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Messages - thcipriani

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All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 06, 2010, 07:35:13 AM »
I emailed A.J. Delange and asked and asked him if he had any additional thoughts on this thread. I felt that almost everything he sent back was relevant to this discussion so here is his reply in its entirety:

Let me preface by saying thank you! I'm really gratified that someone is able to use this stuff.

Now, on to the thread.

I really think you and Martin have pretty much got it covered. There are a couple of points where you guys disagree a bit but they are almost philosophical.  One is on the correlation between beer color and RA. There is, of course, a correlation. Everyone knows that styles that originated in places where the water was hard tended to be darker. The question is as to how strong that correlation is. To determine that, of course, you have to have data and that's hard to get. The reason its hard to get is because you don't have good knowledge of either the SRM or the RA for a particular beer. If I were to try to determine what the correlation actually is I would have little choice except to use my own beers and that is hardly a subset which would result in an informative model as I do, for example, Bocks, which are darker than my ESB with water that has lower RA.

The other approach is to look at beers for which I have measured the SRM that are brewed in cities for which I have a water profile. For example Guiness and Dublin and Bass ale iand Burton. Trouble with that is that Guiness is not brewed in Dublin any more and Bass isn't brewed in Burton either. But PU is brewed in Pilsen and Kölsch in Köln so we are perhaps not all wet if we assume that Guiness is still brewed with a Dublin-like profile and Bass with a Burton-like profile (which it clearly isn't - modern Bass isn't anything like as minerally as an ale brewed with "traditional" Burton water). The other problem is, of course, that I have about 6 mineral profiles for Burton. You all have been commenting on the fact that most published profiles are hooey and indeed so are most of these (I think 2 balance fairly well) and the range of RA's is -13 - 85 for the two profiles that balance. Caveats aside, I took 17 beers and did the correlation. It shows that the relationship between SRM and RA is RA = 5.6 + 1.05*SRM. This would predict that, for example, my 70 SRM Irish stout should be brewed with water of RA 80. This is certainly more reasonable than the 300 some number that the popular spreadsheets come up with but we still haven't looked at the tightness of fit. That's measured by "Pearsons r", a measure which indicates how much of the variation in observed data comes from the model (the model here is RA = 5.6 + 1.05*SRM). For the data I played with r = 46%  (100% means the model is perfect, 0% means there is no correlation whatsoever between SRM and RA). So the correlation is there but it is weak. If this were a game where you tell me the SRM and I bet on the RA predicted by the model I wouldn't take the bet!

I think what John did when he first came up with these was get data from brewers about water treatment and grain bill. I believe he calculated RA and color from this data and then did the regression. I'm pretty sure about the color part because I remember seeing a comment in a post of his concerning which color model he used. I'm not so sure about the RA. Whatever he did the resulting slope defies common sense (and he acknowledges this).

So given all the pitfalls of the curve fit approach (and who said it had to be linear?) I recommend that the spreadsheet developers take this "feature" out of their spreadsheets.

Imbalance seems to be another question that didn't seem quite resolved. You all said it without saying it explicitly: imbalance represents a measure of the quality of a water report. If the report exhibits large imbalance that means errors were made in measurement, the sample changed while the measurements were going on, bicarbonate was calculated incorrectly from alkalinity, ionic strength was ignored, or some relatively prevalent ion or ions were not measured. The way I often put it is to say that mother nature cannot make imbalanced water and neither can you so if you are trying to match an imbalanced profile you will not succeed.

Finally, the philosophy of owning a pH meter: Given all the variables I do not believe it is possible to accurately predict mash pH and that, therefore, it is essential that you measure it to see if your treatment and grist formulation combine to land you in the right pH range. But I agree that once you have determined that they do you should come back to pretty close to the same pH every time you brew a particular beer and don't really need to check pH. Being the sort I am I do and I also check at the return of each decoction, out of the kettle and throughout the course of the ferment. I don't advocate this for everyone but those pH readings are like familiar landmarks on the road home to me. Each time you see one in the right place you are further assured that your journey will come to a successful end.

Now one thing that has not been mentioned (or emphasized)  is that most beers will require the addition of acid in some form to reach proper mash pH. For German/continental brewers this is sauermalz or sauergut (i.e. lactic acid). For British brewers it is "Carbonate Reducing Solution" (a mix of sulfuric and hydrochloric acids).

Hope this is of some help. Feel free to quote it if you like.

Cheers, A.J.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 03, 2010, 11:39:29 PM »
He did correctly point out a flaw in the rule of thumb that I proposed between RA and SRM. He pointed out that if you design a really dark beer, the required RA goes through the roof.

