Author Topic: Water Water everywhere  (Read 1086 times)

Offline pd2718

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Water Water everywhere
« on: March 17, 2015, 07:14:58 PM »
I watched the latest Beer Smith Pod cast and the guest speaker was Randy Mosher.  Mr. Mosher stated that the calcium in your brewing water should be at least 50ppm, but 75-100ppm was best.   A lack of calcium will lead to fermenting problems.  So with this new found knowledge I am posting my water report on the forum looking for any advice anyone wants to give. It looks like I am low on the calcium side. 

The only water treatment I do is to run it through a charcoal block filter (less than 1 ga/minute) to remove chlorine and chloramines,  and I add 1.5 tblspn 5.2 stabilizer to the mash.  I also add a few ounces of acidulated malt to every batch of beer to help bring down the ph.  I need to test the mash ph but I have not done that yet.  I generally get 70-75% mash efficiency.  The beer makes great stouts, but when it comes to lighter/amber beers, there seems to be a bit of off flavor.

My questions are.... should I add gypsum to get more calcium in my brewing water?  Should I add more 5.2 ?

ph:  9.0
Ca: 18.0 ppm
Mg: 0.0 ppm
Na: 16.0 ppm
SO4 (sulfate): 142.0
Cl (Chloride): 26.0 ppm
HCO3 (Bicarbonate):  110.0


Offline denny

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2015, 07:32:05 PM »
Martin Brungard is a professional water engineer and kinda disagrees.  He's found that 50 ppm is plenty for ales and you can go as low as 20 ppm for lagers.  According to Martin, the main thing Ca does is aid flocculation.  With all due respect to Randy, I'll take Martin's advice.

Now...stop using 5.2.  It hardly ever works and can give your beer off flavors.  Both of those things were true with me when I used it.  I wouldn't add gypsum just to get Ca unless you;re brewing a very hop forward beer.  The best thing you can do is download Bru'nwater, Martin's water spreadsheet (https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/).  Read the water knowledge section, enter your water report, and use the color/flavor profiles to see what you need to do.
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Offline Wort-H.O.G.

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2015, 07:44:51 PM »
+1 on bru'nwater-awesome software.

even if 5.2 worked (and it doesn't)...you wouldnt want many beers mashed at 5.2...especially your stouts.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2015, 07:46:44 PM »
Great advice from all the above.
Jon H.

Offline AmandaK

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 07:46:54 PM »
Several things here:

1) Calcium levels depend on the style of beer. Look to the most recent Zymurgy for an article on Ca and Mg by Martin Brungard. The upshot in that article in regards to your question is this: 50ppm is the old way of thinking. What Denny says basically sums up the article.

2) Throw the 5.2 stabilizer in the trash. You can search around here for the reasons why. "5.2 stabilizer works for those who don't check their pH and doesn't work for those that do check it."

3) Look into Brunwater for water knowledge and water additions. It will help you to understand all this better: https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

4) Filtering for chloramines is not 100% effective. Campden tablets are though.
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Offline gman23

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 07:49:48 PM »
I use calcium chloride and gypsum to get more calcium but my water is low in sulfate. Since you are high in sulfate, I would avoid gypsum except for hoppy styles.

FWIW, I never had fermentation issues prior to treating water with 22 pm Ca however I have bumped that up for the noted increased flocculation effects.
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Offline Frankenbrew

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 09:21:03 PM »
I have to agree with all of the above. Since I have begun using Bru'nwater, my beer has improved exponentially. Put your numbers in, pick the profile, get all the cells to go green, and go with it. You'll be amazed and pleased, so will your friends or anyone who drinks your beer.
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Offline pd2718

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 10:04:03 PM »
Great advice. Thanks to all for your time.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2015, 01:44:53 AM »
Some yeast have differing calcium requirement. I'm sure that some of heard of yeasts that refuse to flocculate and others that seem to floc at the drop of a hat and won't finish their job. Both are examples of those differing Ca requirements. With that said, unless you are having a problem clearing your beer, you don't need more Ca. Probably the most important reason to have higher Ca is to add more Cl or SO4 to your beer for their flavor.

I'm afraid that Randy is still relying on old knowledge. Don't worry, it is not likely to ruin the beer.
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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2015, 10:54:21 AM »
Why all the hate for 5.2?

