Author Topic: Bru'n Water Questions  (Read 3039 times)

Offline waltsmalt

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Bru'n Water Questions
« on: May 23, 2011, 10:53:34 AM »
First off, just want to say that I really like the layout of this water calculator.  It seems pretty intuitive to me. 

Here are my questions:

1.  My next brew is a straight forward Saison.  Grain bill includes 21lbs Pilsner malt, 1.5lbs Munich, and 1.5lbs Wheat.  I use only RO water.  If I use 100% RO with these grains it suggests a pH of 5.3.  Would it be OK to mash with straight, unadjusted RO water?  What am I missing by not adding any minerals to the mash?  Based on my reading of Gordon Strong's book it sounds like he doesn't make many alterations to his RO water for mashing. 

2.  If yes to #1, how would I calculate the BK additions to hit my water profile in the kettle?  I guess I could just put in my boil volume in the mash column on the "Water Adjustment" tab.  That should give me the right profile in the kettle for that volume, correct?

Thanks

Offline richardt

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2011, 11:23:27 AM »
I am following this with interest.  I also have similar questions (different beer style, though).

I just read GS's BBB section on water last night--basically 100% RO water, treated with phosphoric acid to pH of 5.5, and then Calcium Chloride addition (given in tsp units--i.e., a unit of volume, and not grams--a unit of weight, which seems unusually "sloppy" for someone who is a master homebrewer; but given his whole "accuracy vs precision" argument, may not make much difference in the final mash pH).

I have used the Bru'n water calculator, but am not completely clear on how to go about inputing the data if I want to build the water from scratch using 100% RO water.  If I do, then do I basically ignore tabs 1 (water profile) and 2 (sparge water)?

I'm planning to brew a Weizenbock and used the "brown and malty" setting.  It had me adding a lot of calcium carbonate to the mash in order to get the alkalinity up from 5.1 to 5.2.  All the calcium carbonate additions basically moved the pH just one tenth of a pH point and changed the color of the summary pH box from red-to orange-to green. Is this really necessary?

It does nail the historic "Munich" water profile, but other forum threads have commented that this is unnecessary, and undesirable.  I don't want a minerally, alka-selzer beer.  So, do I need to recalculate the brown and malty water profile?

Offline denny

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2011, 11:29:07 AM »
You guys should PM or email Martin.  It would be great if he could post answers here.
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2011, 12:32:57 PM »
I will let Martin answer the questions.

Just wanted to say that my CaCO3 may go on the shelf next to the 5.2 Stabilizer.  Pickling Lime is now my favorite for raising pH.

Last couple of beers were right in the target range for me.  One was 0.1 off, the other was right on the money.
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Offline Pawtucket Patriot

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2011, 03:41:47 PM »
Just wanted to say that my CaCO3 may go on the shelf next to the 5.2 Stabilizer.  Pickling Lime is now my favorite for raising pH.

Last couple of beers were right in the target range for me.  One was 0.1 off, the other was right on the money.

+1

I've been using it with great results. I like how little it takes to adjust the mash pH.
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Offline richardt

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #5 on: May 23, 2011, 05:57:16 PM »
Where does one get pickling lime?

Offline brushvalleybrewer

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2011, 06:46:51 PM »
Where does one get pickling lime?

If your grocery store has a canning section, you’ll find it there.
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2011, 06:54:33 PM »
Where does one get pickling lime?

If your grocery store has a canning section, you’ll find it there.

That depends on the season for some of us.  In the dead of winter, I foundthe pickling lime in the canning section of a farm supply store.  The typical grocery stores don't have canning supplies in Michigan in the dead of winter.  

Edit - do a search for "Mrs. Wages" brand and you can order it on line for a little more with the shipping.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2011, 06:56:29 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #8 on: May 23, 2011, 07:32:43 PM »
If you're using a low calcium water that produces an acceptable mash pH without adjustment, then an enhancement that the wort will need is a dose of calcium to improve yeast performance.  Since adding calcium to the mash has the tendency to reduce mash pH, that calcium dose can be added directly to the kettle instead of the mash.

