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Messages - mabrungard

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Ingredients / Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: February 20, 2011, 04:51:48 PM »
This is actually not the case. The bicarbonate content of the water has no significant impact on the buffer capacity of the mash since at mash pH the carbonate system is not providing a strong buffer. I do have experiments that show that.


Kai has a good point there, but that is not a significant concern here.  The bicarbonate content does however have a strong affect on the pH of the mash.  In fact the entire Residual Alkalinity concept is strictly based on that fact.  The buffer capacity of the mash is highly complicated by the strong influence of the phosphate buffer system, but for the overall effect on mash pH, the bicarbonate content has a very strong correlation.  

Kai's other point regarding the quandry that he uncovered regarding Rahr malt and its apparently elevated acidity is something that may be difficult to resolve.  It appears that this maltster has possibly sprayed their malt with an acid solution prior to drying in much the way that Acid Malt is prepared.  Another possible explanation is that this maltster uses a steeping water that has very low alkalinity or has been acidified to help enhance this acidic character of the finished malt. There could be other causes, but the fact is that this particular malt produces a roughly 0.2 unit drop in pH compared to other typical 2-row pale malts.  Good work by Kai in finding this.

There are plenty of good reasons to do this.  Since most brewers suffer with water supplies that have too much alkalinity and the brewer may not know how to adjust for that, the mash pH may not always fall into the most desirable range (5.3 to 5.5 @ room-temp measure).  In this case, the extract and fermentability of the grist would suffer.  So for Rahr to "help" the typical brewer out and add a little acidity to their malt is sort of a win-win.  The brewer sees better performance and extract and this maltster's malt seems to be the reason.  

The problem is when a brewer that does know what they're doing with their water or that uses an already low-alkalinity water source (this includes RO and DI), then the mash pH may fall too low.  Many of you may have noted my recommendation that mash pH should really stay above about 5.3 to avoid producing a possibly thinner or tarter beer than desired.  This malt may create a problem in this case.  

As I mention above, this Rahr malt has an Acid Malt character.  It appears that it may be neccesary to model it in Bru'n Water as an Acid Malt.  Kai, did your analyses indicate how much acidity per kilogram the Rahr malt contributes?  

Possibly I need to add a special malt category for this malt?  The best solution to all of this would be for all maltsters to test their malt acidity and publish the result as they do for Lovibond, EBC, Lintner, Extract, etc.  Then programs like Bru'n Water or similar could dispense with correlating malt color and malt type to acidity and use that value directly.  Maybe that day will come.  I'll make it a point to start asking maltsters and I'll introduce this concept directly to them so that they are on board too.  

Fellow Brewers, we will improve the technology of mashing with a more work and understanding.  I'd say that you have just set off a quest that we homebrewers need to press for, malt acidity data for all malting products.  

Ingredients / Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: February 20, 2011, 04:09:55 PM »
It looks great Martin!

I think it would be great if you added a "Desired Water Profile" called Custom, which links to an area of the spreadsheet where you can come up with your own desired water profile and then use the mash adjustment calculator to dial it in.

A couple of formatting things that aren't really important:
I've noticed that the conditional formatting in Water Adjustment cell H12 (Finished Water Profile of Bicarbonate) seems to be off.

Some of the columns aren't wide enough to display all of the cells properly on my machine.  Specifically cell A20 in Water Report Input, cells B14, D3, D14, H3, H14, and H23 in Water Adjustment, and cell 4G in Mash Acidification.

Tom, I have also found that the text in some cells can sometimes not display fully.  It seems to be an Excel font issue.  If you have not adjusted the display zoom on that sheet to maximize your magnification of the work area, I have found this can cause this text problem.  Try increasing the zoom setting on any sheet of the program that has screwy text layout in any cell. The Instructions for the program recommend this, but since you are not the first person to mention this, I'll highlight this need better in the instructions and on the download page.  

If the Zoom adjustment does not do the job, please send me a message directly (also in the Instructions) and I'll bump out those offending columns to better fit the text for most users.  

Regarding the Conditional Formatting for the Bicarbonate cell for the Finished water, it is not an oversight.  I'm hoping that you hovered your cursor over that cell to see the pop-up comments regarding that cell.  I do note that there is not an "Ideal Bicarbonate" concentration since this is a key variable in setting your mash pH performance.  So depending on your grist, the bicarbonate content may need to be adjusted up or down from what ever the water profile said it was supposed to be in order to produce your desired pH.  I don't want the Brewer to see this cell turn green and think that they are done.  By the way, be sure to hover your cursor over the various cells throughout the entire program that show a little red triangle in the upper right corner of the cell.  That information can be particularly helpful.

Regarding Custom Water Profile input, the instructions do alert the user that the water profile information is located down the Water Adjustment sheet (scroll down the sheet) and the cells for any of the water profiles can be customized to the user's preference.  I knew that my definition of a good pale ale profile (or others) might not meet another brewer's definition, so that latitude was designed in.  

Keep the comments coming!  I'll keep improving it.

