Starting to delve into water

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by ChicoBrewer, Jan 28, 2019.

  1. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #1 ChicoBrewer, Jan 28, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
    So I got my Chico tap water report from Ward

    pH - 7.8
    Cations - 2.9
    Anions - 2.9
    Sodium - 12
    Potassium - 2
    Calcium - 22
    Magnesium - 14
    Total Hardness, CaCo3 - 113
    Sulfate, So4-S - 1
    Chloride - 5
    Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
    Bicarbonate, HCO3 - 156
    Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 - 129

    I downloaded the Brun Water spreadsheet. I have actually tried several but this one seems the most comprehensive. I also tried the BF calculator. Not settled on one yet. I'm trying to figure out how the BF calculator relates to a recipe . . . I can't figure out the pH and why it doesn't agree with the Brun Water calculator and to be honest with all the complaints I'm not sure I want to until things settle...

    Right now I'm working on my Pale Ale and an "Amber Balanced" target per the Brun Water calculator

    Capture.JPG

    I'm guessing "balanced" means balanced SO4/Cl?

    To get my HCO3 to 40 I found I need to dilute with DI water at 75% DI 25% tap and add salts (see below)

    The calculator gives two kinds of water - Mash and Sparge

    mashandsparge.JPG

    Process question - Do I add salts directly to the mash or to the water before the mash?

    Target question - does the target look like a good one for a West Coast American Pale Ale?

    I'm going to try this on my next House Pale Ale

    I can't get the pH to align with the Brun Water calculator and I DKW but I'm not in the mood to struggle with it with the state of the site :mad:
     
  2. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Do you have a pH meter, or planning to use pH strips?
     
  3. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    You can mix the salts to the water before using it, unless you really want to separate the mash and sparge water and salts.

    You need more calcium and sulfate for west coast hoppy beer. Check out Randy Mosher's pale ale profile- like 300 ppm of sulfate- way too much for me but certainly much more than you have.

    I'd simply, and get rid of the magnesium chloride and get any chloride you want from calcium chloride since you need more calcium and increase the sulfate with some gypsum.

    We have a short three part series on water chemistry that you may find easy and helpful:
    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/
     
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  4. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I use RO water and use calcium chloride, gypsum, Epsom salt, pickling salt, lactic acid and baking soda to achieve a desired profile. The only time I use baking soda is in a stout or porter to bring mash pH up. The most important thing that you need to either get rid of, or start out without (in my opinion) is chlorine, or chloramine. My beer improved significantly when I started using RO. Most likely, largely to do with getting rid of the Chloramine they put in our city water, but I also had no idea what the profile was of the water I was using.
    I start off with my full volume of water, and treat it the day before brew day.
    Cheers
     
  5. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    #5 ChicoBrewer, Jan 30, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2019
    Thanks for the replies.

    @Yooper - I read the brewing water basics documents some time ago (read them again tonight). I guess what is confusing to me is what profile to start with. Every calculator has a lot of them. I did go read Randy Moshers The Electric Brewery thanks for the tip. There are five reasonable profiles giving me a good place to start.

    @Craigerrr - I have an RO/DI unit under my sink left from my old reef aquarium hobby. I used to buy Calcium Chloride and soda ash in five gallon buckets to keep up with the coral growth LOL. I can make 100 gallons of Deionized zero TDI water per day. I once had a pH meter but found that as long as I kept the Calcium, magnesium and Carbonate in balance the pH would be in balance too. Funny how this hobby ties to my last one (Water chemistry). I was successful for nearly twenty years until an ill fated trip to Wisconsin when I returned to find all the coral dead due to an automation failure. But I digress. I struggle a bit trying to fiddle with salt additions. My original intent was to dilute tap water with DI to get the Bicarbonate down. Chico water is soft and high in HCO3. I wonder what the brewery does? I have searched the interweb looking for a list of RO/DI salt additions to hit common profiles and come up empty. Do you have any you can share? The idea of a blank slate sounds appealing however the reality of fiddling with Calcium/magnesium/sodium/chloride/sulfate etc etc to hit a profile is a bit daunting.

    @Mark Farrall - does anyone have a recommendation for a decent pH meter? My experience with them has been that cheap ones are useless. They tend to never settle on a number for a long period of time and by the time you get a sample and get it to room temp and get a good reading your mash is probably done done. I'm imagining dumping grain into the strike water - waiting ten minutes - getting a sample - cooling it down - getting a stable reading. By now the mash is all done but the shouting. Isn't there some way to know how much acid to add before all those shenannegans?
     
  6. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I use the Milwaukee Instruments MW 102. Costs just over $100 US, has replaceable probes and does quite well enough for brewing purposes.
     
