Water Profile Assistance

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jmhbutler, Mar 29, 2013.

  1. jmhbutler

    jmhbutler New Member

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    I'm currently learning about water profiles and how to adjust for certain types of ales. I have found the water report from 2012 for my city (St. John's, NL). From what I understand my profile is as follows:

    Ca+2 = 9 mg/L
    Mg+2 = 0 mg/L
    SO4-2 = 4 mg/L
    Na+1 = 10 mg/L
    Cl-1 = 19 mg/L
    HCO3-1 = 25.5 ppm

    However, when I compare this to other cities it seems quite low. Would somebody be able to confirm that I pulled this information correctly.

    Many thanks.

    http://maps.gov.nl.ca/water/reports/vie ... St.+John's
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Portland, OR water is even lower than that, so nothing out of the ordinary there.

    You have great water for brewing any style because you can add salts to increase ion levels. Brewers that have hard water (with high counts) are sometimes forced to dilute the water with distilled or reverse osmosis water.
     
  3. jmhbutler

    jmhbutler New Member

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    Thanks Larry,

    Two other questions about water chemistry that maybe you can help me with.

    1. If I add potassium metabisulphite to remove chlorine/chloramine before beginning, how does this effect my starting source minerals?

    2. Once I've added salts to achieve my desired water profile, can I still use my 5.2 pH buffer in my mash?

    Thanks again for the clarification.
     
  4. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I have never used either approach, so I'm not actually sure. I brew all grain, and do a full wort boil to get rid of the chlorine. Chloramine can be hard to get rid of by boiling but I don't notice it in my beers (even my very light beers) so I don't worry about it. You could also try a carbon filter. As for the 5.2, I would think that would be just fine to use.

    Maybe someone else in the forum who uses these can chime in?
     
  5. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    This may not be an option for everyone, but I just go the 1/2 mile to the PureFlo plant and fill up my mash tun cooler with drinking water. $4 gets me 10 gal. All that's in that water is 4.9 sulfates and 27 chloride. Then I use this amazing little calculator... http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

    The reason that I do this is because heating the water to strike temp doesn't remove the chlorine. So then my mash has chlorine in it. Like Larry said, the full boil of the wort probably removes it, but I just don't don't like the idea of mashing with chlorine. Call me crazy... So to remove the chlorine via boil before mashing requires a full boil, pre-mash. I'd rather spend the $4. I don't know about the camden tablets. Chemistry is chemistry, so they work, but rather than add stuff to remove stuff I just start with nothing.

    On a side note, make sure to save your water profile adjustments so if you brew the same beer again, or even the same STYLE of beer again, you don't have to recalculate your adjustments. The calculator is very helpful, but it won't do it all for you. You have to just play with the levels until you are satisfied with your profile... so it can take a little while.
     
  6. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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  7. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    I took another look at that starting water profile, that's good stuff! If I were you, I'd just start with that, use that little calculator, make your adjustments and brew!
     
  8. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    That one is definitely in depth! I spent a couple of hours one day playing around with it, and at the end of it all, I just went with my original adjustments. My new philosophy and methodology is to make an effort to have an decent profile, and then go outside and make some beer! There is too much for me to wrap my head around and still be able to enjoy what I'm doing otherwise. But some folks are into it, and more power too em!
     
  9. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Indeed, get out there are brew! It is nice though if you need to add acid, or are blending different water sources. The mash pH prediction is pretty sweet. When it comes to water chemistry, some people come from the target pH camp, and some come from the flavor ion camp. I like knowing both, but I think flavor ions do make or break certain beer styles. For example, with a soft water profile, gypsum is necessary in IPAs to give it more punch.
     
  10. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    I've got a question. When I build my profile, I make the calculations based on the total volume of water I'll need rounded up the nearest half gallon (usually either 9.5 or 10 gallons). I have all the water in my mash tun, and make additions to that. Then I drain out the volume I need for the mash into a kettle to heat in the kitchen, and drain the sparge water into a bigger kettle to heat on a burner outside. The problem is that after I'm done batch sparging, since I round up the total volume to the nearest half gallon, there is always a little bit of water that I don't need. I always notice a measurable amount of additives that have settled to the bottom of the kettle and obviously not made it into the wort. I've tried heating a couple of cups of water to try to dissolve the additives before pouring them into the tun, and I try to keep the sparge water stirred while I batch sparge, but I can't seem to keep from having SOME of the stuff settle out.

    Here's my question, should I be treating the water the way I've been doing it, or would I be better off putting my additives into the wort after sparging, before the boil? It would require slightly different calculations because of the difference in volume, but nothing insurmountable. What are you guys doing?
     
  11. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    I dissolve my brewing salts in a quart of warm water, add that to the HTL. I've noticed if I don't stir the HLT before starting my strike, I will end up with some precipitated salts in the bottom of the HTL. Both for accuracy of strike temp, and to get the salts into the mash, I stir the HTL before I start the strike. If I'm doing a batch that requires me to top off my HLT, I'll hold back the relative % of the salts, so the water is roughly a uniform profile for the mash and sparge.

    If you add all your salts to the mash, it could impact the mash chemistry. This is a personal choice. If the salts are a small amount, it probably isn't doing much to conversion efficiency. The advanced calculator does let you have different mash and sarge waters.

    If you are using chalk, some of it does naturally settle out, and that is factored into both calculators.
     
  12. MadScienter

    MadScienter New Member

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    Makes sense. I don't actually add em all to the mash, I just mix them into the water in the mash tun, and then drain all the water to two kettles to heat up to strike temp since I can't heat it in my cooler mash tun. I just do that so the salts are mixed into the full volume and evenly disbursed. I use two kettles because I'm impatient! The lower volume of the mash water heats up quicker in a smaller kettle than the full volume in the HLT, so I can start my mash while I wait for the sparge water to heat up. Plus, I don't have the site glass thing on my keggle-kettle yet, so its easier for me to measure out my mash water when its cold.

    One other thing I'm curious about, do you think the grain bed in the Mash tun filters out any of the salts? I can't imagine it doesn't, so then it makes it difficult to measure what's still in the wort. Right?! I'm starting to think that adding the salts to the wort pre-boil may be the way to go. At least you know what's in the wort...
     
  13. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    If the ions are fully dissolved, the ion concentration shouldn't be changing significantly in the mash tun. The grain itself imparts ions like Mg and others, but I'd expect a minor net change. I'm sure the actual details are fairly complicated in terms of brew science, and I'd also bet it varies by temp, grist color, etc.

    If you are targeting flavor, then yes, you could add salts directly to the kettle. That is how it is done with extract brewing!

    Going into the advanced water calculator and comparing both approaches would shed some light on the subject as well.
     

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