Water chemistry calculator – Help, I'm clueless!

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Brewer #195813, Apr 4, 2019.

  1. Brewer #195813

    Brewer #195813 New Member

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    For the love of Valhalla I cannot figure out even the basics of Brewer's Friend's 'intuitive' water chemistry calculator. I have my local water profile and I want to convert it to the 'Balanced Profile' preset. All I need to know is the amount of chemicals to add to the mash and/or sparge to achieve this. Could someone give me a quick rundown of the process?
    Thank you.
     
  2. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

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    It doesn't do that. You have to fiddle with the salt additions until you get the profile you want.
     
  3. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Add your water profile, and then look at the numbers you get. Choose the profile you want, and add the salts and acid(s) to get the numbers you want.

    We don't have an auto-converter for the water chemistry part because that part can be troublesome. Oh, it could do it, but when we've used other calculators that do it for you, the water additions can "match" the profile, but don't result in good beer sometimes due to the amount of alkalinity present in those profiles. What I am trying to say is that the only amount of alkalinity (usually in the form of bicarbonate) you need is the amount to give you a mash pH of 5.3-5.5 or so. A "profile" can't do that for you.

    I hope that makes sense. I will be glad to walk you through the basics if you'd like!
     
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  4. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    It can be a little intimidating when you first delve into adjusting your water profile. Personally I start with RO water, start with a blank sheet. I treat the entire volume of water for the batch, it's just easier for me. In your case you may just want to treat the mash water. Either way you will just need to fiddle around with it to get the profile you want. It is a bit of a balancing act as some water agents affect more than one category, and the results are not necessarily linear.

    What are you doing to deal with chlorine?
     
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  5. Brewer #195813

    Brewer #195813 New Member

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    Campden tablets, I think. Yes, I'd rather treat the entire batch. Other than adjusting the mash pH once the grains have been added, why wouldn't one treat the entire batch all in one go?
    Thanks
     
  6. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Because of the sparge I guess. I add all my salts to mash liquor including acid but I don't add any salts to sparge just a splash of acid.

    Have you read Yoopers water chemistry series on this site it may answer a few questions.
     
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  7. Brewer #195813

    Brewer #195813 New Member

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    No, but I will. Thanks.
     
  8. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    This is where we diverge from the cookbook approach to making beer: There are reasons to do either, to treat the entire volume of water or to only treat the mash water. And if you don't know them, you may pick the wrong one. So here's Nosy's extremely simplified approach to brewing water: Make sure you have 50-100 ppm of calcium. This is to help your beer clarify. Then make sure your mash pH is within a point or two of 5.4. You can do this with additional salt additions, or by using acid, either as solution or as acidulated malt. If you want the mineral flavor to come through, treat the entire batch; otherwise, simply treat the mash water. If you're batch sparging, it's unlikely you'll need to acidify the water, although I do anyway as risk reduction. And always, always dechlorinate or use chlorine-free water.
     
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  9. Brewer #195813

    Brewer #195813 New Member

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    Thanks!

    'If you're batch sparging, it's unlikely you'll need to acidify the water...'

    Why is that? Is the prescribed pH purely for mashing purposes?
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Yes. The pH is strictly the mash pH. There are a couple of rules when it comes to sparging to avoid astringency: Never let the pH rise above 6 or the gravity fall below 1.01. As I mentioned, I acidify my sparge water to pH 5.4, approximately, for two reasons: I want to minimize the risk of astringency - I have a pretty good set of tastebuds so a lot of things guys in my homebrew club don't notice, I do - and I like my beers a bit on the tart side. Not sour, that's the 3.6 pH range for uncarbonated, finished beer, but tart, at or below pH 4.4. Routine batch sparging never raises the pH or lowers the gravity above/below the critical points, so unless your water is way out there, there's no real need to acidify the sparge. I just like the risk reduction aspect.

    You can choose whether to add salts to the mash, to the entire water volume, in the kettle, it all depends on the outcome you want. I recently did a Yuengling clone and, side-by-side with the original, discovered my water wasn't "minerally" enough. Next batch, more gypsum added in such a way it becomes part of the flavor profile, not just to control residual alkalinity. Key there is I know why I'm doing it. Water chemistry is a refinement step, kind of like that final pinch of salt in a recipe. For now, keep your mash pH around 5.4, acidify your sparge water to 5.6 or below and be sure to dechlorinate. You'll learn the "why" later, and can make more informed decisions about how to treat your water.
     
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  11. Brewer #195813

    Brewer #195813 New Member

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    Excellent, thanks very much indeed.
     

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