Learning about water chemistry

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Hopfunk, Jan 12, 2020.

  1. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    #21 Ward Chillington, Jan 16, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2020
    Brace yourself for a trip down the rabbit hole my friend and take your Chem 101 recall with you!

    There is a ton of material on the web and in the forums, like BF, on water chemistry. The one that gave me a fair idea of what I should try to understand was the 3 part series on water that Jamil Zainacheff (sp?) did with John Palmer on The Brewing Network's Brew Strong Podcast.

    http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/brewstrong/

    I think I listened to it about 4 times before I really started to grasp it. Palmer's a dry speaker to me; maybe that's why. The one thing that I took from it was that my well water, given its qualities and not trying to alter it, is best for dark beers...a perfect fit for my palate!
     
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  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    While that's kinda true, I've noticed my last few brews have used roughly the same amount of calcium chloride, gypsum, and lactic acid. Not sure how that correlates to what I brewed vs my tap water, but just my experience
    The first few times I adjusted water I was a bit scared, but after that it was fine. Like a lot of things, close enough is close enough
     
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  3. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    LOL...yeah with a $30 grain bill and 3 weeks of being patient invested into each batch, I have only played with a little chalk into the mash water but you got that good stuff from Loch Raven to work with, right hon? ;)
     
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  4. Hopfunk

    Hopfunk New Member

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    #24 Hopfunk, Jan 26, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2020
    For these recipes are you using those additions for only the mash, or is that mash and sparge water combined?
     
  5. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Mash only here...
     
  6. Meatwad

    Meatwad Member

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    Mash only for 99% of beers. I may add some extra gypsum or chloride in the kettle depending on the 1% of styles I want a distinct mouthfeel for.
     
  7. Ward Chillington

    Ward Chillington Well-Known Member

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    Hey HF, here is another podcast link specific to the strike and sparge water question....

     
  8. Old_P

    Old_P New Member

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    I’m using my tap water for my brews and so far so good, although I can see it needs some adjusting for lighter beers and lagers. I’m currently looking for where I can send a sample of our tap water to get it tested. But, I’m also interested to find out what the pH level is of my mash, so I have a couple of questions:

    Can anyone recommend a good, inexpensive (if there is such a thing) pH meter?

    And do you have to adjust the reading according to the temperature?
     
  9. Blackmuse

    Blackmuse Well-Known Member

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    ]I have done my water tests through Ward Labs - They are great and reasonably priced. They are cheap enough I wouldn't feel bad about doing twice a year! Right now, I've had it done every other year... but I plan on doing it a bit more frequently out of curiosity. :)

    Here's a link: - Scroll down to W-501 "Brewers Test"

    https://www.wardlab.com/services/water-analysis/

    As for pH meters - I have two and neither was ridiculously expensive. The ones I have correct themselves for temp I believe. To be honest though - having the water report gave me my base pH and the calculator here in the recipe builder helps me put pH where I want to be via grains and water adjustments so, I have been trusting that - with lots of success. - Using the pH meter for me has been hit or miss and has caused undue stress during the brew-day. lol So- I skip it. - But that's just me.
     
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  10. Old_P

    Old_P New Member

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    Thanks very much for the link, I hope to find a lab a little closer to home, but good to have this in my back pocket.

    I totally get what you’re saying about using a meter, however I was hoping someone knows of one that is reasonably reliable for measuring my mash.

    thanks again for you help
     
  11. ^Tony^

    ^Tony^ Active Member

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    Dito for me. I bought a pH meter for about $20 and tested several brews. The BF calculator was pretty accurate so I stopped bothering.

    I do BIAB so the salt/mineral additions go in to the pot when I start heating the water and that's it.

    Like many I read a ton of stuff on brew salts and minerals. I found some great information on what each addition is supposed to do to flavor profiles (Like SO4 increasing hop bitterness and Cl increasing "fruitiness", NaCl adds mouthfeel, etc) and that really helped my sort it all out in my head. I started with a cream ale and a very basic balanced water profile and I have adjusted and experimented on several different styles by adjusting the cream ale profile I used. My experience is "less is best!!" so I keep to a pretty balanced profile to start and only tweak one thing at a time but never to an extreme and have had great results.

    My latest obsession is mash temp and how it impacts flavor profiles..... :p:D
     

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