The other obvious flaws being that your calculation cannot conceive of a negative RA value and that the calculation needlessly oversimplifies a complicated concept when many people have dedicated countless hours to developing applications to model non-ideal solutions.

Unfortunately, thcipriani goes on to say that the correlation between RA and SRM is tenuous at best. Unfortunately he is quite wrong with that statement. He did provide a couple of references from AJ and Kai that actually do provide a correlation between roasted malt acidity and their color.

I agree roasted malt is acidic; however, SRM is not indicative of the amount of roasted malt used in a mash - that's what I found in Kai's research; however, I guess you always find that for which you are searching. You have not offered any proof that there is any sort of strong correlation between SRM and and pH. Can you point to any studies thats conclusion is that mash pH can be predicted solely on SRM? It's like predicting the weather - I'm not arguing there is science to support that SRM has some correlation to mash pH. I'm arguing that if I test my mash pH I'm always right about my mash pH. If I use one of the available spreadsheets on the internet (especially if I'm starting with a profile that can't exist) I'm not going to be right 100% of the time. If I go outside and it's raining it doesn't matter what the weatherman says.

thcipriani goes on to say that the vast majority of water needs no adjustment. That statement is quite incorrect. The historical beer styles that grew out of the world's brewing centers are cases in point. There is no way that a brewer in Dublin could EVER hope to brew a good pale beer with their water and conversely, there is no way that a brewer in Burton could ever brew a good dark beer with their water WITHOUT ADJUSTING THEIR RESPECTIVE WATERS.

I never claimed that Dublin water needed no adjustment to brew a pale beer. I said that the majority of water needs no adjustment - extremes are exceptions. I don't think anyone would disagree with the statement that Dublin and Burton-on-Trent are very extreme waters. If there's a brewer out there with that kind of water then, yeah, they'll need adjustment - the 800ppm SO4 as the ion would be a good tip that your water is atypical.

Its also humorous that thcipriani goes on to state that if brewers are worried about their mash pH they should get a pH meter and then adjust their mineral or acid content. He is espousing exactly the same thing that I'm stating with chemistry adjustment excepting that he is expecting a brewer to figure out what to do while potentially destroying a few mashes in the process.

I'm glad I can humor you. I don't espouse anything with that statement other than a pH meter can give a brewer that's worried about their pH piece of mind. I think that once a brewer has a pH meter they'll be able to make informed decisions about which ions to add to their water to give them an appropriate mash pH and not blindly add salts and acids that needlessly destroy their mash by taking it out of the correct pH range. You seem to think that by measuring mash pH and adding CaCO3 or Lactic acid that it somehow ruins a mash when, in fact, adding a huge amount of CaCO3 without measuring your mash pH would do the same thing.

I really feel we're circling the same point - water's complicated and brewers need to be conscious of their pH. The difference here is that you espouse that a spreadsheet is highly accurate while I believe that a properly calibrated pH meter is the best tool.

Non-ideal solutions (like water) are complicated systems to model. If a brewer makes additions based on readings they get from a calibrated pH meter they're going to be right 100% if the time. If they use a spreadsheet, or worse yet, an oversimplified formula they could be wrong. I'm just asking brewers to look outside before they decide they don't need an umbrella.

Ingredients / Re: SRM of Brewers Licorice
« on: September 02, 2010, 10:22:07 PM »
I would think that the brewers licorice wouldn't impart too much color relative to the color of stout - which has already been said. I've never used licorice in a stout, but have noticed it as an ingredient in the past two years NHC 2nd round gold medal stout recipes. Why would someone add licorice - is the flavor it imparts a low licorice-like spicy fruit character or is it entirely different? I've only had licorice candy so forgive my ignorance. I've only had licorice candy and it was awful (judging it as candy it was awful - it may be great judging it as gelatinized stout)

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 02, 2010, 10:03:18 PM »
What happens, do some not dissolve?

Most salts will dissolve (with the exception of CaCO3 if the water becomes super-saturated for its pH). It wasn't my intention to be confusing when I said that your water profile is electrically unbalanced - what I meant is that the numbers that you posted here can not actually exist in real water with a reasonable pH. Your water does not correlate absolutely to the numbers for mg/L of ions in your water because it cannot.

