Author Topic: Water Has My Head Spinning...  (Read 15795 times)

Offline mmitchem

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Water Has My Head Spinning...
« on: May 23, 2012, 07:45:16 AM »
I have been paying particular attention to my water lately as it seems to be the next big step in my quest for the best beer I can brew. There seem to be conflicting views on water...from what I can tell, and that may be way off ;)
I have been primarily comparing Bru'n Water and John Palmers RA spreadsheet to compare results of mineral additions. But here is where my confusion comes in. I heard John Palmer say on a Brewstrong podcast that if you get your RA in the ballpark of where you want it, then your mash pH should take care of itself in getting in good brewing range (5.2 to 5.5). This really doesnt take into play your grainbill or anything like that. However when I look at my water profile and mash acidification on Bru'n Water, the pH is pretty high (6.1). I also remember John saying that if you get your RA right, and your sulfate to chloride ratio where it needs to be, you are 99% of the way there. Seems simple balancing only these 3 things...
For dark beers, John calls for a relatively high RA (like 250), while Bru'n Water has a relatively low number for black beers. The higher the RA, the less acidification takes place...my head hurts...
All of this has my head spinning and I feel like either one is better than the other or I am missing a vital piece of the puzzle. Anyone want to weigh in on this? Thanks in advance!
Michael P Mitchem
Beer and Ale Research Foundation (B.A.R.F.)
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2012, 08:06:55 AM »
I can tell you what I've found in my experience. I don't necessarily agree with a lot of what Palmer says. Well...let me re-state that, what he says may hold true, but it may not be the ideal situation or produce the best beer.

In my experience, simpler is better. I tend to keep my water profiles as simple as possible. I always start with distilled water and build from the ground up.  The most important thing is the ph and the only real way to tell is to get a ph meter and take readings and get some experience with what works and what doesn't.  I have done Imperial Stouts at 80 SRM and not needed more than 180 ppm of bicarbonate to get the ph where I wanted it.

I generally first think about what style of beer I am making. Should it be bitter? malty? tart? sweet? After I have determined what I want out of the beer I start determining what I need in order of importance.

1.) pH. 5.2-5.5 is ideal. 5.2 will generally provide a bit more tart beer. I shoot for this in wit's hefeweizens etc. If I want malty, like in dark beers, I get closer to 5.5. If I want balanced, like for most styles, I try to be around 5.3-5.4. Do I need to add acid to get it lower? If so my experience at this point tells me what I need. When I started I would add small amounts of acid at a time to get where I wanted. Martin and Kai's calculators are great for this. Do I have alot of crystal malts and dark malts? Do all of those malts need to be mashed? Do I need chalk? If so in my experience I have found anything more than 180 ppm of carbonate is not needed.

2.) Calcium is needed for yeast health and clarity and all that stuff. 40-50 ppm is the minimum recommended. Make sure you have enough calcium, whether it come in the form of chalk, calcium chloride or gypsum. Anything above 100 ppm is excessive. So get yourself in the 40-100 ppm range using the appropriate salts to get there, taking your pH into consideration first(chalk), then finally your sulfate to chloride ratio(gypsum or calcium chloride)

3.) Sulfate to chloride ratio. Again do I want malty? Bitter? I try to get the ratio where I want it but at the same time keep the mineral additions minimal to get there using Bru'n water's guidelines to get there. Bitter IPA? Ok great...I want a 5:1 sulfate to chloride ratio so I add gypsum and chloride to get there keeping my calcium level below 100 ppm so neither of the mineral additions are too high to make it minerally.


Hope this helps. If itll help, post a recipe you want to brew and myself, and others who are much more knowledgeable than myself on here will be happy to lend advice on a specific beer profile.

Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline mmitchem

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2012, 08:22:24 AM »
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)
Michael P Mitchem
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AHA Member since 2011

Offline ccfoo242

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2012, 08:33:17 AM »
I'm curious too.  I end up with elaborate additions that I forget to add until it's too late!  :o

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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2012, 09:00:30 AM »
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline mmitchem

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2012, 09:08:06 AM »
Okay, I am going to go try it and see what I come up with...thanks a bunch!
Michael P Mitchem
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Offline mmitchem

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2012, 09:45:50 AM »
I did all that and came up with very similar numbers. Now here is I get tripped up. If I bump up my Chalk to get the appropriate RA (which is appropriate for color, from what I understand), then the alkalinity is too high, shooting the pH up to around 5.8.
Does RA really play a pivotal role in the whole thing? Even with distilled i cannot reach a suitable mash pH along with a suitable RA with the numbers suggested. The dilemma :)
Michael P Mitchem
Beer and Ale Research Foundation (B.A.R.F.)
AHA Member since 2011

