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Messages - mabrungard

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Ingredients / Rahr 2 Row Attenuation
« on: October 14, 2010, 05:23:11 PM »
I heard an interesting comment from a very skilled brewer yesterday regarding his findings on Rahr 2 Row malt.  He commented that his brewing results have shown that this malt is very insensitive to mashing temperature with respect to the degree of wort fermentability.  In other words, when he uses this malt, he gets highly fermentable wort no matter if the mash was performed at high temp (say 158F) or low temp (say 149F).  He did note that he is able to control wort fermentability when brewing with other base malts (ie. Muntons, Briess), so its probably not his mashing process.

He commented that he likes using the Rahr 2 row, but he has to resort to adjusting the secondary grain bill to modulate wort fermentability. 

Has anyone else noticed this type of mashing performance with this base malt or other highly-modified malts?


Yeast and Fermentation / Re: English yeast...Fruitiness wanted
« on: October 02, 2010, 03:15:03 AM »
The production of esters can be affected by both the fermentation temperature and by the yeast pitching rate.  Pitching too little yeast encourages more yeast growth and ester production.  This is very desirable in Hefeweizens.  Overpitching reduces the yeast growth and ester production. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 23, 2010, 05:22:48 PM »
Malzig brings up a good point that when adding chalk (calcite), the calcium does counter the effect of the carbonate.  Unfortunately, the formulation that he used was incorrect. 

While chalk does contribute 105.8 ppm Ca, it also provides 158.4 ppm of CO3 (not HCO3).  The equivalent concentration of HCO3 is 322 ppm.  1 ppm of CO3 is equivalent to 2.033 ppm HCO3.  Although the chemical formula for chalk (CaCO3) says that its supplying CO3 to the solution, at the pH of typical drinking water, all the CO3 is immediately converted to HCO3 in solution. 

So, the alkalinity contribution is 264 ppm for 1 gm/gal chalk.  Plugging that into the RA formula with the 105.8 ppm Calcium addition and the resulting INCREASE in RA is 188 ppm when adding chalk at 1 gm/gal.  This compares to the 156 ppm RA increase that baking soda provides when added at a rate of 1 gm/gal.

Regarding the addition of flavor ions to the beer, there is no reason to add them to the mash or sparge water since they aren't a large participant in the mash chemistry.  Gordon brings up a good point that not all the ions will make it out of the mash into the wort kettle and adding the minerals directly to the wort kettle makes sure that they make it there.  But that brings up another consideration.  If the natural water from a major brewing center (ie. Burton, Dublin, Munich, etc) was used in their historic brewing context, then some of those ions that naturally exist in that water would not make it through to the wort.  So, there might be some reason to add minerals to the mash and sparge water.  I suppose there is the possibility that adding minerals could overdo the flavor effect, but its probably a small discrepancy.  Just figured I'd through that out there. ;-)

Gordon brings up another good point regarding the addition of dark grains in a mash.  I agree that if you're dealing with low alkalinity water (not soft water as Gordon indicated) and would need alkalinity to keep the mash pH from dropping too low with a dark grist, then adding the dark grains at the vorlauf stage makes sense.  I know that Gordon uses RO for his brewing, so he is very adept at this technique (his pile of brewing medals attests).  I perform a relatively fast vorlauf at about 15 to 30 minutes and have never done dark grain additions that way.  I wonder if that short of a contact time is sufficient to transfer the flavor and color contributions???

For the great number of brewers out there that DO NOT have low alkalinity water, recognize that you will NOT want to do the pale grain mash separately and add the dark grain at the vorlauf.  You'll want the dark grain in the mash the entire time to help take out that excessive alkalinity.

All Grain Brewing / Re: A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 22, 2010, 07:14:52 PM »
I am with Tyler on this one, the 5.2 buffer product is not always a good idea and can lend to other brewing problems.  5-Star is trying to provide a product that most brewers can use to improve their mash performance, but it may not be appropriate for all conditions. 

