Newbie to Water Additions

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by AGbrewer, Apr 2, 2020.

  1. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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    I'm a bit of a newbie to water additions, so be gentle.

    So, I got my water report from Ward Labs thinking that I would be smart enough to figure out how to get everything to equal out. Man was I wrong. Every time I enter an amount of one thing, 2 other things shoot up or down. I can't seem to get it right. I tried to use several online spreadsheets to do the calculations for me (even Brewers Friend) and have had no success. The only additions that I'm currently using is one campden tablet and 10 ml of lactic acid in 7.5 gallons of water for a 5 gallon batch.

    Looking for help developing these three profiles water profiles.

    1. A "Middle of the road" brewing profile for Blonde Ales, Bitters, and maybe some lighter German lager or hefeweizen.
    2. A "Malt forward" one for RIS, BDSA, and a Tripel.
    3. A "Hop forward" one for APA, IPA, and some Belgians.

    Below is my profile, can someone help me get to those three base water profiles.

    upload_2020-4-2_7-57-30.png
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    That's going to depend on the style. Your water is pretty hard so it should make dark beers as is, simply dechlorinate it and to. For lighter beers, some you can do if minerally flavors are part of the profile but for most, I'd go with cheap RO water from the supermarket.
     
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  3. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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    I'd rather not use RO as it wastes a lot of water to make. Call me a tree hugger if you want, just trying to do my best to do the environmentally responsible thing when possible.

    Is there anything in the report that you can see that would cause issues with either light or dark beers, malt forward or hoppy beers?

    Also, I realize that this is a big question. Just can't seem to wrap my head around the whole water addition thing. Hence the post for help. Surely there is someone out there than can provide the water additions to bring my water inline with the various styles I listed above. I realize that I would need to have at least 3 different water profile additions, so that isn't a big deal. I can add that to Brewers Friend. It's really just the coming up with those 3 profiles that I am really struggling with.
     
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  4. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    OK...I'll have a lash at #1. The smarter posters will correct all of my mistakes!

    I'm basing most of this off of Bru'nWater because it's what I'm familiar with. At least I think I'm familiar with it...it's chemistry, so there's that.

    Your Profile of the Main Brewing Ions:
    Ca - 63
    Mg - 16
    Na - 20
    Cl - 29
    SO4 - 33 = (SO4-S)*3
    HCO3 - 216

    Target Profile for a "Yellow Balanced" Beer (SRM < 6):
    Ca - 50
    Mg - 7
    Na - 5
    Cl - 60
    SO4 - 75
    HCO3 - 0
    pH - 5.3-54

    Assuming you took care of the chlorine with a campden tablet, it would look to me that Lactic Acid will be your friend to neutralize the high Bicarbonate and get your pH in line. Beyond that you will need to be careful to not go crazy with additions. I'm a believer in less is more, even if you can't get right to your target profile. You could add a little gypsum (CaSO4) to bump your sulfate and CaCl to bump your chloride, but for a lighter beer I would probably leave well enough alone the first time through.

    If you don't dilute your water with RO or distilled, your HCO3 level will be a bit of a problem unless you intend to brew a lot of Dark beers. Aciduated malt might be helpful. One good thing, you'll likely never need Baking Soda. ;)

    Another Rule of Thumb*:
    Sulfate:Chloride Ratios
    3:1 = IPA's
    2:1 = Drier, Hop Assertive
    1:1 = Balanced
    1:2 = Less Bitter, Maltier

    *YMMV

    My favorite source for water knowledge:
    https://www.brunwater.com/water-knowledge
    You don't need to understand it all and once you get the hang of it, even a knucklehead like me can figure it out.
     
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  5. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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    So for the "Yellow Balanced" beer under 6 SRM, you are basically saying I don't need to change much of anything?

    As for the Dark beer, you are basically saying keep adding the campden tablet and lactic acid, just may think about adding in some acid malt? If that is the case, why not add more lactic acid? is 10 mL on the edge of being too much?
     
  6. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    For the lighter beers (#1) where your grain bill is not going to help lower the pH you will need to add Lactic acid (or Aciduated malt) to lower your mash pH. For darker beers, the roast malts help with lowering the pH. How much acid you will need largely depends on your grain bill.

    Rule of Thumb #2*:
    Lighter Color Beers - pH range of 5.3-5.4
    Darker Color Beers - pH range of 5.4-5.6

    *YMMV

    Sorry for the confusion.
     
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  7. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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    cool. thanks for the extra explanation. I'm still fairly new to the water addtions thing.

    btw, would 10 mL lactic acid be considered too much or possibly cause a sour flavor in beer after a certain amount?
     
  8. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    I really couldn't answer that. I would refer you to the Bru'n Water link I provided above.

    For a comparison though, my water has a HCO3 level of 143 and for really light beers I have added as much as 5mL (1 tsp) in a 4.25 gal BIAB single infusion mash. I have never tasted any sourness. If you are afraid of potential sourness from the Lactic (everyone's taste threshold will vary) many on this site have great success with Phosphoric.
     
