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Topics - mabrungard

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Ingredients / Homebrewing making a mark in the water supply community
« on: September 14, 2013, 05:53:47 PM »
Check this water report out.  Scroll to the last page.

Ingredients / Boiled Water Lab Test Results
« on: June 09, 2013, 07:55:29 AM »
As some of you may have read in the Decarbonation by Boiling thread, boiling reduces calcium content in waters with alkalinity.  All of my engineering texts indicate that the minimum practical limit for calcium content is about 12 ppm.  But those results are always presented in the Lime Softening section.  Since boiling is not a practical method for the large-scale treatment that we engineers typically deal with, there is no discussion on boiling and the practical minimum calcium level for that method.  I have someone else telling me that the practical limit for calcium after boiling is 20 ppm.  I'm not sure that the higher limit is factual.  I'm hoping that there are brewers that have had lab testing performed on their post-boiled water and they will share them here.

Please post laboratory testing results for your water after it was boiled. 


I recently had a question from a Bru'n Water user that has the fortune of brewing with tap water of near Pilsen quality.  He was trying to create a better Pale Ale since his prior attempts lacked 'zing'.  So, he was trying to match the calcium content of the Pale Ale profile in Bru'n Water (140ppm).  He did not realize that for calcium, anything over 50 ppm is good enough.  The only reason that the calcium content on the Pale Ale profile is high is because you have to add a lot of gypsum to deliver the high sulfate that you want. 

If you try and take the Ca to 140 ppm in water with very low alkalinity, the mash pH is likely to be far lower than desirable.  I just did a quick test in Bru'n Water using distilled water as the starting water.  I added epsom salt until the Mg was high enough, then added gypsum until the sulfate was high enough.  Then I added table salt until the sodium was high enough, then added CaCl until the chloride was high enough.  That left me with all the ions excepting calcium near their targets (Ca was at 115 ppm).  That produced a 5.3 pH with a 90% Pale malt and 10% crystal 40 grist.  Its a little low but not terribly so.  If I wanted, I could cut back on the table salt and add baking soda to produce the intended Na content to produce a 5.4 pH.  Either is workable. 

Another option for avoiding an excessively low mash pH is to reserve the Ca and Mg containing minerals from the mash and adding them directly to the kettle.  That avoids the low pH issue in the mash.  As many of you probably know, those hardness minerals combine with phosphate compounds in the mash to reduce pH.  But since those phosphate compounds are also transferred over into the kettle, I figured that this pH lowering effect would still occur in the kettle.  But I was not positive of this, so I posed the question of what the effect of adding those minerals directly to the kettle was to my partners for the upcoming Water book: Palmer, Kaminski, and Delange.  They confirmed that the effect would occur in the kettle. 

You may now be what if the pH in the kettle is driven lower?  Well, a lower than desirable kettle pH also affects several factors in the beer.  The number one factor is that low pH reduces the production of hop bitterness and hop expression.  The more ideal wort pH of 5.2 to 5.6 helps extract the hop alpha acids and other components from the hop matter.  The rest of the factors are not a big deal, but the hop thing is.  So getting the wort pH right is a good thing.  Therefore, maybe the technique of reserving the hardness minerals from the mash is not ideal.  Getting the pH correct in the mash with all the minerals is probably a more ideal way to go.


Ingredients / Bru'n Water version 1.14 posted
« on: April 12, 2013, 02:49:00 PM »
The latest update to the free version of Bru'n Water is now available on the Bru'n Water website.  The main thing that was changed was an update for Acid Malt acidity so that it more accurately reflects its contribution.  The mash pH prediction capability has also been improved.

The free version lacks many of the features of the supporter's version, but its still effective.


Commercial Beer Reviews / Becks Black Sapphire
« on: February 01, 2013, 07:47:20 PM »
I had a bottle of this today and came away modestly impressed.  It is a Pils style, but I felt the maltiness lingered a bit too long and the beer didn't dry very well in the finish.  Maybe a touch more attenuation or a touch more sulfate to help dry the finish.  The hopping was interesting.  The Sapphire hops were pleasant and add a winey character that generally agrees with the maltiness.  Not a bad beer.  I'd have it again, but I'm not sure that it can pass the 3 bottle test...I could not drink 3 of these, but I might be able to enjoy 2 bottles. 

PS: The only thing black about this beer is the bottle.  At least you won't have to worry about skunking in the package.

Ingredients / Rahr Base Malts and Bru'n Water
« on: January 20, 2013, 12:28:01 PM »
As we know from several sources, Rahr base malts tend to produce a mash pH that is a couple of tenths lower than other similar base malts.  I just finished up a brew using a large percentage of Rahr 2-row Pale and was able to verify a corrective input for Bru'n Water that accounts for the higher acidity Rahr malt. 

I recommend increasing the color rating of the Rahr base malt by about 3 lovibond to account for the extra acidity.  For example, for a Rahr Pale malt with a color rating of 2 L, input the color rating as 5 L in Bru'n Water.  That will improve the accuracy of the mash pH prediction.


General Homebrew Discussion / For the Love of Hops Pre-sale for AHA Members
« on: November 13, 2012, 02:00:10 PM »
The pre-sale event for the upcoming book: For the Love of Hops has started.  AHA members get a 40% discount.  Another reason to be an AHA member!

Ingredients / Gratzer Water
« on: November 09, 2012, 10:50:54 AM »
I just finished reading the excellent article on the smoked wheat beer, Gratzer in the Nov/Dec 2012 Zymurgy issue.  Since a Gratz water profile was included in the article, it got my interest. 

