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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: trentmark on December 14, 2012, 04:26:49 PM

Title: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: trentmark on December 14, 2012, 04:26:49 PM
Water chemistry boggles my mind. I have been trying to build mash and sparge water from RO water. The RO water from my local water store has a pH of 6.5 and typically has 30 ppm of god only know what. I have been using an online spreadsheet to try to calculate salt additions but I don’t feel good about the results. My mash pH comes in a little high at 5.6. Since I am trying to extract a highly fermentable wort, I am shooting for 5.4. I have not been treating my sparge water and the sparge is fine reaching 5.7 by the end. I fly sparge.  However, my boil pH is high at 5.5. I have been lowering the mash pH to target and the boil pH to 5.1 with acid. I am getting excellent extraction efficiency but the final product seems to be a little harsh, from the hops I think. This weekend I am brewing a Saison. I have a full line of salts and an accurate balance. Could someone recommend mash and sparge water salt additions for this grain bill and hop profile: 59% Begian Pils-2L, 9.82% Vienna-3.5L, 9.82% Munich-10L, 4.91% flaked wheat-1.6L, 2.15% Special B-180L, 2.15% Special Roast-50L, and 12.27% dextrose. I expect a SRM of 8.7. Hops will be 3 oz. of Kent Goldings – 60 minutes, 2 oz. of Styrian Goldings – 15 minutes and 2 oz. – Styrian Goldings at flame out for an expected IBU of 32.5 (Tinseth’s method). I expect an original gravity of 1.057.  This is a 12 gallon batch and I will use 4 gallons of mash water up to 15 gallons of sparge water. Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
 
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: blatz on December 14, 2012, 04:46:07 PM
download Martin brungard's sheet (google bru'n water) -its very straightforward, easy to use and Martin is one of the most informative contributors on brewing water, IMO.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: garc_mall on December 14, 2012, 04:54:10 PM
download Martin brungard's sheet (google bru'n water) -its very straightforward, easy to use and Martin is one of the most informative contributors on brewing water, IMO.

This.

As far as I understand, put more calcium in your mash. And for sure treat your sparge water with some acid (Lactic or Sulfuric). But I really don't know what I am talking about, I just use bru'n water.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: nateo on December 14, 2012, 05:28:49 PM
Americans obsess over brewing water. I don't think it's really all that important, in the grand scheme of things. Use a light touch. Only add stuff if you have a specific reason to do so. All things being equal, I've had the best results just by using the least-mineralized water I can. Make sure you hit your target pH though (use acid if you need to), because that can make a big difference.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 14, 2012, 05:36:33 PM
Read the water knowledge section in Bru'nwater. Read it again. It has good information that will sink in. It worked for me.

As far as what you should do, you need to know your origin (the water analysis) before starting the journey (adjustments). The grist determines the route you take.

You could send your RO to Ward Labs for analysis. I did, and the results are in the 3rd post in this thread (first number in each entry, tap water is the second). I think you could say the levels are all low (3 ppm?)and go with it.

The pH of the water is not important, the mash pH is. Martin's spread sheet should help you hit the target pH. It is a little hard to do it for you, as you did not include the batch size, or more directly the weights for the grist.


Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: AmandaK on December 14, 2012, 05:45:27 PM
+eleventy for Bru'n Water and the man behind it. Thanks Martin for helping us all out!
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: mabrungard on December 14, 2012, 06:27:40 PM
Americans obsess over brewing water. I don't think it's really all that important, in the grand scheme of things. Use a light touch. Only add stuff if you have a specific reason to do so. All things being equal, I've had the best results just by using the least-mineralized water I can. Make sure you hit your target pH though (use acid if you need to), because that can make a big difference.

+1 on what Nate says.  But unfortunately, not all brewers have a low mineralized water source and have to use what they have.  Sometimes its a disaster in waiting and all a brewer can do is screw it up more.  But until the brewer has a decent idea of what is in their water, any way could be the wrong way to go. 

I suppose another aspect that Nate is alluding to is the quest that some brewers have for using a water profile from a historic brewing city.  That can be a bad idea too. 

Nate's overall sentiment to use low mineralization is very sound though.  God has smiled on those of you that have a water source with little mineralization. 
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: nateo on December 14, 2012, 06:39:29 PM
God has smiled on those of you that have a water source with little mineralization.

I buy RO for my light lagers, but lime softening is "good enough" for everything else.

I've learned a lot from talking to German brewers (pro and amateur). As far as I can tell, they only really care about alkalinity, and don't futz with their water nearly as much as we do. They also despise inorganic acids, so take their advice FWIW.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: liquidbrewing on December 14, 2012, 11:41:38 PM
Is your tap water that bad that you can't brew with?
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 14, 2012, 11:45:40 PM
Is your tap water that bad that you can't brew with?

If I liked to brew only stouts I might give it a try. The RA is 200.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: Kaiser on December 15, 2012, 12:32:33 AM
I've learned a lot from talking to German brewers (pro and amateur). As far as I can tell, they only really care about alkalinity, and don't futz with their water nearly as much as we do. They also despise inorganic acids, so take their advice FWIW.

I think we (homebrewers) fuzz a lot about water b/c we have the time to so so. I don't mess with my water nearly as much anymore than I used to when I was actively researching the topic. Just recently I brewed my Schwarzbier again. This time I dissed the idea of using my RO water and simply used my Munich like well water for mashing and the RO water for sparging.

