Extract Porter questions - Briess DME mineral profile

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Beer_Life, Jan 2, 2022.

  1. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    I'm designing a recipe for an extract porter (with steeping grains) and I had a few questions I hope someone can help me with.

    First, an easy question - do you think it matters what volume of water you steep the grains in? This will be a 5 gallon batch, and it would be easy to throw the steeping grains (caramel malt, chocolate malt, and black malt) into the kettle in a nylon bag (a BIAB bag) in the full water volume once the water has reached 155° F or whatever and hold it there for an hour. I would then remove the bag and bring the water up to boil before adding DME and hops and proceeding as usual. But is that too dilute a solution for steeping? Will I extract excessive tannins or something? (I'd think not because the dark malts should get the pH pretty low in my very soft water, but I don't know.) If necessary, it wouldn't be that difficult to warm up a separate pot with 1-2 gallons of water and do the steeping in that, adding it to the full kettle once the steeping is done. But I'd like to know if that accomplishes anything.

    Second, a harder question - does anyone know what water profile is used in the manufacture of Briess DME, specifically the Golden Light product? I know that the standard advice is to use distilled or reverse osmosis water when brewing with extract, because the DME will already contain minerals. But I'd like to know how much carbonate I'm dealing with because if it's not very much, I'd like to bump it up a little to take the edge off the dark grains I'm using. I'm guessing that Briess doesn't use particularly alkaline water for its Golden Light DME because that would require a large pH adjustment in the mash. But I have no idea.

    Finally, does anyone have experience brewing with Briess's Pale Ale DME? Whereas Golden Light DME appears to be two-row malt with a tiny amount of carapils, Pale Ale DME is apparently 100% pale ale malt. That might be preferable for my purposes. Anyway I'm assuming Briess uses the same water profile for Golden Light DME and Pale Ale DME.

    I'm going to write a separate post about my plans for adjusting the carbonate level because it's kind of its own thing.
     
  2. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,004) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Whether it would be an issue would depend on the makeup of the steeping grains, the makeup of your water, and the volume of water. But in general, steeping in larger volumes of water will result in a higher pH (compared with lower volumes of water), resulting in more tannins extracted. Just as with all grain brewing, I'd recommend simulating the steep in one of the many mash pH calculators to make sure the pH is predicted to come in at something under 6.0.
     
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  3. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (237) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    1) Steeping volume doesn't much matter IMO. However I think steeping for 1 hour is a waste of time, as it's not a mash, just a steep. About 10-15 minutes should be plenty to get flavor and color without overdoing it or wasting your time.

    2) I don't know exactly how Briess treats their water, but what I do know is that their brewers are highly trained and degreed, and they make the extract in Chilton, AND I know how to find the municipal water quality from the following website: https://dnr.wi.gov/dwsviewer/ContamResult/Search

    And based on that, I see that the water in Chilton is extremely alkaline, and high sodium, but otherwise unremarkable. I have no doubt that Briess would need to acidify this water to bring pH in check, likely due to carbonate which unfortunately is not a parameter provided by the DNR, and they would probably want to do something to knock out some of that sodium. Parameters I did find, current as of 2017 or 2020:

    Calcium 28
    Magnesium 15
    Sodium 170 (yeah this is quite high!!)
    Sulfate 67
    Chloride 28
    Hardness 130
    Alkalinity 360

    If I were them, I'd probably be blending this with RO water, or starting from scratch RO. I don't know which option they choose.

    3) I've not used Briess extracts very often. When I do, I use distilled water, assuming they know what they are doing with water chemistry to give a good result. Pretty safe bet as far as I can tell...

    Yeah, so I have a Briess guy in my homebrew club, and he's been through all the Siebel etc., and has written detailed scientific papers, and he's just one example of many, so I know these guys know their stuff. Yeah I literally live within 10 miles of the Briess malting plant, right down the road in Manitowoc on the big Lake Michigan. Water in Manitowoc is very very soft, best I've ever seen anywhere except Plsen. I know several guys who work at the water plant there. So water in the malting house is of no consequence. The extract plant could be another story altogether -- Chilton is a few dozen miles west of here.

    Not sure how much this all helps, if at all, but now you know what little I know. Cheers.
     
    #3 dmtaylor, Jan 3, 2022
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2022
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  4. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    This is very helpful, thanks. It definitely gives me pause because that water profile in Chilton, WI is quite different from the one I usually brew with. But of course who knows what Briess actually uses. I have no reason to doubt that the DME is well done, but since it is supposed to be used for a wide range of styles I am not sure it is exactly what I want for my porter. But maybe I should just accept that this is a limitation of extract brewing and move on.
     
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  5. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,440) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Why not contact Briess and ask your question? If they reply, please post the results in this thread.

    Cheers!
     
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  6. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    "Google reCAPTCHA verification failed, please try again later."

    There is no CAPTCHA as far as I can see.

    I'll keep trying.
     
  7. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (518) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Do you have any ad blockers installed. I do and submitted a test request and received the same message you did. After I suspended the ad blocker, the contact form was submitted and the page displayed the following:
    "Thanks for contacting us!
    We will be in touch with you shortly."

    ETA: also rec'd email confirmation from Briess saying they would be in contact with me shortly.
     
  8. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    You're probably right, but if I have an ad blocker it's native to the browser and I can't figure out how to turn it off. (I've tried two different browsers.) Thanks for helping out.
     
  9. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (518) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    If you want to post your specific question/s here or in a PM I'd be willing to act as a liaison by submitting them to Briess and relaying their response.
     
