Author Topic: Water hardness question...  (Read 2541 times)

Offline Village Taphouse

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Water hardness question...
« on: October 01, 2017, 05:47:48 PM »
I have seen that water hardness is typically the combination of calcium and magnesium and their ppm levels. My water is Ca 34, Mg 12, Na 13, Cl 21 and SO4 27 (9x3). My bicarb is 138ppm. I wonder about this because since I got my pH control and water composition where I want it, the head on my beers is much softer, fluffier and long-lasting. Is it safe to say that my water is "soft" based on the Ca 34 and Mg 12? Is it soft-to-moderate? Outside of the 138ppm of bicarb (which I neutralize with lactic acid), my other numbers are pretty modest.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2017, 05:56:13 PM »
If I remember correctly, those levels of calcium and magnesium would probably put you in the moderately hard range. But besides that, hardness really doesn't matter in brewing. Taking care of the alkalinity is job one for brewers.
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Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2017, 01:40:47 PM »
Thanks Martin.  So here's a pic (excuse the plastic cup) of a beer that just finished carbing yesterday.  I ran the yeast off the bottom of the keg and then tapped this beer.  Check out the head on it.  Before futzing with water composition and pH control I would not get a thick, foamy and long-lasting head like that... it's relatively new to me.  I'm wondering what is responsible for it.  Before the head on my beers would have a little larger bubbles, the foam would not be so thick and would not cling to the sides of the glass as much and the head would dissipate quicker.



Offline The Beerery

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #3 on: October 03, 2017, 01:54:57 PM »
Thanks Martin.  So here's a pic (excuse the plastic cup) of a beer that just finished carbing yesterday.  I ran the yeast off the bottom of the keg and then tapped this beer.  Check out the head on it.  Before futzing with water composition and pH control I would not get a thick, foamy and long-lasting head like that... it's relatively new to me.  I'm wondering what is responsible for it.  Before the head on my beers would have a little larger bubbles, the foam would not be so thick and would not cling to the sides of the glass as much and the head would dissipate quicker.



Foam

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #4 on: October 03, 2017, 04:58:30 PM »
Thank you for the link.  Despite the information there, I'm still not sure what has changed in my process to have impacted the head formation and stability that I'm seeing.  pH control, water modification including the neutralization of bicarbonate with lactic acid... not sure what's doing it.  I change base malts occasionally and I saw this happening while using the Barke Pils (very good stuff) and this particular beer and others recently were made mostly with Swaen Pils and the beers have been FANTASTIC with it. 

Offline Wilbur

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2017, 06:29:34 PM »
Thanks Martin.  So here's a pic (excuse the plastic cup) of a beer that just finished carbing yesterday.  I ran the yeast off the bottom of the keg and then tapped this beer.  Check out the head on it.  Before futzing with water composition and pH control I would not get a thick, foamy and long-lasting head like that... it's relatively new to me.  I'm wondering what is responsible for it.  Before the head on my beers would have a little larger bubbles, the foam would not be so thick and would not cling to the sides of the glass as much and the head would dissipate quicker.



Foam



Quote
Consequently, a more stable foam can be expected from a more highly hopped beer.

So... I stopped reading when I got to this part, that's ok, right? Kunze only wants you to brew IPA's.

I've been shooting for 5.2 with my beers, maybe I'll have to try another batch and aim closer to 5.4 and see how the head changes.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2017, 07:05:56 PM »
So... I stopped reading when I got to this part, that's ok, right? Kunze only wants you to brew IPA's.

I've been shooting for 5.2 with my beers, maybe I'll have to try another batch and aim closer to 5.4 and see how the head changes.
So I use one batch sparge in my process which means I look at pH three times on brewday... mash, sparge and kettle.  I don't know if one specific spot is affecting the head this way but I figure the mash pH is for "mash efficiency" and the sparge pH (in my case) is just to make sure that the pH is nowhere near 6.0 when everything is mixed.  My mash pH might be 5.2 - 5.3 and my sparge pH might be in the same spot so even though I check the kettle pH (after runnings are collected and before the boil), it usually doesn't require adjustment.  Not sure if any of those specific points contribute to better head formation and stability or not.  Maybe a combination of that plus the water adjustments I'm making. 

Offline The Beerery

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2017, 07:09:45 PM »
Did you look at the book page picture?

Water and hot side pH don't factor into head retention. It's another process variable.

Offline The Beerery

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2017, 07:10:44 PM »
Thanks Martin.  So here's a pic (excuse the plastic cup) of a beer that just finished carbing yesterday.  I ran the yeast off the bottom of the keg and then tapped this beer.  Check out the head on it.  Before futzing with water composition and pH control I would not get a thick, foamy and long-lasting head like that... it's relatively new to me.  I'm wondering what is responsible for it.  Before the head on my beers would have a little larger bubbles, the foam would not be so thick and would not cling to the sides of the glass as much and the head would dissipate quicker.



