Author Topic: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water  (Read 3273 times)

Offline Greg A.

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Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« on: May 11, 2012, 12:36:28 PM »
So I've only done about 6 batches.  Most of which are mediocre, except for one that scored 39/50 at a local contest.  I like worrying about the small things so the moment I started reading about water chemistry, I was hooked.  However, I keep talking myself into and out of doing it and just not sure if I should even be worrying about it or if it doesn't hurt to do it as long as you calculate it correctly.  I live in Chicago and our water is a midrange type water, although I wish the calcium was over 50 (currently 37.2) and the chloride to sulfate ratio was more on the balanced side (currently .66).  I have adjusted numbers in EZ Water, Bru'n Water, Beer Smith, and Palmer's spreadsheet and the calculations I'm making all are in the same general vicinity.  The adjustments I made are below (copy from EZ Water) and wondered if anyone else has input on it or if someone  from Chicago can make a recommendation about adjusting the water.

I'm trying to build a profile for a Saison (SRM 5.1) using Pilsner, munich, wheat, and cara 45.  I plan on using some lactic acid to lower the mash and sparge pH.  Recommendations?  Should I not even be worrying about this right now?  I do have temperature control and I think sanitization down so I would not be neglecting those things.

Starting Water (ppm):         
Ca:   37.8      
Mg:   13.6      
Na:   10.1      
Cl:   20      
SO4:   29.9      
CaCO3:   108      
         
Mash / Sparge Vol (gal):   2.64   /   2.93
RO or distilled %:   0%   /   0%
         
Total Grain (lb):   6.2      
         
Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:         
CaSO4:   1.1   /   1.220833333
CaCl2:   1   /   1.109848485
MgSO4:   0   /   0
NaHCO3:   0   /   0
CaCO3:   0   /   0
Lactic Acid (ml):   0.8      
Sauermalz (oz):   0      
         
Mash Water / Total water (ppm):         
Ca:   90   /   90
Mg:   14   /   14
Na:   10   /   10
Cl:   68   /   68
SO4:   91   /   91
Cl to SO4 Ratio:   0.75   /   0.75
         
Alkalinity (CaCO3):   14      
RA:   -58      
Estimated pH:   5.65      
(room temp)         

Greg Arndt
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Offline CB-Illinois

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #1 on: May 11, 2012, 01:39:31 PM »
Hi Garndt,

If I were you, I would not worry about the water at all.  I also live in Chicago and asked at the local homebrew store about making adjustments to the water chemistry and the guy helping me asked if the "water was good enough for Goose Island, why did I think it was not good enough for me". 

I have noticed that a change in fermentation temp can make a huge difference in the finished product.  If you want to start adding more controls to your process I would start there and get the most bang for your buck as they say.

Offline Mark G

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #2 on: May 11, 2012, 01:40:29 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.
Mark Gres

Offline Greg A.

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2012, 01:50:08 PM »
Hi Garndt,

If I were you, I would not worry about the water at all.  I also live in Chicago and asked at the local homebrew store about making adjustments to the water chemistry and the guy helping me asked if the "water was good enough for Goose Island, why did I think it was not good enough for me". 

I have noticed that a change in fermentation temp can make a huge difference in the finished product.  If you want to start adding more controls to your process I would start there and get the most bang for your buck as they say.

Do they not adjust the water with mineral/salt additions? I know we're all starting from the same base water, but figured some breweries in the Chicago area would still make adjustments other than removing chlorine/chloramine.

Greg Arndt
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Offline Greg A.

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2012, 01:51:00 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
Greg Arndt
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2012, 02:04:50 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.
Mark Gres

Offline Greg A.

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2012, 02:13:02 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?
Greg Arndt
Homebrewer in training

Offline weithman5

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #7 on: May 11, 2012, 02:28:14 PM »
i live out west of chicago but our initial water sources are the same.  i have used charcoal okay with success. now i also add campden.  every beer without one of these has had a medicinal taste, and i attribute not doing this to a crappy showing at the first round nhc
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #8 on: May 11, 2012, 02:30:59 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?
I'll use phosphoric acid if I need to adjust the pH. I know we've brewed a few batches where due to the grain bill and salt additions, the pH was acceptable without adding acid.
Mark Gres

Offline Greg A.

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #9 on: May 11, 2012, 02:33:53 PM »
i live out west of chicago but our initial water sources are the same.  i have used charcoal okay with success. now i also add campden.  every beer without one of these has had a medicinal taste, and i attribute not doing this to a crappy showing at the first round nhc

I have some tablets but haven't used it yet. How much do you use? Do you just add it to the water the night before?
Greg Arndt
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Offline Greg A.

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Re: Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #10 on: May 11, 2012, 02:37:44 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?
I'll use phosphoric acid if I need to adjust the pH. I know we've brewed a few batches where due to the grain bill and salt additions, the pH was acceptable without adding acid.

