Author Topic: Building water for a BDS  (Read 1036 times)

Offline richardt

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Building water for a BDS
« on: December 12, 2010, 10:28:09 PM »
I'd like to build the ideal brewing water profile for a Belgian Dark Strong (BDS) from scratch, and I'd like your suggestions. 
My local water is not ideal (Jacksonville, FL)--see "post your water report"--basically it is really, really high in sulfates.

Target parameters are SRM = 25 and mash pH = 5.2 to 5.4.

I'm planning a 10 gallon batch so I'll be using RO H2O (16 gallons) and brew salt additions to create the liquor.
I'm prepared to use any or all of the 6 major ones:  Chalk, Baking Soda, Gypsum, Epsom Salt, NaCl, and/or CaCl). 
I'm using 27.25 lbs of grain + 2 lbs of sugar.  The calculated OG = 1.100.

Using Palmer's Mash RA Adjustment worksheet v2.5, I came up with the following salt additions:
15 gm chalk, 1 gm gypsum, 1 gm CaCl, 5 gm Epsom Salt, 15 gm Baking Soda, and 5 gm NaCl.

This gives me an adjusted mash of 108 ppm Ca, 8 ppm Mg, 269 ppm Alkalinity as CaCO3, 100 ppm Na, 58 ppm Cl, 41 ppm Sulfate.  EH = 82, RA = 188, Est SRM 21 to 25, Cl:SO4 = "malty."

Does this look right?  Will it give me the ideal mash pH?  Thanks in advance.

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2010, 10:39:34 PM »
I'd be leery of having the sodium that high. I also doubt you'll need the RA all the way up at 188 for a 25 SRM beer.

Personally, I'd do something like .25 g/gal CaCl, 1 g/gal CaCO3, 0.25 g/gal NaCl, 0.5 g/gal NaHCO3, 0.25 g/gal MgSO4. That gives you:

Ca 125
Mg 7
Na 63
SO4 27
Cl 74
HCO3 253
RA ~115
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #2 on: December 13, 2010, 04:51:02 AM »
How much of the color comes from roasted malts?

I too doubt the need for an RA that high.

Kai

Offline richardt

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #3 on: December 13, 2010, 07:02:55 AM »
Thanks Sean and Kai. 
I thought the Sodium and RA levels seemed a bit too high but that's what Palmer's calculator spit out. 
Ideally, the water calculators should take the grain bill into account, shouldn't it?

I'll confirm when I get home tonight, but there are no "roasted" malts.  The color contribution comes from various crystal malts (in the AG mash) and the light brown sugar/homemade caramel (which will be added towards the end of the boil).

Off the top of my head, the grain bill is something like:
18 lbs Pils
2.5 lbs Dark Munich
1 lb Honey Malt
1 lb Crystal 60
1 lb Toasted Rolled Oats (300 F x 30  min)
1 lb CaraMunich
1.00 lb Aromatic
0.50 lb Melanoidin
0.75 lb Special B
0.50 lb Crystal 120

2 lbs Light Brown Sugar (of which 0.5 lb has already been caramelized on the stovetop)

Offline Kaiser

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2010, 07:51:57 AM »
High RA might be needed because of all the crystal type malts in there. But I'd still add only half the chalk and baking soda, test the pH and take it from there.

Kai

Offline richardt

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2010, 02:13:00 PM »
Thanks guys, I'm still learning with respect to the water chemistry and timing of salt additions.

I'll adjust the salts to bring the sodium and RA levels down.

I plan on doing a single batch sparge (equal volumes of water, so 8 gallons to mash, and 8 gallons to sparge). 
You recommended that I use half of the baking soda and chalk in the mash and go from there. 
Do you recommend I use half of the other salts (i.e., CaCl, NaCl, MgSO4) during the mash-in, as well?   
Also, if using half of the chalk and baking soda does the trick for the mash-in, will I be ok to add the remainder of the chalk and baking soda during the batch sparge?

Offline Kaiser

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #6 on: December 14, 2010, 02:32:25 PM »
The other salts are fine and there is no need to adjust the sparge with chalk or baking soda. That would only lift it's pH higher which you don't want.

Kai

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #7 on: December 14, 2010, 05:38:23 PM »
I note that there are serious errors in the mineral additions that richardt proposed for his BDS.  I'm hoping it was just a bit of operator error instead of a faulty spreadsheet.  I would hope John's spreadsheet is better than this, but I'm not sure.  I haven't reviewed it in several versions.

The most important error is that the calculated alkalinity is way off.  Those additions add way more than 269 ppm alkalinity.  I calculate that the actual alkalinity is 410 ppm.  That creates a RA of 328, which is quite excessive.  For a beer of this color (brown), I'd say that a RA of about 100 is good.  

The sodium content is pretty high too.  At 107 ppm, its higher than recommended for many styles excepting possibly a Gose.  THe sulfate and chloride levels are OK.

The other thing that needs to be corrected is that it appears that richardt is treating the sparge water like he proposes for the mash water.  That is not recommended.  Sparge water is one area that high alkalinity is not desirable.  Therefore, I would recommend that he forget about chalk and baking soda in the sparge water.  He could then bump the gypsum to .25 gm/gal and the CaCl to 0.6 gm/gal.  The other mineral additions could remain.  

I'm surprised that the spreadsheet gave the result that richardt arrived at.  Maybe there is something terribly wrong with it.  I'll have to take a look at it.  Unfortunately, richardt's result is just an example of what I've been hearing about some of these spreadsheets.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #8 on: December 15, 2010, 07:22:25 AM »
I appreciate everyone's comments.  I agree that the results from the water calculator spreadsheets are puzzling. 
I checked out quite a few other ones, but got variable results.  None of the calculators ask about the grist.  They just ask about the SRM's or give a range for ideal SRM's.

Offline Kaiser

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #9 on: December 15, 2010, 07:56:31 AM »
Martin started a thread about spreadsheets here: http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=5040.0

Kai

Offline richardt

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #10 on: December 15, 2010, 11:04:34 AM »
I can see how my earlier comments might be read that way, but just to clarify, I wasn't really thinking about adding the remaining half (or less) of the chalk and baking soda to the sparge water (chalk wouldn't really dissolve anyway), but rather adding it to the mash after the first runnings were complete and the plain RO sparge water had been added to the mash. 

My uncertainty lies in the fact that I wasn't sure how much of the salts remained behind in the mash after (presumably) most of the enzymes and sugars (and salts?) have been run into the boil kettle with the first runnings.  Are there enough salts and buffers to handle plain RO water being used as the sparge water?  If so, then there's no point in tinkering with the salts after the initial mash-in and pH assessment (draw a small sample, cool it down, and check the pH).  Similarly, what's the big deal then, about acidifying the sparge water with acid?  Aren't people adding the sparge water first to the mash, stirring, checking the pH, and then adding the acid to the mash, if necessary?  If so, it seems misleading to say "acidifying the sparge water." 

Thanks for clarifying.

Offline Kaiser

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2010, 11:12:26 AM »
Sparge water only benefits from acidification if it's alkalinity is high. The acidification neutralizes this alkalinity an therefore prevents the sparge water from raising the pH of the grain bed too much. If you are using low alkalinity water like RO water there is little benefit to sparge water acidification. The buffer capacity of the water is so loow that it readily follows the mash pH.

Kai

Offline richardt

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Re: Building water for a BDS
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2010, 11:33:01 AM »
Thanks for clarifying.  It makes sense now.