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  10. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    Thanks! The main thing I want to know is the mineral profile of the water used to make DME (that is, not the mineral content of the DME itself, but rather the minerals in the water). Obviously I only care about minerals that are relevant to brewing, so I guess calcium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, sodium, and magnesium.

    In the interest of full disclosure, though, I've decided to go with BIAB for this batch, partly so I don't have to think about this stuff, but mostly because I think it will probably make better beer. (It's also considerably cheaper, since I already have a bag.) Still, this information would be handy to have in the future.
     
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  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,440) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    And perhaps also ask if Briess recommends that their extracts be utilized with Distilled/RO water to better 'manage' the mineral aspect.

    Cheers!
     
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  12. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (518) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    No sweat.
    Out of curiosity (before I make contact with Briess again) try this link and see if it helps. The page looks a tad different from the one I used yesterday, but it might be because of a cookie that was set when I temporarily 'trusted' their site.
    https://about.briess.com/contact-us/

    If you still can't access it, I'll make good on my offer.
     
  13. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    I've tried with three different browsers, no dice. I'd appreciate it if you conveyed the question to them. Thanks!
     
  14. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (518) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
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    Happened to do that about 30 min ago. Will keep you posted.
     
  15. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Poo-Bah (1,875) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan
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  16. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (237) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

  17. riptorn

    riptorn Zealot (518) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    What I sent to Briess:
    I’m a member of Beer Advocate and frequent their Home Brewing forum. One of the users there has some questions about a Briess product but is having a challenge with the Captcha when attempting to use the Briess Contact Us page.

    A quote from the user:
    "The main thing I want to know is the mineral profile of the water used to make DME (that is, not the mineral content of the DME itself, but rather the minerals in the water). Obviously I only care about minerals that are relevant to brewing, so I guess calcium, bicarbonate, sulfate, chloride, sodium, and magnesium."

    He mentioned Golden Light specifically, so if your water profiles are different for the various Extract products, I’m sure that’s the one he’d be interested in.

    In case the profile is considered proprietary information, or the information can't be provided for other reasons, is distilled and/or reverse osmosis water recommended to manage the mineral aspect?

    Any help/suggestions are appreciated.

    Response today from Ryan Wessley at Briess:
    "Thank you for contacting Briess Malt & Ingredients. Unfortunately, we can’t share a lot of the information you requested below, but we can share the following.
    Here are approximations of some brewing mineral presented on a 12 Plato basis, that is a wort made with DME and distilled water.
    Calcium 150ppm
    Chloride 18ppm
    Magnesium 10ppm
    All else proprietary

    Thank you again for contacting and brewing with Briess."
     
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,440) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    It is unfortunate that Briess in unable to provide complete information.

    I took note of “Chloride 18ppm” which is quite low.

    For reference:

    “Chloride: Chloride accentuates a fullness or “roundness” of flavor in the beer, enhancing the malt sweetness. It is generally used in the 40-100 ppm range in many beers, but in the New England IPA style, the chloride is often over 100 ppm, up to 150 ppm.”

    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/

    It seems to me that brewing with Briess DME and solely using distilled (or RO) water would be suboptimum as regards the amount of chloride. You would need to add ‘something’. The typical way to augment chloride in brewing water is adding some Calcium Chloride (CaCl2) but this would also increase calcium content as well which is already quite high at “Calcium 150ppm”.

    Using tap water which has some chloride but not high in calcium is a strategy here.

    Cheers!
     
  19. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,004) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    Good luck finding that. And if you do, it will likely be high in Sodium, which was one of the concerns about Briess extract earlier in the thread. You can't get around cation/anion charge balancing just because the ions are are coming out of a tap rather than a salt bag.

    It's beginning to look like Briess' water is a $hit show.

    OTOH, Briess said that the concentrations they are quoting are for wort, not for the water that went into it. Depending on how the wort was tested, those may not all have been free ions before testing.
     
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  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,440) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I suppose luck is smiling on me. :slight_smile:

    My municipal tap water is high in Chloride and low in Calcium.
     
  21. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (2,004) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
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    What cation is it high in? Or it it magic municipal tap water?
     
  22. dmtaylor

    dmtaylor Aspirant (237) Dec 30, 2003 Wisconsin

    Hydrochloric acid might be another option, but for some reason doesn't seem like a great idea either. You could neutralize the acid with a base, but this would require increasing the cation content in a not great way. Hmm.....

    I'm sticking with distilled or RO for my extract brewing. Which I do like once in a blue moon.
     
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  23. Beer_Life

    Beer_Life Initiate (24) Dec 5, 2020 New York

    Thanks riptorn. I really appreciate the effort.

    I have to say that I find Briess's response kind of baffling. The mineral profile of the DME itself can't be kept secret. Anyone can buy it, boil it with distilled water, and measure the minerals. I am not going to do that myself, but the idea that the minerals in the DME are proprietary is hard to understand.

    Of course I wasn't asking for the mineral profile of the DME but rather of the water used to make it. Briess can keep that secret if it wants to, but I wish it had a more helpful attitude toward the homebrewing community, which I have to imagine is the majority of the market for malt extract.

    Anyway as I said above I've changed tracks and am now going to do this recipe BIAB. Actually what's happening is I'm designing a recipe for my friends to brew, since I'm not in a position to brew these days. So they'll brew it BIAB and we'll see how it goes.

    Thanks again to riptorn.
     
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