Ingredients / Re: Water and input to Beer Alchemy
« on: February 19, 2011, 12:54:31 PM »
Ah. I understand. Thanks. I was just a bit unclear as to what to put in the carbonate box on the Bru'n Water.

Ah, I see your dilemma. I will need to make sure that users know that carbonate is typically very low and bicarbonate is usually the predominant species. Thanks for illustrating that.

Ingredients / Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: February 19, 2011, 07:11:27 AM »
Bru'n Water works in Open Office on my computer.  It doesn't look quite as nice since the formating gets a little screwy, but it works fine.  Try it out.  Anyone can get Open Office on their computer since its freeware.  That is one of the reasons I was OK with using Excel as the programing basis.  Enjoy.

Ingredients / Re: Water and input to Beer Alchemy
« on: February 19, 2011, 07:08:21 AM »
Yes, the carbonate content is 60 % of the total molecular weight.  But at typical water or wort pH's of less than 8, all of its carbonate content will have naturally converted to bicarbonate  (CO3 to HCO3).  That is why I don't include any mention of carbonate in Bru'n Water.  Everything is converted to it equivalent HCO3 concentration.  That means that the baking soda (NaHCO3), chalk (CaCO3) and pickling lime (Ca(OH)2) are expressed in their equivalent HCO3 form.  (OK, its not a stretch to consider the baking soda in its HCO3 form ;-).   

Ingredients / Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: February 18, 2011, 09:55:44 AM »
Kudos Martin, we all appreciate the effort.  I've been playing with it and noticed that - once the 'Net Water Alkailinity' (following RA) goes negative (by adding Gypsum, for instance) , no amount of Lactic Acid as a water adjustment will change the Mash PH, while even a small amount of acidulated malt will reduce the mash PH.
How can that be?

I put that in there purposely since the phosphate buffers will not let the mash pH drop below about 5 under normal circumstances.  By normal, I mean no external acid additions to the mash.  
This pH response was confirmed through experiments that Kai ran last month.  No matter how much calcium or magnesium hardness you add to the mash water, the mash pH will not drop below roughly 5.  This is a good thing since a mash pH of less than 5.2 (room-temp measurement) does not produce a very inviting beer in my opinion.  The body is thinner and the beer is noticably tart.  

I incorporated this response in the mash pH calculation by limiting the minimum RA value used in the pH estimate to zero.  Negative RA values are assumed to be zero RA.  (The acid malt is on the other side of the equation in the malt acidity.  Its not affected by the zero RA limit.  I'll be adding a note that acid additions to the water that produce a negative RA would not be properly accounted in this program.  Unlike adding Ca or MG, acid in the mash can drop the pH below 5.)

So, you did find an interesting quirk, but in practice it should not be an issue to most brewers.  I welcome any suggestions that we should include the ability to model pH below 5, but I haven't found the need at this time.

Kai, the malt acidity was based on your work and you are credited on the instruction sheet of the program.  Thanks!

Ingredients / Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« on: February 18, 2011, 07:09:38 AM »
I have just published my advanced brewing water software, Bru'n Water.  This is the first program that I know of that includes the contribution of grain acidity and water alkalinity to allow the brewer to better predict and tailor their mash pH.  We know that tailoring brewing water based on the beer color does not work well.  This program moves beyond that limitation.  Mash pH is a strong factor in creating cleaner flavor, proper body, and desired fermentation and attenuation performance.

The program includes all the typical mineral calculators and goes on to provide acid calculators, dilution tools, extensively researched water profiles, and a comprehensive water knowledge section.  I think you will find that it is quite a useful tool for analyzing your water and truly figuring out how to make it fit your current beer's mashing requirements.  

The mash pH prediction equation in the program has been proven to come within 0.2 pH units.  With continued observations and reports from the brewing community, I expect that the prediction capability may be refined to as little as 0.1 pH unit.  

I have set up a web site to further explain and illustrate the program and serve as a downloading point for interested brewers.  Please visit the following site:


Ingredients / Re: Water and input to Beer Alchemy
« on: February 17, 2011, 06:28:05 AM »
A comprehensive discussion of temporary hardness reduction by boiling is here:

It includes a method to estimate what your HCO3 and Ca concentrations will be.  Those are the only ones affected by the method.

Ingredients / Re: Water and input to Beer Alchemy
« on: February 16, 2011, 07:57:25 PM »
The alkalinity is the 161 ppm as CaCO3 value.  This is equal to the bicarbonate concentration of 197ppm.  I'm not sure why they list it as Alkalinity as HCO3.  Its really just the HCO3 concentration. 

Ca = 82.4 ppm
Mg = 8.4 ppm
Na = 9.7 ppm
HCO3 = 197 ppm
SO4 = 43.6 ppm
Cl = 21.1 ppm

I can tell you that the ion balance is not that good for this report.  Its a pretty hard water, but a lot of it is temporary hardness so it can easily be reduced by boiling or by lime treatment. 

