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Old 05-01-2011, 04:08 AM   #1
sv_1
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Default First attempt at adjusting water= salty beer

I made a batch of JZ Southern English Brown for my first attempt at adjusting water.

Recipe:
7 lbs Maris Otter (Crisp) (4.0 SRM) Grain 71.76 %
1 lbs Caramel Malt - 80L (Cargill) (80.0 SRM) Grain 10.25 %
10.0 oz Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess) (120.0 SRM) Grain 6.41 %
8.0 oz Special Roast (Briess) (50.0 SRM) Grain 5.13 %
6.1 oz Chocolate Malt (light) (200.0 SRM) Grain 3.90 %
4.0 oz Carafa Special II (Weyermann) (415.0 SRM) Grain 2.56 %
0.85 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 14.2 IBU
1 Pkgs English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs SafAle S-04 English Ale (Fermentis #S-04) Yeast-Ale

My water:
pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 212
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.35
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.0 / 2.9
ppm
Sodium, Na 34
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 15
Magnesium, Mg 8
Total Hardness, CaCO3 71
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 17
Chloride, Cl 27
Carbonate, CO3 3
Bicarbonate, HCO3 55
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 50

My additions calculated with Bru'n water:
Water ajust for mash: .7g gypsum, 1.4g bak soda, .9g chalk. For sparge: .74tsp lactic acid, .6g calcium chloride, 2.5g gypsum

This was an attempt at bringing mash ph up to a calculated value of 5.1.

Should I brew another batch to blend with this one? What can I do to control the PH without ending up with salt-beer?

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Old 05-01-2011, 09:55 AM   #2
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Well, first of all, I don't know why you're adding so much gypsum. I wouldn't personally want to accentuate the hops for a brown ale, a southern english brown no less. Your sulfate is already higher than your chloride, if you multiply it by 3 as is suggested for ward labs reports, to get the actual value for sulfate. Anyways, I believe AJ Delange would say you may not even need to adjust, unless you've measured the pH with a pH meter and it said to. Also, Martin might say that you should use pickling lime instead of the baking soda for the pH shift. You already have a fair bit of sodium. Also, if that amount of baking soda is per gallon, that'd definitely be the reason for the saltiness.

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Old 05-01-2011, 12:41 PM   #3
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I've read that sulphate and sodium sort of enhance each other and advice to be sure to keep one or the other low. Your water adjustment seems off, in addition to all the gypsum first you're adding baking soda then you're adding lactic acid later.

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Old 05-01-2011, 12:59 PM   #4
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Hope this helps

Calcium: Ca (ppm)
Magnesium: Mg (ppm)
Sulfate: SO4 (ppm)
Chloride: Cl (ppm)
Sodium: Na (ppm)
Total Hardness (ppm as CaCO3)
Total Alkalinity (ppm as CaCO3)
Residual Alkalinity (ppm as CaCO3)

Why adjust your water
How to adjust your water Part 1
Adjusting water to styles
Water Q & A
Hop utilization and water



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Old 05-01-2011, 01:19 PM   #5
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You have to understand that no spreadsheet can accurately calculate mash pH unless it is given detailed (the titratable acidity curve) information about each malt used. As this information is not available (unless you measure it yourself) the best a spreadsheet can do is make a model based on measurements of samples and this is what they do. For beers that don't use a lot of dark malt the mash pH can be predicted pretty accurately. For dark beers the accuracy is less because of this variability in acidity. Even so, for modest amounts of dark malt you usually do not need (or want) to add alkali. That is why I always say don't add any unless you have made a test mash (which can be the main mash) and a valid pH reading confirms low pH. Then add the alkali (bicarbonate, carbonate, lime, sodium hyroxide or whatever you use.

It is more likely that you will need to add acid than base but I would not advocate doing that (unless a pH meter reading says you should) because over 1/4 of your malts are dark.

Your water is pretty good as it is and probably does not require adjusting for a brown ale. So I would suggest brewing it without treating the water next time to see what happens. Of course I'd like it even better if you got yourself a pH meter so you can really see what is going on (and no, my brother in law does not work for Hanna) and make water treatment decisions based on what it tells you.

Brewers seem to think that they need to tweak their water for every beer they brew. This is not in general true (though it is true that one can refine his beers by refining his water treatment practices). At first, though, I recommend keeping it simple. See the Primer in the Stickies for a KISS approach to water treatment. Part of the message there is that the less mineral content the water has the better the beer will be. There are some exceptions to this but it most cases soft (by which I mean low mineral content - not just low calcium) water and pH control by lactic acid or acidulated malt will give you the best beers.

