Author Topic: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?  (Read 17960 times)

Offline nateo

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"New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« on: April 26, 2012, 06:18:32 AM »
I know it's just an excerpt (from the introduction?) of a book, so I'll try to reserve judgement, but a couple things jumped out at me:
"2. Starch conversion in the mash works most efficiently at a mash pH of 5.1-5.5 at mash temperatures." - I'm not sure sticking you pH meter into a hot mash is really 'best practice."

It also sounds like Palmer is still in his "RA color spreadsheet" mode, but maybe I'm reading too much into that, and maybe he discusses the differences between base, crystal and roasted malts' effect on alkalinity in more depth.

Talking about 1:2 of sulfate to chloride seem really outdated too. No sane person would argue that 5ppm:10ppm will taste the same as 50:100 or 500:1000, although they all have the same ratio. IMO the absolute amounts make a bigger difference than the ratios.

Zymurgy should really have Martin write an article about brewing water for them. I think it would be a lot more enlightening.

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Offline narvin

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 06:20:33 AM »
They could just link to braukaiser  ;)
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 06:26:41 AM »
If Kai and Martin wrote a book together, I'd buy like 20 copies.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 08:04:25 AM »
Martin and AJ DeLange are involved with reviewing the book.
 
The Cl to SO4 ratio for the typical Munich water reports say they should be brewing hoppy beers in Munich. The values are both in single digits, so it really does not apply so much in that case. I agree with your viewpoint on this.

John was the guess speaker at the WEB competition in Frankenmuth MI. He did talk about Kai's work determining the acidity of the various malts, and that crystal was more acidic than people thought. His example was tied to the color model in his spreadsheet, though.

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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 08:54:04 AM »
I suspect John doesn't spend much time working with the kind of brewers most likely to buy his book. On "another" homebrew forum I frequent, there are threads everyday saying something like "Palmer's spreadsheet told me I need more alkalinity, so I dumped a bunch of chalk in my mash." They almost never actually need the chalk, and end up doing more harm than good.
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Offline gogreen437

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 09:11:34 AM »
Very new to the concept of paying attention to my water.  My practice has been to pour from my tap and add half a campden tablet.  But I have recently started taking readings of my mashes with pH strips. 

When it comes to "rules for brewing water" I've tried listening to the Brew Strong podcasts and Palmer loses me quick.  Should I just be concerned with my mash being in a 5.2 to 5.5 range and how to adjust to get there?  Or do I need really need to know how to "spice" the water as John Palmer talks about? 

Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 09:22:42 AM »
The mash pH has to be correct. An otherwise ion balanced beer with an improper pH will make a poor beer. Hardly any pro brewers that I know of actually adjust their water profile, beyond acidification when necessary. There's a good chance your favorite commercial beer was brewed with whatever water they could get cheaply, and then the mash pH was adjusted as necessary.

Brewing water ion balance matters (if it's really out of whack), but otherwise it's close to the bottom of the list in importance to making good beer.

And if you get a pH meter someday, never stick it in a hot mash. You'll seriously shorten your meter's lifespan if you do. Draw a sample and let it cool to room temp before taking your reading.
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2012, 10:56:05 AM »
..."Palmer's spreadsheet told me I need more alkalinity, so I dumped a bunch of chalk in my mash." They almost never actually need the chalk, and end up doing more harm than good.

Sounds like a quote from someone who didn't understand how to use the tool.

Which brings up a good point - I think the reason "Bru'n Water" is a more effective app than Palmer's is that, when you take the time to read the instructions and technical background given, its easier to understand and wield to your usage level.

To do it right, you need to understand WHY you're adding brewing salts.

Just throwing in salts because "the spreadsheet says I need more alkalinity" or "my pH strip isn't the right color" is an easy way to throw off your beer before the brewday even starts.

