Author Topic: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?  (Read 17958 times)

Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2012, 11:50:17 AM »
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?

How would you measure the mash pH at mash temperature, if not by measuring it with a pH meter? Why is the mash pH relevant at all if the meter is designed to be used at lower temps?

My experience is that the spreadsheet actually works pretty well

How are you evaluating that? Are you using a pH meter?

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.

I'm not arguing for throwing the book away. I don't have any particular problem with the water chapter either. It's the consistent overestimation of required alkalinity that I have a problem with.

Like I said before, there are lots of novice brewers who dump a bunch of baking soda in their mash because the spreadsheet told them to. In brewing, baking soda is hardly ever the answer. If you search the forum archives for "Palmer's spreadsheet" you'll find I'm not the only person who had issues because I used his spreadsheet. IMO, on balance, Palmer's RA spreadsheet has done more harm than good.

Like I said, maybe I'm an idiot and a jerk, but when I used Palmer's spreadsheet, I made 3 of the worst beers I've ever made. When I used Kai's and Martin's spreadsheets, I made some of the best beers I've ever made. I guess it's up to the brewer to decide what works for them.
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Offline narcout

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2012, 01:53:51 PM »
How would you measure the mash pH at mash temperature, if not by measuring it with a pH meter? Why is the mash pH relevant at all if the meter is designed to be used at lower temps?

In my opinion, pH at mash temperature is not irrelevant just because I'm measuring it at room temperature (and I can extrapolate one from the other).  As long as someone is being clear about which temperature range they are talking about, I don't see a problem. 

How are you evaluating that? Are you using a pH meter?

Yes, I have a Milwaukee MW101.  To be honest, I find the need to calibrate it before every brew session to be kind of annoying, but I think it's a fairly accurate meter.

I'm not arguing for throwing the book away. I don't have any particular problem with the water chapter either. It's the consistent overestimation of required alkalinity that I have a problem with.

I hear you. 

In brewing, baking soda is hardly ever the answer.

Agreed.

Like I said, maybe I'm an idiot and a jerk

This is a respectful discussion; we're all good.

Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2012, 03:22:03 PM »
Where does it say in the article to stick the pH meter into the mash? It just states the range where the mash works best at mash temps.

I think howtobrew is the place I first read about the correction factor, where the meter reading at room temperature is 0.25 to 0.3 higher than the actual pH in the mash.

Without reading the later chapters, what can you say about instructions on how to use a pH meter?  There may be instructions on taking sample and cooling.
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Offline jpalmer

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2012, 05:03:02 PM »
Yes, I don't believe I have ever specifically told/advised people to measure the mash pH at mash temperature. In fact, my water presentations always describe how mash pH test strips are designed to work at room temp, so cool a wort sample to room temp and look for a range of 5.4-5.8 versus the recommended 5.1-5.5 range at mash temp. If you have a pH meter with ATC, you CAN measure at mash temp, but it will shorten your probe life.

Nateo - I don't think you are a jerk at all. Don't worry about it. Keep brewing brother.

No I am not going to pull the spreadsheet! <grinning> Jeff is right, it has it's flaws, but it is a good tool, and I will revise it. I probably should do a 3.1 and add some IF statements to guide people away from exceeding 200 ppm as CaCO3 RA, as I warn in my talks.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #34 on: April 29, 2012, 09:37:36 AM »
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)]

Yes, that's right. So for the ranges quoted (50-100 ppm Ca, 200-300 TA):

200 - 0.71*100 = 129 ppm CaCO3 (RA)
300 - 0.71*50 = 264 ppm CaCO3 (RA)
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #35 on: April 29, 2012, 02:33:00 PM »
I probably should do a 3.1 and add some IF statements to guide people away from exceeding 200 ppm as CaCO3 RA, as I warn in my talks.

That would be fantastic.

On an unrelated note, are you going to be covering lime softening in your book? It's something I learned from Kai and Martin. It's a really cheap and effective way to reduce temporary hardness and alkalinity, but is unknown or poorly understood by most brewers I've talked to, both pro- and home-. There is a large chunk of the midwest that gets their water from limestone aquifers that could really benefit from lime softening.
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2012, 05:32:47 AM »
Mr. Palmer, I'm still curious how/where you came up with the alkalinity ranges you give in your article. I'm sorry if I'm still skeptical, as I've never seen anyone else advocate alkalinity in those ranges.

From my empirical evidence, they seem much too high.

I looked through Briggs et. al. to try to find something in "the literature" and only found this: "Briggs, ch 3.6 - "Probably the concentration of bicarbonate ions in brewing liquor should never exceed 50 mg/l." In AJ DeLange's alkalinity presentations, he came to the same conclusion, "Alkalinity under 50 ppm as CaCO3 is generally considered desirable though many beers are brewed with water more alkaline than that."

I'm not arguing alkalinity should never exceed 50ppm, I'm just trying to figure out how you arrived at your conclusion that 200-300ppm is appropriate.
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Offline repo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2012, 06:41:57 AM »
From my empirical evidence, they seem much too high.

 I'm not arguing alkalinity should never exceed 50ppm, I'm just trying to figure out how you arrived at your conclusion that 200-300ppm is appropriate.