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Old 05-01-2011, 02:26 PM   #6
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Actually, Bru'n Water does a pretty good job of predicting mash pH consistently using generallized malt acidity values. I just brewed an APA yesterday using RO as the starting water. Of course, the water was adjusted strongly with sulfates to help the hop character. Bru'n Water recommended a pickling lime addition to moderate the strongly negative RA that was created by the gypsum and CaCl additions. The mash pH ended up 0.1 unit higher than predicted (5.3). Oddly after the mash out, the pH dropped that final 0.1 unit and matched the prediction perfectly. My previous batch was a Robust Porter and again alkalinity addition was a requirement. Its pH was also within 0.1 unit of prediction. Starkly different grists (crystals vs roasts) and still Bru'n Water provides the tool to hit a desired pH.

I agree with the recommendations above, the Na is already at an OK level. Increasing that concentration with baking soda addition was not the ideal way to go. I assume that the mineral additions quoted were the totals and not per gallon additions. They are OK in total, not OK if they were per gallon. I'm assuming the calculated sodium concentration was high but not outlandish if they were total additions. I don't think that the sodium level (probably in the 60 ppm range) would be perceptably salty.

Obtaining Pickling Lime and using it as the primary alkalinity producer is the way to go. I have not been disappointed yet. I have to use lime for any of my beers with any color or crystal. It is strong stuff and you have to use it quite judiciously. Only add directly to the mash after the grain is doughed in. Don't add to water alone or the water pH could go too high and cause calcium to precipitate.

The comment on the gypsum is valid too. Southern Eng Brown is a malt focused style and the goal should have been moderating sulfates and possibly increasing the chlorides. There is plenty of room for chloride in that starting water. The starting sulfate level (51 ppm) is a little higher than desirable. In adding either gypsum or CaCl, hardness is added which is counter-productive to keeping the mash pH from dropping too low. But considering that the starting Ca content is a little low, there was little choice but to add that hardness for good yeast performance. That is why adding calcium via the lime addition is a very good alternative. If the gypsum addition was a total, then the sulfate concentration would not have been outlandish either (in the 80 ppm range).

I see that lactic acid was properly added to the sparge water and the baking soda and chalk were only added to the mash. At first I thought baking soda, chalk, and lactic were being added to the mash water. That would be improper since they counteract each other. No problems there.

I have a concern with the mash pH target that was mentioned. 5.1 is far too low and WILL cause an unpleasant sharpness in this beer. 5.4 is as low as I would ever go for my brown or black beers. That higher pH adds a smoothness and roundness to the flavor in brown and black beers.

Given the questions I had above, I'm not sure that this beer would be exhibiting a salty flavor or a sharpness that detracts from the perceptions.

I'm generally in agreement with what AJ is saying, keep water adjustments simple. This is a case where the tap water would have made an OK beer, but again the resulting pH would have been too low and the Ca concentration would have been insufficient for good fermentation performance. Simple lime and CaCl additions would have been sufficient to make this fine water for this beer.

Get the lime and your options will open up.

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Old 05-01-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sv_1 View Post
I made a batch of JZ Southern English Brown for my first attempt at adjusting water.

Recipe:
7 lbs Maris Otter (Crisp) (4.0 SRM) Grain 71.76 %
1 lbs Caramel Malt - 80L (Cargill) (80.0 SRM) Grain 10.25 %
10.0 oz Caramel Malt - 120L (Briess) (120.0 SRM) Grain 6.41 %
8.0 oz Special Roast (Briess) (50.0 SRM) Grain 5.13 %
6.1 oz Chocolate Malt (light) (200.0 SRM) Grain 3.90 %
4.0 oz Carafa Special II (Weyermann) (415.0 SRM) Grain 2.56 %
0.85 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops 14.2 IBU
1 Pkgs English Ale (White Labs #WLP002) Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) Yeast-Ale
1 Pkgs SafAle S-04 English Ale (Fermentis #S-04) Yeast-Ale

My water:
pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 212
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.35
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.0 / 2.9
ppm
Sodium, Na 34
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 15
Magnesium, Mg 8
Total Hardness, CaCO3 71
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 17
Chloride, Cl 27
Carbonate, CO3 3
Bicarbonate, HCO3 55
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 50

My additions calculated with Bru'n water:
Water ajust for mash: .7g gypsum, 1.4g bak soda, .9g chalk. For sparge: .74tsp lactic acid, .6g calcium chloride, 2.5g gypsum

This was an attempt at bringing mash ph up to a calculated value of 5.1.

