Target water=Burton (historic) leads to harmful ionic levels

Discussion in 'Recipe Editor' started by Daniel Cook, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Daniel Cook

    Daniel Cook New Member

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    I live in Seattle where the water is quite soft, which is nice because it's straightforward to hit a target water profile through adding brewing salts.

    I recently used the BrewersFriend.com mash chemistry and brewing water calculator, and chose the "Burton on Trent (historic)" target profile. Getting to this profile requires adding quite a bit of salts, most notably gypsum, in pursuit of high ion levels: Calcium = 270ppm and Sulfate = a whopping 720ppm.

    Having hit this target, the water calculator reports in the overall summary that the Ca level is Harmful (and advises not to brew at this ion level). :( Please see attached screenshot. In fact one of the help pages says "Concentrations above these levels are harmful to the beer, and much beyond they become harmful to our health!"

    If I instead target the profile titled "Burton on Trent (historic and decarbonated)" then at least I am not in the Harmful range on Calcium, but still high on 3 of the 5 main ions.

    Question: is it truly harmful to humans to target the historic Burton water profile? The following article mentions that a high bicarbonate level balances the negative effect of high calcium, but I want to be sure that neither my beer nor my beer drinkers are going to truly suffer.
     

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  2. McKnuckle

    McKnuckle Member

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    Re: Target water=Burton (historic) leads to harmful ionic le

    The water profiles are historical and primarily cited for academic purposes. I know they're in all the brewing software now, but I don't think it's a best practice to literally match the extremes of some of them. At least I wouldn't!

    According to John Palmer's online treatise (How to Brew):

    Calcium
    Brewing Range = 50-150 ppm. (270 is quite a bit out of range)

    Sulfate
    Brewing Range = 50-150 ppm for normally bitter beers, 150-350 ppm for very bitter beers (720? No way Jose!)

    "At concentrations over 400 ppm [of sulfate] however, the resulting bitterness can become astringent and unpleasant, and at concentrations over 750 ppm, it can cause diarrhea."
     
  3. Daniel Cook

    Daniel Cook New Member

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    Re: Target water=Burton (historic) leads to harmful ionic le

    And as brewers it's my understanding that diarrhea is not one the outcomes that we're looking for in our customers, yes? :cool:
     

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