Author Topic: Next Step-Water  (Read 3580 times)

Offline duboman

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Next Step-Water
« on: March 05, 2013, 11:17:17 AM »
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!
Peace....Love......Beer......

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the craft of beer since 2010

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #1 on: March 05, 2013, 01:37:35 PM »
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.

Jeff Rankert
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2013, 04:41:34 PM »
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.


Offline duboman

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2013, 07:21:07 AM »
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
Peace....Love......Beer......

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the craft of beer since 2010

Offline malzig

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 05:51:11 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?
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.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2013, 06:51:20 AM »
I'm more concerned with the alkalinity presented by this water.  At 100 ppm as CaCO3, it has the chance to adversely affect any of the lighter beers.  The remainder of the ions are in decent ranges as starting points.  Definitely no additional Mg is needed or should be added unless brewing a hoppy and bitter beer that could benefit from additional bittering effect.  Boosting Ca is typically helpful.  As Kai mentions, increasing the ionic strength of the water can have the effect of reducing the extraction of less desirable components like silicates and tannins from the malts. 
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Offline micsager

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2013, 09:23:11 AM »
Water is probably the place I need to go for next incremental improvements as well.  I've been kind of waiting the for the BA publications to finally release Palmer's book on water. 

Kristi - if you are out there somewhere, do you have a target date yet?




Offline duboman

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Next Step-Water
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2013, 03:32:11 PM »
Sorry for the late reply, life got in my way.... I appreciate the suggestions and as I put together my next few recipes I will take them and apply to see how things go!
Peace....Love......Beer......

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the craft of beer since 2010

Offline duboman

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2013, 03:47:25 PM »
Hating to be a pest but I am not a chemist and I'm probably making this harder than it is.............

In playing with Kai's spread sheet and sticking to the basics tab I have entered my water report info as I have it.

In playing around with the additions as you all described I find that 8g of gypsum brings the calcium up to about 84ppm and sulfates to about 138. Anything more than the 8g puts me over the recommended amounts.

This addition also shows that my alkalinity will drop about 21.1ppm and the mash PH is estimated at 5.4 and this is all listed in the resulting water profile section.

The beer in question is one of my favorite Pales that I am trying to improve with more hop presence and crispness so does this look about right as a starting point without going over board?

Appreciate the input and patience, feeling like a noob again :(
Peace....Love......Beer......

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the craft of beer since 2010

Offline denny

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Next Step-Water
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2013, 05:32:09 PM »
Looks good to me.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Offline Jeff M

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2013, 08:55:23 AM »
Try it.  If its one of your favorites who will be able to tell if its gone to that next level better then you?
RDWHAHB;)
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Offline wort-h.o.g.

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2013, 08:45:50 AM »
Hating to be a pest but I am not a chemist and I'm probably making this harder than it is.............

In playing with Kai's spread sheet and sticking to the basics tab I have entered my water report info as I have it.

In playing around with the additions as you all described I find that 8g of gypsum brings the calcium up to about 84ppm and sulfates to about 138. Anything more than the 8g puts me over the recommended amounts.

This addition also shows that my alkalinity will drop about 21.1ppm and the mash PH is estimated at 5.4 and this is all listed in the resulting water profile section.

The beer in question is one of my favorite Pales that I am trying to improve with more hop presence and crispness so does this look about right as a starting point without going over board?

Appreciate the input and patience, feeling like a noob again :(

i just tasted a sample of my pale ale after 3 weeks. it was my first upping sulfate close to 200pmm, calcium around 70ppm and chloride around 60ppm (as i recall).. just play with additions in bru'nwater). anyway, there is a huge difference in the perception of dry and crisp, with the hop shining through the malt.  if that's what you are looking for, don't be afraid to bring the sulfate up..id start around 200ppm and see how you like it. ive read others doing IPA's at 300-400ppm, but i have no experience with that.

Offline brewchez

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2013, 12:04:11 PM »
I'm more concerned with the alkalinity presented by this water.  At 100 ppm as CaCO3, it has the chance to adversely affect any of the lighter beers. 

Can you elaborate a little more on this statement? Particularly what role does alkalinity play on flavor perception.  What role on pH.  Then framing it in context of your worries about lighter beers.  What effect exactly would you be worried about.
-Mike

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Offline mmitchem

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2013, 12:14:28 PM »
CaCO3 will keep your mash pH from being able to acidify enough in light beers. Since there are not any dark grains to help acidify the mash, the pH wil not get down into the desired range for those light beers.

From what I have read, it takes free hydrogen ions out of solution by forming H2O and CO2. The free hydrogen ions are what causes your pH to drop.

I think I am stating that correctly :)
Michael P Mitchem
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Next Step-Water
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2013, 12:19:54 PM »
I'm more concerned with the alkalinity presented by this water.  At 100 ppm as CaCO3, it has the chance to adversely affect any of the lighter beers. 

Can you elaborate a little more on this statement? Particularly what role does alkalinity play on flavor perception.  What role on pH.  Then framing it in context of your worries about lighter beers.  What effect exactly would you be worried about.
Along with the pH problem, the alkalinity will make the light beers taste the opposite of crisp. My Pilsners tasted "muddy" in the finish, not clean and crisp like they do now that I brew with RO and adjust.
Jeff Rankert
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Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!