Author Topic: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis  (Read 17156 times)

Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2011, 10:41:57 AM »
I just discovered that Bru'n Water takes into account the bicarbonate content of the starting water in estimating the relative pH shift due to adding acid malt.  That's pretty useful, considering that the more bicarbonates in the starting water, the greater the buffering power of the mash.

This is actually not the case. The bicarbonate content of the water has no significant impact on the buffer capacity of the mash since at mash pH the carbonate system is not providing a strong buffer. I do have experiments that show that.

Kai

So would you suggest using Weyermann's published ROT that 1% acid malt will reduce mash pH by .1?
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2011, 11:50:05 AM »
It looks great Martin!

I think it would be great if you added a "Desired Water Profile" called Custom, which links to an area of the spreadsheet where you can come up with your own desired water profile and then use the mash adjustment calculator to dial it in.

A couple of formatting things that aren't really important:
I've noticed that the conditional formatting in Water Adjustment cell H12 (Finished Water Profile of Bicarbonate) seems to be off.

Some of the columns aren't wide enough to display all of the cells properly on my machine.  Specifically cell A20 in Water Report Input, cells B14, D3, D14, H3, H14, and H23 in Water Adjustment, and cell 4G in Mash Acidification.
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2011, 01:11:29 PM »
It looks great Martin!

I think it would be great if you added a "Desired Water Profile" called Custom, which links to an area of the spreadsheet where you can come up with your own desired water profile and then use the mash adjustment calculator to dial it in.

+1

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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2011, 04:09:55 PM »
It looks great Martin!

I think it would be great if you added a "Desired Water Profile" called Custom, which links to an area of the spreadsheet where you can come up with your own desired water profile and then use the mash adjustment calculator to dial it in.

A couple of formatting things that aren't really important:
I've noticed that the conditional formatting in Water Adjustment cell H12 (Finished Water Profile of Bicarbonate) seems to be off.

Some of the columns aren't wide enough to display all of the cells properly on my machine.  Specifically cell A20 in Water Report Input, cells B14, D3, D14, H3, H14, and H23 in Water Adjustment, and cell 4G in Mash Acidification.

Tom, I have also found that the text in some cells can sometimes not display fully.  It seems to be an Excel font issue.  If you have not adjusted the display zoom on that sheet to maximize your magnification of the work area, I have found this can cause this text problem.  Try increasing the zoom setting on any sheet of the program that has screwy text layout in any cell. The Instructions for the program recommend this, but since you are not the first person to mention this, I'll highlight this need better in the instructions and on the download page.  

If the Zoom adjustment does not do the job, please send me a message directly (also in the Instructions) and I'll bump out those offending columns to better fit the text for most users.  

Regarding the Conditional Formatting for the Bicarbonate cell for the Finished water, it is not an oversight.  I'm hoping that you hovered your cursor over that cell to see the pop-up comments regarding that cell.  I do note that there is not an "Ideal Bicarbonate" concentration since this is a key variable in setting your mash pH performance.  So depending on your grist, the bicarbonate content may need to be adjusted up or down from what ever the water profile said it was supposed to be in order to produce your desired pH.  I don't want the Brewer to see this cell turn green and think that they are done.  By the way, be sure to hover your cursor over the various cells throughout the entire program that show a little red triangle in the upper right corner of the cell.  That information can be particularly helpful.

Regarding Custom Water Profile input, the instructions do alert the user that the water profile information is located down the Water Adjustment sheet (scroll down the sheet) and the cells for any of the water profiles can be customized to the user's preference.  I knew that my definition of a good pale ale profile (or others) might not meet another brewer's definition, so that latitude was designed in.  

Keep the comments coming!  I'll keep improving it.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 05:10:52 PM by mabrungard »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2011, 04:51:48 PM »
This is actually not the case. The bicarbonate content of the water has no significant impact on the buffer capacity of the mash since at mash pH the carbonate system is not providing a strong buffer. I do have experiments that show that.

Kai

Kai has a good point there, but that is not a significant concern here.  The bicarbonate content does however have a strong affect on the pH of the mash.  In fact the entire Residual Alkalinity concept is strictly based on that fact.  The buffer capacity of the mash is highly complicated by the strong influence of the phosphate buffer system, but for the overall effect on mash pH, the bicarbonate content has a very strong correlation.  

Kai's other point regarding the quandry that he uncovered regarding Rahr malt and its apparently elevated acidity is something that may be difficult to resolve.  It appears that this maltster has possibly sprayed their malt with an acid solution prior to drying in much the way that Acid Malt is prepared.  Another possible explanation is that this maltster uses a steeping water that has very low alkalinity or has been acidified to help enhance this acidic character of the finished malt. There could be other causes, but the fact is that this particular malt produces a roughly 0.2 unit drop in pH compared to other typical 2-row pale malts.  Good work by Kai in finding this.

