Don't understand water chemistry calc

Discussion in 'Calculator Support Forum' started by Hetken1, Sep 15, 2020.

  1. Suga

    Suga Member

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    Yeah its fine now, I'm just a literal kind of person. And it bugged me that it's called calculator and didn't function as I expected. Honestly i'll just use beersmith and enter the numbers here and see how things work out. Dealing with water Volumes not matching between the 2 as well.
     
  2. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    It’s true that Beersmith and Brewfather do the calculations for you; but it’s also true that many of the profiles are not “real”- that is, you can’t really match the profile properly when it’s simply computer generated additions to hit this imaginary target.

    For example, as @Pricelessbrewing mentioned, these calculators will have you adding chalk for some bicarbonate, but yet adding acid to reduce the bicarbonate since the mash pH is too high. So yes, technically, that HCO3 will be correct for certain profile, but then it must be reduced to make the beer taste good. So acid is added to neutralize the bicarbonate...........and when you think about that, you’re not actually hitting the target after all and instead adding things that impact the flavor without making the beer better!

    Trust me, when I first started I also wanted the Easy Button. But ask a professional brewer, or a homebrewer who makes great beer if THEY would use that software- and you’ll get a hard no.

    Water chemistry is not a particularly difficult thing to learn at our level. Think of it like adding seasonings to your beer. That is all you are doing with these salts. Just like you might like onions and garlic in your spaghetti sauce, you probably will like a little more sulfate in your IPAs and perhaps a little calcium chloride in your lagers. But by hitting a profile, you aren’t necessarily making the best beer by adding things that a software program tells you to. You’ll make better beer by choosing your salts to add, the same way you choose your malts and your hops.

    A little bit of understanding of what those ions do, and why you would want to use them (or not) is all that is required to make excellent beer.
     
  3. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    With Brewfather you can pre-select the "salts" that you add, and when you click the magic wand it will get as close as it can using those salts.
    Yooper is on the money though, and I would reiterate that, much like you need to know what different malts bring to the table to develop a recipe, you need to spend some time to learn how to develop a water profile that suits the beer you are making.
     
  4. Suga

    Suga Member

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    I simply don't want to do the math.
     
  5. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    It's your beer, so your decision.
     
  6. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    The calculator does the math. You choose what you want to add, and the calculator does the math!
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I got that impression when I made my unusually snarky comment. As mentioned above, your beer, your decision. The calculator does what it should, no math required on your part. There is an element of trial and error but it gives good results.
     
  8. Under Deck Brewing

    Under Deck Brewing New Member

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    As someone (like all of us) that went from 'knowing nothing about how brewing water works' to... 'now knowing more than nothing' ;) : I was equally confused as Suga when I first started using the calculator : I didn't know enough about any of this to know what it should, or shouldn't do. I too wanted the 'make magic' button, and was perplexed when 'the calculator' didn't provide it. The one suggestion I'd echo is simply some blurb at the top of that page for new brewers along the lines of (like others have mentioned) : "This is trial and error: In the same way you add your malts & hops to the recipe and let the tool calculate the results, here too you add salts & acids to see the calculated results. Not the results you want? Change the ingredients."
    Something like that alone would have really helped me figure all this out faster. Now, I greatly appreciate the calculator, and it feels a bit like a game of Sudoku to get it all dialed in 'right' ;)
     
  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I really like your post. Something to explain to the user that the salts are recipe items, just like malts hops and yeast, and that the calculator requires input.
    Just like there is no "pale ale" button that magically fills in your grain bill, hops, and yeast!
     
  10. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    I really appreciate this discussion- and I’ve put in a ticket to add an explanation to our water calculator, explaining why we don’t have the “easy button”, and that following a profile to add bicarbonate and then add lactic acid to neutralize what was just added so that this imaginary “profile” has been hit is such a fallacy.

    Well, not in those words, as that’s a bit strong........but that should be the jist. I love the way @Craigerrr explained that those salts are ingredients just like grain, hops and yeast!
     
  11. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Thanks @Yooper , after all, you don't have to go to an separate calculator for IBU's, or SRM, or ABV.
    Just as there is a certain knowledge required to create a malt bill, or a hop schedule, there is a certain knowledge required to develop the appropriate water profile for whatever you may be brewing. I don't think that anyone's intention is to try and recreate a mythical, or imaginary water profile. The software should be adept at this, user friendly, and intuitive.
     
  12. Donoroto

    Donoroto Active Member

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    Hmm, maybe put an actual Easy Button there, that when clicked goes to the explanation page...
    Or is that being too pecksniffian?
     
    Mark Farrall likes this.
  13. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    I'm assuming you don't want the more widely used, but in this case perfect, description of troll-like?
     
  14. Donoroto

    Donoroto Active Member

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    Yeah, I was looking for the right word there, a bit of dishonesty, some humor, and a touch of wry deception. Troll covers it.
     
  15. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I'd go with snark...
     

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