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  9. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    http://brulosophy.com/2019/02/28/wa...-mash-ph-adjustment-the-bru-club-xbmt-series/

    This is an excellent Brulosophy xbmt. What I got out of it is 10ml of lactic acid is on the edge of perceptability. However, I seem to remember some post (that I can't locate) indicating the taste threshold was higher. I don't know that I've ever gone higher than 5 ml. I mainly brew brown ales (Irish Reds and American Browns) so I usually don't need that much.
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Looks like you just about nailed it. Fizzy yellow beers - look at German Export Pilsners (DAB, etc.) as your guide. The hard water is going to take a LOT of acid to correct so you might want to look at getting some food-grade phosphoric acid to bring the mash pH down. While I understand your concern with the brine left over after RO water is extracted, consider this: All you have that you didn't have before is some mineral-rich water on one side of the membrane, some virtually pure water on the other (no water is "lost" in the process and what you extracted will eventually be returned, also with some extra minerals). Your call but the alkalinity of that water lends itself to English-style, minerally ales, including English-style IPAs.
     
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  11. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    If it were me with that water on the dark beers leave as is add some more Calcium Chloride to enhance the malt flavour and then correct ph if need be with your lactic. Always link grist into water calc from beer recipie to adjust your salts and acid.

    As above for your pilsners lagers blonds youll.be needing to cut your water maybe 50/50 demineralized/your water then add a little calcium and go from there.
     
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  12. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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  13. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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  14. Megary

    Megary Well-Known Member

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    I would definitely shoot for more IBU's, somewhere in the neighborhood of 75. I would probably dial back on the roast, especially the Black Patent. Maybe move the SRM to around 40 as a guide. If you are used to an efficiency of 70%, I would probably dial that back to around 65 as big beers are a bit more of a challenge.

    Just suggestions.

    No matter what you do, I hope it turns out great.
     
  15. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    One of our stashed comercial beers. Will be pulling out some tomorrow. Oldest we have is 2013 which is our fav.

    1: you probably won't need any acid for a beer this dark. I didn't run the numbers through the calculator but your conversion should be good with that grain bill.
    2: have some dme on hand. Big beers never come out with expected efficiency. When I brew something this big I use 50% efficiency and am still sometimes short. The grain doesn't get rinsed well of all those sugars.
    3: if you are brewing lots of beer you owe it to yourself to understand water enough to balance your ph and have proper salts. Don't be afraid of a little high school chemistry. It really is not that complicated. Palmer explains quite a bit of it fairly simply and as pointed out brewin water explains some too.
    4: I have been in your shoes with water not that long ago. If I can figure it out, most anybody can. You do need an understanding of it before you just start throwing salts in. There are some good articles in the brewers friend blog too. Once you understand the basics it gets much simpler.
    Good luck with the bc stout!
    Let us know how it turns out!
     
  16. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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  17. Daniel Parshley

    Daniel Parshley Active Member

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    I found going to local micro-breweries very helpful for information about water, types of yeast used, and other general information for a beginner. Any testing of the water should be on the supply side of your home water filter. Inexpensive filters can make significant changes in water chemistry and resolve a lot of problems. The brewing supply stores knew a good bit about local water, too. I suggest starting with your local micro-breweries and ask then what they have done to resolve any water problems. The advice I received repeatedly was minerals were needed for good beer flavor, and don't over-treat/filter the water.
     
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  18. AGbrewer

    AGbrewer Active Member

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    Hmm.. Maybe I need to try using unfiltered water (been using the fridge filtered water) and just adjust accordingly. Of course, that means I have to send tap water for another test as the previous test was done with filtered water from my fridge (not a big deal though).

    I have reached out to the local brewery, and they mostly do german beers (although I'm not a fan of what they brew). They said that they do very little additions to is as it is almost perfect for brewing the german styles (hefeweizen, weizenbock, helles, etc.) that they brew.

    Good advice!
     
  19. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    With that high alkalinity, I'd suggest phosphoric acid to drop mash pH. And you absolutely need to lower the pH of the sparge water. Otherwise, the water looks pretty good.

    I wrote a three-part article a while back, for beginning water chemistry:
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-1/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2017/11/19/brewing-water-basics-part-2/
    https://www.brewersfriend.com/2018/02/13/brewing-water-basics-putting-it-all-together/

    It's a bit simplistic, but it might be a good place to start.
     
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  20. Daniel Parshley

    Daniel Parshley Active Member

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    BEFORE retesting - If you are on a municipal water supply, they are likely required to report basic water chemistry to the state environmental agency (at a minimum) and likely can be found by contacting under a name like "Water and Sewer" or similar agency name. Anyway, the basic chemistry should be available. Even better, stop by and talk to the chemist and let them know why you are asking and they may open up and give you a world of information. The US Geological Service has a lot of information about water aquifers, too. Locally, the micro-breweries just filtered the chlorine and particulates, and otherwise the water was perfect for brewing. FYI - I started my life in science as certified municipal water/wastewater operator before venturing into research.
     
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