Do you remember in chemistry when you'd have to balance a molecule based on its constituent ions electrical charge? That is electrical balance. All water has a neutral electrical charge - therefore every positively charged cation must have an equally negatively charged anion - that's why the formula for calcium chloride is CaCl2 and not CaCl - because Calcium must loose two electrons to achieve a full valiance shell of 8 e- and therefore has a positive charge of 2 (that's why I've been noting Calcium as Ca++). Chlorine, on the other hand, must gain an electron to have a full valiance shell of 8 electrons - and since electrons carry a negative charge that means the ion will carry a negative charge of 1 (since it has gained 1 electron [it's like adding -1 to 0 - you end up at -1 - think of loosing and gaining electrons as adding and subtracting negative numbers). All electrically neutral molecules must have a sum charge of 0 - therefore, since calcium carries a charge of positive 2 and chlorine carries a charge of negative 1 it takes twice as many chlorine ions to electrically balance 1 calcium ion. Water is like that only it's a whole bunch of those cations and anions. Examples of cations in water are calcium and magnesium while chloride and sulfate are anions. the total electrical charge of these ions must equal 0.

Your actual physical water (if we were able to perfectly measure all of its constituent anions and cations) is balanced - the numbers that you posted here as your water report are not balanced.

Water is like Descartes - it exists therefore it is electrically balanced. Starting with the numbers on the water report that you posted will give you a profile that is not "real" water on any spreadsheet because you are starting from something that is unbalanced and almost no spreadsheets out there test for electrical balance before they allow you to adjust your unbalance profile.

Nothing will happen, but you aren't brewing with the water that the spreadsheet has calculated. AJ Delange has a spreadsheet on his site that accounts for balance within a solution (and notifies you of imbalances with regard to atmospheric pressure and CaCO3 super saturation). That's the spreadsheet I typically use when looking at water. It's the Nearly Universal Brewing Water Spreadsheet available at - I'd recommend reading the entire manual for that spreadsheet, available on that site - it's not the most intuitive spreadsheet in the world.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 30, 2010, 09:15:20 AM »
Also, as an aside/tangent, all of the profiles for water listed in Chapter 7 of BLAM seem to be electrically balanced at a reasonable pH with the exception of Achel - which I was only able to bring to electrical balance at a pH of 9.3 - which is not a reasonable pH for water.

thehorse, the profile you provided is also not electrically balanced at a reasonable pH, this is indicative of incomplete or inaccurate data in your source water report. However, event my Ward labs report is not balanced (and it says so right at the top [in cation/anion balance]) - if you'd like to begin to synthesize water profiles you'll likely have to fudge your profile a bit to start with in order to achieve a reasonable result - but it doesn't seem like you have to tweak your profile too much to get it to balance as seen here:

Denver water profile is (in ppm as the ion unless otherwise indicated):

pH: 7.0
Calcium: 27
Magnesium: 7
Alkalinity (as CaCO3): 56.65
Sulfate: 49
Chloride: 18
Sodium: 16

Another aside to calculate RA use a spreadsheet or this formula:

RA = alkalinity - ([Ca++]/7 + [Mg++]/3.5)
All in the same units either as ppm as CaCO3, Meq/L or dH

1 dH = 17.848 CaCO3 mg/L * (Molar Weight of an ion) / (Molar Weight of CaCO3)

(also FYI 1 milliequivalent per liter (mEq/l) = 2.8 dH = 50 ppm)

1 dH Ca++ = 17.848 * 40 / 100
          = 7.1392
27 ppm Ca++ as the ion in dH = 27/7.1392
                             = 3.78194 ppm Ca as CaCO3
1 dH Mg++ = 17.848 CaCO3 mg/L * 24.3 / 100
          = 4.33706
7 ppm Mg++ as the ion in dH = 7/4.33706
                     = 1.614
1 dH CaCO3 = 17.848 mg/L CaCO3 * 100/100 = 17.848
56.65 ppm CaCO3 in dH = 56.65/17.848
                 = 3.17403

RA = 3.17403 - (3.78194 + .5(1.614))/3.5
   = 1.8629042857142857142857142857143 dH

RA as CaCO3 = 1.8629042857142857142857142857143 dH * 17.848 mg/L CaCO3
         = 33.249115691428571428571428571429
         ~= 33.25 ppm as CaCO3
or calculate Meq/L of all ions and multiply by 50 to get to ppm as CaCO3

Here's the Westmalle profile (in ppm as the ion unless otherwise specified):

pH: 7.4
Calcium: 41
magnesium: 8
Alkalinity (as CaCO3): 70.84
Bicarbonate: 91.31
Sulfate: 62
Chloride: 26
Sodium: 16
RA ~= 36.91ppm as CaCO3

Hopefully this info'll help you with your current water question and your future water endevors.