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2012, 10:18:20 AM »
I did all that and came up with very similar numbers. Now here is I get tripped up. If I bump up my Chalk to get the appropriate RA (which is appropriate for color, from what I understand), then the alkalinity is too high, shooting the pH up to around 5.8.
Does RA really play a pivotal role in the whole thing? Even with distilled i cannot reach a suitable mash pH along with a suitable RA with the numbers suggested. The dilemma :)

I dont know if can answer this properly. Martin may be better suited. In my experience the answer is no. pH is the driving factor, I never worry about what my RA should be. RA is a combination of a lot of factors and if you're starting with distilled water that changes things significantly.  If I were making the beer I would use the method I described above and be willing to bet that it would produce a darn good beer and not worry about RA. perhaps Martin can chime in and give an explanation of RA a bit better than I.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline mmitchem

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2012, 10:23:47 AM »
If I were making the beer I would use the method I described above and be willing to bet that it would produce a darn good beer and not worry about RA.

I heard that my friend! I bet it would too. I must admit I have only recently become more interested in water, though i have made a few beers that have scored in the 40's without making any adjustments to water or worried about RA or ratios...
Let's see what Martin says about that as well. You have been a tremendous help in wrapping my head around this. Maybe Martin will get us the rest of the way (without a doubt, he is the man that can do it). Thanks so much!
Michael P Mitchem
Beer and Ale Research Foundation (B.A.R.F.)
AHA Member since 2011

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #9 on: May 23, 2012, 10:40:02 AM »
anytime glad I can help
Jason
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Offline beersk

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #10 on: May 23, 2012, 11:36:05 AM »
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
OR, you can do this same thing, but reserve some or most of the roasted barley for after the mash, so you can get your pH in the proper range in the mash.  This way, you won't have to mess with chalk and worry about it dissolving in the mash or not.  At least that's what I'd do.
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #11 on: May 23, 2012, 11:46:03 AM »
Let's take a simple Dry Stout:

7lb Maris Otter (4 SRM)
2lb Flaked Barley
1lb Roasted Barley (500 SRM?)

Starting with distilled water. Show me the way :)

Sure thing.

Assuming 4 gallons of mash water: Heres what I did.

First what do I want? I think a Dry Stout should be balanced in terms of profile so I went with the Black balanced profile in Bru'n Water. I entered the grist and mash water in the mash acidification screen with no adjustments at all to the water.

Sulfate to Chloride ratio: I want it balanced so 1:1 is good here.  According to the black balanced profile: 30 ppm for each is a good level. I add equal amounts  of gypsum and calcium chloride. In this case its .2grams/gallon and that gets me close to 30 ppm for each.

Now for the pH. At this point I am currently predicted at 5.2. I add Chalk on the water adjustment to get me to a pH of 5.4 on the mash acidification screen. Which in this case was .45 grams/gallon. Giving me 145 ppm biCarbonate, even though Bru'n Water for the profile says 225 is needed. That would be too much in this case. Only add what chalk is needed.

Now my calcium level, with all the additions is 74.2 ppm. Bru'n water says 65 ppm is ideal but 74.2 is close enough, and between our desired range of 40-100ppm. So thats good enough.

Final Checklist:
Our pH is predicted at a level reasonable for what we want out of the beer.
Our calcium level is within desired range.
Our sulfate to chloride ratio and amounts are appropriate for the style.
OR, you can do this same thing, but reserve some or most of the roasted barley for after the mash, so you can get your pH in the proper range in the mash.  This way, you won't have to mess with chalk and worry about it dissolving in the mash or not.  At least that's what I'd do.

I don't think that'd work in this case. If you did that you would have nothing in their to acidify things, and probably end up with a pH of 5.7 or so, which is a bit high. That would also leave your calcium level deficient, and I don't think adding more gypsum and caCl2 to compensate would be ideal for this style.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline mmitchem

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #12 on: May 23, 2012, 11:49:46 AM »
I don't think that'd work in this case. If you did that you would have nothing in their to acidify things, and probably end up with a pH of 5.7 or so, which is a bit high. That would also leave your calcium level deficient, and I don't think adding more gypsum and caCl2 to compensate would be ideal for this style.

+1...I always understood the roasted grains had a higher acidity, helping acidify the mash.
Michael P Mitchem
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AHA Member since 2011

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #13 on: May 23, 2012, 12:10:07 PM »
You would be correct.

There are cases where I add grains @ vorlauf.

For example when I did the Imperial Stout I mentioned earlier. I ended up with about 180 ppm of bicarbonate. The recipe for an 11 gallon batch had like 2 lbs of Crystal 80, 3 lbs roast barley, 2 lbs chocolate, 2 lbs black malt IIRC. I ended up adding the crystal malts @ vorlauf in that case and mashing the dark grains to get the acidity I needed.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline beersk

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Re: Water Has My Head Spinning...
« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2012, 01:48:31 PM »
But to make sure the pH doesn't drop too low, is what I'm saying.  You could add half the roasted grains to the mash, then the other half at vorlauf.  But it's your brew, I'm just giving my opinion.
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