Author Topic: Please help me understand my water additions  (Read 865 times)

Offline JKL

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Please help me understand my water additions
« on: June 12, 2015, 02:27:10 PM »
Hi everyone,
Long time brewer but I'm just getting into building water and could use a little help with my water additions. I recently had my water tested and it appears to be very low mineral.
Na=4
Ca=7
Mg=1
CaCO3 (total hardness)=22
SO4=4
Cl=4
HCO3=19
CaCO3(total Alk)=16
According to Bru n water and through experience on my last 2 beers, I am able to hit a mash ph of roughly 5.4-5.5 with only small additions of acid malt.
I have 3 beers that I'll be brewing on the next few weeks that I want to add "salts" to. An American Blonde (yellow balanced), an IPA(pale ale), and a Cream Stout(dark balanced). Building these with Bru n Water, it looks like I can get away with adding different quantities of Gypsum, Calcium Chloride, Epsom Salt, and Baking Soda to the boil.
1.) Am I doing this right? Lol  I just add these flavoring "salts" to the boil kettle? Surely it's more difficult than that? What am I missing?
2.) Using the mineral parameters that Bru n Water states, the lighter beers fall within the Bicarbonate level my water has but what about darker beers? So, I just need to add Baking Soda to the boil?
3.) I've been reading lots on the net and also have Palmer's "Water" book and I suppose Alkalinity and Total Alkalinity are the concepts that I'm having the most trouble understanding? Is it possible for someone to explain this in layman's terms or point me to a source that can? ISO "Water for dummies"

Thanks in advance everyone!
-N.O.D.
 8)

Offline goschman

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #1 on: June 12, 2015, 03:26:28 PM »
You want to add the salts to the mash and the sparge so that they are already in the kettle when you have collected all of your runnings. You can use lactic acid instead of acid malt for recipe simplification as well. Bru'n Water should tell you how much of everything to add to the mash and to the sparge depending on your mash/sparge volumes and concentrations.

I am pretty new to water treatment myself and really don't understand the ins and outs other than what each component is supposed to add to the finished beer. Others here will be able to help you with more specific information.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2015, 03:28:24 PM by goschman »
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #2 on: June 12, 2015, 06:11:03 PM »
You want to add the salts to the mash and the sparge so that they are already in the kettle when you have collected all of your runnings. You can use lactic acid instead of acid malt for recipe simplification as well. Bru'n Water should tell you how much of everything to add to the mash and to the sparge depending on your mash/sparge volumes and concentrations.

I am pretty new to water treatment myself and really don't understand the ins and outs other than what each component is supposed to add to the finished beer. Others here will be able to help you with more specific information.
If your mash pH works out without using the salt additions, then you can just add them to the kettle. If you have included the salt additions in Brun'water, then you need to add them to the mash so the pH calculations work out. Salt additions do affect the pH of the mash, but they are important flavor components as well.

As far as bicarbonate goes, it is really more of a pH adjustment rather than a flavor one. I like to target 5.5-5.6 for a mash pH in my dark, roasty beers. I use baking soda in the mash to increase my mash pH to that level.
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Offline toby

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2015, 07:45:47 PM »
Personally, I add all my water treatments to the HLT. I calculate it out in Bru'nwater and treat all the water at once. The salts get dissolved and evenly distributed that way.  Adding them to the mash you really can't be assured of even mixing.

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Offline duboman

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2015, 09:19:42 PM »
I'm no expert but if you are hitting your pH without any additions other than a bit of acid then you simply add the salts as necessary to bring the other levels up to where you want them. Personally I use Lactic acid instead of acid malt as it usually only takes a ml or so to get my pH where I need it and is more accurate than acid malt.

I also primarily only use Gypsum and calcium chloride, the first for hoppy beers, the latter for malty beers, never needed epsom salt or other additions and I too add everything to the HLT, easy deal.
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Offline JKL

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2015, 09:43:55 PM »
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to brew the Blonde tomorrow and  put the additions in the kettle and see what happens. The use of epsom salt was for the IPA to help add sulphates without adding more calcium. My Mg levels are already pretty low so I didn't think it would hurt?

Offline erockrph

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Re: Please help me understand my water additions
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2015, 12:16:25 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I'm going to brew the Blonde tomorrow and  put the additions in the kettle and see what happens. The use of epsom salt was for the IPA to help add sulphates without adding more calcium. My Mg levels are already pretty low so I didn't think it would hurt?
As long as your Mg doesn't get too high, then it's not a problem. Keep in mind that (at least for ales) you want to be in the 50ppm ballpark (minimum) for your calcium.
Eric B.

Finally got around to starting a homebrewing blog: The Hop Whisperer