Water questions and suggestions

Physics, chemistry and biology of brewing. The causes and the effects.

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Water questions and suggestions

Postby kevponce » Fri Jun 12, 2009 8:38 pm

I have a few questions and then some suggestions/requests for Jeff and Lathe

Questions.

1. I have read that Calcium is important to enzymatic action in the mash, so if I brew a Pilsner with a very soft, very very low in calcium water like Poland Spring water, how would that effect my mash enzyme activity.

2. I live in Northern New Jersey and my water is municipal, I rec'd my water analysis back from WARDlabs
CA 46
Mg 8
Na 82
SO4 7
CL 134
HCO3 128
Alkalinity 105
pH 7.8

By the looks of it the Chloride seems way out. Does it follow that it is from Chlorine in the water?

3. I have also read that in boiling the water the bicarbonate is removed but in "relation" to the Calcium and Mag. Can someone put this in more lay terms?

4. Does a London water profile that exists in the database today reflect the water that is really being used to produce those and other famous London ales? Munich? Dublin, etc etc?

Suggestions/Requests
1. I have lived in my house 18 yrs and have no plans of moving out soon, so for better or worse my local water will be my brewing water for years to come. God willingly of course. I wish that there was a way, maybe there is, to delete other municipalities water profiles from the water database. Like I really don't need Abilene KS water clogging up my window, No offense Abilinians! Or maybe a way of turning them on or off so as not to see them. I believe currently there is only the ability to delete user added water profiles.

2. I love the interface so please do not be offended by my next comment but I think the water calc window could really use some lineup help. It is visually confusing that the slider columns don't really line up under the top headings. They are off a bit and when your eye tries to follow back and forth you start reading values in the wrong column. A couple of vertical rules in between that travel down all the way would really help as well as another set of ion headings over the sliders.

Thank you in advance
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Postby kevponce » Fri Jun 12, 2009 9:03 pm

The mash pH that is calculated does not seem like it takes into account any grains being added. Is this correct. So it really is only calculating the Mash water pH right?
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questions and answers

Postby slothrob » Fri Jun 12, 2009 11:15 pm

I believe the pH shown is for a theoretical all pilsner malt mash. You need to focus on the RA and determine the RA target that you expect to need based on the SRM of your target beer..

I determine my target RA based on the rule of thumb that a 7.5 SRM beer will probably require an RA of 0. You'll need an RA of ~30 higher for each 2.5 SRM increase (e.g., a 10 SRM beer would require a RA of 30), and ~30 lower for each 2.5 SRM lower (SRM 5:RA -30). The acceptable range is then ~30 RA units in each direction from that ideal. You'll need to tend toward the higher end of that range for a beer that gets it's color from mostly Crystal Malts or toasted malts, and the lower end if the color comes mostly from roasted malts.

Also, targeting the higher end of the range will tend to favor a softer, maltier beer. The lower end of the range will tend to favor a crisper beer with a sharper flavor.

1. Calcium actually plays little role efficiency or even attenuation. There is a possible exception for high temperature mashes, but the more significant roles of calcium are on things like yeast health and beer clarity. This is assuming that there is enough calcium to get the pH correct.

2. Chloride and Chlorine are not the same. High chloride will tend to favor maltiness in your beers. 300 ppm Cl- would be high, but you should be okay at 150 ppm.

3. Calcium Carbonate has low solubility, particularly in hot water. If all of it dropped out, you'd lose calcium and carbonate one molecule to one molecule. That works out to 5 ppm carbonate lost for every 3 ppm lost. It's impossible to know how much drops out, though, so it's an unreliable way to remove carbonate. It's easier to balance the calcium and carbonate to hit the target RA, if you can, or dilute with RO water, if you have to.

4. The water profiles are probably more for historic reference to how the styles those cities are famous for developed. Modern breweries probably treat their water as needed to control the final beer. For that reason, a lot of brewers don't try and replicate a city's water, but instead try to optimize their water to the beer they want to make, only using the historic water as a reference point. Interestingly, when I do this for dark beers, my water ends up coming out nearly identical to that of Dublin.

1b. I'm not sure if this will help, however... If you save a Default recipe with your water profile selected in the Water Calculator, your water will always appear pre-selected. Then you'll hardly know those other profiles exist, unless you choose to match the water profile of the Sprecher Brewery in Abilene.

2b. My columns always line up. Then I decided, today, to make the window taller. That removed the scroll bar next to the salt addition window, throwing the columns out of alignment! This appears to be a bug.
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Postby kevponce » Sat Jun 13, 2009 10:03 pm

Slothrob you are amazing. Wish I had your beer chops.

