Understanding my Water Analysis

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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water

Postby Legman » Fri Mar 13, 2009 8:34 pm

So, once again at my LHBS, I asked for gypsum and calcium carbonate, campden tablets and I got the usual "What are you doing with that?" "No, No, No. You don't want to do that, just use this."
I'm thinking "Just put my !@#$ in the bag and shut up! If I want your advise, I'll ask." :x I get so sick of that.
But any rate, all they had was gypsum. So I got some of that.

So I was looking at the RA of my water and trying to figure out how much too add of what I have available. With gypsum and baking soda, I can't get my mineral levels where I want them. Gypsum adds too much sulfate before I can get my CA++ up to where I want it.
I know PH is most important, but do you feel the RA is more important than where the mineral levels are at?

I was using this formula to find the RA for which I should be in the ball park for.

SMR-5.2/.14=RA

Any thoughts? :?
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Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:40 am

Well, I made quite a few AG beers with 4 ppm Ca++ and they converted, if that's an answer.

I would try and get some calcium in there, but concentrate on pH.

I don't know what RA you're trying to hit, but when I use Baking Soda I use Dusseldorf water as a (very) rough guide for Ca, Na, & SO4 then adjust RA from there. Even if you only get your Ca++ up to 35 ppm or so, it's got to be better than your 1 ppm.
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RA

Postby Legman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 6:51 am

I am making an English Brown, and using that formula, I'm supposed to have an RA of 118 (roughly). The baking soda raises the RA, while the gypsum lowers it. Now assuming that the Ph in the BTP water calulator is a predictor for that mash, my Ph is still high even without the addition of the baking soda.

But in trying to lower the Ph with gypsum, my sulfate levels starts getting really high. And since I'm making an English style ale, I don't want the sulfate levels high because they accentuate hop bitterness and I need to accentuate the maltiness.

So where's the balance in all of this? Just shoot for Ph and forget the rest? :?
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Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:24 am

No, the pH in the Water Calculator is not the pH of your mash, because it doesn't change with addition of dark grains.

You could try, for 4 gallons, 2 g Gypsum and 3.5 g NaHCO3. That should get the Calcium up but keep the Sulfate down. Then you could add about 1-2 g NaCl to bring the Chloride up to shift the balance to malty.

That's a lot of futzing to get the salt combination to work, when you really should be adding CaCO3 and CaCl2, not Gypsum for this beeer.
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Re: water

Postby Legman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:07 am

slothrob wrote:No, the pH in the Water Calculator is not the pH of your mash, because it doesn't change with addition of dark grains.

What does this represent then? Base malt?

Part of my problem is that my LHBS didn't have CaCO3 or CaCl2. All I have currently is the gypsum and NaHCO3 to make adjustments.
I realize gypsum shouldn't be used in this particular beer.

Oooo...I just saw that my wife has some calcium supplement pills that states it contains 1.2g of CaCO3. I may be in business after all. :o
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Re: water

Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:30 am

Legman wrote:What does this represent then? Base malt?

No idea.

Yeah, I originally had a few pointed things to say about your LHBS, but decided to not include them in my reply.

I wonder what else is in those tablets?

I think my last work around would get you there (I'd add the Baking Soda only as needed to adjust the pH, though). I just hate to tell you to add a bunch of things when you only need one or two. I always worry that adding too many salts risks "fixing" things until they are screwed up. :shock:

I think getting the Na and Cl up on my very soft water has made my Porters maltier, so I use CaCl2 and NaHCO3 to correct the water for those. So I do think Baking Soda has its place. I wish I had more experience with Gypsum, though. then I might have more confidence in telling you what to do here. I've avoided SO4 additions for the most part, but I do need to work on it since my Pale Ales could use a bit more bite.
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Postby Legman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 1:01 pm

Oh, no. I appreciate the advice on what you do know. I'm hesitant as well about just throwing things in willy-nilly and screwing things up. But I would like to tweak it just a bit.

I did look at the other ingredients in those calcium supplement pills. It includes, Soybean oil, gelatin, glycerin and soy lecithin. But these are liquid capsules. I'm not sure if I want that other stuff in there, even though its in very small amounts. I may run out to the grocery and look at some dry tablets. I'll bet they don't have some of that other stuff in them.

Yeah, I originally had a few pointed things to say about your LHBS, but decided to not include them in my reply.