This is actually partly what has led to my recent focus on water chemistry when I brew. I was using 5.2, found that when I didn't use it, my beers had a terrible mineral taste. (Very alkaline tap water.) At this point I knew something wasn't right with my tap water, and when I was advised that better water chemistry would likely help with some other issues with my beer I decided to get serious and buy a pH meter. What really puzzled me was how my beer was noticeably better when I used that "junk" 5.2 buffer...

Some simple testing showed that when used in the recommended amount, 5.2 won't buffer to a pH of 5.2. However, in the beers I tested (and I'll admit there were only two or three) it never failed to get the beer somewhere between 5.2 (lowest sample) and 5.5. (highest sample.)

I've since stopped using 5.2 buffer, as I'm setting up a RO system and will use phosphoric acid for pH tweaking. But it did help my beer, so there is some use for the stuff. To me, the biggest issue with 5.2 is how they don't list what's in it. What if I can get away with using less? What if I need more? The whole concept of a product that you add in one quantity to a given volume of unknown water is a flawed one I think.

5.2 pH buffer may or may not be a good product, but they need to be more open with what's in it so that people can learn how to use it properly.
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Offline AmandaK

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2015, 12:20:55 PM »
Why all the hate for 5.2?

I think you answered your own question here:

The whole concept of a product that you add in one quantity to a given volume of unknown water is a flawed one I think.


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Offline Phil_M

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2015, 01:46:23 PM »
Touche, and I realize I'm defending a mediocre product that I've already abandoned.

I realize most of us on here, myself included, will opt for phosphoric acid, lactic acid, or other means to adjust mash pH. But I think a lot of people just getting into brewing would appreciate a simple "use x product for y gallons of z alkalinity water" product. Something simple to get the mash chemistry close enough that a new brewer can focus on solving other problems before tackling water chemistry.

Could also be I'm just overreacting to all this since mash chemistry has been such a headache for me with my BIAB setup. So many other things I'd rather focus on than mash chemistry...
Corn is a fine adjunct in beer.

And don't buy stale beer.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2015, 02:16:06 PM »
Touche, and I realize I'm defending a mediocre product that I've already abandoned.

I realize most of us on here, myself included, will opt for phosphoric acid, lactic acid, or other means to adjust mash pH. But I think a lot of people just getting into brewing would appreciate a simple "use x product for y gallons of z alkalinity water" product. Something simple to get the mash chemistry close enough that a new brewer can focus on solving other problems before tackling water chemistry.

Could also be I'm just overreacting to all this since mash chemistry has been such a headache for me with my BIAB setup. So many other things I'd rather focus on than mash chemistry...

I have been very happy with a copy of bru'n water, a jar of calcium chloride, one of Gypsum, and one of lactic acid and RO water for a blank slate to work from. then just aim for a middle of the road profile to start and once you've got a handle on those other things, and water chemistry is the thing that's holding your beer back from jumping to the next level, you can start tweaking your numbers there.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2015, 02:20:34 PM »
I have been very happy with a copy of bru'n water, a jar of calcium chloride, one of Gypsum, and one of lactic acid and RO water for a blank slate to work from. then just aim for a middle of the road profile to start and once you've got a handle on those other things, and water chemistry is the thing that's holding your beer back from jumping to the next level, you can start tweaking your numbers there.

^^^^  Perfect advice.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Water Water everywhere
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2015, 02:27:54 PM »
Touche, and I realize I'm defending a mediocre product that I've already abandoned.

I realize most of us on here, myself included, will opt for phosphoric acid, lactic acid, or other means to adjust mash pH. But I think a lot of people just getting into brewing would appreciate a simple "use x product for y gallons of z alkalinity water" product. Something simple to get the mash chemistry close enough that a new brewer can focus on solving other problems before tackling water chemistry.

Could also be I'm just overreacting to all this since mash chemistry has been such a headache for me with my BIAB setup. So many other things I'd rather focus on than mash chemistry...

I have been very happy with a copy of bru'n water, a jar of calcium chloride, one of Gypsum, and one of lactic acid and RO water for a blank slate to work from. then just aim for a middle of the road profile to start and once you've got a handle on those other things, and water chemistry is the thing that's holding your beer back from jumping to the next level, you can start tweaking your numbers there.

Close to my procedure. I also use baking soda and pickling lime for some alkalinity if needed.
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