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Old 08-25-2012, 02:40 PM   #1
homebrew212
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Default Adjusting Water Chemistry Levels for IPA

Hi All,
I am brewing a Stone Ruination clone soon and since this is such a hoppy beer I think that it would be wise to adjust my water levels to suit such a style.
Here are the levels from my local water company:ew
Alkalinity, total: 52.9 ppm
Calcium: 23.5 ppm
Chloride: 23.5 ppm
Sodium:16.9 ppm
Sulfate: 8.5 ppm
pH: 7.2

Using the brewer's friend calculator for water chemistry I put the following target values as per their guide on their website:
Calcium: 150 ppm
Sulfate: 300 ppm
Sodium: 125 ppm
Chloride: 150 ppm
Alkalnity: 150 ppm

This led to the following amounts being recommended for the 9.38 gallons of mash and sparge water that I'll be using:
Baking Soda: 1 tsp.
Gypsum: 4.5 tsp
Salt: 1.25 tsp

My question is, do these target values and amounts of additives sound appropriate for this style? I have heard differing accounts of when to add gypsum, either to the mash or the boil and how much will these impact my mash pH, I have never tested the pH of the mash. Also, how accurate is the ratio of 2:1 for SO4 to Cl?

Thanks!

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Old 08-25-2012, 03:47 PM   #2
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The sodium, chloride, and alkalinity are well over reasonable concentrations. The sodium and chloride levels are going to add to harshness and the alkalinity is probably higher than necessary to develop a desirable mash pH. To find a more reasonable water profile for an IPA or PA, check out Bru'n Water. Just remember that even the profile for Pale Ale shown in Bru'n Water includes a bicarbonate concentration that is a first guess. The proper concentration should be based on mash pH.

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:09 PM   #3
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I agree with Martin, the additions you propose are way too big. Just for fun these are roughly the numbers (adjusted) I’m using for a pale:

Calcium 100
Magnesium 1
Sodium 5
Chloride 100
Sulfate 80

If you’re just starting out building water, it’s best to start low. It’s easy to use too much. You can gradually amp it up in subsequent batches until it’s a little too much. If you start out with a ton, it’s a yuck and you haven’t learned anything.

I would definitely lose the baking soda. The baking soda is going to give you way too much alkalinity for a pale. You probably need acid. As Martin says, whatever makes the mash pH come out. Most people target 5.4-5.6.

Forget the salt. If you enjoy salty beer, add it to the glass. Most people don’t like it. Get your chloride from calcium chloride.

Whatever you decide, let us know how it comes out. We’re in it for the beer.

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Old 08-26-2012, 01:44 AM   #4
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With a Brewer's Friend like that you won't need a Brewer's Enemy.

You have great water. Don't spoil it. It is almost soft enough to qualify under the criteria for which the Primer recommendations apply. You might want to have a look at that.

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Old 08-26-2012, 01:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
With a Brewer's Friend like that you won't need a Brewer's Enemy.

You have great water. Don't spoil it. It is almost soft enough to qualify under the criteria for which the Primer recommendations apply. You might want to have a look at that.
I'm not a water expert like ajdelange, but when I saw your starting water, I was green with envy! Your starting water is perfect.

Do NOT do what your proposed adjustments are! MAYBE, add 1 teaspoon of gypsum to the mash.

Making your sodium over 100 ppm makes me feel seasick. Don't do that! Don't increase your alkalinity- and certainly do NOT bring your choride up to over 100 ppm. Really, seriously, less is more. You have nice water. You may want to increase the calcium a bit, and the sulfate a bit. But it's better to do nothing than to add sodium, that much chloride, alkalinity, and that much sulfate.
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Old 08-26-2012, 02:19 PM   #6
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Hey thanks everyone! I guess I was just nervous that if I brew such a hoppy beer and I didn't have the appropriate sulfate levels I would end up with rather weak tasting beer. Definitely a good point about not going overboard when it comes to not adding too much stuff to my water if I don't have to. A few weeks back I was talking to the dude down at my LHBS and he said that he doesn't worry too much about his mash pH unless he's using very dark malts. I am new to all-grain brewing, actually brewing general as I've only been doing this for about 6 months or so and I have not been pleased with my results as I've been getting an almost plastic aroma and taste in all of my beers that I can only attribute to a high fermentation temperature (~75-80 degrees) so my most recent brew is sitting in a swamp cooler at 66 degrees, hopefully that one comes out okay, but I digress.

Thanks!

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Old 08-26-2012, 02:42 PM   #7
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A plastic-like aroma and or taste suggests chlorphenolics which is typically caused by chloramine. This is easily dealt with by adding a quarter of a Campden tablet to each five gallons of tap water you use.

As to the hops: the best highly hopped beers are made with modest levels of sulfate as this allows one to use lots of hops and thus get the hops flavors without harsh bitterness. Don't take my words as gospel because there is a level of personal preference involved here. Some feel that a hoppy beer just isn't right unless the sulfate levels are high. It also depends on the particular hops variety.

I always recommend that brewers make their first beer of a particular type with low sulfate water. When the beer is ready to drink it should be sampled as is and with various amounts of gypsum stirred into the beer. If you feel that the added gypsum enhances the beer then brew it again but increment the sulfate in the water. Don't over do it though. Then repeat. Getting a good beer is like anything else in cooking. You have to keep adjusting things until you hit the sweet spot.

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Old 08-27-2012, 01:25 AM   #8
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Yeah, I was actually considering treating my water with a Campden tablet during my last brew, a Stone Smoked Porter clone-I know, I know I like Stone A LOT, which is currently sitting in primary but the guy at my LHBS told me that it is not necessary since our water here is not treated with chloramines. Up to that point, the brews that I have been dissapointed in I was filtering through a Brita filter which was slow and I considered buying a bigger water filter but he also informed me that there was no real need so I just let the strike and sparge water sit overnight and I could definitely smell chlorine gassing out of it that night. Obviously I can't speak to how not treating or filtering the water worked out but I certainly don't want to wait another month to brew again. Basically I just chalked all of the off flavors that I had been experiencing to a lack of fermentation control and decided to just wait on doing anything else.

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Old 09-29-2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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What great advice, Aj! Don't know why I hadn't thought of brewing as-is, then sampling with small amounts of gypsum, but I hadn't. That is certainly something to try in future batches.

thank you!

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