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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: greg_rosace on November 09, 2009, 03:40:19 PM

Title: Water Help..
Post by: greg_rosace on November 09, 2009, 03:40:19 PM
Hi all,
Ive been brewing all grain beers with good success using spring water, filtered water and my tap water for about 5 years now.
I want to hone in on quality control and want to start dabbling into making my own water.
I want to start making different water profiles for the variety of styles using RO water since it seem to be inabundances her in Tampa.. My tap water is less ideal for making great beer.
I havent gotten any reports on mineral content of my water or have'nt I sent out for any..
I somewhat understand the basic of the brewing salts and what they achieve.
But I am somewhat lost on the quantities and such as it relates to the different calculators.
I have this calculator that am toying with and it seems pretty straight forward..
I am inputting quantities of salts until I reach the desired water profile, but it seems all greek to me.???
So I'm reaching out to you all to get the laymans terms on water and understanding.
Heres the calculator I have...

Thanks Greg
http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/
 
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: majorvices on November 09, 2009, 05:17:12 PM
This could take a four page post to cover it all. The chapter in John Palmer's book covers it really well. What you want to do first is figure out what kind of beer your water is suited for, which will mean looking at your residual alkalinity. Check out this page http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html and use the nomagraph to figure out the style your water is best suited for.

If your water is failry hard (has high CAC03) you might need to cut your water with RO water to get that under control. For instance, light colored beers are best when the CACO3 is under 50, amber beer between 50 and 150 and up to 300 and even more for dark beers (or around there. I'm not sure if those are specific numbers - just off the top of my head.)

You also want to be sure your Calcium is at least at 50ppm. You can adjust that with CAlcium chloride (Cl) or gypsum (So4) which will also help lower the mash pH if needed. There is also a ratio of So4 to Cl you will want to target for certain beers. For instance, if it is a hop focused beer a good ratio would be So4 to CL 2:1. For malt focused beer you reverse that (So4 accentuates hops, Cl accentuates malt).

Of course, before all of that pH is the main focus and I normally use So4 or Cl to lower the pH and Calcium Carbonate (CAC03) to raise the pH. Remember that lighter beers will tend to have a higher mash pH and darker beers lower pH because the darker malts acidulate the mash.

I am missing a bunch of stuff but hopefully that will give you something to start with. I'm sure others will chime in to add or cover something I missed.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: a10t2 on November 10, 2009, 10:31:44 PM
Keith covered the basics really well. I find this link helpful: http://nomograph.babbrewers.com/ (http://nomograph.babbrewers.com/) It basically just automates the Palmer nomograph.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: bonjour on November 11, 2009, 04:35:04 AM
I understand that RO water is what is readily available but like distilled water it lacks micro-nutrients.  Micro-nutrients are needed for proper cell growth, in well, micro quantities.  Adding salts to RO water is not the best thing to do.  If you can get spring water use that, even if you need to cut it with half RO water.

Fred
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: narvin on November 11, 2009, 06:16:53 AM
I understand that RO water is what is readily available but like distilled water it lacks micro-nutrients.  Micro-nutrients are needed for proper cell growth, in well, micro quantities.  Adding salts to RO water is not the best thing to do.  If you can get spring water use that, even if you need to cut it with half RO water.

Fred

This sounds vaguely... homeopathic.  What exactly are these micro nutrients that are needed in almost non-existent quantities?  Aside from the standard brewing salts, some Wyeast yeast nutrient should give the yeast what it needs.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: drf255 on November 11, 2009, 10:52:52 AM
I learned what I know from the NB forum.

I agree with Narvin, I bet the micronutients are enough from the yeast packet.

I would build your water from 100% RO.  Download Palmer's RA table and figure out the alkalinity you need for the SRM beer you will brew.  Then figure out how much Ca and Bicarb you need.  The rest of the salt, like sodium, chloride and sulfate are just there to spice it up.  Chloride and sodium for malt sweetness, sulfate for hop crispness, etc.


I just use the graph, calculate how much chalk I need, then use only CaCl and or Gypsum to get my Calcium in the 50-100 range.  This has worked out pretty flawlessly for me.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: majorvices on November 11, 2009, 12:25:58 PM
I understand that RO water is what is readily available but like distilled water it lacks micro-nutrients.  Micro-nutrients are needed for proper cell growth, in well, micro quantities.  Adding salts to RO water is not the best thing to do.  If you can get spring water use that, even if you need to cut it with half RO water.

Fred

That's why you need at least 50ppms of calcium. Mostly it helps in yeast floculation.