There are plenty of good reasons to do this.  Since most brewers suffer with water supplies that have too much alkalinity and the brewer may not know how to adjust for that, the mash pH may not always fall into the most desirable range (5.3 to 5.5 @ room-temp measure).  In this case, the extract and fermentability of the grist would suffer.  So for Rahr to "help" the typical brewer out and add a little acidity to their malt is sort of a win-win.  The brewer sees better performance and extract and this maltster's malt seems to be the reason.  

The problem is when a brewer that does know what they're doing with their water or that uses an already low-alkalinity water source (this includes RO and DI), then the mash pH may fall too low.  Many of you may have noted my recommendation that mash pH should really stay above about 5.3 to avoid producing a possibly thinner or tarter beer than desired.  This malt may create a problem in this case.  

As I mention above, this Rahr malt has an Acid Malt character.  It appears that it may be neccesary to model it in Bru'n Water as an Acid Malt.  Kai, did your analyses indicate how much acidity per kilogram the Rahr malt contributes?  

Possibly I need to add a special malt category for this malt?  The best solution to all of this would be for all maltsters to test their malt acidity and publish the result as they do for Lovibond, EBC, Lintner, Extract, etc.  Then programs like Bru'n Water or similar could dispense with correlating malt color and malt type to acidity and use that value directly.  Maybe that day will come.  I'll make it a point to start asking maltsters and I'll introduce this concept directly to them so that they are on board too.  

Fellow Brewers, we will improve the technology of mashing with a more work and understanding.  I'd say that you have just set off a quest that we homebrewers need to press for, malt acidity data for all malting products.  
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2011, 05:03:40 PM »
The Instructions for the program recommend this, but since you are not the first person to mention this, I'll highlight this need better in the instructions and on the download page.  
What are "instructions"? :)  I just started using it, it's very intuitive I think.  You're right though, adjusting the zoom fixed the word wrap problem.

Regarding Custom Water Profile input, the instructions do alert the user that the water profile information is located down the Water Adjustment sheet (scroll down the sheet) and the cells for any of the water profiles can be customized to the user's preference.  I knew that my definition of a good pale ale profile (or others) might not meet another brewer's definition, so that latitude was designed in.  
I get that, but I don't want to have to take away what you've got, I just want to add some profiles and customize it a bit.  So if, for example, I wanted to add Denver water, or San Francisco water, or whatever, then I don't have to delete anything.  Consider it something for the wish list. :)
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2011, 05:16:00 PM »

I get that, but I don't want to have to take away what you've got, I just want to add some profiles and customize it a bit.  So if, for example, I wanted to add Denver water, or San Francisco water, or whatever, then I don't have to delete anything.  Consider it something for the wish list. :)

Great idea, I'll put in some CUSTOM titled rows at the bottom of the list so that the user can add their own profiles.  By the way, note that the water profile input calculates the Cation and Anion totals for the input profiles so that the brewer will know if they are entering a balanced water profile.  (the cation and anion totals should match when a balanced profile is input).

Thanks, Tom
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2011, 05:40:21 PM »
This is actually not the case. The bicarbonate content of the water has no significant impact on the buffer capacity of the mash since at mash pH the carbonate system is not providing a strong buffer. I do have experiments that show that.

Kai

Kai has a good point there, but that is not a significant concern here.  The bicarbonate content does however have a strong affect on the pH of the mash.  In fact the entire Residual Alkalinity concept is strictly based on that fact.  The buffer capacity of the mash is highly complicated by the strong influence of the phosphate buffer system, but for the overall effect on mash pH, the bicarbonate content has a very strong correlation.    

Thanks for that, Martin.  So would I be correct in assuming that depending on the bicarbonate content of the starting water, the amount of acid malt required to shift the pH downward could vary significantly?  For example, if the bicarbonate content of the starting water is around 25 ppm, would it take less acid malt to reduce the mash pH than if the starting water had a bicarbonate content of closer to 100 ppm?  The reason I ask is because Weyermann states that every 1% acid malt in a given grain bill will result in a -.1 pH shift.  But Bru'n Water estimates that it would take far less acid malt to achieve that shift (possibly due to my relatively soft water (~25 ppm bicarbonate)?).
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2011, 06:05:28 PM »
The buffer capacity of the mash is something that I have been paying a lot if attention to recently. Buffer capacity is the amount of acid or base needed to change the pH in a unit of the substance. I have been using the unit mEq/(pH*kg) for this. And I found that this can vary quite a lot which makes mash pH prediction difficult.

I have evaluated the effect of alkalinity on the buffer capacity of the mash and have not found a positive correlation. Try it youself. It takes the about the same amount of LA to reduce mash pH by 0.1 in a mash
made with RO water compared to a mash made with 250 ppm RA water. The only difference is that both mashes will have different pH values.

