Author Topic: More about water  (Read 3213 times)

Offline DW

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
More about water
« on: January 27, 2011, 05:08:16 PM »
I've seen many recent posts regarding mash pH, etc.  Being relatively new to all-grain, I have never really investigated wether my water profile was appropriate or wether I was hitting a good pH.  So my question is... how important are these things?  recently I've been using distilled water for the whole mash, since my tap water tastes bad.  I have had pretty good results.   But am I leaving out vital minerals, etc that are found in tap water?  Could I have better efficiencies if I started paying attention to mash pH?

Offline rmusser74

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #1 on: January 27, 2011, 06:11:39 PM »
From what I understand, because I too am new to all grain, The calcium and sodium are the two most important factors in water. If you are using distilled water with no minerals you really should be adding them back in to create a water profile that matches the style of beer you are brewing. You can use gypsum, table salt, and epsom salt to adjust these minerals. Not only do these affect taste, but also yeast health.

I am brewing a witbier and am also using distilled because my water is a bit hard.

Here is a good article...
http://www.beersmith.com/blog/2008/08/24/brewing-water-hard-or-soft/

Hope that helps.


Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4520
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #2 on: January 27, 2011, 06:32:58 PM »
That beersmith article was not peer reviewed, was it?  There are several things I just don't agree with.  When Kai or Martin - a water engineer - read this maybe they can comment.

You need to pay attention to water, as that influences the mash pH.  Calcium levels are very important.  I did a Bo-Pils today with some CaCl2 to get the calcium up to 50 ppm.  That was it, no bicarbonate wanted in this beer.  You need to understand Residual Alkalinity to see how Ca, Mg, and HCO3 work and determine the mash pH.

Sulfate and chloride will influence taste, maybe more than sodium.

Here, read John Palmer's take on water.
http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-1.html

Kai has some information, read his page after Palmer.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Understanding_Mash_pH

Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1094
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: More about water
« Reply #3 on: January 27, 2011, 07:12:09 PM »
Distilled water is always an option for brewing.  Adding important major and minor ions that help promote good mashing performance and fermentation performance is a good idea too.  Even though brewers in Pilsen were able to brew great Pils using water with really low calcium, we now know that calcium is very important to good mash and yeast performance. 

If starting with distilled water, adding gypsum and or calcium chloride to boost the calcium concentration to at least 50 ppm is a good idea. I'm not sure where the notion that sodium is necessary came from, but its not needed except as desirable for flavor impacts.  I'm with Jeff regarding the mention of the Beersmith article.  Although I appreciate their software, I'd say it was safe to say that brewers should not get water knowledge or advice there.  Kai's and Palmer's sites are much better for basic water information. 

Distilled water will work OK for light colored beers, but might produce a lower mash pH and thinner, lower bodied beer as the color increases.  Alkalinity is a necessary evil for brewing darker beers.  Adding alkalinity is a little tougher and that may be a reason why a brewer might want to include some of their tap water in their brewing water. These are nuances that cannot be covered in a quick message.  But as a brewer increases their brewing knowledge, those nuances become more understandable and approachable. 

Understanding what you need for brewing great beer might not be a goal yet, but brewing a good beer is probably a minimum goal for any brewer.  Adding minerals may not necessaryily improve efficiency, but it might make better tasting beer.  Keep doing what your doing and add knowledge with each brew.

Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Offline dcbc

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 269
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2011, 11:25:33 AM »
I would add that zinc is a very important mineral for yeast health in fermentation.  If your water tastes that bad and you don't want to blend it with distilled water, I'd suggest a yeast nutrient like Servomyces added with about 10 minutes left in the boil to be sure you have some zinc in your fermenting wort.
I've consumed all of my home brew and still can't relax!  Now what!

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4520
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2011, 11:51:49 AM »
The yeast need the zinc.  Wort does not provide much, according to the experts.  I add zinc to the wort, and my yeast are very happy.   :D
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline euge

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 7212
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2011, 12:03:26 PM »
I typically add yeast nutrient which always makes a difference. My assumption is that there's zinc in there somewhere.
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline DW

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2011, 02:35:22 PM »
Wow! Some really great advice and ideas.  Do many people use Britta filters?  Do these filters remove any important nutritients?  My second question is: How do you find out what your water profile is? 

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1352
  • Rebelling against cheap swill since 2005
    • View Profile
    • Bauhaus Brew Labs
Re: More about water
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2011, 02:37:54 PM »
Send a sample to Ward Labs and request the W-6 Household Water Test for $16.50.  www.wardlab.com
Matt Schwandt | Minneapolis, MN
AHA Member

Partial-Mash Pictorial
All-Grain Pictorial

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2011, 12:33:16 AM »
I used a brita to remove chlorine for years, it works fine.  It shouldn't affect anything that you want in your beer.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #10 on: January 30, 2011, 05:41:47 AM »
Wow! Some really great advice and ideas.  Do many people use Britta filters?  Do these filters remove any important nutritients? 

Here's what a Brita filter did to my water:

Tap:

pH   7.7
TDS Est   258
Sodium   22
Calcium   46
Magnesium   11
Potassium   3
Total Hardness   161
Nitrate   0.7 (SAFE)
Sulfur   21
CO3   < 1
HCO3   121
Chloride   23
Total Alkalinity   99
Fluoride   1.22

Brita:

pH   6.1
TDS Est   169
Sodium   25
Calcium   8
Magnesium   4
Potassium   18
Total Hardness   37
Nitrate   0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfur   19
CO3   < 1
HCO3   16
Chloride   23
Total Alkalinity   13
Fluoride   1.18

Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1681
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2011, 06:00:07 AM »
I'm surprised the Britta knocked out so much calcium bicarbonate (hardness and alkalinity)  and so selectively (leaving other cations and anions untouched).  Is it simply filtering out a bit of insoluble CaCO3?

I'm sure it does remove chlorine (Cl2), you probably wouldn't see this in the chloride level since its at low residual levels.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline tom

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1110
  • Denver, CO
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2011, 08:36:46 AM »
Did you test the chlorine/chloramine levels?
Brew on

Offline tygo

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2622
  • Sterling, VA
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2011, 10:08:37 AM »
Those are from the Ward Labs reports.  It does remove the chlorine taste from the water as well.  I used to use Brita when I extract brewed but these days I just use tap water with a campden tablet.
Clint
Wort Hogs

Fermenting: Wit
On Tap: Lucifer's Hammer Golden Strong Ale, Dopplebock, Old Fuzzynut's Ale

Offline tschmidlin

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 8130
  • Redmond, WA
    • View Profile
Re: More about water
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2011, 11:53:27 AM »
Here's what a Brita filter did to my water:

Tap:
Potassium   3

Brita:
Potassium   18
I'm surprised too.  Did you take the tap water sample at the same time as the brita sample, or were they some weeks/months apart?  The reason I ask is because of the ones that increase.  Sodium is probably within the margin of error, but potassium going from 3 to 18 seems like a big change.
Tom Schmidlin