I would build your water from 100% RO.

Certainly nothing wrong with building your water from scratch but nothing wrong with blending your water with RO water either. For me it only takes 1/2 RO water to get my minerals low enough to brew the lightest beers, then a tsp or two of either Cl or So4 to get my calcium in the range. I brew 12 gallon batches so that ends up being close to 10 gallons of water to cut my brewing liquor in half. Saves me the hassle of having to walk out of the store with 20 gallons of water!! My 02 is to save money and time where ever possible. Cut you water if you can.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: drf255 on November 11, 2009, 01:42:51 PM
I understand that RO water is what is readily available but like distilled water it lacks micro-nutrients.  Micro-nutrients are needed for proper cell growth, in well, micro quantities.  Adding salts to RO water is not the best thing to do.  If you can get spring water use that, even if you need to cut it with half RO water.

Fred

That's why you need at least 50ppms of calcium. Mostly it helps in yeast floculation.



I would build your water from 100% RO.

Certainly nothing wrong with building your water from scratch but nothing wrong with blending your water with RO water either. For me it only takes 1/2 RO water to get my minerals low enough to brew the lightest beers, then a tsp or two of either Cl or So4 to get my calcium in the range. I brew 12 gallon batches so that ends up being close to 10 gallons of water to cut my brewing liquor in half. Saves me the hassle of having to walk out of the store with 20 gallons of water!! My 02 is to save money and time where ever possible. Cut you water if you can.
Totally agree, but he doesnt know what his water has in it.  That's why I suggested building it from scratch.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: majorvices on November 11, 2009, 01:46:43 PM
Oh, I must have missed that. You certainly have to know what your water is.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: gail on November 11, 2009, 02:21:42 PM
Keith covered the basics really well. I find this link helpful: http://nomograph.babbrewers.com/ (http://nomograph.babbrewers.com/) It basically just automates the Palmer nomograph.
Thanks much for pointing to this link...great resource for visually presenting a complex issue.  I use John Palmer's Excel RA spreadsheet each time I brew but the BABB nomograph is a great visual representation.
Gail
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: little.dipper on November 11, 2009, 03:47:19 PM
If you don't know where your water is at, I highly recommend contacting you municipal and getting a report or getting one of those tests so you can do it yourself. As mentioned above, buying water for every batch is a huge hassle and can be expensive. I cut my water for lighter beers and I'm guessing that's what you'll need to do as well. There are likely a few styles that your water is perfect for as is.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: bonjour on November 11, 2009, 08:28:22 PM
Wyeast
Quote
The Wyeast Activator provides:
The only package that provides essential fatty acids and micro nutrients for a healthy and complete fermentation.

Quote
7. My fermentation is not attenuating..
...  Are you using a yeast nutrient to ensure that you have adequate levels of essential micronutrients and free amino nitrogen? 

http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-90161993000300024 (http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0103-90161993000300024)
Scientia Agricola
Print version ISSN 0103-9016
Sci. agric. (Piracicaba, Braz.) vol.50 no.3 Piracicaba Oct./Dec. 1993
doi: 10.1590/S0103-90161993000300024 
AGROINDUSTRIAL TECHNOLOGY
Effect of some vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies on the production of higher alcohols by Saccharomyces cerevisiae
Quote
ABSTRACT
A study was carried out in order to determine the effect of vitamins (biotin, thiamine, pantotheniic acid and pyridoxal) and micronutrient (zinc, boron, manganese and iron) deficiencies on higher alcohol production during alcoholic fermentation with the industrially used yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae M-300-A. Zinc deficiency induced a reduction on the levels of isobutyl and isoamyl alcohols. An increase on isobutyl alcohol (fivefold) and a reduction of isoamyl alcohol (two fold) and n-propyl alcohol (three fold) contents resulted from pantotheiiic acid deficiency, whereas pyridoxal deficiency caused an increase on the levels of isobutyl and isoamyl alcohols. Biotin was not essential for the growth of this strain. 

Now Ray Daniels on using RO and distilled water
http://www.allaboutbeer.com/homebrew/water2.html (http://www.allaboutbeer.com/homebrew/water2.html)Wipe out your water worries
by Ray Daniels
Quote
On a higher level, "pure water" can mean "nothing but water." This is tricky since every natural water source -- and virtually all the water we drink -- contains small quantities of dissolved minerals. This includes things like calcium, magnesium, sulfur and chloride. These elements give water its hardness and even very soft water will have some mineral content. To get water that has no mineral content requires some form of serious treatment such as distillation or reverse osmosis.