To quote the article "If your brewery focuses on darker styles, a total alkilinity of 200-300ppm would not be INAPPROPIATE, but the taste of your beer must be your guide"

Now to me this means you could have alkilinity in this range and not ruin the beer. But you must decide by tasting the result.  I don't beleive that it in any way states this is the go to, standard, appropiate range for alkilinity.

Mr. Palmer, I'm still curious how/where you came up with the alkalinity ranges you give in your article. I'm sorry if I'm still skeptical, as I've never seen anyone else advocate alkalinity in those ranges.

 

Maybe check the title of the book again??? I think the actual specific chapters in the book will explain where these conclusions were drawn from. How to brew does this pretty well.

Keep questioning "authority", thats how we all learn and grow. Maybe he'll send you a signed copy to his most passionate detractor ;)

Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #38 on: April 30, 2012, 06:56:46 AM »
To quote the article "If your brewery focuses on darker styles, a total alkilinity of 200-300ppm would not be INAPPROPIATE, but the taste of your beer must be your guide"

Now to me this means you could have alkilinity in this range and not ruin the beer. But you must decide by tasting the result.  I don't beleive that it in any way states this is the go to, standard, appropiate range for alkilinity.

I'm trying not to be pedantic, or argue semantics, but the double-negative is confusing me. Saying something "is not inappropriate" sounds the same to me as saying it "is appropriate." I'm trying to figure out if that statement is based on a review of literature, or his own experiments and observations, or someone else's experiments or observations, or some other source.

If I said "200-300ppm of magnesium in beer is not inappropriate, though the taste of your beer should be your guide," wouldn't it be reasonable to question how I arrived at those numbers?
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Offline kylekohlmorgen

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #39 on: April 30, 2012, 07:42:13 AM »
Sounds like a quote from someone who didn't understand how to use the tool.
I test my carbonate hardness by titration on every batch, so I'm not just assuming my water report is correct.

Now THAT's dedication!

But I agree its the only way to even get in the ballpark - the water here in Indy can change dramatically from week to week (an AWESOME little problem to have when designing an industrial RO system).
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Offline jpalmer

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #40 on: April 30, 2012, 07:43:35 AM »
That statement is based on my work for How To Brew, where I titrated malts from several sources, referenced many water reports and discussed those water reports with AJ 10+ years ago to come up with the original nomograph - a linear model for color.
Since then, Thanks to Kai and others brewers experiences, including my own, we have learned that it is not linear, and that it is possible to mis-use the tool and brew alka seltzer or Perrier beers.

The Total Alkalinity range of 200-300 ppm as CaCO3, readily occurs and people have brewed good dark beers with it. Could they brew better dark beers with a lower range? Possibly, sure - it would depend on the total hardness and the recipe grainbill as well. Remember, we are trying to balance a triangle here, AND, then determine if the beer actually tastes good. To say something may not be inappropriate is to say that it may be appropriate in some set of circumstances. I am not God, although I seem to play one on these forums (I Say, I say that's a joke son), and I do not know absolutely where these lines can be drawn. I and my friends have brewed dark beers where a total alkalinity of 300 ppm worked very nicely, so I know it is not impossible.

Finally, I do thank everyone for this discussion, it is definitely food for thought when I will be discussing this book project's progress with the publisher this week at the Craft Brewer's Conference.

Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #41 on: April 30, 2012, 09:21:59 AM »
Now THAT's dedication!

If you haven't noticed, I'm uptight, take brewing entirely too seriously, and, like many sports fans and religious fundamentalists, I'm a chronic sufferer of YDIW Syndrome.

I have observed a direct correlation between how anal I am re:brewing, and the quality of my beer.

PS - My wife wants to thank all of you for letting me talk about alkalinity at you, instead of her. If it weren't for the AHA forums, she probably wouldn't be able to stand me.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2012, 09:23:39 AM by nateo »
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #42 on: April 30, 2012, 09:25:44 AM »
Now THAT's dedication!

If you haven't noticed, I'm uptight, take brewing entirely too seriously, and, like many sports fans and religious fundamentalists, I'm a chronic sufferer of YDIW Syndrome.

I have observed a direct correlation between how anal I am re:brewing, and the quality of my beer.

PS - My wife wants to thank all of you for letting me talk about alkalinity at you, instead of her. If it weren't for the AHA forums, she probably wouldn't be able to stand me.

My better half thanks you all for the same thing...
Jason
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Offline weithman5

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #43 on: April 30, 2012, 09:56:10 AM »
alkalinity vs dark beers.  is it just an issue of getting a good mash efficient ph?  or is there significant difference in target alkalinity for flavor specifically between a dark porter/stout  and  a dunkel/schwarzbier? or for that matter a cascadian dark ale (yes i prefer that term) or black american lager.?
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Offline nateo

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Re: "New Rules of Brewing Water" - Same as the old rules?
« Reply #44 on: April 30, 2012, 09:59:36 AM »
alkalinity vs dark beers.  is it just an issue of getting a good mash efficient ph?  or is there significant difference in target alkalinity for flavor specifically between a dark porter/stout  and  a dunkel/schwarzbier? or for that matter a cascadian dark ale (yes i prefer that term) or black american lager.?

In correspondence with Martin, he's indicated a preference for slightly higher (5.5) mash pH on dark beers. I haven't read Gordon's book, but I've heard he talks about pH in the finished beer affecting flavor. pH is a little clumsy to use with regards to flavor impact, and I've wondered a few times about the applicability of titratable acidity tests in beer brewing.
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