My recommendation would be to learn about your water's condition and then learn to add either acidity or alkalinity to your water to meet your beer's mashing needs.  Its not that difficult and it can significantly improve your brewing outcome. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 22, 2010, 07:05:41 PM »
Residual Alkalinity is a rough correlation relating the water characteristics to the resulting mash pH of a Pale beer grist.  A RA of zero is ideally suited to brewing the palest of beers.  In my opinion, there is no need to produce negative RA values for any beer styles.  A negative RA means that your mash is more likely to descend into a lower than optimal pH range which can produce a more acidic taste, a more fermentable wort, and less body.  The charts or algorthyms that present negative RA are only there to show that you can produce that condition.  I have seen no reference that suggests that a brewer should try to mash under that condition.

With regard to chloride and sulfate ranges, I agree with Marc that when both chloride and sulfate are in the water, their concentrations should be kept below 100 ppm.  Sulfate should generally not exceed 150 ppm excepting when the beer is highly hopped and then it can go much higher.  But when the sulfate is really high, then chloride should be kept well below the 100 ppm level.  The shallow Sand and Gravel aquifer that was historically used by the Burton brewers has a chloride content of about 60 ppm while the sulfate content is around 600 ppm. I'd say that keeping the chloride levels at 60 ppm or less would be a good idea for burtonized water profiles.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water Profile for Oatmeal Stout
« on: September 22, 2010, 06:37:03 PM »
For the case of brewing a darker beer with a soft water (which includes RO and distilled water), I recommend increasing the alkalinity of the mash water to avoid excessively low mash pH. 

Since the brewer is aiming to create an Oatmeal Stout, I think that a rounder and fuller perception of the malt sweetness is preferred.  For that reason, I would not be inclined to add gypsum to boost sulfate content.  The main things I would aim for is alkalinity for the mash and chloride for flavor roundness.  Some sodium could be welcome too. 

Since this stout would probably end up in the 30 to 40 SRM range, I'd aim for a residual alkalinity of at least 100 to keep the mash pH in a reasonable range.   You could also push this RA to as high as 180, but that may not be necessary.  At a RA of 100, the mash pH might end up a little low and the fermentability of the wort may be higher than desired, possibly producing a thinner and more alcoholic result.  Bumping up the RA will smooth the mouthfeel and reduce the wort fermentability.

For the soft water this brewer has, adding about 0.6 to 0.8 grams of chalk per gallon of mash water will produce a RA within the range above.  I do not recommend that any chalk be added to the sparge water since alkalinity is not desirable there and it would be tough to dissolve in the sparge water anyhow.

Another option would be to use baking soda, but this brewer's water is already lower than desired for Ca content and yeast health and hot break performance might suffer.  Please note that chalk adds slightly more alkalinity per gram than baking soda (1 gm/gal of chalk = 188 ppm RA increase while 1 gm/gal baking soda = 156 ppm RA increase). Adding a bunch of baking soda would also push the sodium content kind of undesirably high.

I do recommend adding a combination of table salt and calcium chloride to the sparge water to create an appropriate flavor profile for the water.  I would add about 0.5 gram of CaCl per gallon of total wort runoff.  Add all of the CaCl to the sparge water volume since adding that calcium to the mash water would reduce the RA and be counterproductive to the work done with the chalk.  I would add about 0.1 gram of table salt per gallon of wort runoff too in order to further round the flavor.  The salt could be added to either the mash or sparge water since it doesn't affect the RA.

Don't get too carried away with high accuracy with respect to these recommendations since there are plenty of variables at play here. But, do be able to measure what you add to your beers and write it down so you can assess what changes you would make next time. 

Martin Brungard
Carmel, IN

All Grain Brewing / Re: A little help with my Water Report
« on: September 15, 2010, 01:42:55 PM »
I agree with Tyler on the apparent inconsistency in the Ward Labs water report.  After converting the sulfate and nitrate concentrations to their more appropriate reporting format, the cations are at 6.2 meq/L and the anions are at 5.8 meq/L.  That is a little more off than I'd like to see and its odd that the lab reports that the anion value is 6.0. 

The reported total hardness value agrees with the Ca and Mg concentrations.  The total Alkalinity agrees with the bicarb concentration and the pH indicates that the carbonate concentration will be negligible.  I suppose that the lab measured another significant anion that they didn't report?

