kit that measure GH (general hardness or calcium and magnesium) and KH (carbonate hardness or akalinity). My test estimated Calcium at 10 ppm and Magnesium at 2.6 ppm and bicarbonate at 108.6 or an alkalinity of 89ppm. I used the spreadsheet found on this site http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=At_home_water_testing) to make water adjustments.
However, when I posted my adjustments to HomeBrew Talk I got this response: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/help-1st-time-water-adjustments-455705/
I went ahead and made the adjustments so my mash pH was probably too high but will have to see how the final beer comes out. I thought it would be better to follow the quantitative data from the spreadsheet then mess with things I didnt understand (ha). I then downloaded EZWater brewing spreadsheet, which then gave me totally different results in terms of water adjustment and estimated pH. But others seem to be using it with fairly accurate results; I also downloaded Bru’n Water spreadsheet which is super complicated but would be good if you had a complete water analysis from WardLabs.
I think the next thing I buy will be a pH meter since I have no idea what the current pH of my water is and an just assuming it is 7. This porter and a beer I just brewed have had more vigorous fermentations, Im not sure if that is a direct result of better pH control or probably more likely having the necessary calcium in the water. This beer also had krausened and dropped after 2 days, which is very quickly.
To get more refined results I purchased a 600 gram digital scale off Amazon for about $6 that has .1 g resolution- so I can accurately add .4 or .8 grams of minerals brewing my small 1 gallon batches.
Edmund Fitz Porter (1 gallon) 1.061 expected at 84% 42 IBUs
1.7 lbs 2 row
.05 lbs munich 10L
.09 lbs crystal 60L
.085 lbs chocolate malt
.08 lbs special B
.045 lbs black patent
.2 oz Centennial 8.7% AA 60 mins
.1 oz Willamette 5.3% AA 15 mins
.1 oz Willamette 5 mins
S-04 yeast from starter
2 lbs x 1.4= 2.8 qts 185F water to preheat MLT. Doughed in at 166.2F and mashed 60 mins (end temp=149F). Double batch sparged with 5.5 qts 185F water to boil 75 mins.
2/3/14 Bottled it tonight after work, ran clear (though obviously dark) through the racking tube and airlock activity had slowed. I think I left it in the fermentation chamber too long at 65F and didnt finish as much as it could have, or I just forgot how bad at tackling sugar S04 is, even from a large starter. The beer came out much better than I thought but tasted slightly chalky, should NOT have added the sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). It tasted much more roasty than my previous darker beers have and the CaCl really brought out the malt. I think water chemistry is going to have a huge impact on the quality of my beers.