Every brewer should make the decision to either geek out and spend an hour (or two) to read and understand water chem., or buy a mix of distilled and spring water. Either can make great beer - it just depends on how much control you want over your brew and your level of interest in the science behind it.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2012, 11:22:33 AM »
my ph tends to be in range every time with no additions.  i don't usually get concerned to match a water profile to the particular beer i am brewing or hitting a style precisely.   i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.
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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2012, 11:34:16 AM »
my ph tends to be in range every time with no additions.  i don't usually get concerned to match a water profile to the particular beer i am brewing or hitting a style precisely.   i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.

You are not alone. 

I got a PH meter for Christmas 2011.  It sure looks cool in the box but I have yet to even turn it on.  I brew with my tap water.  The few times I have checked PH with strips, it was close enough. 

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Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2012, 11:36:01 AM »
i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.

I don't think you're alone by a long shot, but it's interesting that your mash pH stays more or less constant. Are you brewing a wide range of beers? I'd be surprised if *any* water supply could give an appropriate mash pH for both a Pilsner and an Imperial Stout, for example. That would be the holy grail of brewing water.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2012, 11:42:48 AM »
i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.

I don't think you're alone by a long shot, but it's interesting that your mash pH stays more or less constant. Are you brewing a wide range of beers? I'd be surprised if *any* water supply could give an appropriate mash pH for both a Pilsner and an Imperial Stout, for example. That would be the holy grail of brewing water.

i tend to brew mostly lagers but i have brewed caps and dunkels. my heilge nacht was a weird oatmeal rye and inventory emptying beer.  again, i don't pretend that my water profile is "appropriate" for a style, but my ph has tended to be close enough from one beer to the next such that my efficiency doesn't change.
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Offline denny

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2012, 12:05:15 PM »
my ph tends to be in range every time with no additions.  i don't usually get concerned to match a water profile to the particular beer i am brewing or hitting a style precisely.   i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.

I did that for years.  As long as the beer was in a mid color range, it worked great.  But my light beers, like pils and tripel, and dark beers like porter were good but just weren't quite right.  Once I started paying attention to my water and treating it accordingly, those beers started turning out much better.  I still do virtually nothing for beers like APA, AIPA, or alt and they turn out great with nothing more than maybe a bit of gypsum.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2012, 02:36:08 PM »
my ph tends to be in range every time with no additions.  i don't usually get concerned to match a water profile to the particular beer i am brewing or hitting a style precisely.   i am just curious if i am mostly alone in this or if others just brew with what they have on tap as well.

I assume your tap water comes from Lake Michigan.  Most around the metro area here have water that comes from Lake Huron (very similar profile), and most do not have to do anything for water as the tap water is great for mid color range beers.  I have well water with alkalinity that is very high, and a RA that is ideal for very dark porters/stouts.  I have to do something for Pilsners or they would not be quite right.

A friend who has the Lake water has recently been adjusting with 1/2 RO, and says his beers have the crispness now that he could never get before.

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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #14 on: April 26, 2012, 03:07:26 PM »
Sounds like a quote from someone who didn't understand how to use the tool.

You start by entering your beer color, which gives you you a high and low RA target. You enter that target RA a bit further down, and it tells you how much alkalinity you need to add to your mash. For fun, I just entered the water profile for the Schwarzbier I brewed a few months ago into Palmer's spreadsheet. It tells me the target RA for this beer (30SRM) should be between 249-308.

I test my carbonate hardness by titration on every batch, so I'm not just assuming my water report is correct. My RA was 43.235 (5dH KH and 4dH GH). Bru'n Water estimated my mash pH to be 5.3 without any additional alkalinity. Actual measured pH after dough-in was 5.2.  So, Martin's spreadsheet got within 0.1 pH. If I had followed Palmer's spreadsheet and added the recommended 5g chalk and 5g baking soda, my mash pH would've been much higher. I punched in 5g of each in Bru'n water, and it estimated my mash pH would've been 8.8!

What is Palmer basing his spreadsheet on?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 11:02:09 AM by nateo »
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