Author Topic: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?  (Read 17979 times)

Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #15 on: April 26, 2012, 03:12:05 PM »
What is Palmer basing his spreadsheet on?

A linear relationship between color and RA. It works out fine until you get to very dark beers; then the RA recommendations get absurdly high.

No matter how dark the beer, there's no need to exceed about 200 ppm CaCO3 RA.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 03:32:31 PM »
John's spreadsheet is based on "armwaving at its best" as he says. Actualy something from one of the German brewing scientists (Narziss?) that has a loose linkage of color and RA. People like Kai and Martin have a good handle on things now. Gordon Strong has comments in his book about making "Alka Seltzer" beers or something like that, if you follow some spreadsheets.


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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #17 on: April 26, 2012, 03:57:29 PM »
John's spreadsheet is based on "armwaving at its best" as he says.

So why bother making the spreadsheet, if he knows it's BS?
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Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #18 on: April 26, 2012, 04:03:32 PM »
It was published 16 years ago.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2012, 04:09:08 PM »
It was published 16 years ago.

Yeah, but from the article it doesn't sound like he's changed his mind (emphasis mine): "Generally, brewing water for beer should have a minimum of 50-100ppm of calcium, and 50-150ppm total alkalinity for pale to brown beers. If your brewery focuses on darker styles, a total alkalinity of 200-300 ppm would not be inappropriate, but the taste of the beer must be your guide."

EDIT: The version of Palmer's spreadsheet I have is from Feb. 2011.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2012, 05:48:59 PM by nateo »
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Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2012, 04:26:27 PM »
Total, not residual.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #21 on: April 27, 2012, 05:50:10 AM »
Total, not residual.

I tried punching in 200ppm alkalinity into Bru'n water. That gave me 241ppm of bicarbonates. With 50ppm of calcium, for a mash with 11lbs of malt, it would take 2.2lbs of carafa II (450*L) to get a mash pH of 5.7. The estimated SRM for that is 57.1. It would take 2.75lbs of carafa II to get down to 5.4, at which point the estimated SRM is 66.3. At that point, the roasted malt is 20% of your grist. Is anyone using that much roasted grain in their beer?

I'm just having a hard time thinking of a real-life situation where having 200-300ppm of total alkalinity is actually desirable.
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Offline richardt

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #22 on: April 27, 2012, 06:36:37 AM »
I guess my expectations tend to be a little high, but, if I'm buying a beer book, I do expect the information to be well-researched, well-reviewed by experts/peers, well-edited, and contribute further to the body of knowledge that is already out there.  I've been disappointed in the last two BA books I've purchased (Yeast and Brewing Better Beer).  Bamforth, Lewis, Daniels, and Mosher come to mind as good writers who have put out good books which reflect the collective effort put into them by the author(s), researchers, and editors.  I don't want to read another "dogmatic" or "conversationalistic" beer book.  I read those kinds of books once and it is unlikely I'll ever pick them up again.

In fact, I'd love to read a "brewing water" book written by a bunch of authors (Martin, A.J., JP, as well as a panel of various pro brewers)--perhaps a format where each chapter is written by one or more authors and then followed by several pages of a "Q/A" or "Panel Responses" where expert contributors are allowed to give well-researched replies (or rebuttals), or to support and defend their varying viewpoints.  Ultimately, the reader would be able to formulate their own conclusions.

Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2012, 06:37:23 AM »
I think we're in danger of splitting hairs here, but 200-300 ppm TA and 50-100 ppm Ca correspond to an RA range of 129-264 ppm CaCO3. 264 is a little higher than I'd go, but not outrageous, and would probably produce an acceptable mash pH in a stout or porter.

On the whole (and not having read the article yet), I'd say I agree with your quote.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2012, 10:29:20 AM »
In fact, I'd love to read a "brewing water" book written by a bunch of authors (Martin, A.J., JP, as well as a panel of various pro brewers)--perhaps a format where each chapter is written by one or more authors and then followed by several pages of a "Q/A" or "Panel Responses" where expert contributors are allowed to give well-researched replies (or rebuttals), or to support and defend their varying viewpoints.  Ultimately, the reader would be able to formulate their own conclusions.

I would buy that book in a heartbeat. Having a breadth of information from many sources is one of the reasons I still reference Designing Great Beers even though it's pretty old. I enjoyed it overall, but Yeast had a few head-scratchers, like their use of the term "doubling" (which has an established definition in biology) when they meant multiplication. I would've liked a bit better reference section too. It didn't need to be a technical book, but some footnotes and annotated references would've been nice.

I'm trying very hard to reserve judgment, but from the article in Zymurgy, I'm skeptical about Palmer's grasp on practical brewing water issues for average homebrewers.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2012, 10:40:25 AM »
I think we're in danger of splitting hairs here, but 200-300 ppm TA and 50-100 ppm Ca correspond to an RA range of 129-264 ppm CaCO3. 264 is a little higher than I'd go, but not outrageous, and would probably produce an acceptable mash pH in a stout or porter.