Foam



Quote
Consequently, a more stable foam can be expected from a more highly hopped beer.

So... I stopped reading when I got to this part, that's ok, right? Kunze only wants you to brew IPA's.

I've been shooting for 5.2 with my beers, maybe I'll have to try another batch and aim closer to 5.4 and see how the head changes.

I am sorry thats all you took away from all the information. Also that couldn't be father from the truth. It's simply stating the more hops the better the foam.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2017, 07:32:55 PM »
Coarse bubbles are a result of insufficient time for carbonation. The CO2 must undergo a time-dependent, chemical hydration for the bubbles to morph into the fine bubbles we typically appreciate in beer.

With regard to the heading ability of your beers, have you altered your boil time? Long boil times are known to destroy head-building capability. Keeping your boil time to around 60 minutes is preferred for improving heading. Reducing the heat-stress that is placed on the wort (by reducing the energy input and covering the kettle), also helps improve heading.
Martin B
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Offline Wilbur

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2017, 07:42:52 PM »
I am sorry thats all you took away from all the information. Also that couldn't be father from the truth. It's simply stating the more hops the better the foam.

Just a joke buddy, no need to get upset.

I was referring to the boil pH, which as you state:
Quote
A higher starting boil pH (5.4) will reduce DMS nearly 2x as fast.

So hot side pH is a factor, in the sense that it changes the rate of DMS boil off, allowing you to boil shorter.

Offline Village Taphouse

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2017, 07:51:53 PM »
Coarse bubbles are a result of insufficient time for carbonation. The CO2 must undergo a time-dependent, chemical hydration for the bubbles to morph into the fine bubbles we typically appreciate in beer.

With regard to the heading ability of your beers, have you altered your boil time? Long boil times are known to destroy head-building capability. Keeping your boil time to around 60 minutes is preferred for improving heading. Reducing the heat-stress that is placed on the wort (by reducing the energy input and covering the kettle), also helps improve heading.
Oh, oh, oh.  Yes... I have moved all of my beers to a 30-minute boil time.  This is a big topic on my main board (where you are a member) and I was skeptical at first.  Some people are experimenting with even shorter boil times.  I have been using a 30-minute boil time for my last 15 batches and in that group there have been pilsners, helles, dunkels, viennas, festbiers, amber ales, pale ales, blonde ales, etc.  Once you adjust your bittering addition to get to the same IBUs as you would for a 60-minute boil, everything else falls into place.  I have to say that many of my beers have been ultra-clear lately too.  I wouldn't think that a shorter boil would help with that but that's what I'm experiencing. 

Offline The Beerery

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2017, 08:06:17 PM »
I am sorry thats all you took away from all the information. Also that couldn't be father from the truth. It's simply stating the more hops the better the foam.

Just a joke buddy, no need to get upset.

I was referring to the boil pH, which as you state:
Quote
A higher starting boil pH (5.4) will reduce DMS nearly 2x as fast.

So hot side pH is a factor, in the sense that it changes the rate of DMS boil off, allowing you to boil shorter.

Far from upset.

Not necessarily, it just means it reduces faster.

Online Richard

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #13 on: October 04, 2017, 04:47:40 PM »
Thanks Martin.  So here's a pic (excuse the plastic cup) of a beer that just finished carbing yesterday.  I ran the yeast off the bottom of the keg and then tapped this beer.  Check out the head on it.  Before futzing with water composition and pH control I would not get a thick, foamy and long-lasting head like that... it's relatively new to me.  I'm wondering what is responsible for it.  Before the head on my beers would have a little larger bubbles, the foam would not be so thick and would not cling to the sides of the glass as much and the head would dissipate quicker.



Foam

Reading the "Foam" article referenced above, it says
  'Also never use carapils/carafoam as it is actually very foam negative.'

Huh??
I would like more information on this because it runs counter to everything else I have heard.
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Offline stpug

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Re: Water hardness question...
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2017, 05:08:57 PM »
Reading the "Foam" article referenced above, it says
  'Also never use carapils/carafoam as it is actually very foam negative.'

Huh??
I would like more information on this because it runs counter to everything else I have heard.

It's fairly well recognized that cfoam/cpils don't do much for foam, and only minor amounts for body.  There are better ways to improve those aspects in beer besides using grains such as these.  Even denny recognizes the lack of usefulness cpils is thought to have on foam production.

https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=29980.msg394026#msg394026

As detailed in this article (http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/35-head-retention/697-getting-good-beer-foam-techniques), if you don't have foam problems, adding foam positive elements won't help.  Of if you have certain foam issues (not that you do), adding foam positive elements won't help.  I long ago concluded from my experience that wheat and carapils do nothing for foam, at least in the ways homebrewers usually think of.  I use carapils to add body if needed.