The owner at my LHBS really irritates me sometimes. He had steered me clear of some things before, only to find out later, that wasn't the case at all. I think he's employees think he's full of it too, just by the looks on their faces when he chimes in. But they don't say anything to correct him.
He told me "the only time you ever need to use CaCl2 is when you're making a Czech Pils and other than that, always use gypsum."

I thought to myself, how do you know what my water profile is like, what I'm brewing or what I'm trying to achieve? I try to avoid him when I go in there to get supplies. I think he's one of those who thinks he always right about everything. :roll:
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Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 3:06 pm

If it's any consolation, I planned on adding CaCO3 to my Alt today, but when I checked the pH it was 5.5, so I left it alone. My Calcium is only 4 ppm....

My last two batches, since I opened up my gap a bit to get a bit further away from a potential stuck sparge, have given me an efficiency of 85% with Calcium corrected over 50 ppm. I'll see how this one compares.
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Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:41 pm

Well, I hit 87% with 4 ppm Calcium.

I really wanted the water to be harder, though, as is more traditional for an Alt.

I'm trying to decide if I should add a little Gypsum to the boil...
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Ca++

Postby Legman » Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:40 pm

Well, I guess that the Ca++ levels really don't do much to conversion. I would still like to see if I can tell a difference in the hardness of the water in the final beer.

I'm brewing an Alt tomorrow as well. I'll be adding some gypsum to increase the hardness for sure...maybe just to the boil. Haven't made up my mind yet.
I'm still going to use the 5.2 Ph stabilizer. It seemed to help since I've started using it. I need to start checking my Ph. I've yet to do that.

Did you end up adding any gypsum to yours?
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Postby slothrob » Sat Mar 14, 2009 10:20 pm

You know, I forgot that you use 5.2. In that case, you can probably add the minerals you want and not worry so much about the effect on RA and pH, since the 5.2 should fix that.

I decided to skip any addition this time. I'm planning to make another Alt soon as I'm trying to perfect a recipe, so I figured I'd make all the water corrections on that one. That way I'll have the two to compare side-by-side.
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5.2 stabilizer

Postby Legman » Sun Mar 15, 2009 5:46 am

Like I said, I never have checked the Ph with the 5.2, but it does seem to work fairly well. The only time I had a decrease in efficiency is when I brew a very dark beer. At that point, I think the Ph has dropped out of the 5.2 buffering range. But overall, I've had good results from it. One day I'll check the the Ph and see what it's really doing.

I'm going to try and match the Dusseldorf's water profile as closely as I can get it. The only thing I don't have, is something to get the chloride level where it needs to be. But other than that, it will be really close.

Let me know how the two Alt recipe comparisons go. I'm curious. It'll be several months before I get to taste mine. I've got 6 full kegs to get through before I can sample it. :mrgreen:
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Re: 5.2 stabilizer

Postby slothrob » Sun Mar 15, 2009 9:42 am

Legman wrote:Let me know how the two Alt recipe comparisons go. I'm curious. It'll be several months before I get to taste mine. I've got 6 full kegs to get through before I can sample it. :mrgreen:

They're Alts, so it'll be a couple months before they're finished lagering, but I'll probably have some idea before then.

The first one was a dark Alt with just CaCO3 added to correct pH and Calcium levels at the top of the range,
the second is this amber Alt with no water correction and less than 10 ppm of anything,
the third will be a pale Alt with something close to Dusseldorfer water.

There're some hop differences in there too, so it's not a well controlled experiment. Hopefully I'll be able to pick out the individual effects of each of the changes, but I really didn't want three identical beers around at the same time. I'll probably take what i think I like best about each of the three recipes and brew a consensus Alt in the Fall.
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Alt

Postby Legman » Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:23 am

I'm making a Dusseldorf Alt. Grains are about half way through the mash now. I've got about 58% German Pils in the grist, so I'm expecting my efficiency to be down some. At least that's been my experience when I'm using a lot of German Pils. It's usally about 5% less efficient than what I usually get. (Single infusion)

Well, I added all the mineral adjustments and came pretty close to the Dusseldorf water. I even used one of those Calcium supplement pills this time. I'll have to order the right stuff next time, but I think this will work.
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Alt

Postby slothrob » Sun Mar 15, 2009 12:10 pm

Good luck.

I used 85% Weyermann Pilsner Malt in my Alt yesterday and don't seem to have taken a hit in my efficiency compared to the Thomas Fawcett Maris Otter that I use for most of my beer.
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