Water Profile - drinking too much beer to understand

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Toombstone, Mar 31, 2021.

Tags:
  1. Toombstone

    Toombstone New Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2016
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Director of Services
    Hey all,
    I'm about 100 Braumeister brews in and I would like to try customising the water (finally). I will start with RO water which I can get from the Reptile shop.

    I know what my water is and what my end water profile should be, but is there a way to tell me what ingredients to add to make up that end water profile? Am I supposed to tweak the different ingredients myself or is there a button to help?

    Cheers
    Rob
     
  2. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2015
    Messages:
    1,056
    Likes Received:
    1,162
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Big Lake MN
    #2 HighVoltageMan!, Mar 31, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2021
    There are 2 main water salts added to RO water to build up a water profile. Calcium chloride and calcium sulfate. Both will add calcium to the wort which is needed to help the yeast, specifically to flocculate and it reacts to the phosphorous in the grain to create ions that drop the pH. You should target at least 60-70 ppm or more of calcium. After that, it depends on the beer.

    I brew both malty and bitter beers. Malty beers benefit from chloride, so I target @100-150 ppm of chloride. Then I add some sulfate to balance them out. I end up with 2-3 parts chloride to 1 part sulfate. In a bitter beer you want to do the opposite, target 100-150 or more of sulfates and then a addition of chloride to get a 2-3 parts sulfate to chloride ratio. In a balance beer (honestly most beers fall into this category) target 100-150ppm or so of both. These are only rough guide lines, increasing the sulfates will benefit hoppy/bitter beer, but the level varies from brewer to brewer depending on their opinion and tastes. It's safe to say that an excessive amount of either will tip the beer one way or the other, but the top for chloride should be @ 200ppm and the top for sulfates should be @250-300ppm. There is such a thing as too much water salts in beer.

    The other salts that are added are magnesium, calcium hydroxide (pickling lime), calcium carbonate (chalk) and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda).
    Magnesium works similar to calcium in dropping mash pH. I generally don't use it because there is a lot in malted barley and it's not as effective as calcium.
    Calcium hydroxide and sodium bicarbonate both are used to add hardness to water, to basically bring up the pH. If you brew long enough, you realize it's easier to drop pH than to raise it. In my opinion, I would only use these when absolutely necessary. Baking soda is the most effective means of bringing up pH, but it brings sodium to the beer. It's okay in some circumstances, but too much and the beer can go south fast. Use baking soda with caution. I haven't used pickling lime, so I can't say how well it works, but I know it's not as effective as baking soda.

    The last and least is calcium carbonate (chalk). It does not dissolve into water without the presence cO2. So most, if not all the chalk that's added to water precipitates out of solution. It doesn't raise pH much, if at all.

    Switching to RO is a good idea, but it's not a magic bullet. Darker beers need hardness to keep the pH up, so I blend my hard tap water into the RO to bring up the hardness. Depending on the beer, I may blend 50/50 or more. In order to do this you will need a hard water with a known hardness.

    Dropping pH is the easiest and can be done with lactic or phosphoric acid in the mash, boil and even in the finished beer. Sparge water can also be dosed with acid to prevent tannin extraction from the mash and to keep the pH in check during the second runnings. If you are going to wade into the pool of water modifications, it would be best to have a reliable pH meter to help guide you along the way. It can get pretty complicated at first, but after a while it will get to be second nature. It's one of the last things most brewers do to improve their beers, but it can make a significant difference in the final outcome of the beer.
     
    Josh Hughes and Sunfire96 like this.
  3. Donoroto

    Donoroto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2020
    Messages:
    872
    Likes Received:
    1,207
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Occupation:
    Retired Engineer
    Location:
    Atlanta
    What he ^^ said.

    My tap water is very low in minerals, so I generally add brewing salts every time.
    Under Tools > Calculators pick the Water Chemistry (advanced) link. (Also linked from the recipe builder; this links the two together and is very convenient)

    First select a source water profile (for RO or Distilled water, all zeros is a reasonable choice)

    Then select a target profile (Water Target Selection) appropriate for your beer, for example "Light colored and hoppy".. Some recipes include a suggested water profile, so it's good to use that.

    Then add various brewing salts to get your water's ion levels to match the target profile.

    Calcium Chloride adds (unremarkably) Calcium and Chloride.
    Calcium Sulphate adds Calcium and Sulphate.
    Magensium Sulphate (epsom salt), Sodium Bicarbonate (baking soda) Sodium Chloride (non-iodized table salt), Calcium Carbonate (chalk) and food-grade Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) are some of the various ingredients you can add to get the ions where they want to be, Scroll down to see more info on what you are doing.

    There's no magic button "salts"; you have to fiddle with the ingredients and relative amounts to find your best solution. A couple of grams each of 3 or 4 salts is typical levels to add.

    Try this: Pick source and target profiles, then try EACH ingredient alone, maybe 10 grams (a lot!) to gauge the effect of each one. Fool around to try things: How to increase Bicarbonate, for example. Note that adding things does not reduce ion levels; you can't lower Sodium for example by adding something else.

    Also, do some external research on the Sulphate to Chloride Ratio and its effects on the beer. While having sufficient amounts of some ions (like Calcium) is important, overall water additions are like cooking; some boil their paste with salted water, some don't, but the result can be tasted. Same with beer.
     
    Josh Hughes likes this.
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    9,548
    Likes Received:
    6,881
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    You'll have to start naming the beers after the shop's wares: Python Blonde, anyone?

    Since the potential combinations of salts and acids are nearly infinite, it's nearly impossible to come up with a mathematical solution for the additions. I'll share my algorithm with you. I usually start by getting the magnesium to where I want it. I use either Epsom salt or Mag chloride (food grade) for this. I then work on the sulfate using gypsum. After that, I add chloride using calcium chloride until I have the correct amount of either ion. If I still need chloride I'll add salt. If I still need calcium and my pH is low, I add slaked lime to bring it up or not: it can cause calcium salts to precipitate. I may also settle for an overage of sulfate or chloride dependingon the beer and the concentration of the ions. Then I adjust the pH with either acid or baking soda, keeping an eye on the sodium content.

    Hope this helps...
     
    Donoroto likes this.
  5. 56 Firedome

    56 Firedome Active Member

    Joined:
    May 14, 2019
    Messages:
    236
    Likes Received:
    233
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Yes, yes it does. I use the Bru'n Water (free) water calculator. I use Distilled Water with all 0s. I typically tinker around with the additions, much like Nosy says, but probably more randomly, when suddenly "there it is". Always a surprise whenbalances out.
     
    Donoroto likes this.

Share This Page

arrow_white