Water Chemistry for Pale Ale

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

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Water Chemistry for Pale Ale

Postby brakspears » Sat Jun 21, 2003 12:47 am

Sirs, I am seeking some guidance on the matter of water chemistry to allow me to brew fine pale ale, from grains, my local water supply from the village well has the following composition,

expressed as g/m3
sulphate 2.9
chloride 8.7
calcuim 18
magnesium 1.5
sodium 7.5
total hardness ( asCaCO3 ) 51
P.H. 7.6
total alkalinty to ph 4.5 as HCO3 48

So my question is, what amounts of what salts / ions do I add to get my brewing water to to replicate the great pale ale brewing water of Burton on Trent etc, or do I worry unnecessarily, the brews I presently make are drinkable, generally, but not outstanding, any thoughts appreciated, kind regards Nigel.
brakspears
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Ouch!!! Water chemistry!

Postby Fraoch » Mon Jun 23, 2003 2:41 am

I hate water chemistry and dont mind admitting that it confuses the hell out of me.But, seeing as noone else has answered your query, im willing to dip me toe, to speak.
My spin on the different waters used is that its best not to worry.
burton on trent had GREAT pale ale water directly from the river Trent,all this meant was that it gave the perfect PH level required in a mash to brew good pales and bitters.
Ireland on the other hand having a very chalky water source brews great stouts as the chalk counteracts the acidity in the roasted malts to create great stouts.
Our problem lies in the fact that we want to make ALL styles of beers and so we modify our water accordingly.
To make your pale ale, boil your liquor prior to mashing for a good 20 mins and allow to cool, this will precipitate the chalk out of solution and settle to the bottom of your kettle.
When you mash, adjust your Ph level to just under say 6 using the usual salts etc,you may find as i do that it hits the perfect Ph without any other treatment.The mash will acidify further during process and should reach around 5.2 at 90 mins or so.
If you need to use further salts then keep a record and this will give you an idea of what you need to do each time you mash a pale ale.
Simple!!!!!!
Just to add, i now omit the boiling stage and use a 1 micron filter to the same effect.Cuts out a lot of preparation.

Enjoy your Pale,

Fraoch
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Thanks Fraoch

Postby brakspears » Mon Jun 23, 2003 8:22 pm

Thanks for the input, I'll just have to keep accurate records of what's going in the tun, and measure ph at the same point in the procedure, don't think we have a lot of chalk in our water here in N.Z., we had loads where we lived in U.K., along with a lot of other stuff that got stuck to the kettle element, UGH!regards Nigel.
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Hey, Brakspears

Postby Fraoch » Tue Jun 24, 2003 1:41 am

Thought you may have a UK connection by the name you use, not a bad pint at all.
did you ever try "Godsons Black Horse"? they stopped brewing it back in the 80"s but i used to love the stuff - a great porter.If you are interested, i have the recipe, which was given to me by the head brewer of Gibbs Mew who brewed it at the time,Alas, they too have gone down the gurgler. Get in touch with me at bigjimbo@froggy.com.au if you want the recipe and ill pass it on.
Cheers!

Gavin
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you have soft water!

Postby bredmakr » Sun Jul 06, 2003 6:42 am

You can get a long way on water chemistry with tools provided on the internet. do a search for 'brew water'. can't remember the exact name but it is a free download share ware program developed for application to brewing waters and provides profiles of water types and their corresponding chemical composition.

That said, you have already taken a great step by acquiring your water chemistry from the local water utility. Or, do you have well water and you have performed the analyses on your tap water. This is a key distinction. This profile from your water utility indicates that you have 'soft water'. To acquire a Burton, or Dublin profile you are going to want a hard water profile that would include the addition of calcium bicarbonate salts and possibly calcium sulfate (gypsum).

you also have a chlorine residual from treatment and the water utility. You can either boil this off or use a household activated carbon filter to remove the chlorine.

Then you want to add the salts. Measuring pH is a good indicator and doing some preliminary calculations with the aformentioned software. you can determine the type of salts to add and in what quantities. Good luck and make sure to fill us in on your results.

One thing that you have going for you is that your water is soft so you need to add salts and minerals to reach your desired water chemistry. This is the opposite and better than my situation. I have 'very' hard water and have to bring down the concentrations of minerals and salts with the addition of distilled water. I'd rather be in your shoes.

Cheers!

Mike
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Thanks Mike

Postby brakspears » Tue Jul 08, 2003 12:25 am

Indeed we have soft water, and I don't think there is any Chlorine used in the treatment of it, we live in a village of about 300 people in N.Z. and are fortunate enough to have this fine water supply, previously water was "caught" in tanks fed from rain fall, dew, snow etc, so we have moved on. I have been keeping records of the addition of salts to my brewing liquor, but as I hardly ever brew the same thing twice it maybe rather meaningless, still it's all good fun, and it deprives the Minister of Finance of a few dollars, good brews to you, and I'll carry on tinkering with the CaSo4, CaCl, NaCl, MgSo4 cheers Nigel.
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