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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > First try at water adjustment
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:53 AM   #1
carp
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Default First try at water adjustment

After hours of study today here on HBT I think I have gotten a decent grasp of water chemistry theory. Here is my water as delivered (from a well in Virginia)
Calcium (ppm) 3
Magnesium (ppm) 4
Alkalinity as CaCO3 25
Sodium (ppm) 6
Chloride (ppm) 0
Sulfate (ppm) 7
Water pH 5.9

Amazingly low values for most components. It is delicious water to drink.
Interesting is the lack of chloride - so even with the low sulfates, the ratio indicates 'high bitterness'.

Based on a really helpful post by Boredatwork, I think that this ratio and the lack of chloride does a lot to explain a flaw in my beers (APAs and IPAs) - they're good, but just a bit raw or bitter, in a non-hoplike way (I confess to being a bit of beer pedophile as well - getting the pipeline filled) and lacking mouthfeel.

So here is what I'm planning to do for tomorrows brew. Add the following salts (this is for the 8 gallons of mash water for 10 gallon batch)
Chalk CaCO3 5
Gypsum CaSO4 *2H2O 4
Calcium Chloride CaCl2*2H2O 0
Epsom Salt MgSO4 *7H2O 3
Baking Soda NaHCO3 2
Canning Salt NaCl 3

resulting in this:
Calcium (ppm) 100
Magnesium (ppm) 14
Alkalinity as CaCO3 145
Sodium (ppm) 63
Chloride (ppm) 60
Sulfate (ppm) 119

I have a feeling that I'm erring on the gentle or tentative side with these adjustments - this certainly isn't matching Burton. But it seems like a reasonable first step.

Now to formulate my recipe for tomorrow - something along the lines of 15% rye, marris otter, OG of 1.060 or a bit less, and 50 IBUs mostly from late additions.

Any feedback would be appreciated.

And thanks to boredatwork, -th-, kaiser, bobby_m, thechemist, saq, and many other for their awesome contributions to this subject in the forum.

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Old 10-11-2009, 05:30 AM   #2
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Sorry for being ignorant about this. I'm very interested in working with water profile too.

What are you adding directly to your mash water to achieve this?

Cheers.

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Old 10-11-2009, 01:59 PM   #3
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Following are the salts that are added to adjust the water

Chalk CaCO3
Gypsum CaSO4 *2H2O
Calcium Chloride CaCl2*2H2O
Epsom Salt MgSO4 *7H2O
Baking Soda NaHCO3
Canning Salt NaCl

Following is link to the relevant chapter in John Palmer's 'How to Brew' which gives a really good introduction to the topic.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-2.html

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Old 10-13-2009, 07:02 AM   #4
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carp you are a lucky man and you have very clean water at hand which will be easy to build with! Because I am anal about water chemistry and beer I would still get it sent off for verification to make sure your chemistry levels are where you expect them to be when you go about messing with your water chemistry.

That being said you need to tailor your water towards the particular properties of your beer with the two basic ones being how dark is your beer and how bitter do you want it to be perceived.

I have created a pretty easy to use spreadsheet that I use to tweak my water profiles, it has a section for inherent properties you can fill out and then its pretty easy peasy adjusting your salts until you get your Residual Alkalinity and SO4:CL ratios locked in (the spreadsheet does this for you) and you can save the profiles for future use. There is a good amount of built-in water profiles there already.

You can get the spreadsheet here which helps you figure these things out.
www.thesaq.net/beer/waterprofile/

My comments on your water profile
All your ion levels are within minimum/maximum recommended specifications. My water profiles tend to be a little lighter on calcium because I try to use minimal levels of chalk as it dissolves very poorly.

Your residual alkalinity (combination of calcium, magnesium and HCO3) is good for beers with an SRM of 11-15. If you want to brew a lighter beer consider bringing your HCO3 level down some and you'll see the optimal SRM come down as well. This is important towards getting your mash pH at an optimal level.

Your SO4:CL ratio is roughly 2:1 which is towards the hoppier/bitter side of things. More sulfates for beers that are more intensely hoppy/bitter and less sulfates/more chlorides for beers that are more malt focused.

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Old 10-13-2009, 07:39 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carp View Post
After hours of study today here on HBT I think I have gotten a decent grasp of water chemistry theory. Here is my water as delivered (from a well in Virginia)
Calcium (ppm) 3
Magnesium (ppm) 4
Alkalinity as CaCO3 25
Sodium (ppm) 6
Chloride (ppm) 0
Sulfate (ppm) 7
Water pH 5.9

Amazingly low values for most components. It is delicious water to drink.
Interesting is the lack of chloride - so even with the low sulfates, the ratio indicates 'high bitterness'.

Based on a really helpful post by Boredatwork, I think that this ratio and the lack of chloride does a lot to explain a flaw in my beers (APAs and IPAs) - they're good, but just a bit raw or bitter, in a non-hoplike way (I confess to being a bit of beer pedophile as well - getting the pipeline filled) and lacking mouthfeel.

So here is what I'm planning to do for tomorrows brew. Add the following salts (this is for the 8 gallons of mash water for 10 gallon batch)
Chalk CaCO3 5
Gypsum CaSO4 *2H2O 4
Calcium Chloride CaCl2*2H2O 0
Epsom Salt MgSO4 *7H2O 3
Baking Soda NaHCO3 2
Canning Salt NaCl 3

resulting in this:
Calcium (ppm) 100
Magnesium (ppm) 14
Alkalinity as CaCO3 145
Sodium (ppm) 63
Chloride (ppm) 60
Sulfate (ppm) 119

I have a feeling that I'm erring on the gentle or tentative side with these adjustments - this certainly isn't matching Burton. But it seems like a reasonable first step.
No one is going to point out he called himself a pedophile?!

Changing your water can definitely be an experiment to be done over time. If you can manage it, you can do 2-3 small batches in one day with identical recipes, just changing the water profile a little in each.
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:32 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies. Saq I will check out your sheet. I have played around with Palmer's and with -TH-s.

My main interest is in brewing slightly darker than standard APAs and IPAs, so the SRM range you describe is exactly where I want to be. And I like lots of hops, so Bitter is also there. However I'm hoping for a bit less better than I have obtained with my unadjusted water, for which the ratio is infinity - 6/0.

I think I also will experiment with a profile tending towards malty, but still for an ale with moderately high hops, e.g. around 60 or so.

Re pedophile - thats BEER pedophile, drinking it will its a bit on the young side. However I am getting pipeline full, now up to 40 gallons in inventory, so should be able to let it age a little more.

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