I'd say let it go at 44F until fermentation raises the temp; however, if you're concerned about leaving it at that temp then throw a fermwrap into your freezer and monitor the temp until it gets to where you want it and then remove it. I fermented a belgian in a 7 cu. ft. chest freezer and a single fermwrap kept the temp at 85F when the temp of our house was somewhere in the upper 60s. It's weird to open a chest freezer and have it be much hotter than the rest of the house, but it does prove that these fermwraps work like gang busters. This is the stuff that fermwraps are made of if you're a DIY/save a bunch o' money type of guy:

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Culturing up a pitch from bottle dregs
« on: August 27, 2010, 07:24:10 AM »
I'm convinced. I think I'll try 2% DME in my next batch of starter wort. Currently I've been doing starter wort at about 1.020 (that's actually what I emailed Dr. White about in the first place) and I haven't noticed any problems with yeast health or counts (however, I don't have a microscope [yet] so my "counts" are based on sedimented volume rather than counting in an actual hemocytometer).

Sorry to thread-jack gimmeales - FWIW I was listening to the Brew Strong on Yeast Rinsing the other day and towards the end Jamil was talking about growing up Dutchess from the bottle and he mentioned that he was able to retain most of the original character and balance of the Dutchess critters - I imagine that Fantome would probably behave in the same way.

Also, and take this for what it's worth (which may not be much), I've had success with the Wyeast BC Nutrient - it's zinc content may be less bio-available than servomyces, but it also contains other nutrients that the yeast can use.

Yeast and Fermentation / Re: Culturing up a pitch from bottle dregs
« on: August 26, 2010, 11:07:56 PM »
tschmidlin, your recommendation of culturing up in a starter using 2g/100mL is interesting. I just had an email discussion with Chris White about ideal yeast propagation and he said, "To really eliminate the crabtree effect, you need to be down under 1.010" which would be about the gravity of the wort you're suggesting. Not to be a thread hijacker but - do you have any experience with yeast that you've cultured with this gravity starter? What has your experience been with cell count and health?

Beer Recipes / Re: New Glarus Crack'd Wheat
« on: August 26, 2010, 10:44:58 PM »
I've heard there's some discussion about (and IIRC a recipe for) this beer in Stan Hieronymus' Brewing With Wheat which is a book I still need to buy. I had this beer at GABF last year and wowza - this is one of the best brewed beers I've ever had. I'd be very interested if anyone had any more specifics on this brew.

Equipment and Software / Re: Quick Question: Blichmann Ball Valve NPT
« on: August 26, 2010, 10:31:50 PM »
316 ss cam and groove couplers of all styles that works better than tri clamps in my opinion

What makes you say that?

I've always thought of triclamps as the standard for sanitary fittings and they're pretty simple to use. Why do you like cam and groove fittings better?

Zymurgy / Re: 2011 Zymurgy topics
« on: August 26, 2010, 08:08:21 PM »
I'd like to see one super geeky issue.
Normally the magazine is full of interesting geeky bits here and there but I'd like to see a complete "Beer by the numbers" issue.

It'd starting with malt analysis sheets and water lab info, moving on to the mash pH and mash gravity tests, then to wort stability tests and propagating yeast and end with fast ferment tests and fermenter geometry.

That's probably my dream issue of zymurgy.

Also, like to see Gordon Strong's recipes - he choose many ingredients that I wouldn't have thought of for a particular style - it offers a lot of insight, I think.

my $0.02

All Grain Brewing / Re: How long will my grain last?
« on: August 26, 2010, 07:16:48 PM »
I think these stackable vittle vaults would be the ideal way to store grain over long periods:

I'm thinking one of these should hold 50lbs. - plus they would make the grain storage look more organized than a few half empty 50lb sacks in a Rubbermaid trash can (which is what I'm currently using).

Other Fermentables / Re: Mead and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
« on: August 26, 2010, 02:25:22 PM »
I'd lean towards the carbonate myself.  It would change the pH more slowly.

IIRC, K2CO3 is a weak base and only partially dissociates into K2+ and CO3- and that dissociation is based on several factors including the current pH of the solution and only the CO3 can accept an H+ ion raising the pH (lowering the acidity) while KOH is a strong base that fully ionizes in solution contributing 1M of OH- per 1M of KOH solution raising the pH (lowering the acidity) because of the hydroxide contribution.... I think....

Please correct this if I'm mistaken - I'm no scientist and the information above was pieced together from Wikipedia and Google.

