Water questions and suggestions

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

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Rehashing some water issues

Postby kevponce » Sat Feb 13, 2010 5:03 pm

Sloth and Leg if you re out there lets rehash some water issues.
A while back i posted that our water pH was 8.7. Sloth had mentioned that "plain water" which i suppose I have, sees great swings, especially when boiled. Given that, my brew club, which brews together, has brewed about 12 beers in the last 8 months, All Grain, and we consistently seem to be fighting high pH. Like the mash stabilizes at 6.0 or 6.1, so I am always trying to drive it down into the 5.4 to 5.8 at room temp range. At times I don't want to put that much gypsum in. So I have been reading about acidulated malt. Seems intriguing. I have read that each percentage point of acid malt drops the pH by .1. So if I keep getting roughly 6 I am thinking 3% ought to drive me to a 5.7. I have read that 8% is enough to make it seem like a Berliner Kindl. I definitely don't want my beers to have a sour taste. Anybody got any take on this.
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Postby jawbox » Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:43 am

Kev,

I'd use one of the many water spreadsheets out there and build you're water profile to simulate classic citys (Dublin for Stout, Pilsen for Bo Pils etc). I would use gypsum in conjunction with calcium chloride to lower the RA that way you can keep your chloride to sulfate ratio in check. I can't say that acidulated malt is going to be appropriate for all beer styles as you mentioned you don't want a sour/twang to your beers.

John Palmers http://howtobrew.com/section3/Palmers_Mash_RA_ver2e.xls
There's also some good info on water chemistry there.

Kai's http://braukaiser.com/documents/Kaiser_ ... ulator.xls
Also great info on building water from scratch.

Online calculator http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

Another online and spreadsheet http://www.ezwatercalculator.com

The brewing network podcasts are worth checking out, they did 4 on water chemistry.
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Sauer Malt

Postby slothrob » Sun Feb 14, 2010 12:28 pm

I haven't used Acidulated Malt, so I can't talk from any personal experiance. Doing what you probably did, taking a quick survey of the homebrewing forums, it looks like you should be able to get away with maybe 2-3% with either a minor or positive flavor effect, probably depending on your palate. So I suppose you could try it and see if you mind the flavor, but it doesn't sound like that amount is going to turn your beer into a Berliner Weisse.

You can also compromise and bring the pH down a point or so with CaSO4, then the rest of the way with the Sauer Malt. You can add about 5 g/5 gallons of Gypsum to drop the pH about 0.1 and still have a 1:1 balanced SO4:Cl. Then you would only need 2% Sauer Malt to hit pH ~5.7.

Your water is a bit of a pain for pale beers because it is both high in CO3 and Cl, so it leaves you with SO4 as your primary salt choice to drop the mash pH, but you could add as much as 4 g of CaCl2 to drop the pH ~0.1 and stay just under Palmer's brewing water limits. That would also leave you with less to correct with Gypsum and/or Sauer Malt.

Have you tried diluting with distilled water? That's a bit of a pain, but it would allow you to correct entirely with CaCl2.

Increasing your SRM by 3 or 4 should also drop the pH ~0.1. This should only require ~1 oz of a dark roasted grain or ~2.5 oz of a dark Crystal Malt, and have little flavor impact if chosen well for the recipe. Or you could choose to brew slightly darker recipes, do you hit your pH with an ~12 SRM beer?

I'm not trying to discourage you from trying the Acidulated Malt, though. And that might be your best option for a mild yellow beer. I just don't have any experience with it and I'm considering your options.
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Postby kevponce » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:29 pm

jawbox wrote:Kev,

I'd use one of the many water spreadsheets out there
The brewing network podcasts are worth checking out, they did 4 on water chemistry.


Jaw

I use Palmer's spreadsheet and I edited it considerably to add some fields that make it more user friendly. For instance I can quickly from memory tell you that 4 grams of gypsum = 1 tsp, but it stops there. The rest of the minerals I have no idea of their ratio so I added fields that look at my suggested additions and convert them to the nearest 1/4 tsp, because when in the heat of the battle (the mash) I find it far easier to just add tsps rather than getting my scale out, which has only a 1 gram limit anyway, and start dividing up grams with a razor, besides that makes me feel like a druggy. Also I conditionally formatted the total values against Palmers/Pappazians suggested ranges. It formats the font in three ranges as different colors 1.Not enough(orange) 2.In Range(green) and 3. Too much(red). that way as i am building my profiles I can quickly see that i am not maxing out my minerals or see that I need more. Also I duplicated the Chloride to Sulfate numerical value next to the type (malty, balanced etc) so that I could see which range it was pushing eg sometimes the value is 2 which is real close to very malty, at others it is closer to balanced, so I just wanted to see.

Also I moved stuff around and tightened up stuff so it would fit on 1 screen on my laptop without scrolling. Thats the diff between Palmer and me. He is Brainiac but I am a graphic artist so S#!t like formatting matters to me. Form and functionality.

Also I guess I am just a tool with too much time on my hands. Yeah right. 3 kids too much time. NOT.

Anyway the thing about Palmer's gig that doesn't fit is that it doesn't calculate the predicted pH mash, which coincidentally enough, my beer tools pro does. I wish I could combine the two of them.