Thanks for the responses. Let me see if I can follow you a little here. If in fact you say an RA of 0 leads to a 7.5 SRM and an addition of 30 RA adds 2.5 SRM then the following should be true for my beers with an all Pilsener mash:

Using BTP Water chem I added 8 gallons (but it seems it doesn't matter how many gallons I add the RA stays the same) and the RA was 67 so that would mean (by your example) that I would get an SRM of 12.8 or so with an all Pilsener malt. Does that follow?

So the next question would be how does an All Pilsener mash flavor profile get affected by a higher RA? I guess I am not understanding RA in relation to flavor as much as I understand its relation to color.

I have been reading about the 5.2 pH stabilizer from Star San. Have you any experience with this? And if it works, which I assume it does, then my next observation that would arise would be that if this "ingredient" takes the guess work out of the pH conundrum then how does one "mineralize" for flavor once adding the 5.2? It seems that all that would really be left would be table salt additions to effect HOP characteristics.

I find the 5.2 question interesting in that it takes the guess work out of the pH but adds guess work to how to match classic brew water profiles like Foster describes in his "Pale Ale " book or other "classic city" profiles.
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SRM and RA

Postby slothrob » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:11 am

You've got the numbers right, but you've just got the relationship between SRM and RA slightly backwards. The RA doesn't change the SRM of your beer, the SRM tells you what RA you want to get a mash with the correct pH. Alternately, if you don't want to change your water, your RA will tell you the color range for which your water is suited.

The RA of your water won't change if you change the volume, just like the saltiness of the water won't change when you change the volume.

Originally, the RA dictated what color beer a city could make well. Pilsen had water with an RA of ~5, making their water ideal for a 8 SRM beer, and acceptable for anything in the 3 to 10 SRM range. Therefore their pale beer came out good so they became famous for it.

Your 67 RA water should be ideal for 13 SRM and acceptable for 10.5 to 15.5, without any modification. You can make a lot of beers in that range, Pale Ales, IPAs, Alts, Reds If you wanted to make a 25 SRM Porter, you would adjust your water to ~210 RA.

I've never used 5.2. I've read mixed reviews, I think it's usually a stop gap for people until they advance to the point where they start modifying their water. If you use it, you might still need to modify your water to get the flavor you want, but if you modify your water correctly you won't need it.

If you want to add flavor ions to a beer where you've used 5.2 in the mash, you simply add the salts to the boil. Also, 5.2 doesn't add calcium, and it may remove calcium, so you may need to add calcium to get good yeast health, good protein precipitation, and beer clarity.
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5.2 pH stabilizer

Postby Legman » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:28 am

I've been using the 5.2 pH stabilizer for a while now and have good results. I'm strictly saying this on the basis of my efficiency which is now up to 84%. The use of my new Barley Crusher also played a big role in this boost in percentage. :mrgreen: I'm still too lazy to check my pH and this is one reason I started using the 5.2 pH stabilizer. Since using it, my efficiency has gone up and has become a constant (particularly in my dark beers). So I'm assuming that it is working like it's supposed to.

I have extremely soft water and have been playing around with mineral additions to effect the flavor, while still using the 5.2 pH stabilizer to help maintain the proper pH level. And so far it seems to work. The one thing I have noticed since adding brewing salts is the increase in attenuation of my dark beers. Before these additions, I was getting good conversion but very low attenuation. But now that has been corrected.

Slo and I have had this conversation before...and I'm still struggling to understand water chemistry. I'm still not sure of what levels of each minerals contribute to the flavor. So I've been just guessing a bit using the brewing ranges described by John Palmer. I haven't been paying much attention to the RA in relation to the SMR, but I'm starting to dabble with it.

As I stated before, I'm lazy and do not like math calculation and whatnot. I just can't make myself do it. But I did find a calculator for this that I've just started to play with a bit. It calculates RA from the SMR you put it and gives several suggested mineral additions you can use to achieve this. Not sure about it just yet, but check it out.
http://www.bonniebluebrew.com/brewcalc/water.php
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5.2

Postby slothrob » Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:39 am

Thanks, Legman, it's good to hear from someone that has actually used 5.2.

From the data I've seen, the attenuation is more sensitive to pH, so your results aren't unexpected.

I was using Palmer's spreadsheet for calculating RA, but BTP does all the RA calculations for you in the Water Calculator, so you just need to know your target RA. That's why I came up with the shorthand that you need an RA of 0 ± 30 for an SRM of 7.5. and that the RA optimum increases by 30 for every 2.5 increase in SRM. (Note: don't adjust the RA above 300, no matter how dark the beer.)