The RA of 155 is going to be a problem for lighter colored beers.  Further hardening with Ca is an option as is alkalinity reduction by adding acid.  Either may allow that water to produce acceptable mashing performance, but I would lean toward adding acid as the easiest alternative.  Using phosphoric acid is the most flavor-neutral acid for brewing.

I'd caution any brewer regarding the lime softening methodology presented in Kai's worksheet.  It presents a partial softening method that produces uncertain concentrations of Ca and Mg in the water.  I recommend that anyone interested in lime softening to use the Excess-Lime method where lime is added to the water to the point where the pH of the water is about 11.  Following the other steps outlined in Kai's paper (settling and decanting), this will produce a relatively consistent Ca concentration of about 12 ppm and Mg concentration of about 3 ppm.   The only difficult thing with this method is that acid will be needed to bring the water pH back down to an acceptable range.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: September 03, 2010, 01:14:09 PM »
Excellent discussion on this issue.  Sorry for the delay in my reply since I continue to see misinformation tossed about in the Forum.

I note that thcipriani has pointed out some inconsistencies that should be addressed.  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.  I was using the typical maximum SRM for beers of 40 that is described in the BJCP Style Guidelines.  With that color limit, the maximum RA that a brewer should need to use is about 180 ppm.  That is supported by all the water profile information from the world's historical brewing centers.  For instance, the brewing centers with alkaline profiles have RA's as follow:  Munich = 180, Dublin = 170, Edinburgh = 150.  Limiting the maximum RA used for brewing to 200 ppm is sound. 

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.  Malt acidity consumes alkalinity in the mash, pushing the pH down.  He is correct that there is not a precise correlation between beer color and RA, but there is a loose correlation that is adequately described and accounted for by the rule of thumb where: RA = SRM x 4.5.  That correlation (along with a maximum RA of 200 ppm) will go a long way to correct the inappropriate correlations that exist out on the Web.

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.  The same thing applies to homebrewers where ever they are.  Their water is probably suited to a limited color range of beers and if they want to improve their beers that don't fall within that color range, they will have to adjust their water chemistry.  The only path to brewing a wide range of beers is to understand and adjust your water. 

Now there is a slight flaw in what I stated above. My statement for needing to adjust waters from Dublin or Burton to brew other color beers is overly simplified.  This is because there are many waters that already have too much ionic content and they cannot be adequately altered by ADDING minerals or acids to make them suited for brewing some styles.  Sometimes you need to forget about using your local water if it has too high an ion content and you will need to resort to using distilled or RO water.  This will help you avoid the alka seltzer or other odd flavored brewing results. 

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 more of a knowledge-based guy and I think that most brewers can figure out this stuff with the help of properly written guidance.  My pH meter is a handy tool to have for double checking. But I found long ago that once you have figured out your water's characteristics, the pH meter will rarely be needed. 

I appreciate the reference regarding the chloride/sulfate balance.  I did read the reference that AJ posted on Brewing Network.  I also researched the author of the water section of the Handbook of Brewing that the balance was mentioned in.  Although the author, David Taylor, is an eminent brewing chemist and he worked at a number of fine breweries, I don't see a body of work in the brewing literature that suggest that he or others have actually researched and proven this.  In reading further in that Brewing Network thread, AJ also tends to dismiss the applicability of that chloride/sulfate relationship.  He suggests that maybe it works for English beers with English hop varieties.  I will reaffirm that the use of the chloride/sulfate ratio is certainly not appropriate when either the chloride or sulfate concentrations exceed 100 ppm. 

Regarding ionic balance, Tom Schmidlin is correct.  Water reports or water profiles may not be balanced, but the ionic balance in water is ALWAYS balanced.  Any imbalance in a water report is due to rounding error, detection error, or the presence of other ions that were not evaluated in the lab testing.  Minor errors (say 5%) between anion and cation milliequivalents are fairly typical for water reports. If you find more than that difference in the anion/cation balance, then you should be questioning the results. 

Regarding published water profiles for various world brewing centers, there are a bunch of water profiles published in a variety of texts and on the internet that are GARBAGE.  Even though it is printed in a book does not make it correct.  I have performed extensive research into the historic water sources and the water quality of those sources in resolving the appropriate constituents for those brewing center water profiles.  That information will be published in the future.

