Brew Day – Porter’s Porter and Water Adjustments

One of my favorite beers to brew is my Brown Porter which I have dubbed Porter’s Porter. People really seem to like it and I have good success with this recipe in competition. In fact, I won a best of show with this same recipe in 2013 at the Southern California Regional Homebrew Championship. In addition to all that, I enjoy drinking it and it is hard to find commercial examples of a Brown Porter. I was shocked to learn when I looked at my brew log that I had not brewed this beer in nearly two years. I had brewed a Baltic Porter last year during my self-proclaimed “year of the lager”, but Porter’s Porter had become a victim of my own foolish brewing desires.

A few things have changed in my brewing routine since the last time I brewed this beer. I started to use reverse osmosis (RO) water, I am using the Bru’n Water spreadsheet to build custom water profiles for each brew, and I am now using a BCS to control my fermentation temperature instead of a Ranco controller. Oh yeah, and I got two new Chugger pumps to replace my aging March pumps. I had also acquired the SenSafe Smartbrew water test kit. The purpose behind the Smartbrew kit is to test my brewing water to see how close Bru’n Water gets me to what is predicted in the spreadsheet. Of course, this means I have to trust what the Smartbrew kit is showing me as well and I have seen some pretty variable results with it so far. See the chart below to see how Bru’n Water compared to the SmartBrew test results:

SmartBrew Bru’n Water
Sodium 65 37
Residual Alkalinity -12 1
Magnesium -5.83 10
Chloride CH 80.48 55
Sulfate SO4 95 72
Alkalinity, Total AL 17 45
Calcium CA 45.6 53
Hardness, Total High THH 90 175

The SmartBrew kit actually tests for Chloride, Sulfate, Alkalinity, Calcium, and total hardness. The app then calculates the Sodium, RA, and Magnesium numbers. The Sulfate and Chloride numbers are slightly off, but as long as the same ratio is maintained, this does not worry me so much since that is what really determines the malt/hop balance in the finished beer. Also, I am not using laboratory accurate equipment for measuring my water and salt additions. I want to run some tests using smaller amounts of water that is accurately measured, but I just have not taken the time to do that yet. The good news is that Bru’n Water also helps predict your mash pH and I hit that right on at 5.21. I also hit my gravity numbers right on as well. You can view the recipe here.

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