That's all the math you need to do, BTP does the rest.
Here's a graph if that makes it easier:
Image

For individual ions, rules of thumb I use are (from Palmer's "How to Brew"):
Cl:SO4 ratio of 0.5 to 1 for bitter beers and 1 to 2 for malty beers.
Calcium above 50 ppm, 100 is better.
Mg below 30 ppm.
SO4 <150 ppm for malty beer >150 ppm for bitter beer.
Na 70-150 ppm increases sweetness.
Cl <250 ppm, high end increases maltiness.
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RA by SMR

Postby Legman » Sun Jun 14, 2009 12:20 pm

Hey Slo, thank for the graph! That helps me see that better. :D

For individual ions, rules of thumb I use are (from Palmer's "How to Brew"):
Cl:SO4 ratio of 0.5 to 1 for bitter beers and 1 to 2 for malty beers.
Calcium above 50 ppm, 100 is better.
Mg below 30 ppm.
SO4 <150 ppm for malty beer >150 ppm for bitter beer.
Na 70-150 ppm increases sweetness.
Cl <250 ppm, high end increases maltiness.

These are the values I was trying to base my additions on. I'm just not sure at what range > or < creates the range of maltiness or bitterness, etc. I guess that will come in time from tasting.

The one thing that does puzzle me is the effect of the RA by each addition and how much of something is too much to add into the mash. By this I mean is that lets say I'm trying to get an RA for a dark beer. I can raise the RA with CaCO3 and or NaHCO3. But if I want to get my SO4 and Cl up to an appropriate range, this brings my RA back down. To offset this, I have to add more CaCO3 and or NaHCO3. Is there a point of adding too much of these to get the RA where I need it or should I just ignore the SO4 and Cl additions?
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Re: RA by SMR

Postby slothrob » Sun Jun 14, 2009 6:26 pm

Legman wrote:These are the values I was trying to base my additions on. I'm just not sure at what range > or < creates the range of maltiness or bitterness, etc. I guess that will come in time from tasting.

The one thing that does puzzle me is the effect of the RA by each addition and how much of something is too much to add into the mash. By this I mean is that lets say I'm trying to get an RA for a dark beer. I can raise the RA with CaCO3 and or NaHCO3. But if I want to get my SO4 and Cl up to an appropriate range, this brings my RA back down. To offset this, I have to add more CaCO3 and or NaHCO3. Is there a point of adding too much of these to get the RA where I need it or should I just ignore the SO4 and Cl additions?

As far as the < & >, I mostly accept where my additions end up after correcting my RA. If they are on the right side of the line, I figure that should put me into a safe zone, where they aren't clashing with a completely inappropriate profile for the beer. Otherwise I make as small an addition as possible to get them into the zone.

My approach to formulating water is to see which direction I need to change my RA, then add CaCl2 (for a malt forward beer or Gypsum for a hop forward beer) to move the RA down or CaCO3 to move it up, until I get to about 50 ppm Ca. If I need to move it further in that direction, I add more. If I've gone too far with the RA, I back off a bit and balance it with either CaCl2 or CaCO3 as appropriate. I might use some NaHCO3 If I need to boost the RA, have more than 100 ppm Ca, and want some Na for a rounder, sweeter beer.

That usually makes the Cl work out, but I have added NaCl to darker beers to get the Cl up. For Pale Ales, I should usually add Gypsum to the boil. Too much would be >300 ppm CO3, >300 ppm Cl, >400 ppm SO4, >200 ppm Na.

I'm talking about mash additions. Palmer suggests adding the same concentration of salts to the boil as the mash, but I try to make additions high enough in the mash that the concentrations are where I want them, then just boost individual salts in the boil as needed.
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Postby kevponce » Sun Jun 14, 2009 7:16 pm

This is good stuff guys.

Here is another question, because I, like Legman, find the math thing for Water calcs challenging.

Using BTP I was playing with matching my water to Mosher's Edinburgh and after finagling a bit to get the sliders within range I came up with an RA 105.62 and pH of 6.0. Now looking at the SRM calculator and your chart a 105 RA gets about a 15 or so SRM. But that is with base pils malt right? The 15 color looks about right but the mash pH at 6 is no good. But typically an "Edinburgh" ale is going to have some malts of color in there which would acidify the mash and bring the numbers down.

So why is it so great to know an RA if in fact the mash pH is not going to be correct, or is it so you know how much acidic malts to add?

And then after all of this playing around in the beginning there is still the chance that based on the grain bill once you start the mash you could still be adding minerals to raise or lower.
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High Na and Cl

Postby kevponce » Sun Jun 14, 2009 9:29 pm

Palmer's numbers regarding Na and Cl state this:

Na 70-150 ppm increases sweetness.
Cl <250 ppm, high end increases maltiness.

My WARDlabs report returned the followin
Na 82
Cl 134

So both of these favor Maltiness-sweetness. I have felt that my beers often are too sweet, but I attributed this to other factors such as low attenuation, and the fact that I brewed almost 90% ales for my brewing career for want of temperature control. Maybe that is a gross generalization but I assume Hop additions can combat the sweetness as well as water dilutions. Any other ways I am not thinking about?
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Postby slothrob » Mon Jun 15, 2009 6:53 am

kevponce wrote:Using BTP I was playing with matching my water to Mosher's Edinburgh and after finagling a bit to get the sliders within range I came up with an RA 105.62 and pH of 6.0. Now looking at the SRM calculator and your chart a 105 RA gets about a 15 or so SRM. But that is with base pils malt right? The 15 color looks about right but the mash pH at 6 is no good.