Yes, the calcium dose can be calculated using the kettle volume and the intended calcium concentration would be produced in the wort.  The question is what should that calcium (or any other ion) concentration be in the post-mash wort?  The mash has the tendency to add and subtract ions in comparison to the initial water concentrations.  Given that ambiguity, I recommend that a 'close enough' philosophy be used.  Just ignore the ionic gains or losses in the mash and add your desired ionic concentrations directly to the mash.

I too disagree with Gordon's lack of accuracy that results from adding dry minerals volumetrically instead of by weight, but the simplicity of his water adjustments would not penalize him too much.  And I can't argue with his results.  Plus, I understand he does use a pH meter to check his mash pH.  And as mentioned above, the ability to consistently reproduce a given outcome and assess minor changes will come to those who brew a similar beer time after time and dial in all components of a beer.  Gordon rebrews and tweaks with great effectiveness.

Unfortunately, that is not how most brewers brew.  I do enjoy brewing certain beers over and over.  I do tweak with each sucessive batch, but I also want a tool that is going to help me get in the ballpark the first time and subsequent brews.  Gordon properly coaches for brewers to not mess with their water too much.  Since he typically brews with RO water and the RO process is 'messing with your water to the max', what he really should be telling brewers is, 'don't add too much mineral content to your brewing water'.  Brewing with RO or distilled water is a luxury that some brewers don't have access to.  Using a program like Bru'n Water is an important step in understanding what your water is and what the effect of adding minerals will be.  Unless a brewer is using RO water like Gordon does, the water adjustments he uses could be disasterous to your brewing.  

With all that said, I too use RO water for my brewing since my tap water is not suitable for brewing.  As RichardT suggests, if you're using RO or distilled water, you can skip Sheets 1 and 2 in Bru'n Water.  You just dial up the dilution percentage to 100% and figure out your desired mineral additions.  And since distilled water and RO water have very low alkalinity, it is not necessary to acidify your sparge water.  Sparge water pH is NOT the real criteria we need to concern ourselves with, its reducing the water alkalinity to low concentration that is the real concern.  

As RichardT finds with his Weizenbock, brewing with RO water has its limitations as the grist color increases.  A source of alkalinity is needed to keep the mash pH from dropping too low.  I put that red pH signal to relay the findings that I've experienced.  The mash pH is very non-linear as the pH drops into the very low 5 range.  The mash has to have a really high net acidity to drop the pH that low.  Its my experience that a beer mashed at that pH is overly tart and rough.  Even a 5.2 is really too low for my taste.

I agree that the Munich profile is a bit much for many of the lighter styles that have been produced in Munich, but it is well suited to the dark styles.  To brew those lighter styles, the boiled Munich profile is much more appropriate.

All great questions!  And yes, pickling lime is quite powerful.  Don't even think of using it unless you have a good scale and also tend to underdose it instead of overdose.
 
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Offline richardt

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2011, 07:53:08 AM »
Thank you, Martin!  Great explanations, as always. 
And thanks for clarifying the pH color changes and the need for chalk to raise the alkalinity in darker beers.
I shall brew my weizenbock (first time doing so) with more confidence that the mash pH will be on target. 

Offline waltsmalt

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #10 on: May 25, 2011, 08:04:10 PM »
So based on all the responses, can I assume that I'm safe mashing with straight RO water if the water calculator is suggesting a reasonable pH?  I then will add my profile minerals to the BK.

I'm planning on buying a pH meter at some point, but right now I'm using Bru'n Water to get in the ballpark.  At that point it will be much easier to adjust on the fly.

Thanks for everyone's input.

Offline johnf

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Re: Bru'n Water Questions
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2011, 11:58:22 PM »
So based on all the responses, can I assume that I'm safe mashing with straight RO water if the water calculator is suggesting a reasonable pH?  I then will add my profile minerals to the BK.

I'm planning on buying a pH meter at some point, but right now I'm using Bru'n Water to get in the ballpark.  At that point it will be much easier to adjust on the fly.

Thanks for everyone's input.

I think generally some chloride is flavor positive and calcium has several benefits. As such, a bit of added CaCl is a good idea. This is the AJ Delange baseline water and what Gordon uses for many beers.