Ingredients / Re: Spring Water
« on: August 21, 2010, 08:50:07 PM »
Spring water is NOT an indicator of good drinking water or good brewing water.  There are plenty of springs that are not suitable for drinking.  I'm assuming that this is a shallow spring that is seeping from the ground.  They are the most susceptible to contamination from biologic and chemical contaminants.  A deep well that is flowing could be safer, but even that is not a guarantee. 

Give the water a sniff test first, then a taste test if you dare.  If it tastes good and doesn't have metallic flavors, then I would send it off to a lab to determine its major ions with respect to brewing suitability.  You'll still be in the dark with respect to chemical contaminants unless you pony up big bucks for testing. 

Since I have an extensive history in water supply and groundwater, I am less amorous for unknown water supplies.  Better safe than sorry.  Unfortunately with chemical contamination, low levels that are not acutely poisonous (kills you immediately) can still produce a chronic toxicity that may eventually kill you if you drink enough of it.

Spring water is NOT a guarantee of good water. 

Martin Brungard
Carmel, IN

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: De-chlorinate water
« on: August 19, 2010, 10:54:26 PM »
I am not a fan of using test strips for chlorine or chloramine detection.  I prefer the colormetric test kits like you use for swimming pools or aquariums.  In the case of your utility using chlorine or chloramine, you should use a colormetric test kit that measures Total Chlorine.  There are some kits that measure only Free Chlorine and that test will not tell you if there still is chloramine in the water.  The Total Chlorine test will provide that and I feel that this test method can tell you if trace amounts remain. 

Martin Brungard
Carmel, IN

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 19, 2010, 10:42:55 PM »
Sorry for the delay in responding to this item.  Work interfered.

From Thehorse's response, I note that there may be some misinformation out there that is leading brewers down the wrong path.  This response may help clear that up. 

I had not used the EZ Water spreadsheet since I have more technical tools that I use in my professional capacity as a water resources engineer.  I like the user interface that the EZ Water tool provides, but I note that the results the spreadsheet provides are flawed in several ways. 

I see that the spreadsheet recommends a Residual Alkalinity (RA) target value based on beer color.  In reading the notes in the spreadsheet, the RA recommendation comes from the nomograph shown in How to Brew. 

Several months ago, while working with Gordon Strong on the revision to the water section of the BJCP Study Guide, he mentioned that he has been repeatedly disappointed by brewers that mess too much with their water due to trying to tie RA with SRM.  I am a strong believer in the concept that the brewing water RA should be coordinated with the beer color, so I was taken back by his statement.   Unfortunately, I had not looked closely at the How to Brew nomograph prior to this question.   I now know why he was skeptical with the method.

I can now report that the correlation between RA and SRM that is shown in the How to Brew nomograph is inappropriate.  At low SRM, the nomograph recommends too low a RA target value and at high SRM it recommends too high a RA target value.  I do not know why John Palmer selected that correlation for his nomograph, but a more appropriate relationship between SRM and RA follows. 

RA = SRM x 4.5 

This provides an appropriate ballpark target RA for brewing water.  And that 4.5 factor should not be taken as exact.  A factor between 4 and 5 is also suitable when estimating your brewing water RA.  There is not an exact value for RA, but I do feel that your brewing water should be in the ballpark.  Light beers should have low RA water and dark beers should have higher RA water.  Unfortunately, the How to Brew nomograph has the ability to overdo the RA adjustment.  For really pale beers, it recommends too low a RA and for dark beers, it recomends too high a RA. 

Gordon's concern regarding messing with RA may be justified, but I think that he has only seen the results of this rule of thumb misapplied.  My RA/SRM recommendation should help correct that. 

The other thing that all brewers should also know is that sparge water alkalinity should be reduced to low to moderate levels in order to reduce the possibility of tannin extraction.  So when brewing a dark beer, you do not need to raise the RA of the sparge water.  Add acid to bring the pH of sparge water down to around 6 to 7.  That should be sufficient for all beers.