As with many water profiles from historic brewing cities, the uninformed use of those water profiles can get you into trouble.  The Gratz profiles included in the article are cases in point.  Of those Well samples in the article, only Well #2 comes close to balancing and it requires an assumption to achieve that balance.  The assumption comes for the Alkalinity.  Unfortunately, it appears that the alkalinity should have been labeled HCO3 instead since the profile does not come close to balancing with 325 ppm (as CaCO3) Alkalinity.  So, the Gratz water profile can be reasonably assumed to have the following profile:

Ca:      121 ppm
Mg:      31 ppm
Na:      32 ppm
SO4:    145 ppm
Cl:       67 ppm
HCO3:  320 ppm

Fortunately in the case of this light-colored wheat beer, trying to duplicate the bicarbonate (HCO3) content is pointless.  That water is far too alkaline to brew this pale beer.  Fortunately, the simple process of boiling the Gratz water would result in the following profile that is more suited to brewing this style:

Ca:       45 ppm
Mg:       31 ppm
Na:       32 ppm
SO4:     145 ppm
Cl:        67 ppm
HCO3:   80 ppm

This reduces the alkalinity significantly and creates Residual Alkalinity conditions that are reasonably suited for brewing this beer.  The article goes on to say that an Acid Rest was used in the brewing.  That should further neutralize the HCO3 and make the water more suited to this pale style and make the finished beer more tart and spritzy.  That effect can be parroted with a minor addition of lactic acid.  I'd say enough acid to neutralize about 20 to 30 ppm of the HCO3. 

This sure looks like an interesting beer.  I love session and smoked beers and this should be something enjoyable.  Try it out with these water recommendations and you should be in the ball park. 

That entire issue was really enjoyable and information packed.  If you are not an AHA member, I can assure you that AHA dues provide quite a return.  Seriously consider joining. 

Equipment and Software / ColorpHast pH Strip Information
« on: October 25, 2012, 02:19:12 PM »
I received this interesting information from a friend of mine who spoke with a technical services representative from EMD, the producers of the ColorpHast plastic pH strips.

The Rep said that to use ColorpHast strips correctly, the strip immersion time must be from 1-10 minutes until no further change is noticed.  He said that this is because of the very low ionic concentrations of what brewers measure, (ie: water/mash/wort/beer).  He went on to say that the quick "Dip and Read" will NOT render a correct pH measurement.  He also confirmed that the strips do read about 0.2 - 0.3 units low at mash temp. So the findings of Kai Troester and AJ Delange about the readings of these strips are confirmed. 

Another thing the EMD Rep mentioned, was that ColorpHast strips have an expiration date of 3-5 years IF they are stored in a closed container with a desiccant (moisture-removing agent).  Apparently the strips are adversely affected by air moisture.   If the strips are not carefully stored and protected, they have a typical shelf life of 1-2 years.


Commercial Beer Reviews / Sweetwater Motor Boat Ale
« on: October 21, 2012, 12:13:15 PM »
I just enjoyed a six of this seasonal from Sweetwater Brewing.  Since I moved to Indynaner from FL almost 4 years ago, I haven't had much opportunity to sample Sweetwater brews.  I've enjoyed their very enjoyable 420 Pale Ale for years.  But I fortunately passed it up in the grocery store during my beach vacation in FL and got on the Motor Boat. 

This is purported to be their version of an ESB and I can say that it meets expectations on all marks.  It definitely is an ESB with a caramelly malt flavor that balances the substantial hop bittering.  The hop flavor and aroma are definitely American with significant citrus notes, but there are very pleasant floral notes that compliment the typically citrusy American hop character. 

I have to admit that I would enjoy a little less citrus while keeping the floral to make it a little more English, but this is still a very enjoyable beer.  An ESB doesn't have to use English hops, so it can still be called an ESB.  Seek it out.

General Homebrew Discussion / Alabama Beer Success
« on: August 01, 2012, 06:16:30 AM »
I just heard about Alabama's success in permitting commercial beer to be sold in bottles up to 750ml on National Public Radio today.  Even the Free the Hops group was cited in the report.  Congratulations! They'll have to find more space in the shops now.

I understand that they could only have beer in pint bottles or smaller prior to this. 

Its not quite good news for homebrewers, but its a move in the right direction.

You'll need to scroll down to Section 404 to see the provision that allows 'licensed winery or brewery' to mail alcohol. 

Ingredients / Bru'n Water v 1.12 Posted
« on: May 03, 2012, 06:35:25 AM »
I've posted an updated version of Bru'n Water includes significant improvement to the User Interface and corrects an error in mash pH estimation that occurs when batch size changes. 


Equipment and Software / Irish Moss Mill
« on: April 21, 2012, 09:07:53 AM »
I just saw a post on another site regarding Irish Moss.  That person used a pepper mill to grind the IM finer.  That seems like a great idea and I'll be following suit.  Right now, I just keep my IM in a little plastic baggie and dole it into a shot glass for rehydration.  I figure that I can get a cheap pepper or salt mill at a store and keep my IM in there and dole it out in a finer grind in the future.

Equipment and Software / Bru'n Water Knowledge
« on: February 29, 2012, 10:15:09 AM »
I've just enhanced the Bru'n Water site to include a nicer and more informative web-based version of the Water Knowledge that has always been included in the Bru'n Water software.  Now you can easily view some of the most comprehensive brewing water knowledge on the web without having to download Bru'n Water.

The link in my signature line gets you to Bru'n Water and the link to the Water Knowledge page. 


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