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Next Step-Water

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duboman:
Looking to take the next step towards improving my beer:

I have been brewing all grain now for two years. The first year I spent improving my process and equipment to achieve consistency with my efficiency which I have now gotten to 82% across the board consistently!

The second year I spent refining my beers to the point where I have a nice line up of "house beers"
 that are in regular rotation, some have one me some medals along the way!

Now into my third year it is time to take the next step. For ease of conversation I will divide into light color and dark color beers. My light color beers are primarily by Belgians, Pales and IPAs, my darks are my holiday ales and porters. My concern with my pales and IPAs are hop presence. Bittering appears and tastes to be good but I know I can improve aroma and flavor but trust me, it is not due to not using enough hops!

I am in the 'burbs of Chicago and the info I have recieved in my report is:
Ca: 37ppm
Mg:14ppm
Na:17ppm
Cl:16ppm
SO4:26
CaCO3: 100ppm

My batch size is always 6.25 gallons and I have never had a problem with PH, whether dark or light the grain bill always and consistently brings me to 5.4-5.6 levels.

For my lighter beers I am trying to figure out what the best additions would be to bring out more of the hop flavor and aroma. I have downloaded Bru'n water and have done some initial reading but it's quite involved, or seems to be.............Trying to get a starting point of things I should be looking at!

For my dark beers I would like some input in my process as well as water. While I don't think astringency is a problem I think the overall quality of the beer can be improved with the water as well and how I should be handling the darker grains. Currently I mash them as part of the entire mash.  PH as mentioned always settles where it should be and I never sparge with water above 168F. Should I be adding the dark grains at batch sparge instead? My darker beers always seem to score lower than I think they taste and the comments I receive are always quite obtuse with really no defining reason. IMO, I feel as though a lot of people say astringent but it seems like a general catchall for a default flaw. When I and fellow drinkers have them we do not get the characteristics of astringency-confused

My final question would be how and water water to adjust. My set up involves a 7 gallon kettle for my strike and sparge water (basically strike water is heated first and used for mash, then filled again and heated for sparge) Should the adjustments be made to both water fills? Only Strike, or only sparge?

A little long winded I'm sure but I appreciate the help! Any other input or suggestions are greatly appreciated as well!

hopfenundmalz:
Maybe Martin can answer in more detail than I can.

Sulfates will give you a more crisp bitterness that is dry and lingering. That is it. It doesn't cause more hop aroma or other hop flavors to become stronger in my book. Of course, if you get high enough, you start to smell the "Burton Snatch" as it is called. I have a bitter that has a hint of sulfate/sulfur at first.

Kaiser:
For your dark beers you may want to try bumping the calcium and chloride with calcium chloride. shoot for a Ca level of 100 ppm, for example. Calcium is known to suppress astringency.

duboman:
Thanks for the replies!

So for my lighter beers-obviously dependent upon the grist, it seems that if I add between 5-10 grams of CaSO4 I can get up to 100-125 ppm of Ca and about 5 grams of MgSO4 will raise my sulfates to about 200. Would these be good thresholds to get the crisper, hoppy elements I am looking for?

For the darker beers would I then only worry about the CaSO4 additions and forget about the others?

Just looking for some benchmark numbers that I can play with to get started without going overboard. I want to be sure I do not go too high with the sulfates to introduce off flavors as well. I am probably over thinking all this so I appreciate the guidance

malzig:

--- Quote from: duboman on March 06, 2013, 07:21:07 AM ---So for my lighter beers-obviously dependent upon the grist, it seems that if I add between 5-10 grams of CaSO4 I can get up to 100-125 ppm of Ca and about 5 grams of MgSO4 will raise my sulfates to about 200. Would these be good thresholds to get the crisper, hoppy elements I am looking for?

For the darker beers would I then only worry about the CaSO4 additions and forget about the others?

--- End quote ---
To add sulfate, stick with CaSO4 and leave out the MgSO4, you don't need the Mg.

I prefer CaCl2 for dark beer, not CaSO4, to mellow it out a bit.

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