The other result from the EZ Water spreadsheet that is flawed is the chloride to sulfate ratio recommendation.  I have never seen this ratio used previously, but I can state that it is not based on any texts or journals that I have reviewed.  It is not a proper indicator of the brewing water promoting a malty or bitter character.  In fact, high chloride and sulfate concentrations in brewing water are known to produce harshness.  High sulfate concentration with low chloride concentration can provide smooth accentuated bittering.  Conversely, high chloride concentration with low sulfate concentration can provide an improved sweetness perception.  The concept of a target ratio between these ions is very flawed and should not be used.  I think the spreadsheet author was trying to convey my point that chlorides improve maltiness and sulfate improves bitterness, he just misapplied it.

Regarding Dean's question regarding the ion balance that I mentioned.  The balance is calculated from the millliequivalents of the major cations and anions in the water.  The milliequivalient value for each ion is calculated from the concentration of each ion , the ion's molecular weight and its ionic charge.  The cations and anions should roughly balance if the water report is correct.

I hope this information is useful.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Harshness - How much alkalinity is too much?
« on: August 13, 2010, 01:01:16 PM »
In reviewing the water profiles used in those beers, its appears less likely that alkalinity is the source of harshness percieved in the beers. 

The profile used for the Saison is balanced ionically and the residual alkalinity is near zero.  Conversely, the profile used for the Dubbel is not balanced ionically, suggesting that there is an error in the reported ionic concentrations.  Additionally, the residual alkalinity for the Dubbel profile is an astronomic 256 ppm, which is far too high for good mash performance and taste perception.  That high residual alkalinity could be a contributor to harshness perception and poor mashing performance in any beer.

The indication from the brewer that both of these beers were percieved as harsh suggest that there is some other problem impacting the taste perception. 

I am curious why the brewer used the water profiles he listed.  The Saison profile appears somewhat appropriate for that style, but the sulfate concentration is a bit high for that style and the slighty elevated chloride concentration can contribute to harshness in conjunction with the sulfate.  I would recommend significantly reduced sulfate and chloride for this style.

Understandably, the brewer used a more alkaline water profile for the darker Dubbel style.  I agree with that change, but the level of alkalinity used in that profile was far too high.  Assuming that the hardness remained as he shows, the alkalinity should be reduced to about half the concentration that was used.  Additionally, the sulfate concentration is still too high for a style that is not hop-focused and the chloride concentration in conjunction with the sulfate can also produce a hashness perception.   

I am in agreement with Gordon regarding the overuse of water profile adjustment with some waters.  He and I are currently working on a project for BJCP.  There are some water sources that just are not going to provide a good result, no matter the adjustment with minerals or acids.  Its sometimes best to just start with a distilled or RO source and add only the desired minerals.

All Grain Brewing / Re: My water is a changing...
« on: July 14, 2010, 09:20:07 PM »
That water profile is typical of a lime-softening treatment process.  Lime is added to bring the pH to about 11 and that causes the excess calcium and magnesium to precipitate out of the water.  Some Ca and Mg still remains due to its solubility, but most of it is settled out.  The clear water is then taken off the sediment.  The acid addition is necessary to bring the pH back down within drinking water standards after treatment. 

I am a little surprised to hear that the utility is using phosphoric acid for the neutralization since its typically more costly than hydrochloric or sulfuric acid.  Maybe they got a good deal or they have some other concern they need to address. 

You've got good water there.  Enjoy.

Martin Brungard, P.E., D.WRE
Indianapolis, IN

All Grain Brewing / Re: question about a mash schedule
« on: May 19, 2010, 06:18:41 PM »
I'm in total agreement regarding not performing a protein rest for almost every beer since modern malts are already highly modified. 

In the case of a Weissbier, there is a need for a low temperature rest to promote the formation of Ferulic Acid that will be used to create the 4 vinylguacol that is responsible for the clove character in these beers.  If I'm not mistaken, a rest in the 120 to 125 F range is good for Ferulic Acid formation.  If you don't really want cloveiness in your weissbier, then you don't need to do this step.

Since I don't want to overly degrade the barley component of my Weissbier grists, I typically mash only the wheat malt at the low temp and then add the barley as a separate doughin at a higher temp.


Regarding Honey:

All brewers should visit the BJCP website where there is a new Mead Study Guide that is an incredible resource for any mead maker and anyone using honey in their beer.  One of the authors was Ken Schramm who authored the book "The Compleat Meadmaker".  There is a very good summary of honey characteristics in the study guide.


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