Kai
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 15, 2012, 04:49:53 AM
I have made a few this year with just a couple tsp of gypsum or CaCl2 depending on the beer. RDWHAHB.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: liquidbrewing on December 15, 2012, 05:12:17 AM
 Send your water in to Ward Labs.  Knowing the chemistry of your water will help you build your water.  Is your beer absolutely terrible?  If you're making good beer sometimes, then there are other things to look at.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: liquidbrewing on December 15, 2012, 05:19:12 AM
Is your tap water that bad that you can't brew with?

If I liked to brew only stouts I might give it a try. The RA is 200.

I was asking the OP, if it wasn't that obvious.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 15, 2012, 05:27:37 AM
Is your tap water that bad that you can't brew with?

If I liked to brew only stouts I might give it a try. The RA is 200.

I was asking the OP, if it wasn't that obvious.
Sorry, pointing out that some have terrible water and are forced to use RO.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: liquidbrewing on December 15, 2012, 03:55:07 PM
Gotcha.  I know good water is key to making great beer.  It's unfortunate that some have to treat their water before they even start brewing.  I guess I'm fortunate to have good water to brew with.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 15, 2012, 05:08:46 PM
Gotcha.  I know good water is key to making great beer.  It's unfortunate that some have to treat their water before they even start brewing.  I guess I'm fortunate to have good water to brew with.

Don't know where you live, but the Midwest has very alkaline ground water. If a lived the next town east, I would have much better water from Lake Huron.

In Brewing Better Beer, Gordon Strong states he uses RO water and adds minerals for the beer being brewed. At the NHC in WA, his comment to the locals who have the mineral free water was "I hate you!" with a big smile. That water would be wonderful to brew with.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: nateo on December 15, 2012, 05:29:11 PM
If you live in the midwest, you're a likely candidate for lime softening, if you care to do that. My well water is insanely hard, but it's almost all temporary hardness. I've gotten my water as low as 3*dH that way, but it's more typically in the 5-6*dH range, which is still pretty soft.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hospter81 on December 15, 2012, 07:10:20 PM
i bought a RO filter and just add salts as Gordon says on his book....but...just wondering at what time do i need to add in order to enhance salts addtions and flavor...i've been reading that some salts could precipitate before fermentation or just do nothing to alkalinity
Title: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: denny on December 15, 2012, 08:31:38 PM
i bought a RO filter and just add salts as Gordon says on his book....but...just wondering at what time do i need to add in order to enhance salts addtions and flavor...i've been reading that some salts could precipitate before fermentation or just do nothing to alkalinity

It kinda depends on the purpose.  If you're adding salts for pH adjustment, they should go in the mash tun.  If they're for flavor, they can go. either in the mash or in the kettle.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: dcbc on December 15, 2012, 09:07:48 PM
I like to do my mash and sparge water adjustments with acid (my water is pretty soft and it doesn't take much ordinarily).  I add flavoring salts to the boil kettle.  It's easier for me not to worry about what my mash adjustment salts are doing to flavor, how much are absorbed, etc.  Obviously, for darker beers, I don't use acid in the mash.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: guido on December 15, 2012, 09:48:25 PM
Americans obsess over brewing water. I don't think it's really all that important, in the grand scheme of things. Use a light touch. Only add stuff if you have a specific reason to do so. All things being equal, I've had the best results just by using the least-mineralized water I can. Make sure you hit your target pH though (use acid if you need to), because that can make a big difference.

Couldn't agree more.  Only a small percentage of people should have a problem with their water.  Of course, I'm fortunate to have very soft water.  I put a little dash of gypsum in for APA's and IPA's, but otherwise I use it as is with great results. 
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: dcbc on December 16, 2012, 12:10:29 AM
I agree water shouldn't be an obsession.  But it should be understood (not saying you don't understand it).

I am fortunate to have some pretty low mineral water to use as a canvas.  Just takes some minor adjustment for mash pH and flavor and I don't have to worry with it or think about it, certainly not obsess about it.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: tschmidlin on December 16, 2012, 12:18:09 AM
At the NHC in WA, his comment to the locals who have the mineral free water was "I hate you!" with a big smile. That water would be wonderful to brew with.
It is ;) ;D
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on December 16, 2012, 12:20:14 AM
At the NHC in WA, his comment to the locals who have the mineral free water was "I hate you!" with a big smile. That water would be wonderful to brew with.
It is ;) ;D

Yeah. Had you in Denny in mind when posting that.  ;)
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: ibru on December 16, 2012, 02:01:55 AM
The water isn't as nice to brew with on the "Nevergreen" side of the state, unless you're brewing stouts. Hard and alkaline. I mix half well, half RO for pale ales.

Bruce
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: richardt on December 16, 2012, 02:32:05 AM
Quote
In Brewing Better Beer, Gordon Strong states he uses RO water and adds minerals for the beer being brewed. At the NHC in WA, his comment to the locals who have the mineral free water was "I hate you!" with a big smile. That water would be wonderful to brew with.

I think AJ DeLange said the same thing during the water symposium at NHC.
Title: Re: Water profile: Can someone just tell me what to do?
Post by: ynotbrusum on December 16, 2012, 01:31:20 PM
I have used bottled spring water since about the second batch I brewed, back in the extract days...water is usually my second-most expensive ingredient.  My well water is hard as a rock and while an RO system is worth considering, my buddy has a whole house RO system and he has to change the filters out so often that he buys his brewing water at Meijers or Menards, because he figures that it is cheaper than using his own RO.