I also did listen to the brewing network podcasts which is why I haven't posted anything about water in a while. I stepped away from water to focus on yeast and really stepped it up. Built a Stir plate and got my act together there.
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Re: Sauer Malt

Postby kevponce » Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:45 pm

slothrob wrote:get away with maybe 2-3%

Have you tried diluting with distilled water?

Increasing your SRM by 3 or 4 should also drop the pH ~0.1.



All good ideas Sloth. Hadn't really thought about the dark malt aspect as much because I guess I am following other people's recipes too closely. Our club is brewing pretty consistently so that alone is giving us an idea of how our system is working and I have really started pushing the idea of making our own recipes. That just isn't as tidy though with extra grains sitting around in oddball amounts. But I am starting to see that the kits we get from Northern Brewer give some odd returns when entered into Beer Tools. They say they are uisng proMash and a 75% efficiency but too often we are putting in the numbers and getting lower projected OGs.

This is really where the whole "Brewing is an art" thing comes in to play. As much as it is about science and readings and pH, it is also so much about a feel for it.
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Postby jawbox » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:47 pm

Kev

you might want to check out Kai's spreadsheet. It gives you a loose ph prediction and you can take into account the percentage of roast/dark grains in your malt bill.
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Kai's Chart

Postby kevponce » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:01 pm

Jaw

OK that's confusing. Enter in the modifications using PPM, I am not getting that, at least not at first sight. I just filled in my numbers and it estimated the pH at 5.1. I haven't seen even close to that. Also are his pH numbers mash temp or room temp?
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pH

Postby slothrob » Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:38 am

Kai uses pH at room temperature, so you're targeting ~5.4-5.8.

I brew almost exclusively my own recipes, because I like to try and make the beer I want to drink. You might be a particularly appropriate candidate for designing recipes around your water, but recipe development isn't for everyone, it can take some perseverance and a willingness to drink (or dump) your mistakes. I also buy most everything in bulk and store 25-75# of grain at a time. But you don't need to necessarily create your own recipes, if you choose to buy kits that fit your water.
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our own recipes

Postby kevponce » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:52 pm

It is time for our own recipe formulation. The guys I am brewing with are relatively new comers, only brewing 2 years now. I started them with Extract kits, then Partial mashes, now all grain kits, so the next obvious step is our own recipes. It is all about time, and money of course.

Our beers have really been pretty darn good lately, especially since pitching proper yeast rates, and aerating the wort. The beers are taking off and we are getting good attenuation as well.

Two weak links are:

1. Our picnic cooler mash tun is not as stable as I would like, it looses 4 degrees in a half hour easy. So a lot of these infusions that are calling for 154 rest go to 149-150 and we have been doing a second infusion, at a half hour, of .3 to .5 gallons of boiling to bring it back up, but I was reading Noonan's book and he states that you have to be careful bringing a mash at 149 up as it could kill off enzymes. My reason for concern here is that I believe some of our beers to be a bit less dextrous(spelling ?) than I would want from the mash temp falling so quick. So part of this i think is because we have to muck with the mash to get...

...2. the proper pH. So that is why I am concerned with getting the pH worked out. Put the water in...put the grain in...close the lid...voila...more stable temp. Also Noonan states, which i never knew before, and which is why I keep reading different peoples' books, that the problem with infusion is keeping the mash floating. More stirring = less floating mash.

All in all though we do brew good beer. I went to a competition lately as a Steward just to see what it was like. Unfortunately we didn't enter any though. After it was over there was scads of beer to take home. However none were labeled so it was a crapshoot. I took 12 home and let me say that the emphasis was on the crap part of the shoot. I realize that the good beers went to the second round, so those bottles weren't left, but there were quite a few of those twelve that I took a sip of then tossed. I felt much better about our beers after that.
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Re: our own recipes

Postby slothrob » Mon Feb 15, 2010 5:33 pm

kevponce wrote:Two weak links are:

1. Our picnic cooler mash tun is not as stable as I would like, it looses 4 degrees in a half hour easy... I believe some of our beers to be a bit less dextrous(spelling ?) than I would want from the mash temp falling so quickly.
2.More stirring = less floating mash.

... there were quite a few of those twelve that I took a sip of then tossed. I felt much better about our beers after that.

1. If you are down to 150°F in 30 minutes when you want to mash at 154°F, then you could just strike warmer. Aim for a 158°F mash and you'll probably hit 154°F. That will make your beer more dextrinous.

If you do need to heat the mash, the best ways to do this might be by a second infusion or a decoction. You can pull grain with just enough liquid to cover it in a second pot. Bring it to boil with constant stirring, then add it back. Since the enzymes are in the liquid left in the tun, heating won't cause much denaturation (and probably will increase your efficiency).

If the loss of heat is because of fussing with the pH, then, like you say, you need to get your water worked out so you just add the salts and only need to take a quick sample to confirm the pH.

2. Do you fly sparge? I batch sparge, so I don't float the mash.

Glad to hear you like the beer you make. That's my goal. I have a really nice amber I'm drinking at the moment that might do well in competition, though...
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