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Old 10-04-2010, 10:52 PM   #1
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Default Distilled/RO question

This question is primarily directed at ajdelange, but I will take any input I can get.

AJ, I believe I have seen on a couple of occasions where you recommend for people trying to get used to the effects of water ion modification, as a rule of thumb to try 2 tsp of CaCl in their 100% distilled/RO mash/sparge water and then go from there depending on how they like the results.

You and I have discussed my highly alkaline water at length so I wanted to confirm this advice before I employ it this weekend. I am brewing two beers this weekend. I am making a German pils, SRM 3 and approx 1.050-52 starting gravity. I am also making a Blonde Ale, approx 4 SRM, 1.045-6 starting gravity. A couple of questions about the 2 tsp of CaCl suggestion:

1. Assuming 2 tsp of CaCl is roughly 8 grams, for one recipe (blonde) I would be putting it into 4 gallons of mash and 5 gallons of sparge water. Assuming a grain bill of 9.5 pounds of grain (7# 2row, 2.25# of various crystal/cara malts and 4 ounces of acidulated malt), the new water calculator by -TH- yields an RA of -311 and a mash pH of 5.15. Does that sound right?

2. It brings the calcium and chloride up considerably (128 ppm and 227 ppm). Will that tend to throw the flavor off balance with the high chloride? And the calcium number seems high for a light profiled ale as well.

3. Should I worry about the absence of other ions since I am using distilled? What affect will I see from the lack of Mg, Na and SO4?

Since we've batted around the degree to which my horribly alkaline water is affecting my beers, I thought I would try starting with a blank slate and building a water profile from scratch.

I am firmly convinced that alkalinity is my main issue. I have been slowly reading through the articles on your website. I remember reading (and I know I am simplifying extensively here) that your tests indicate dark roasted grains do not have as significant a mash pH lowering component as some might think. I believe that is borne out in a porter I made earlier this year. It's a good beer. But I used 100% of my highly alkaline water and threw just 2 tsp of Gypsum in the mash. I am picking up an after taste that I would attribute to the highly alkaline water (yes, I dissolved some baking soda in water and tasted it as you instructed. I pick up a hint of that in my porter even with the Gypsum and dark grain additions)

Looking forward to your thoughts

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Old 10-05-2010, 12:28 AM   #2
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http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/

I think he said in one post he uses about 10% of his tap water to ensure some trace minerals of various sorts.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
.

AJ, I believe I have seen on a couple of occasions where you recommend for people trying to get used to the effects of water ion modification, as a rule of thumb to try 2 tsp of CaCl in their 100% distilled/RO mash/sparge water and then go from there depending on how they like the results.
The starting recommendation is 1 tsp per 5 gallons treated.

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Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
You and I have discussed my highly alkaline water at length so I wanted to confirm this advice before I employ it this weekend. I am brewing two beers this weekend. I am making a German pils, SRM 3 and approx 1.050-52 starting gravity. I am also making a Blonde Ale, approx 4 SRM, 1.045-6 starting gravity.
Although it is orthogonal to the discussion I'll mention that it would be very difficult for a home brewer to achieve any color less than about 4 SRM (the lightest beer I was ever able to make, a Kölsch measured 4.2 SRM.)

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1. Assuming 2 tsp of CaCl is roughly 8 grams, for one recipe (blonde) I would be putting it into 4 gallons of mash and 5 gallons of sparge water.
If you are putting 1 tsp into the mash water and 1 into the sparge that is close to the starting point recommendation. Putting 1 into the mash and 1 into the sparge would be double but for an ale that is probably fine.

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Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
Assuming a grain bill of 9.5 pounds of grain (7# 2row, 2.25# of various crystal/cara malts and 4 ounces of acidulated malt), the new water calculator by -TH- yields an RA of -311 and a mash pH of 5.15. Does that sound right?
Again, a bit off topic but any crystal or cara is going to push the color up but as you really need them for flavor I would not recommend reducing them.

I'm not convinced that it is possible to predict pH from grain bill with any degree of certainty. That said, I'd expect the distilled water mash pH w/o the acidulated malt to be about 5.75. Using the rule of thumb (and remember that it is only a rule of thumb) for sauermalz of 0.1 pH per percent grist with your 2.6% sauermalz addition I'd expect the mash pH to come in somewhere around 5.4-5.5 (5.75 - .26 - a bit for the calcium) which should be fine.



Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
2. It brings the calcium and chloride up considerably (128 ppm and 227 ppm). Will that tend to throw the flavor off balance with the high chloride? And the calcium number seems high for a light profiled ale as well.
Assuming 1 tsp of calcium chloride to be about 5 grams the recommended starting dose (1 tsp/5 gal) should get you to about 72 mg/L Ca in distilled water. That is probably fine for an ale but might be more than you want for a Pils.

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3. Should I worry about the absence of other ions since I am using distilled? What affect will I see from the lack of Mg, Na and SO4?
Malt is, for example, about 0.15% magnesium by weight so I don't think you need to worry about that one. It also contains fair amounts of other minerals. But, as has been suggested, you can always blend in a little of your tap water to supply traces of other things if that makes you feel more comfortable.


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But I used 100% of my highly alkaline water and threw just 2 tsp of Gypsum in the mash. I am picking up an after taste that I would attribute to the highly alkaline water (yes, I dissolved some baking soda in water and tasted it as you instructed. I pick up a hint of that in my porter even with the Gypsum and dark grain additions)
Directly or indirectly I'm sure that was the cause. I'd explain it in terms of higher than desired mash pH. This results in less conversion of bicarbonate to CO2 meaning higher residual bicarbonate in the finished beer but equally or perhaps even more signigificant beers mashed at higher pH's just aren't as good as those mashed at lower.
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Old 10-05-2010, 04:14 PM   #4
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A couple of follow up questions:
1. You say 1 tsp/5 gal in mash water and 1 tsp in 5 gal of sparge water is a starting point for an ale, but too high for pils. What would you recommend for pils? 1/2 teaspoon in each?

