Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: johnny_b on July 17, 2010, 01:44:39 PM

Title: First time water "recipe"
Post by: johnny_b on July 17, 2010, 01:44:39 PM
Hello all,
I am planning to make an IPA and intend on modifying my water for the first time (other than Cl removal). From Beer Smith the stats are predicted to be:
OG - 1.069
Color - 8.9 SRM
IBU - 78.4
IBU/SG - 1.135

The batch size will be 10 gal with a boil volume of 12 gal.

I was thinking to add Gypsum and Epsom Salt to the mash and add some additional Gypsum to the boil.

Here are the details of the water from the EZ water spreadsheet:

Starting Water (ppm):                 
Ca:    32          
Mg:    8          
Na:    16.3          
Cl:    30          
SO4:    60.3          
HCO3:    27          
Mash / Sparge Vol (gal):    8.5    /    6.8    
Dilution Rate:    0%          
Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:    
CaCO3:    0    /    0    
CaSO4:    34    /    27    
CaCl2:    0    /    0    
MgSO4:    5    /    0    
NaHCO3:    0    /    0    
NaCl:    0    /    0    
HCL Acid:    0    /    0    
Lactic Acid:    0    /    0    
Mash Water / Total water (ppm):       
Ca:    272    /    271    
Mg:    22    /    16    
Na:    16    /    16    
Cl:    30    /    30    
SO4:    710    /    682    
CaCO3:    22    /    22    
RA (mash only):    -185    (0 to 0 SRM)
Cl to SO4 (total water):    0.04    (Very Bitter)

Grain Bill:
24 lbs 2 row
2 lbs 40L Crystal
1 lb flaked barley

2 lbs Extra light DME

As always, your input is greatly appreciated.


Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: a10t2 on July 17, 2010, 05:54:51 PM
WAY too much gypsum. I'd use maybe a quarter of that. Seriously, I don't know if you can even get that much to dissolve.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: joeysmokedporter on July 17, 2010, 10:34:16 PM
5 grams of gypsum should be more than enough calcium for yeast health and sulfate for bringing out the hops.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: johnny_b on July 18, 2010, 11:38:39 AM
Thanks for the replies. Please forgive my ignorance on this topic. All of the texts that you read say that to make a good example of a particular style, one should use water that resembles the water from the region where the style originated.

The target water in my particular example was Burton, and with the additions that I had selected the ions were still below the target, so I guess the replies kind of surprise me. Could someone please explain a little further?

Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: joeysmokedporter on July 18, 2010, 12:09:08 PM
Your initial proposal does not approach the "entire" profile of Burton water.  It approaches the level of calcium and sulfate, but is much lower on the alkalinity (bicarbonate).  Because of this, I would have concerns about the mash pH being driven to the low side, which can impact efficiency and possibly flavor.  To replicate the Burton, you would have to add some CaCO3, but I really think it isn't necessary to do this and have the desired impact on your beer.  With water chemistry it's better to start with less and work your way up.

There are a few good resources on water chemistry worth checking out (and highly recommended, as this isn't always an easy subject).  (1) is on howtobrew.com, there is a good discussion of the topic and a spreadsheet with how to calculate water ion levels to target desired alkalinity and malt/hop profile.  (2) is on the Brew Strong podcast, there was a 4-part discussion of water chemistry that explained the topic better than anything I had seen or heard before.  

Water chemistry is a balance of (1) getting the pH right, (2) getting enough calcium for good yeast health (target > 50 ppm), and (3) setting the SO4 to Cl ratio based on the desired hop/malt character (> 1 balances this toward hops, which is what you will want for an IPA).
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: johnny_b on July 19, 2010, 08:10:33 PM
Thanks for the additional clarification. I have read the sections of Palmer's book a couple of times and there is a lot of information to sort through. Sometimes, it is difficult for an inexperienced person such as myself to understand what the information means practically. I can appreciate when someone breaks it down.

I will check out the Brew Strong podcast as well.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: a10t2 on July 19, 2010, 10:58:53 PM
In general, shooting for the "city water" of a style isn't the best approach. For one, you don't know how old the data is, so for a historical style it might not be representative anyway. And second, it doesn't tell you how the brewers treat the water before they actually brew with it. I'd bet anything that to brew an IPA with that "Burton-on-Trent" water, they'd pre-boil it to precipitate out as much as they could.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: thomasbarnes on July 21, 2010, 09:34:56 AM
Have you brewed this particular IPA recipe before? If not, you should probably brew it first using your regular dechlorinated water to get a baseline for comparison. Keep a couple of bottles back so when you brew with modified water you can compare the difference. Too much gypsum in a hoppy beer can impart a distinctly unpleasant lingering harsh hop bitterness, so be careful as you go. A "Burtoned to death" IPA is not a pretty thing.

It's also my experience that water is an "advanced setting." As long as your water is good to brew with, until you've mastered technique, yeast management and recipe design, you really won't see the benefits of water adjustment unless you're trying to brew something like a Bohemian Pilsner. If you're tweaking your recipe for the sake of tweaking it, play with hop and malt varieties and mash temperature first. Then, once you've gotten pretty close to what you want and can brew it consistently,  start messing with water adjustment.

I also agree with a10t2. The numbers for "city water" are actually a range not some magic single number. For river water, and some springs, mineral content is heavily dependent on seasonal rainfall. For well water, wells sunk to different depths might draw from different aquifers, and might have different mineral contents, even for breweries which are relatively close together. Cities like Burton and Edinburgh are notorious that way. Finally, brewers have been treating their water since the late 19th century and are often coy about telling outsiders how it gets treated. What comes out of the brewery taps isn't always what goes into the mash tun.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: johnny_b on July 23, 2010, 11:28:19 PM

I have listened to the Brew Strong podcasts on water and those really clear up a lot of information on how to approach water modification. After reading about water modification and mucking about with various spreadsheets, it all makes sense now. I would highly recommend the podcasts to anyone who is considering jumping in to water modification.

Thanks for all of the input.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: jaicmac on July 24, 2010, 01:44:55 AM
Go to John Palmer's webs site howtobrew.com and read chapter 15. Down load the excel spreadsheet (http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html) and plug in your water values and off you go!
I had to read the chapter several times before I got it...but  then my efficiency went up and my beer got way better.
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: richardt on July 24, 2010, 01:51:34 AM
I understand what you're saying.  It takes time and effort to understand water chemistry--there's no two ways about it.

The first year or two I read and re-read John Palmer's book, my eyes glazed over the water chemistry section.
I thought to myself, "too geeky for me, and irrelevant."

But, it isn't.

I spent a year and a half brewing underwhelming and disappointing beers because the water profile was not ideal for the style I was brewing.  That ends up being time and energy wasted--and those that taste your beer are not impressed.

Once you hit that point, you'll take the time and effort to understand your local water and how to make your beers better.  Sometimes, it is as simple as using RO or spring water.

Don't give up.  The water and brewing salts are cheap compared to the hops and grains.  It is worth the time and effort.

At the end of the day, though.  You do need to use yeast starters and the right strain of yeast.  And you need to control your fermentation temps.  If you don't do this--you're better off not brewing and using your money to buy a fermentation controller (yes wire tr yourself--it isn't that hard--I did it.).
Title: Re: First time water "recipe"
Post by: timmyr on August 02, 2010, 06:33:10 PM
In addition to the Brew Strong episodes, go take a look at the Brewing Network Forum and search ajdelange's posts and replies to discussions regarding brewing water.