Understanding my Water Analysis

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

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Alt/Water

Postby Legman » Sun Mar 15, 2009 1:52 pm

I'm not sure if mine is Durst or Weyermann, but normally I get a lower efficiency. But not today! :D It was only 1.35% lower than usual. So I was pleased with that.

I did notice something today. When I opened the mash tun to vorlof, the wort was very clear. Normally it's rather cloudy. But this time is was crystal clear. I'm not sure if the mineral additions had something to do with it, but it's never looked that way before.

I got the Ca++ up to 48. With everything pretty much in line. :mrgreen:
It was a good brew day.
Tomorrow, English Brown Ale.
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calcium and clarity

Postby slothrob » Sun Mar 15, 2009 3:12 pm

Good deal.

One thing that calcium should do is improve clarity. I'm surprised it showed up as early as the tun, but take it where you get it.
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Adjusting Water per Styles

Postby Legman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:23 am

After reading multiple articles, posts & Palmer's write up on water, I'm still confused. I get the concepts of what each thing does, I just don't understand how much of each does what. Seems like there are many different thoughts on where each level needs to be.

Even if I'm trying to match, say the water profile of London England. I've seem multiple variations of that same water profile. So which do you choose? :?
I guess I was looking for more of a cut and dry answer, but I don't think I'm going to find that. I want to achieve particular results for each style, but not fully understanding how much, is too much, I'm fearing less than desirable results.

I'm driving myself crazy with this. If it wasn't 6 a.m. , I'd have a homebrew! :shock:
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water for style

Postby slothrob » Thu Mar 19, 2009 5:40 am

I've never seen a breakdown that says "for a Porter add 150 ppm Na" or anything like that. Perhaps it's out there. I haven't looked that hard because I figure people make any particular style with a wide range of water.

My approach has been, after first making a lot of beer with my local water, to first correct calcium levels and pH. I've been happy with the results of those beers, so now I've started to adjust flavor ions. At first I've been conservative and aimed for the low-to-mid end, around 100 ppm for most. I believe I've seen improvements with that range. Nothing has been near undrinkable or salty or anything like that.

Eventually, I'll make some with higher amounts to see what I think.
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Re: Adjusting Water per Styles

Postby ColoradoBrewer » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:50 am

Thanks Legman and slothrob for a very interesting and informative thread!

Legman wrote:Even if I'm trying to match, say the water profile of London England. I've seem multiple variations of that same water profile. So which do you choose? :?
I guess I was looking for more of a cut and dry answer, but I don't think I'm going to find that...
No, I don't think you will. A few years ago I had a conversation with the Director of Public Works in the town I live in about the chemistry of our water. He told me that the town gets its water from various sources and a specific analysis depends on the time of year and where in the town you live. I suspect London, and many large cities, have a similar water plan.

I too used to be confused by the various profiles for a given city. Which one is right? As a result of my conversation with the head of public works I've stopped worrying about the different profiles for a given city and just attribute it do the different sources for municipal water and that they may vary from time to time. The other thing that is hard to know is how a brewery treats the water once it enteres their facility. I think all we as homebrewers can do is pick a profile that seems reasonable and see the result we get and tweak from there.
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Water sources

Postby Legman » Thu Mar 19, 2009 11:55 am

Yes I realize that the water varies through out the year and that I could never exaclty match a certian water profile. I guess I was just trying to get some guideliness for each style and mineral amounts.

Not having the experience of knowing what really these additions do and to what degree, I'm just not sure what I'm looking at. The things I read, alot of them say stuff about certian levels being too high and having ill effects. But then I look at the water chemisty of say Burton water and it goes against everthing that I'm reading. I know Burton water is probably a pretty extreme example, but you can see what I'm getting at.

This is just like when you first started brewing and you're not sure what or how much of a certain grain will do in the final product. You just have to do it and find out. I guess this will be the same. :|
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Postby GuardianBrew » Sun Apr 26, 2009 5:58 am

Hey guys! Been following these threads for a while and greatly appreciate the info. I figured I should chime in sooner or later, so why not now?

I moved to the Seattle area a little over 2yrs ago, and the water here is from another world from where I learned to brew. My beers all have a very different character to them, and I'm still having a hard time adjusting. Also, I have been getting consistently low efficiency no matter what methods I use.

My water profile is:

PH: 7.8
Calcium: 17ppm
Magnesium: 1ppm
Sodium: 4ppm
Sulfate: 2ppm
Chloride: 4ppm
Bicarbonate: 18ppm

How does this profile seem to look? I've compared it to other cities, and know it's extremely low in minerals compared to just about anywhere. Would this have an effect on my efficiency? And what would these low mineral contents do in the grand scheme of things to the overall beer profile?
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Water

Postby slothrob » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:49 am

It really depends on the types of beer you're making.

