Author Topic: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate  (Read 999 times)

jaybeerman

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burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« on: March 21, 2011, 05:42:10 PM »
I'm going to brew a best bitter and while I don't care, too much, about the Burton water profile I have to admit that they make damn drinkable, crisp hoppy, bitters.  

Typically I belong to the "don't mess with it too much" camp when it comes to water adjustment. (I use both kai&martin calcs -  double check my predicted mash ph and that's about it.)  Usually, I increase my calcium ppm a bit, hoppy beers get a little more sulfate, malty beers get enough calcium chloride to flip-flop my S04/Cl ratio and if brewing a dark beer I add enough bicarbonate to offset my acidic grains.  Now that you know my basic stance, here are a few thoughts/questions I've been pondering for about a week.

Ray Daniels states that the presence of bicarbonate at significant levels in Bitter Ale brewing water can undermine the crisp, clean bitterness ...if carbonate levels exceed 50 ppm you should dilute the water.

Ray Daniels Burton Water Profile
SO4 801 ppm,  HCO3 0 ppm,  SO4/Cl ratio 22/1  (i.e. distilled water with gypsum and a touch of calcium chloride)

Typical (google found) Burton Water Profile
SO4 610 ppm,  HCO3 300 ppm,  SO4/Cl ratio 17/1

I could use acid to get down to 50 ppm bicarbonate, but that results in a low predicted mash ph.  If I used 55% distilled water with 45% house water I could get down to 50 ppm bicarbonate, have an acceptable predicted mash ph (with a RA of -23).   If I, do nothing, use straight house water I'd have 68 ppm bicarbonate.  Ok -   Acid vs dilution vs do nothing?  Would 50 vs 68 ppm HCO3 be noticeably different?  Would 68 vs 300 ppm be noticeably different?  Let's say I added gypsum to get to 200 ppm sulfate (chloride still at 9 ppm); which HCO3 level would provide the best Bitter Ale; 50, 68 or 300 ppm?  What benefit/harm would there be in striving for the burton profile with 300 ppm HCO3 in this bitter ale?  Give me your thoughts.  Cheers, j

edited to simplify 
« Last Edit: March 21, 2011, 09:23:46 PM by jaybeerman »

Offline johnf

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Re: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2011, 08:55:07 PM »
Burton brewers decarbonate, typically with acid and historically by boiling. I guess you could dissolve 300 ppm bicarbonate (which requires lots of co2) and then take it back out again with sulfuric and hydrochloric acid like they do in Burton, but it seems easier to not put it in there in the first place.

jaybeerman

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Re: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2011, 09:43:16 PM »
Burton brewers decarbonate,
To what ppm?  60 or 80 ppm via boiling and lower ppm with acid?  Under 50 ppm?

I guess you could dissolve 300 ppm bicarbonate and then take it back out again but it seems easier to not put it in there in the first place.

The more important issue is -  use acid to get under 50 ppm bicarbonate and have a 5.2-5.1 mash ph or keep the 68 ppm bicarbonate and have a 5.3 mash ph?

Offline alikocho

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Re: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2011, 12:57:48 AM »
Burton brewers decarbonate,
To what ppm?  60 or 80 ppm via boiling and lower ppm with acid?  Under 50 ppm?


From what I understand they decarbonate to around 50ppm using acid (in the UK there is actually a specific acid for this purpose).
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Re: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2011, 06:43:01 AM »
You can see a boiled water profile for a typical Burton water in the Water Knowledge section of the Bru'n Water program.  That assumed the water was only moderately decarbonated to about 80 ppm bicarbonate.  The RA is around -109.  That will keep the mash pH down in the 5.2 to 5.3 range.

Unfortunately, Bru'n Water indicates the pH might be around 4.7 due to that highly negative RA value.  I know that the mash buffers will not produce that low a pH if it is just high hardness that creates the negative RA.  I have to figure out how to take that component out so that a more accurate pH is estimated for brewing water with a negative RA.  But unlike adding hardness, adding acid to the brewing water can drive the mash pH below 5.2.  That component needs to stay. 

I've still have my work cut out for me.
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jaybeerman

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Re: burton ale - sulfate and bicarbonate
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2011, 11:20:49 AM »
Unfortunately, Bru'n Water indicates the pH might be around 4.7 due to that highly negative RA value.  I know that the mash buffers will not produce that low a pH if it is just high hardness that creates the negative RA.  I have to figure out how to take that component out so that a more accurate pH is estimated for brewing water with a negative RA.  But unlike adding hardness, adding acid to the brewing water can drive the mash pH below 5.2.  That component needs to stay. 

I've still have my work cut out for me.

I have two responses, the practical and the experimental.

PRACTICAL
Since I have western colorado water (not burton water)  the simplest thing to do, is leave my bicarbonate at 68 ppm, leave my chloride at 9 ppm and add gypsum to achieve 200 ppm sulfate (SO4/Cl ratio of 21.4:1) resulting in a mash ph of 5.3ish.  However, this leaves me wondering if I could improve on an already delicious beer by lowering the bicarbonate a touch and increasing the sulfate to 600 ppm.

EXPERIMENTAL
I could brew this batch up to three times in a row with any of the methods and ppm levels that we've discussed so far.  I'm tempted to brew these three batches
Batch 1 - the practical way
Batch 2 - use acid to achieve 50 ppm bicarbonate, add gypsum to 200 ppm sulfate (measure actual mash ph)
Batch 3 - use acid to achieve 50 ppm bicarbonate, add gypsum to 600 ppm sulfate (measure actual mash ph)

Thoughts?  I'm curious if anyone has an opinion as to which batch would be the most desirable.  Would you, in any way, change up the experiment to give more useable results?  cheers, j