It turns out that using "nothing but water" (e.g. distilled water) for making beer doesn't work very well. During both mashing and fermentation, beer requires the natural minerals found in water. Without these minerals, the enzymes that drive the chemical reactions of brewing won't function properly.


Fred

Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: narvin on November 13, 2009, 12:17:29 AM

It turns out that using "nothing but water" (e.g. distilled water) for making beer doesn't work very well. During both mashing and fermentation, beer requires the natural minerals found in water. Without these minerals, the enzymes that drive the chemical reactions of brewing won't function properly.



Well, you definitely need to add salts (and maybe yeast nutrient) when building water from RO.  But once you do, I don't think there's any practical difference from spring water for brewing purposes.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: dwarven_stout on November 14, 2009, 10:18:58 PM
It turns out that using "nothing but water" (e.g. distilled water) for making beer doesn't work very well. During both mashing and fermentation, beer requires the natural minerals found in water. Without these minerals, the enzymes that drive the chemical reactions of brewing won't function properly.


I don't think anyone is saying you should be brewing with *only* distilled water.

On the other hand, brewing with distilled water + appropriate salts is a method that works well for many people. If I took this path, I would use yeast nutrient as well (when using the city spring water, I only use nutrient for high-gravity beers).
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: Kaiser on November 19, 2009, 06:08:31 PM
A lot, if not all, the micro nutrients that Fred mentioned should be present in malt. I build my water from RO water all the time and don't see fermentation issues.

Kai
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 19, 2009, 06:48:01 PM
I use RO water, and build the profile I want using Palmer's spreadsheet.  From the Daniels quote  "This includes things like calcium, magnesium, sulfur and chloride.".  Ca comes from the gypsum and CaCl2.  Mg from Epsom salts.  Sulfur from the gypsum.  Cl from the CaCl2.

One other thing the yeast will utilise is zinc.  Half a diet supplement tab is about right for a 10 gallon batch.  FAN and vitamins comes from the grain, as Kai says.

BYO had an article on yeast nutrition this past summer.

Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: majorvices on November 20, 2009, 12:16:28 PM
A lot, if not all, the micro nutrients that Fred mentioned should be present in malt. I build my water from RO water all the time and don't see fermentation issues.

Kai

However, at the very least you are going to need Calcium in some form.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: wilypig on November 20, 2009, 03:30:13 PM
This is a good thread. I feel that without knowing what you have to start with you cannot start. I guess I am a simpleton about water chemistry but I am also blessed with a great overall brewing water source (Lake Erie). The only time I would consider using RO or distilled water, both very expensive compared to tap and not very green IMHO, is if I were trying to make something anally authentic to a specific historic brewing center. Cseck pils is the only one that comes to mind for me. Relax, don't worry is a great way to put it for me. As always you are free to chose your path. Good luck. Just my 2 cents.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: Kaiser on November 20, 2009, 03:50:45 PM
However, at the very least you are going to need Calcium in some form.

I do add Calcium, but I wonder how much is really needed. There is also calcium and magnesium in the malt and some is released into the wort. I don't argue that calcium is benefical for beer quality but the benchmark mash that is done to determine extract potential is done with distilled water. The analysis also involves fermenting a sample of the produced wort to determine the wort fermentability which means that fermentation also works w/o calcium from the water.

An experiment on my wish list is brewing the same Pils with RO (~10 ppm Ca), 60 ppm Ca and 150 ppm Ca water. I'm curious to see how the flavor and in particular clarity of the beer is affected by the hardness of the water.

Kai
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: Steverino on November 20, 2009, 05:29:48 PM
A lot, if not all, the micro nutrients that Fred mentioned should be present in malt. I build my water from RO water all the time and don't see fermentation issues.

Kai

I blend RO with tap water (municipal well water) to get the PPM I need for the style I'm brewing. If you have fairly hard water, it takes very little of it to provide adequate minerals for the yeast, IMHO. For lighter beers, it's usually something like 9:1, RO:tap.
Title: Re: Water Help..
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 20, 2009, 05:59:16 PM
The water supply I am on has deep wells for the source, so it has minerals from all of the ground up rocks left by the glaciers.  The municiple supply takes out the iron, but that is it.  Carbonate is really high, about 290 ppm.  That is why I use RO.

If you are in another part of the country, you might be blessed with soft water.  I will attach a map of water hardness.  Be aware that the Great Lakes are really pretty soft, and many cities such Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland as use those as a source.

http://www.qualitywatertreatment.com/city_water_guide.htm

I am in the really dark green area in southern MI.