From a 1% acid malt addition I have seen pH chanes ranging from 0.15 to 0.7 with 0.1 being most common. There seems to be something elsr hat controls the mash buffer capacity.

Kai

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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #39 on: February 20, 2011, 06:37:18 PM »
My light bees have always been hit or miss, both on flavor and clarity.  Using Martin's program, I made the clearest, best tasting batches of pils I've ever made.  And a maibock.  Nothing changed in my procedure or ingredients other than using his spreadsheet, so I attribute the difference to that.  I've got an American brown made using the sheet in the fermenter now, and I'll know about flavor on that one in another week or so.  But like you say, I'm pretty much right on for mid color beers.

Denny,

Have you been using other water calculators before? What changes to your recipe did Bru'n Water tell you to make that you didn't make before?

Kai

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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #40 on: February 20, 2011, 10:21:18 PM »
Regarding the Conditional Formatting for the Bicarbonate cell for the Finished water, it is not an oversight.  I'm hoping that you hovered your cursor over that cell to see the pop-up comments regarding that cell.  I do note that there is not an "Ideal Bicarbonate" concentration since this is a key variable in setting your mash pH performance.  So depending on your grist, the bicarbonate content may need to be adjusted up or down from what ever the water profile said it was supposed to be in order to produce your desired pH.
Thanks Martin, this makes perfect sense.  I'll try to be more diligent about reading all of the stuff you have in there. :)

Great idea, I'll put in some CUSTOM titled rows at the bottom of the list so that the user can add their own profiles. 
Great :)
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #41 on: February 21, 2011, 12:00:44 PM »

Kai's other point regarding the quandry that he uncovered regarding Rahr malt and its apparently elevated acidity is something that may be difficult to resolve.  It appears that this maltster has possibly sprayed their malt with an acid solution prior to drying in much the way that Acid Malt is prepared.  Another possible explanation is that this maltster uses a steeping water that has very low alkalinity or has been acidified to help enhance this acidic character of the finished malt. There could be other causes, but the fact is that this particular malt produces a roughly 0.2 unit drop in pH compared to other typical 2-row pale malts.  Good work by Kai in finding this.

This is interesting. I have found by trial & error mostly that when using RAHR 2-Row Malt, if I cut the brew water additions in half (based of Palmer's spreadsheet) I ended up with a better beer. Go figure....  Cheers!!!
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #42 on: February 21, 2011, 12:30:23 PM »
Denny,

Have you been using other water calculators before? What changes to your recipe did Bru'n Water tell you to make that you didn't make before?

Kai

I've used yours, Palmer's, and EZ water to some extent.  Truthfully, I found that yours was beyond the capacity of my tiny brain to grok.  EZ water just didn't "feel" right to me, and Palmer's always seemed to recommend more treatment than I felt comfortable with.  None of this is to discount the possibility of user error on my part.  I find Martin's to be more intuitive to use, and I really like the results I'm getting.  Of course, I've only used it for maybe 5 batches, so I don't have a really wide range of styles that I've experimented with.  For instance, I have yet to use it with Rahr pale malt, and based on what you've discovered it sounds like it could be interesting!  My next brew will be an IPA with a Rahr pale base.
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #43 on: February 21, 2011, 12:36:19 PM »
My next brew is a Bell's Oberon clone with ~50% Rahr 2-row.  According to Martin's calculator, the mash pH -- without any adjustment -- should be about 5.5.  Assuming that Kai's Rahr 2-row acidity data isn't anomalous, my pH should be around 5.3-5.4.  I'll post my results if anyone is interested.

edit: Incidentally, I used Rahr 2-row for the base (~75% of the grain bill) in the AAA I brewed this past weekend.  I adjusted my mash pH pursuant to the calculation generated by Bru'n Water and my colorpHast strip read 5.1-5.2 at the end of the mash.  I just recently began questioning whether my colorpHast strips are reading low, which is something I hadn't suspected until others started to voice their experiences with them.  If Kai's Rahr data is correct, then my strips might just be reading accurately, since I was shooting for a pH of 5.3-5.4.

Also, I wonder if Rahr 6-row possesses acidification qualities similar to the 2-row.
« Last Edit: February 21, 2011, 12:54:34 PM by Pawtucket Patriot »
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Re: Advanced Software for Brewing Water Analysis
« Reply #44 on: February 21, 2011, 01:36:09 PM »
Truthfully, I found that yours was beyond the capacity of my tiny brain to grok.

The “basic” page was designed to be simple. You must have been peeking at the “advanced” page or even the “calculations” page :)

I appreciate the feedback, though, and am already working on an updated version that should make it more intuitive while keeping the flexibility that I want to get from this tool.

Kai