Author Topic: Brewing Water in the 1940's  (Read 299 times)

Offline erockrph

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Brewing Water in the 1940's
« on: May 14, 2021, 06:52:03 PM »
I came across this cool post on Ron Pattinson's blog recently. I tend to think of brewing water adjustment as more of a modern technique involving spreadsheets and pH meters, but it seems that the practice was already firmly rooted at at least some breweries 80 years ago:

http://barclayperkins.blogspot.com/2021/05/water-in-ww-ii.html

pH doesn't seem to be considered (at least directly), but the idea of certain waters from certain areas, and their associated mineral contents, being appropriate for various beer styles goes back further than I had realized.
Eric B.

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Offline Kevin

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Re: Brewing Water in the 1940's
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2021, 12:43:01 AM »
If you dig a bit deeper into Ron's blog you'll find that understanding of water chemistry goes back much further than that. Brewers were far more sophisticated back in the day than we give them credit for.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Brewing Water in the 1940's
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2021, 12:59:02 AM »
This is where apprenticeship was important.  They learned and passed down what it took to brew with their water.  They probably didn't know what they were doing, but they did understand what adjustments made better beer.  There were plenty of techniques that help make water more amenable to brewing.
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Offline Silver_Is_Money

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Re: Brewing Water in the 1940's
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2021, 11:48:51 AM »
My opinion differs.  The very first 'documented' potentiometric titration (I.E., titration to an endpoint via the use of monitored electrical means) was carried out in 1893 by Robert Behrend at Ostwald's Institute in Leipzig.  And from that juncture until brewing scientist Søren Sørensen precisely defined "pH" as we understand it today (way back in 1909) most to all of the chemical science behind mineralization and bicarbonate control within brewing water has been rather well sorted out and established.  And a fair deal of accurate mineralization chemistry precedes 1893.  Prior to the invention of potentiometric means, titrations via chemical endpoint indicators were already routine.  In my opinion, by about the mid 1890's it's not as if they didn't know what they were doing.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2021, 12:12:48 PM by Silver_Is_Money »

Offline Kevin

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Re: Brewing Water in the 1940's
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2021, 03:03:37 PM »
Martin, you need to go to Ron Pattinson's blog and search out his articles called The Salts of Brewing Waters. I believe it is a three part article but is by no means the only article Ron has written on water chemistry in the 19th century. In them he quotes pages from brewing publications printed in the 1800's in which they report in detail water analysis. The earliest reference to water analysis I have read there comes from letters written to the Joshua Tetley and Son brewery in the 1850's. The following is a report they commissioned while building a new facility in Leeds...

    "Messes. J. Tetley and Son. Gentlemen,—Having undertaken, at your request, an inquiry into the purity and excellence of your Ales, I beg to submit the results I have obtained.

    "It is well known that good Ale cannot be brewed with water unadapted for the purpose. Analysis has before shown that the water of your Brewery contains a very large quantity of earthy carbonates; consequently non-professional and inexperienced men would at once consider it ill adapted for Brewers.

    "This, however, is not the case; for in the course of boiling, the excess of carbonic acid in the water, by which the earthy carbonates are dissolved, is expelled, and these salts are precipitated: further, the phosphates of soda and potassa present in malt decompose the sulphate of lime, giving rise to soluble sulphates. By this means the hard water becomes soft, and is well suited for extracting in the manufacture of Bitter Ale. When the earthy carbonates are precipitated from the water used by you, it is much better suited for brewing than even the Burton water, which contains nearly twenty grains per gallon of sulphate of lime"


(and here is the report submitted)

ANALYSIS OF THE WATER USED BY MESSRS. JOSHUA TETLEY AND SON, FOR BREWING.

   Amount of Ingredients in the Imperial Gallon, represented in Grains.
Carbonate of Lime     } 19.78
Carbonate of Magnesia     }
Carbonate of Protoxide of Iron     0.93
Sulphate of Lime    4.97
Sulphate of Soda     13.09
Sulphate of Magnesia     9.78
Chloride of Sodium     7.11
Chloride of Magnesium     4.74
Loss     1.72
Total amount of fixed Matter     62.07


Analysis Of The Ales Of Messes. Joshua Tetley and Son, Leeds.
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: Brewing Water in the 1940's
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2021, 03:41:36 PM »
Martin, you need to go to Ron Pattinson's blog and search out his articles called The Salts of Brewing Waters. I believe it is a three part article but is by no means the only article Ron has written on water chemistry in the 19th century. In them he quotes pages from brewing publications printed in the 1800's in which they report in detail water analysis. The earliest reference to water analysis I have read there comes from letters written to the Joshua Tetley and Son brewery in the 1850's. The following is a report they commissioned while building a new facility in Leeds...

    "Messes. J. Tetley and Son. Gentlemen,—Having undertaken, at your request, an inquiry into the purity and excellence of your Ales, I beg to submit the results I have obtained.

    "It is well known that good Ale cannot be brewed with water unadapted for the purpose. Analysis has before shown that the water of your Brewery contains a very large quantity of earthy carbonates; consequently non-professional and inexperienced men would at once consider it ill adapted for Brewers.

    "This, however, is not the case; for in the course of boiling, the excess of carbonic acid in the water, by which the earthy carbonates are dissolved, is expelled, and these salts are precipitated: further, the phosphates of soda and potassa present in malt decompose the sulphate of lime, giving rise to soluble sulphates. By this means the hard water becomes soft, and is well suited for extracting in the manufacture of Bitter Ale. When the earthy carbonates are precipitated from the water used by you, it is much better suited for brewing than even the Burton water, which contains nearly twenty grains per gallon of sulphate of lime"


(and here is the report submitted)

ANALYSIS OF THE WATER USED BY MESSRS. JOSHUA TETLEY AND SON, FOR BREWING.

   Amount of Ingredients in the Imperial Gallon, represented in Grains.
Carbonate of Lime     } 19.78
Carbonate of Magnesia     }
Carbonate of Protoxide of Iron     0.93
Sulphate of Lime    4.97
Sulphate of Soda     13.09
Sulphate of Magnesia     9.78
Chloride of Sodium     7.11
Chloride of Magnesium     4.74
Loss     1.72
Total amount of fixed Matter     62.07


Analysis Of The Ales Of Messes. Joshua Tetley and Son, Leeds.

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