Should I brew another batch to blend with this one? What can I do to control the PH without ending up with salt-beer?
I have long argued that baking soda should not be used as a brewing salt. However, since it was recommended in a popular homebrewing book baking soda often shows up in people's water adjustments. Except in very rare circumstances a calcium salt is a much better choice. The addition of the Na+ from the baking soda is very likely the cause of your salty flavor. What you needed, IMO, was to increase the Ca+ and the alkalinity of your water to match it for a brown ale. The use of Calcium carbonate alone would have taken care of that.
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Old 05-01-2011, 03:08 PM   #8
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That is the total addition, not per gallon.

I was trying to find a balance in the additions to raise the ph, but 5.1 is as high as I could get it without feeling like I was adding too much. I see that the lime would have made it much easier, I need to continue looking for it as I couldn't find any locally.

Measured with a strip it seemed to be between 5 and 6, so who knows what the actual ph was. I now have a ph meter to play with

It may be below most peoples taste threshold, but I am not a fan of anything salty- 'specially my beer.

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Old 05-01-2011, 04:37 PM   #9
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I do want to be clear that I have nothing against modeling. It fed my family for many years and over the course of those years I learned what models can and cannot do. My position is simply that when one has a choice between a model and a valid measurement he should go with the measurement and check against the model later. If the two agree then everyone is happy. If not, then something has been learned about situations in which the model has a weakness. In many cases such situations can lead to an improvement of the model. An example of this would be the Tinseth model of bitterness. It contains 2 parameters. By adjusting those parameters so that the rms error between the model's predictions and the measured bitterness of beers I brew is minimized I get a better model of what happens in my kettle. It's still kind of a joke but better than it was and I do use it for planning.

One thing that Martin mentioned in his last post caught my eye and that is the drift in pH which is typical in most mashes. I've found that where sauermalz is used pH drifts up from, for example (a Vienna), 5.14 at dough in to to 5.21 after 10 minutes to 5.33 after a half hour. After the return of the first decoction it is 5.43. At the return of the second decoction it is 5.40. What is my mash pH here? It obviously varies. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Kunze wants me at a pH of 5.5 - 5.6 for sachharification. That's where I used to run. 5.4 gives me much better beer (the example pH is 5.4 at sacharification) and that's why I target 5.4 - at sachharification.

Now when I put the particulars for this example brew (equal portions of Pils, Munich I and Vienna plus a little wheat and some sauermalz - water RO plus a bit of calcium chloride) into Martin's spreadsheet it tells me my mash pH is going to be 5.1 and that I need alkalinity. Well, the mash pH was 5.1 for a few minutes and then rose 0.3 above that by the time I got to saccharification. So this is an example where the model doesn't work as well as it does in the examples Martin posted where it clearly works quite well. I don't think anyone would demand accuracy better than ± 0.1 pH.

As another point of interest: the spreadsheet tells me the color of my beer will be 9.9 SRM. It was actually 10.8. The Tinseth model told me the bitterness would be 23.9. It was actually 21.8 so while the mash pH model didn't work all that well for this beer the color and bitterness models did. And that's how it is with models. When they work well they work but when they don't they don't. Problem is you can't tell which situation you have unless you make a measurement. That's why I always say use the models for planning but act according to measurement (if you can). The obvious exception is where you have validated a model for a particular style of beer and water composition. In such cases the model can be used with confidence to predict the effect of small changes in, for example, the amount of lactic acid added.

Now I just grabbed the first beer the notebook fell open to for this example. Had it fallen open to another page I might have found good agreement with the pH model and bad agreement with the bitterness model etc. Not likely on pH though as I have brewed this beer many times and get approximately the same results each time.

But back to the original question: If the OP is unusually sensitive to salty taste then I would recommend using RO or tap water diluted 3+1 or something like that with calcium chloride supplementation. A quick check with the pH meter will reveal whether acid or base or neither is necessary.

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Last edited by ajdelange; 05-01-2011 at 05:32 PM. Reason: Had several additional thoughts
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Old 05-01-2011, 05:34 PM   #10
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If you read my last post you should go back and check it again because in the middle of correcting a small typo I had some additional thoughts and went ahead and stuck them in which took a while. Probably should have put the new stuff in a separate post but didn't.

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