How are you figuring the RA? Am I doing this correctly?
This is the equation I have: [RA  = Alkalinity (ppm as CaCO3)  -  0.714 x Ca (ppm)  -  0.585 x Mg (ppm)]

Assuming 50ppm Ca, 5ppm Mg, and 200ppm akalinity:
[200 - (0.714*50) - (0.585*5)] = 161.375

With 100ppm of Ca and 5ppm of Mg: [200 - (0.714*100) - (0.585*5)] = 125.675

I also improperly labeled my water figures earlier as "RA" when they were just alkalinity. I'll go back and change those. My RA was actually a lot lower than what I posted first.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 11:02:41 AM by nateo »
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Offline jpalmer

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2012, 06:33:21 AM »
Comments on recent excerpt on Water book:
1. Yes, this was chapter 1- Why a Book on Water, and only most of Chapter 1 at that, due to space limitations. They had wanted to use Chapter 4 or 5 which just weren't ready yet, and if taken out of context would really have had you all confused. (well, angry actually, because it would have been the same old RA equation background. We hadn't gotten to the new stuff yet.)
2. Yes, I realize my linear color model is out of date. And I have been corresponding with Kai to understand his data, as well as working with Briess malting to get more data from them. We are trying to come up with a better model. But it's tricky.
3. I like the idea of multiple authors for the Water book, but it's like herding cats.
4. Do I have a grasp of the water needs of the average homebrewer? Yes, I would like to think so. We want to be able to competently brew any style of beer we set out minds to, and be confident about our brewing water/mash/beer chemistry when we do so. Right?
 Do I have a grasp of the water needs for the average commercial brewer? No, but I have been working on it. They have a source water, and they have a portfolio of beers that they need to produce consistently. They have recipes that they have inherited from previous brewmasters. They have one water treatment system that has to serve everything. And, they have the requirements to dispose of their wastewater afterwards to meet local and state laws. It has been difficult to reconcile the various brewing texts with the wildly varying practices of key benchmark breweries - some beers don't seem to fit the rules. Yes the books say 50 ppm calcium minimum for good brewing chemistry (based on pale lagers). Yes, I say that higher-colored beers need more alkalinity to balance their chemistry. There are a lot of different pieces to this puzzle, but they do somehow have to fit together into a big picture, and that is my mission in life - to figure this out. I welcome all help.
5. There is no point in writing a mediocre book - one that you folks on the forum would instantly say did not teach you anything new, or regurgitated what has been said before in other books. Same situation for the commercial brewer. For this book to work, it has to serve both audiences, and that is our goal.

Thanks for your time,
John



Offline Mark G

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2012, 06:38:08 AM »
Thanks for chiming in John. Much appreciated and looking forward to the book. Good luck. It's definitely not an easy topic to capture.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2012, 09:00:52 AM »
Mr. Palmer, thank you for taking the time to write a detailed response. I appreciate your feedback, and I'm sorry if I come off as a nit-picky jerk.

I have three requests:
1) Please don't tell anyone, or imply to anyone, that it's OK to stick a pH meter in a hot mash.
2) Could you tell me what you're basing those specific alkalinity recommendations on?
3) Could you please take your RA spreadsheet off the internet, or at least put a up a prominent warning.

I don't think #3 is likely, but the first two are reasonable. 

I'm not an expert. I've been brewing since 2004, and keeping detailed notes since about 2008. In my experience, 100% base malt beers need 0-50ppm alkalinity, beers with some crystal need maybe 50-80ppm, and the darkest beers I brew have never needed more than 125ppm alkalinity. Any alkalinity over those ranges and I need to supplement with acid to have a reasonable (<5.5) mash pH. 

If you have really, really hard water (200+ppm) maybe higher alkalinity would be appropriate, but at that point, is that water really appropriate to brew with? All other things being equal, I've found every style to benefit from soft water.

I'm also willing to entertain the idea that I'm an idiot and have no idea what I'm talking about.   
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Offline narcout

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2012, 11:15:13 AM »
"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."

I don't see where Palmer is advocating sticking a pH meter into a hot mash (sounds like he’s just describing optimal pH as measured at mash temperature).  Was that mentioned somewhere else in the article?

So why bother making the spreadsheet, if he knows it's BS?

My experience is that the spreadsheet actually works pretty well until (as Sean mentioned above) you get to really dark beers (for dark beers, I usually just mash the base malts and add the darker grains during the sparge - I'm not a fan of using chalk).  I like to start with Palmer's spreadsheet and then cross reference it against Kai's for gypsum and calcium chloride additions. 

3) Could you please take your RA spreadsheet off the internet, or at least put a up a prominent warning.

I think this would be a disservice to homebrewers.  I'm sure I'm not the only person who still finds it to be a useful tool (an update would be nice though).

I'm trying very hard to reserve judgment, but from the article in Zymurgy, I'm skeptical about Palmer's grasp on practical brewing water issues for average homebrewers.

When I first got interested in learning about water chemistry as applied to homebrewing, I found the relevant section of How to Brew very useful.  Perhaps it isn't reflective of some of the more recent thought on the subject, but I still think it's a great resource.  I guess we'll have to wait to see whether the new book offers a more modern take on the subject.