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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: fidalgok on August 09, 2011, 09:35:48 am

Title: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: fidalgok on August 09, 2011, 09:35:48 am
Hey all,

I'm brewing a Saison recipe this weekend which includes 6 pounds of belgian pils, 5 pounds of white wheat malt, 8oz cara 20, 8oz unmalted wheat, 1 lb. sugar

 I've listened to both water chemistry talks from the Brewing Network Sunday session, read John Palmers how to brew section on mash ph and water chemistry, and Charlie Papazian's book as well and I think i am just getting the hang of water chemistry. I'm thinking about sticking with distilled/de-ionized water which looking at the water reports online from deerpark both have essentially  zero minerals, so I will be building up the water myself. I did provide concentrations from my city water report as well. The task seems a little daunting since my previous batches have been extract and I haven't had to worry about it at all.

 I was hoping someone could take a look at what I am attempting to do and let me know if I'm on the right path, or if you have a suggestion for the type of water chemistry I should be shooting for. I included the mineral concentrations below from my two sources and then what I get after running it through John Palmers Mash RA spreadsheet.I realize I should just relax and have some homebrew, but understanding this will also be a plus and make me feel a little better!

Deerpark distilled water (since it's concentrations are essentially 0 for everything I will just add what my salt additions will be)
3.75g Gypsum
.25g epsom salt
1.25g Baking Soda
.5g NaCl salt

This will provide me with the following according to John Palmers spreadsheet all in mg/L
Ca: 51
Mg: 1
NA: 33
CaCO3: 44
SO4: 129
CL: 19
Residual Alkalinity: 6

For my city water I want to add 4g of Gypsum, and .25g of Baking soda to achieve the following
mineral concentrationsBefore Saltsafter salts
Residual Alkalinityna-7

I'm a little unsure about a couple of things though:
1. If I decide to go with city water and use campden tablets to remove the chlorine/chloramine does that affect my chloride levels? and if so is there a way to know how to adjust for that?
2. I think I want to lean towards the sulfate side of the sulfate/chloride ratio but I also don't want my beer to turn out astringent or too harsh tasting and maybe when you look at the excel sheet you can tell if that is going to happen

Any help I can get would be great.

Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: Tristan on August 09, 2011, 10:06:02 am
Hopefully the water gurus will chime in.  Just my 2 cents, but I would just add calcium chloride and calcium sulfate (gypsum) in equal parts to your water until you hit 50 ppm calcium and then fine tune with a bit of acid until you hit your ideal mash pH.  When using distilled you shouldn't need much acid to bring the pH into the proper range.  I find soft water is good for most styles out there and will let the ingredients express themselves.  If you want a more bitter perception you could go with a higher sulfate ratio and more malt to a higher chloride ratio.  Some don't totally buy into the ratio making that much of a difference.  The overwhelming sense I get it that minimal adjustment is way better than over adjustment.  Kind of like minor course corrections while driving as opposed to jerking the wheel around and driving off a cliff!   ;D

You'll rarely have to add carbonates (chalk, baking soda) to the water unless you're doing a darker beer.  Your Saison shouldn't need any carbonates to be added.  Most of the time we try to get rid of the alkalinity to get our mash pH on track.

On the campden, I wouldn't worry about the chloride/sulfate contributions as I would assume they are minimal and couldn't knock your water out of balance.

IMHO, I would advise contacting your water department and getting the missing numbers for your calcium, magnesium and RA so you can start using tap.  Removing the chlorine and some minor acid treatments might be all that is necessary to make your water great.
Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 09, 2011, 10:14:10 am
Pickling lime, CaOH, is my choice for raising the pH.

You should download Bru'nwater, this is the state of the art right now as far as I am concerned.  The link is on Martin's sig. line.  He should show up with more expert answers to your questions soon.
Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: tomsawyer on August 09, 2011, 10:21:32 am
I wouldn't think a half of a campden tab would contribute much, just a little calcium since I would imagine the filler is chalk.  The sulfite does convert to sulfate but I don't think its going to give you much more than a few ppm.  I haven't heard of anyone accounting for this small addition, and these levels aren't critical at a few ppm either way.

As for the sulfate, I think its too high.  My tap water is around that level (120ppm) and I always thought it caused astringency in my malty beers.  A saison isn't malty but I still think you'd be better off with half that level, at 60ppm you'd still have double the chloride.

I don't think a little bicarb would hurt although I'm not sure its necessary.  I don't think this is the place for pickling lime since you really don't need to push the pH up so the amount would be incredibly small.  I've taken to adding a pinch of sea salt and Epsom salt to my water.

Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: richardt on August 09, 2011, 11:04:14 am
There are a lot of water calculators online and they all have their strengths and weaknesses.  They also vary in their ease-of-use.

I've used them all.  Two that I like are: 

1.)  EZwatercalculator.  http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ (http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/), and

2.)  Martin Brungard's Bru'n water calculator.  http://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/home/files (http://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/home/files).

Martin's site is awesome and thorough.  It tells you exactly how much to add to your mash and to your sparge. 
I'm pretty much using that one exclusively now.

Play around with all of them and compare the results you get with the same recipe. 
See for yourself how the various calculators may give slightly different answers.

One other thing, the Cl and SO4 ratios really only have merit when both ions are below 100 ppm.  I support your notion to keep the various ions reasonably low (relatively soft) so the water doesn't taste so minerally.  don't mess with it too much (i.e., don't over do the salt additions).    Get your Ca levels where they need to be (usually above 40 ppm for most beer styles).  Nobody likes alka seltzer beer--and as a BJCP judge I really judge those kind of beers harshly.

Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: fidalgok on August 09, 2011, 12:43:50 pm
Thank all for the suggestions so far, I think I would feel better playing with this as little as possible as you suggest especially because my alkalinity is so low to begin with. The funny thing is I called my public utility authority and discussed the compounds with one of the engineering managers and they don't test for a lot of these since they don't directly affect public health. Mainly calcium and magnesium. That being said I think I will just worry about getting calcium up to the correct levels since either way the two water sources i'm thinking about using are going to be really low.
Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: thcipriani on August 09, 2011, 03:12:02 pm
I think your 4g CaSO4 and .25g NaOH is probably a reasonable plan of attack.

My understanding about Camden tablets is that they won't affect Chloride levels - if so only negligibly. I know that metabisulfite is a powerful reducer - not sure what it reduces chlorine/chloramines to - either way I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm not sure what I think about Cl:SO4 ratio - I saw Colin Kaminski (co-author of the upcoming water book) talking about dosing beers with CaCl2- and CaSO4-spiked water post ferment to give you idea of the affect. Haven't tried it, but I'm going to - just to see if I can tell a difference. He suggested using 1tsp/pint of CaSO4 and 1/4tsp/pint CaCl2 since the gypsum doesn't dissolve too well.
Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 09, 2011, 03:50:38 pm
The ratio has some merit, but don't get hung up on it.

Here is an example, Munich's water profile gives a SO4:CL ratio at about 5.  They must make really hoppy beers there, right?   No, the beers traditionally were malty.  The SO4=10 and the Cl=2 ppm.  For really low levels don't worry about it.
Title: Re: Water Chemistry Question
Post by: fidalgok on August 14, 2011, 07:41:57 pm
Well the first all grain session went well, I treated the city water with a campden tablet and some CaSO4 and called it a day, I have a 1.059 saison bubbling away as I'm writing this! thanks everyone for the advice.