The pH listed is what the pH would be, with that water, with a pilsner malt mash.
Once you add colored malts, that will no longer be the pH of the mash, since it does not take your recipe into consideration,, so ignore it.
Once you've added colored malts, the relevant number becomes the RA.
Correct the RA, as required by the SRM, and the actual mash pH should be correct (~5.5 at room temperature), but it will not be the pH listed in the Water Calculator.

You made your recipe, saw that you needed an RA of around 105 to correct the pH for your SRM of 15. Now, when you add those salts to the mash water, the grains and salts should combine to give you the correct pH.

I think they supply this pH value because there is another way to predict mash pH corrections by knowing that certain malts will lower the pH by a predictable amount when added in a certain percentage. I'm not familiar enough with that system to use it.

With your salty water, you may find that hoppy beers seem a little too malty and that the hops lack something, even if you add more. Bumping up your SO4 to 150-300 ppm might help make the hop character sharper. Brewers have discovered that with some water profiles, no matter how much hops they add, they don't get a good sharp hop presence; sometimes the beers are described as "flabby". This is why people add SO4 as Gypsum. This would be mostly for beers like Pale Ales and IPAs, though. I wouldn't bump up the SO4 for all my beers. What are your FGs?
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Postby kevponce » Mon Jun 15, 2009 8:11 am

I think they supply this pH value because there is another way to predict mash pH corrections by knowing that certain malts will lower the pH by a predictable amount when added in a certain percentage. I'm not familiar enough with that system to use it.


Yes it seems practical that with all of this "science" going on the addition of grains would be somewhat predictable, bit i suppose the multitude of water chemistry variables makes it almost impossible.


What are your FGs?
My final FGs have always seemed high. Again i attributed that to attenuation or mashing on the high side of the temp range, but now i am starting to wonder.
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Postby slothrob » Mon Jun 15, 2009 11:13 am

kevponce wrote:Yes it seems practical that with all of this "science" going on the addition of grains would be somewhat predictable, bit i suppose the multitude of water chemistry variables makes it almost impossible.

In addition, I think that the specific pH effect of every grain isn't known, and would probably vary by lot. The other system does attempt to take into account the difference between SRM from toasted and Crystal Malt and SRM from roasted malts. The RA method can take this into account by shifting to the high end of the calculated RA range for roasted malts (Roasted Barley, Chocolate, Carafa, Black) and the lower end of the range for toasted and Crystal malts.

My final FGs have always seemed high. Again i attributed that to attenuation or mashing on the high side of the temp range, but now i am starting to wonder.

There's certainly experimental evidence that attenuation decreases when you mash outside of the ideal range (the only evidence that matters :wink: ). You could easily lose 10%, or even 15%, attenuation if the mash pH is out of the ideal range.

On the other hand, it took me a while to get my FGs to where I was happy with my beer and I think the problem was mostly with the recipes I was using.

I was following recipes that had mash temps of 152-154F and a pound or more of Crystal Malt. Than I would taste my beer and it would be good, but sweeter than I liked (say 1.012 or 1.014, maybe higher, sometimes) and dominated by candy-like Crystal Malt flavors. Perhaps it is my system, my techniques, or just my taste, I don't know.

I've been developing my own recipes and using much less Crystal Malt (usually 1/8-1/4#, occasionally 1/2#, rarely more) and mashing at 150F or less (most of the time). I'm much happier with the results and I finish around 1.008-1.010, most of the time. To me, it tastes more like beer and less like desert.
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Re: RA by SMR

Postby Legman » Mon Jun 15, 2009 12:40 pm

slothrob wrote: Too much would be >300 ppm CO3, >300 ppm Cl, >400 ppm SO4, >200 ppm Na.

I'm talking about mash additions. Palmer suggests adding the same concentration of salts to the boil as the mash, but I try to make additions high enough in the mash that the concentrations are where I want them, then just boost individual salts in the boil as needed.


With my water profile, I have 0 ppm Cl. I would like to make a malty-very malty beer. I need to increase the amount of Cl to help acheive this. But in order for my RA to stay in range, the CO3 has to climb above the 300 ppm limit to offset the RA drop from the CaCl2 addition.
Now, this is in the mash tun, not the full boil volume, which would lower in the final boil to an acceptable level.
Is this ok to have in the mash tun or will this cause some kind of problem eventhough it is lowered in the end?
And if this is a problem, and I need to add it to the boil, how would you calculate that?
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