I was only wondering because if I take the suggestion of not adjusting the water with any salt additions, then I worry that perhaps my pH will be a little higher than acceptable for this beer.  There is barely any crystal in it and the rest is just base malts.
Greg Arndt
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Re: Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2012, 02:51:37 PM »
Looks pretty good. I like my saison with a higher sulfate level to accentuate the dryness and bitterness, but nothing too far off of what you have. I brew with my brother-in-law in Chicago quite a bit, and the water works well. My only additional advice would be to add half a campden tablet to every 10 gallons of water to get rid of chlorine/chloramine. I can smell chlorine in the water at certain times if the year. You don't want that in your beer.

Thanks for the response.  When you brew with your brother-in-law, do you or he make any water adjustments or is the water just good enough for your brews?
I run my water through a charcoal filter.  I know there are studies and debates about how much (if any) chloramine is removed by doing so, but my water seems to be very good after doing this and I haven't had any off flavors that i can attribute to the chloramine.
I'll still adjust the water to add more calcium, using either gypsum if I want more sulfate, or calcium chloride if I want more chloride. With that said though, the water is good enough that you could just brew with it as-is. The campden tablet would still be cheap insurance.

That's great to know. Do you usually need to do anything for pH adjustments?
I'll use phosphoric acid if I need to adjust the pH. I know we've brewed a few batches where due to the grain bill and salt additions, the pH was acceptable without adding acid.

I was only wondering because if I take the suggestion of not adjusting the water with any salt additions, then I worry that perhaps my pH will be a little higher than acceptable for this beer.  There is barely any crystal in it and the rest is just base malts.
Off the top of my head, I'd guess you still need to adjust for pH with that grain bill. See what the software tells you. My favorite is Bru'n Water.

As for the campden, crush it up and drop it in. It works almost instantaneously. One tablet is good for 20 gallons.
Mark Gres

Offline weithman5

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #12 on: May 11, 2012, 03:22:41 PM »
i brew only two gallons or so at a time.  i usually get about 4-5 gallons ready. i put about 1/4 tab (as above 1 tab per 20g) in the water as i am heating it up for the mash. they are cheap. memory to use - priceless
Don AHA member

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2012, 08:37:50 AM »
Using this water profile, heres what I'd do.

Ca:   37.8     
Mg:   13.6     
Na:   10.1     
Cl:   20     
SO4:   29.9     
CaCO3:   108     

The calcium and sulfate is a bit low for a Saison for me. I'd add some Gypsum to get to 50 ppm of Calcium, wherever your Sulfate is at that point is probably ok.

The carbonate level is pretty high for a Saison, for an amber or brown ale I think you'd be at the perfect level for you ph.  Since your beer is pretty light, you're going to want to either add some form of acid or Acidulated Malt. Bru'n Water and Kai's water calculator I've found to both be very accurate for estimating ph and the amount of acid needed to get your ph right. For a saison, I'd want it a little bit tart, so shoot for a ph of 5.2. Im guessing about 3% of your grist as acidulated malt would get you there.
Jason
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Offline Greg A.

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Re: Brewing water adjustment - Chicago water
« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2012, 11:26:23 AM »
Using this water profile, heres what I'd do.

Ca:   37.8     
Mg:   13.6     
Na:   10.1     
Cl:   20     
SO4:   29.9     
CaCO3:   108     

The calcium and sulfate is a bit low for a Saison for me. I'd add some Gypsum to get to 50 ppm of Calcium, wherever your Sulfate is at that point is probably ok.

The carbonate level is pretty high for a Saison, for an amber or brown ale I think you'd be at the perfect level for you ph.  Since your beer is pretty light, you're going to want to either add some form of acid or Acidulated Malt. Bru'n Water and Kai's water calculator I've found to both be very accurate for estimating ph and the amount of acid needed to get your ph right. For a saison, I'd want it a little bit tart, so shoot for a ph of 5.2. Im guessing about 3% of your grist as acidulated malt would get you there.

By adding more sulfate, wouldn't this cause the Saison to be a lot more on the bitter side?  The current chloride/sulfate ratio is starting to lean towards the bitter side as it is.  I thought with a dry beer, bitterness is actually enhanced a bit and comes through more.  The calcium is indeed low, pretty much for any beer I would want to do. I would like any beer that I create to use water with >50ppm Calcium. I think I'll need to start experimenting with additions to any beer I brew, not just a Saison.

I just tried Kai's water sheet to add to a comparison with Beer Smith, Bru'n Water, and Palmer's spreadsheet.  Seems that in all spreadsheets if I want to have a PH of around 5.3/5.4 (room temp), and have calcium above 50, and a balanced chloride/sulfate ratio, then these adjustments seem to be consistent in all of them:
CaCl - 1.0g (mash and sparge)
CaSO4 - 1.1g (mash and sparge)
Lactic Acid - 1.1ml (mash only)
Greg Arndt
Homebrewer in training