  7. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Chico
    When I have a few spare minutes I can send screen shots of a few of my profiles, with additions, unfortunately that won't be today, or tonight, but sometime tomorrow. I found this daunting at first, but it truly is quite simple once you work with it a bit.
    Cheers
     
  8. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone. One more question. All of the water calculators I have used try to predict mash pH. How accurate are they?
     
  9. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Not bad. I've been very close with all but EZ water. That one was off by .3- a huge amount in pH. The rest I've tried have been really good at estimating it.
     
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  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    If everything were the same all the time, highly. Since all our ingredients, including the water supply, are variable, they do a great job but aren't perfect. Just have some acid and base on hand in case they go too wonky (which has happened to me).
     
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  11. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    If you've got the pH meter you can worry less about the predictions and just react at mashing time. That's not to say you don't cover it off in the recipe, just that you have the backup of reacting at mash time.

    The basic process is mash in, check 5 -10 minutes later what the pH is and adjust it down with lactic or phosphoric acid. I haven't bothered with adjusting up yet, the things to use for that look less attractive to me than the decrease in extract efficiency.

    So after pH I just focus on the sulphate/chloride balance, then getting the minimum amount of the required minerals for mashing and fermentation. As far as I've read that's mainly calcium (and there's relatively recent rethinking of the amount of calcium, more like 50ppm for lagers and less for ales). The others I've seen discussed seem to be required in such small amounts that they're proabably already there from the barley. Though I keep thinking I'll try yeast nutrient in my big beers.

    And the other thing that I think needs to be emphasised is that even though there's pretty compelling evidence that people can tell the difference between two beers brewed with different water chemistry, half the people who can tell the difference like one and the other half like the other. So there's no such thing as the correct profile, there's just the profile that you prefer (once you've got the minimum amounts covered off).
     
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  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I have always found adjusting pH up to be more problematic than it's worth but if I landed below 5.2, I'd try.
     
  13. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I'll target this in my next pale ale brew day.

    Ca=110, Mg=18, Na=17, Cl=50, S04=275

    Randy's perfect pale ale is Ca=110 Mg=18 Na=17 Cl=50 SO4=350

    It's a place to start and it's definitely something different from what I'm doing now. I guess all I need now is a pH meter and a scale that will weigh out to tenths of a gram.
     
  14. Mark Farrall

    Mark Farrall Well-Known Member

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    Did a bit more checking on the person people were attributing to this. Should have been keep the water at 50 - 100 ppm for ales and you can go lower for lagers - https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge (about half way down at 2.5.2)
     
  15. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    That is some high sulphate there Wow I don't think I've ever gone above 150ppm.
    I err on the lighter salt additions before going heavy handed. But that is just my 2c.
     
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  16. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Honestly I just use the balanced and light and malty/hoppy profiles in BF. Seems to end up well enough.
     
  17. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    I don’t use any water adjustments, I just use spring water. havent had a beer that didn’t taste delicious or better than the original if it was a clone brew. If that weren’t the case, I might dive deeper in to water stuff, but.... it’s not. Brewed everything from a Kolsch to a Stout and couldn’t be happier.
     
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  18. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

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    It would depend on what spring the water comes from. But if it tastes good enough to bottle and sell, the mineral content probably isn't over the top. I have definitely made good beer with bottled spring water without doing any adjustments. Of course, without doing adjustments and comparing, I don't know if it could have been better.
     
  19. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    @Mase LOL - Maybe that's were I'll end up. I really enjoy discovery more than execution sometimes. Once I figure stuff out I have a tendency to be done. I have piles of furniture/woodworking designs that I never executed. I think my approach will be not to spend much $ on this, try a few profiles at various ends of the spectrum and see what the difference is and go from there. Hobbies can certainly be a rabbit hole. . .

    @Hawkbox - I'll check em out.
     
  20. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    #20 Mase, Feb 2, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2019
    @ChicoBrewer, We must be cut from the same mold. I love details in research, but in execution, I find the sweet spot between what I know, and how much I want to put into it, especially if it something I want to do for years to come.

    @Hogarthe, From a cost perspective, it’d prolly be cheaper to delve into water treating, as it costs me prolly 10 bucks (US) for the Deer Park bottled spring water.

    It seems that every time I start to worry about something by jumping down the brewing rabbit hole, the guys at Brülosophy release a new comparison and ease my mind.

    Here at Mase-osophy, I believe that the majority of us brewers with sound and clean practices can reach 90-95% of the fullest potential of 95% of the beers and styles out there. It’s the last 5-10% that can put you on the steep climb up the parabolic curve. Doubling efforts and or cost for that last few points to get the highest potential from a beer just isn’t worth it to me. But hats off to those who do.

    It’d be very interesting to see how everyone brews Maybe a poll is in order.
     
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