Ingredients / Re: Water and input to Beer Alchemy
« on: February 16, 2011, 01:22:52 PM »
The molecular weight of CaCO3 is 40 g/mole for the Ca + 12 g/mole for the C + 48 g/mole for the 3 oxygen atoms  = 100 g/mole.  The Calcium is 40 percent of the molecular weight of CaCO3.  You'll notice that 206 x 0.4 is equal to 82.4.  I don't know Beeralchemy, but I'm assuming they want the actual Ca content, 82.4 ppm. 

From the total hardness quoted, the Mg content is 8.2 ppm.

That is an odd way of reporting the Alkalinity, I'm not sure if they are saying it is the actual HCO3 content or if its the alkalinity expressed as CaCO3 or HCO3.  I've never seen it expressed as HCO3, so that is probably out. But I have seen HCO3 content quoted and that can be converted to an alkalinity value.  If the full water report parameters were provided, I could probably decipher.

All Grain Brewing / Re: EZ Water Calc 2.0 question
« on: February 16, 2011, 07:42:38 AM »
I don't see a strong reason to concern ourselves with ion concentration from boiling.  This is getting into minutiae that would be difficult to discern in the finished beer.  

While its been pointed out that a 60 to 90 minute boil can generally increase the ion concentrations by about 20 to 30 percent, that may not be the right way to look at it.  Since most brewers boil between 60 and 90 minutes, we need to be looking at the difference between these results instead.  Under that assumption, then the difference in the finishing ionic concentrations is 8 percent or less.  That is a much less significant variation.  

Given that most of us can estimate what ion concentrations we are starting with in brewing water and can use that information to discern if they would prefer to increase or decrease a particular ion's contribution based on their taste preference, it seems pointless to say that we need to estimate what that ion's concentration might have been in the post-boil.  In addition, the action of fermentation and trub may be altering that post-boil estimate even further.  

I think we are in good enough shape to base our brewing ion adjustments on only their pre-boil concentrations.  

Kai, I agree regarding the effect of the carbonate alkalinity.  That's why I mentioned that it was for WATER.  I then mentioned phosphates which are the predominate buffer in the mash.  The phosphate buffer system is the next knowledge hurdle to cross for me.   

All Grain Brewing / Re: Acidifying the mash
« on: February 15, 2011, 03:08:36 PM »
That is an interesting thought.  These are somewhat more flavorful acids and you can typically find them in a homebrew shop that deals with wino's.  Other than their flavor contributions, I can't see a reason not to consider using them.  In some cases, these acids might have a flavor component that you might want in your beer. 

I look forward to hearing from those who have used these acids in beer usage.

All Grain Brewing / Re: EZ Water Calc 2.0 question
« on: February 14, 2011, 07:00:05 AM »
Hard and soft is not key to water buffering but it is related due to cation/anion pairing.  Alkalinity is the primary component to buffering capacity and carbonate chemistry is typically the primary contributor to the alkalinity in most drinking water.   

Phosphates are another contributor to buffering capacity, but they are typically in very low concentration in drinking water.  But in the mash, phosphates are a major component and they become a significant factor.  I'm just getting started in phosphate chemistry since it is not a significant concern in my field of water supply engineering.  AJ Delange has produced a good paper on the subject, but have lots of cafeinated beverage nearby when reading it.  It is a very tough subject.

Water hardness influences how a mash performs, but high or low hardness doesn't really matter that much.  Alkalinity is actually the thing that brewers need to pay the most attention to.  It is a key to brewing well. 

Terms like Temporary Hardness and Alkalinity are the terms that brewers need to perk up to when reading their water report.  Since these components are typically reported (as CaCO3), they are actually equal to each other: Temp Hardness = Alkalinity when both are reported in (as CaCO3) terms. 

So, think less in terms of hardness and focus on more on alkalinity.

Equipment and Software / Re: I build an electric brewery and now what?
« on: February 13, 2011, 07:14:59 PM »
Do a water only "brew", and see how things work.

Truly Sage Advice.  I wouldn't want to risk many dollars of ingredients on untried equipment.  That would probably elicit naughty words if it were me.  I agree that you would want to take it all the way through and perform each and every step so that you'll know everything you'll need to have on hand and things you'll need to do. 

All Grain Brewing / Re: EZ Water Calc 2.0 question
« on: February 13, 2011, 07:03:50 PM »
I appreciate the concern about the pH prediction with this program.  Unfortunately, it appears to be missing an important component in the acid and buffer equation.  From my review of the equations in the pH calculation, it doesn't seem to adequately evaluate the buffering capacity of the water.    I would still assume that this program's pH estimation could be better than an estimate based on beer color only.  Maybe it just needs more calibration, but adding the overall water contribution into the mix would seem to be important too.

John, I hope that your clubmates know that an annual pH meter calibration is not sufficient.  I recommend that anyone with a meter have the 4 and 7 buffer solutions on hand so that the meter can be calibrated prior to each session.  In addition, keeping the probe saturated in the potassium chloride solution is a really good idea too.   

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