I have similar water here in Boston; I think it's somewhat typical of water on the coast, where the soluble minerals have mostly been washed into the sea. It's remarkably similar to the water in Pilz, as well, which makes it nearly ideal for moderately hopped pale lagers or Blond Ales.

Flavor-wise, hoppy beers might lack a little sharpness due to the low sulfate, and malty beers might not have a roundness that comes from higher sodium and chloride concentrations. Dark beers might be a bit harsh or attenuate poorly.

Low calcium and the suboptimal pH that can come from such a low mineral content can have an effect on both efficiency and attenuation. There's a great set of experiments showing the effects of these factors on Kai Troester's website. The best place to get a good summary of Residual Alkalinity and the effects of ions on flavor is Chapter 15 of John Palmer's How to Brew.

All that said, the overwhelming factor on efficiency seems to be the degree of grain crush, so I'd advise looking at that first to deal with low efficiency.
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different water

Postby Legman » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:58 am

More than likely, your low efficiency is caused by pH. If it's not in the ball park, the conversion of the grains will decrease. I'm still lazy about checking my mash pH, due to the fact that I get good results anyways. So I'm assuming in in the right range. The only time I've have low efficiency is when I've done a really dark beer, like porter or stout. And that is because the darker grains lower the pH of the mash, causing it to fall below the optimum range.

For a good while I was using 5.2 pH stabilizer and it did help, but it has it's limits. My water is even more void of minerals than yours. It's extremely soft. But the great thing about it, and yours too, it's easy to add brewing salts to get what you want. Getting them out, is very hard to do.

That being said, and I've only brewed 6 batches adjusting the water, my efficiency has gone up even more. I'm now hitting about 82-83%. :D
Mentioned in this post, is John Palmer's - How to Brew. It's a great source of information. You'll see us refer to it through out this forum. So read this link, and it will explain what the different minerals do and a range where they should be in. http://howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15.html

It's a bit confusing at first, so just take it a little at a time and experiment. Hope this helps. Good luck and let us know your results!
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grain crush

Postby Legman » Sun Apr 26, 2009 11:03 am

Thanks for adding that Slothrob.
Grain crush does effect the efficiency quite a bit. When I was letting my LHBS mill my grains, my efficiency was all over the place. But since purchasing the Barley Crusher (which freakin' rocks! :mrgreen: ), my efficiency became very stable and predictable.

Slo, we must have been repling to the post at the exact same time. :lol:
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Postby GuardianBrew » Mon Apr 27, 2009 3:22 am

Thanks guys! I've read through that John Palmer chapter a few times, but I'm one of those who still doesn't quite "get it." I have worked for a few breweries around here, and from what I remember, none of them modified the water at all. But then again, I wasn't that excited about their beers either. I think I'll run to the brewery down the block (who makes fantastic beer) and talk to the brewer there, and talk to my LHBS for some advice.

As far as the grain crush, the crush at the two homebrew stores that I use seems to be pretty adequate. Right now I'm in an apt and brewing 1gal batches, so investing in a mill doesn't seem practical right now.
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water

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:57 am

Water and minerals can be difficult to digest.

The flavor ions aren't too difficult, just focus on sulfate for a hoppy beer or perhaps sodium and chloride if you want to make a beer more malty. Avoid high sulfate and chloride at the same time, though.

RA is more complicated. Palmer has an Excel spreadsheet that you can download from that site. I use it to calculate the RA range recommended for my beer's SRM color. You can use it to calculate your salt additions to hit that RA, but I find it easier to use the Water Calculator in BTP. You can lower your RA using Calcium Chloride or Calcium Sulfate (for a hoppy beer), or raise your RA using Calcium Carbonate or Sodium Bicarbonate (usually for a malty beer).

If you want to try bumping up your Calcium to over 50 ppm, add one of the Calcium salts to adjust your RA, or add a mixture of Calcium Chloride (or Calcium Sulfate for a hoppy beer) and Calcium Carbonate to add Calcium without changing the RA. Again, the BTP water calculator is an easy way to make these calculations.

I got 50% efficiency from my homebrewshop's crush, so I wouldn't trust the shop. Run your grain through the mill twice. This can make a big difference and will help determine if the crush is the source of your low efficiency.
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Postby GuardianBrew » Tue Apr 28, 2009 5:21 pm

i'll definitely try downloading that spreadsheet so see what i can figure out. i had thought about running through the mill twice as well. i think i'll leave everything the same and try that out to see how it helps.
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Double crush

Postby slothrob » Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:04 pm

When I started out with lousy efficiency, double crushing gave me a large boost in efficiency and showed me how big a role crush plays in efficiency.

There is s series of 3 shows in the Brew Strong series playing on The Brewing Network, right now, wherein John Palmer tries to explain the whys and hows of water chemistry. It's a worthwhile listen for anyone that wants further clarification of the issue.
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Re: Understanding my Water Analysis

Postby angels45 » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:17 pm

I think it was the chemistry of water as of yet and Inot really sure what looking at or what to do with it.



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