2. I would have a comfort level using some of my own water (say 10%) in order to put some traces of the other minerals in there. My water profile shows bicarb (302); Alkalinity CaCO3 (247); Ca 56; Mg 26; SO4 adjusted 9; Cl 10; Na 23.

Would 10% make any difference or is it just best to go with the pure distilled water and the 1 tsp/5 gal rule of thumb as a starting point for the ale and 1/2tsp per 5 gal for the Pils?

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Old 10-05-2010, 04:27 PM   #5
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http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/

Answers the 'amount' question. Look towards the bottom. Prost the article if you find it useful.
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Old 10-05-2010, 06:04 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
A couple of follow up questions:
1. You say 1 tsp/5 gal in mash water and 1 tsp in 5 gal of sparge water is a starting point for an ale, but too high for pils. What would you recommend for pils? 1/2 teaspoon in each?
Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by winvarin View Post
2. I would have a comfort level using some of my own water (say 10%) in order to put some traces of the other minerals in there. My water profile shows bicarb (302); Alkalinity CaCO3 (247); Ca 56; Mg 26; SO4 adjusted 9; Cl 10; Na 23.

Would 10% make any difference or is it just best to go with the pure distilled water and the 1 tsp/5 gal rule of thumb as a starting point for the ale and 1/2tsp per 5 gal for the Pils?
No, I think you can easily use 10% of your water. It will contribute ions to the blend at 10% of what is in the report i.e. about 25 ppm as CaCO3 alkalinity, about 5.6% calcium and so on.
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Old 10-10-2010, 06:27 PM   #7
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Oops. I really goofed with the CaCl additions on my pilsner. I don't know if I just had a brain freeze, forgot this discussion entirely, or what. But I overdid it badly. Here's what I did:

10# pilsner malt
1.5# flaked rice
6 ounces acid malt

33 IBU, saaz for bittering, tettnang for flavor and aroma

The water listed above was used at approx 90% dilution with distilled (90% distilled; 10% my water)

Here's where I got really stupid. Instead of halving the CaCl additions for a pilsner like you said, I DOUBLED it.

4 gal mash water 90/10 dilution, I used 1.75 tsp of CaCl

6 gal sparge water, 90/10 dilution, I used 2.5 tsp of CaCl

I am still using the pH strips (have not yet bought a meter). I suspected something was amiss when I cooled my mash sample to 80F about 30 min and got no color change on the pH test strip. The strips are supposed to read in a range from 4.6 to 6.2. I tested another in my tap water and got a reading on the high end, so I know they are reading something. I am afraid though that I seriously acidified this mash.

So what sort of fallout should I be looking for? I got about a 5% increase in efficiency vs. what I usually achieve. Not sure if that is a byproduct of the much lower alkalinity. But per the new spreadsheet by -TH-, that combination alone should have had my mash pH in the 5.13 range. Acceptable, but I am afraid that I was much lower based on the fact that the pH strips registered absolutely nothing.

Pitched 2 rehydrated packs of s-23 at around 74F (it's still late summer/early fall in Oklahoma, that was about as low as my chiller would get it). Within 12 hours, I had full krausen and began dropping the temperature. I had it down to 55F by 18-19 hours after pitching and it has been in the 54-56 range ever since. It is bubbling away nicely with about a 2 inch krausen. Just starting to kick off a little sulphur.

Is this going to be a tart/sour lager? A ruined lager? Thoughts?

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Old 10-10-2010, 07:05 PM   #8
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I don't think you have much to worry about. The thing setting the acidity in this case will be the sauermalz and as you used a little over 3% your actual pH will probably be around 5.4. The beer may taste more of minerals than a Bohemian pils but not more than many a German pils.

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Old 10-10-2010, 07:13 PM   #9
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I appreciate the input. The recipe I am going for is to try to hit something in the range of a Stella. And the BJCP profile for German pils is what I used as a guide when formulating this recipe.

I am making a blonde today. (Trying to stock up on lighter profiled beers for the family over the holidays). I am sticking closer to the 1 tsp/5 gal rule of thumb in this one. Going with an 80/20 dilution of my water with distilled.

I really need to get a real pH meter. Christmas is just around the corner so I have been dropping hints in that direction

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Old 10-17-2010, 10:06 PM   #10
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At day 9 I was checking gravity today to determine whether I needed a diacetyl rest. Odd. No diacetyl, however, I am already at my predicted ending gravity. I went ahead and bumped the temp up for a few days.

There is still a lot of suspended yeast, so it was tough to determine where this is in the taste profile. However, the beer is extremely pale, light yellow. And it's pretty tart. I am hoping the 6oz sauermalz and the accidental heavy handed approach on the CaCl does not hurt the final product.

However, since it's my first lager in a number of years, I am willing to consider this a learning beer.

I added the bulk of my hops at 15 and 5 min left in the boil but I get no noticable hop aroma or flavor in this beer. Not that I am trying to overwhelm it with hops, but I was hoping to have some hop contribution.

Should I decide to dry hop to add a little noble hop nose, what would you suggest? dry hopping during the diacetyl rest or during lagering. If lagering, would I need to hop longer in order to increase the effect at lower temps?

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