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first time poster (long time lurker) on these forums. Hope you'll are doing well.

I am 6 months into this hobby and have brewed 3 Pale Ales which have ranged from disastrous to pretty bad :P

I now am eager to brew a Porter (1 Gallon). All the 3 brews I have done so far have been using the Brewers Friend Windows Software which has stopped working. So I have tried Beersmith and the Brewfather app, must say, I found Brewfather to be much more suitable so I am going to use that.

The recipe goes like this :- BIAB

  • Pale 2-row : 980 grams
  • Caramel 60 : 90 grams
  • Chocolate : 60 grams
  • Roasted Barley : 60 grams
  • Flaked Oats : 30 grams

Hops include Cascade & Centennial (target - 36 IBU). Pre-Boil Gravity : 1.054, Original Gravity : 1.072, Final Gravity : 1.018

The recipe calls for 3.2Ltrs of Strike water & 3.49Litrs of Sparge water. Is this correct? Beersmith & the Brewer's Friend web-tool show very much different volumes of water mostly due to the boil-off rate. Boil-off on Brewers Friend is somehow stuck at 1.5 Gallons per hour i.e around 6 Litres per hour which does not usually happen on my 10Ltr Stock Pot. I end up losing around 1.5-2 Litres.

I would love for somebody to tell me if I am doing something wrong here because I don't want to end up throwing darts in the dark, again!

Also, the recipe calls for salt additions of Gypsym, Calcium Chloride & Baking Soda to hit a pH of around 5.5. Hope this is correct, as I would be using RO to begin with (don't have a water quality report of my local water here yet).

Any help will be great. Thanks :)

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3.2Ltrs of Strike water & 3.49Litrs of Sparge water appears to be approximately correct for your process. Personally if I were brewing this recipe I might aim for higher volumes closer to 5.4L Strike and 4.4L Sparge, but this is for my own process and boiloff rate. As you can see, the exact volumes depend a lot on your own particular process and the water losses at every step of the way. These losses include: the permanent loss of water that you choose not or cannot squeeze out of the grains (perhaps 0.5L), evaporation rate (process specific as you know), cold break and hop material discarded after the boil (also up to you and how much hop material you have, pellet vs. whole hops, etc.).

All of these variables actually make volume calculations extremely difficult for the small batch brewer. I often brew only 1-2 gallon batches, just like you, and even after dozens of batches, I still struggle to get the volumes figured correctly. It is part of the small batch experience. With bigger batches of 3-5 gallons, I always come much closer on my final intended volume.

Regarding pH and brewing salts like gypsum, CaCl2 and baking soda: in a recipe with a lot of dark malts like this one, you should find you need little if any adjustment at all, or in a few cases you might need just a tiny amount of baking soda, like 1/16 teaspoon. Malt itself contains far more salt in it naturally than any additions that brewers might use, and dark roasted malts and crystal malt will reduce pH to the right place on their own. I would avoid adding gypsum or CaCl2 unless brewing a very light color beer like pilsner or cream ale, as these will reduce pH to the proper level in that case. But any beer with any significant percentage of specialty malts really needs no adjustment in most cases.

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    Editorial comment: Water is an extremely complicated topic and for 99% of homebrewers I feel it is a complete waste of time and effort. Some of the best brewers I know who don't concern themselves with water at all are able to consistently turn out award winning beers. I think we only need to worry about water chemistry IF or WHEN we have serious problems with very light or very dark beers. Otherwise, best leave it to the nerds to worry about. – dmtaylor Aug 28 '20 at 12:50

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