Based on my strong Google skill it seems it would take more K2CO3 than KOH to achieve the same effect on pH.

The only reason I mention any of this is that the BJCP mead guide that I linked to above says:
Excess carbonate can also impart a metallic or soapy note in the flavor. Don’t use more than 5 grams of potassium carbonate when adjusting pH of the must.

Anyone have any experience with this or nuggets of chemistry knowledge to drop? Is 5g of K2CO3 enough to achieve the desired effect? Also, why does the BJCP mead guide have the above quote and also list:
6g K2CO3 or 150ppm KOH (30ml of 2M solution)
as one of the ingredients of the basic mead making process on page 86 of the pdf? Did it actually mean, "Up to 6g K2CO3 based on pH shift during fermentation"?

Edit: 8/31/10 - from lowering pH to raising pH - cause of my dumbness...

Other Fermentables / Re: Mead and Potassium Hydroxide (KOH)
« on: August 25, 2010, 09:57:05 PM »
Ahh... That makes sense. So one would need to check the pH to make sure, and not just blindly add KOH.

That's another good question actually. Both of the sources I posted left me with the impression that KOH was a mandatory addition along with the staggered nutrient additions. Is my inference correct or would I need to take pH readings at 24, 48 and 72 hours and only add KOH if the pH is below 3? Or would I only need to take a pH reading if my final gravity was greater than I wanted and I suspected pH to be to blame?

It raises pH.  Helpful if you find your pH in the low 3's and still expect the yeast to do something.

I saw that Kristen England posted in the 'Jim's Beer Kit' forum that pH was only half of the reason that he used KOH. The quote from the forum is brief and unexplained in the thread:
Potassium (K) really makes the yeast healthy

If anyone cares to expand on why KOH is more desirable than K2CO3 or the like that'd be really helpful information - is KOH's ability to raise pH just greater?

Thanks guys.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 25, 2010, 09:37:38 PM »
thehorse, I am by no means an expert on anything - perhaps especially water, but I can tell you what I would do given your situation.

The best course of action depends on your goals.

If you're attempting to hit a mash pH in the range of 5.2 - 5.8 then I wouldn't do anything to your water. I would go and buy a pH meter or colorpHast strips, dough in, and take a pH reading - if that reading is out of your ideal range THEN add CaCO3 or lactic acid and test again. While brew water spreadsheets can be helpful in calculating necessary additions to reach a certain mash pH no spreadsheet will be right 100% of the time (they are especially prone to error in a beer like a Belgian dubbel where the SRM value is somewhat of a red herring) - I hold no actual answers for what to do to your water to achieve a perfect mash pH every time you brew. All I know is that I know nothing - and that's more than most people can say.

If you're looking to meet minimum requirements set forth by popular opinion then add enough CaCl2 to your water to achieve Ca++ content of ~50mg/L (equivalent to ppm). This will help to shield enzymes in the mash and help certain aspects of fermentation (Fix, Principles of Brew Science pg 5-6).

If you're worried about both of these things I would add enough Calcium Chloride to achieve 50ppm Ca++ as the ion and then perform your mash and check to see if your pH is in the correct range.

If your goal is historical accuracy then I would attempt to synthesize the water of a Westvleteren or another Trappist monastery - all of these water profiles are available in Brew Like a Monk (Chapter 7 has a subchapter devoted entirely to the subject of water for brewing Trappist style beers) - caveat emptor, I haven't checked to see if any of the water profiles in BLAM are electrically balanced.

If I were brewing this beer, given my current philosophy of how I do my water, I would simply add 1 or 2 grams of Calcium Chloride per 5 gallons of water to get my Calcium level to around 50ppm and then check my mash pH against my target range and adjust. If I didn't have a pH meter then I probably wouldn't do anything with your water - just brew the beer and if it tastes off and all the other parts of my process were done well then I might look at water adjustments.

My understanding is that you're using Kai's spreadsheet correctly, and, if you would like to follow that spreadsheet it'd be a route that Kai has put a lot of time and effort into and it is very well researched. However, if you do decide to follow the prescription set forth on the spreadsheet what I said above still applies, check your mash pH and adjust up or down with CaCO3 and Lactic acid (or gypsum or calcium chloride) respectfully.

Let us know what you decide.

The Denver profile is pretty different from the water our here in Longmont - our water makes yours look like Burton on Trent. Lower numbers than Pilsen, it's weird. I didn't even believe the water authority when he said that it was practically distilled - did a Ward labs test and sure enough...

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