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Old 01-16-2015, 04:20 PM   #1
TheHopfather
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Default Help With My IPAs - Water Issue?

I've been trying to brew up a nice, hoppy West Coast style IPA and have been disappointed with the results. I can make a beer that tastes and smells like hops but they are all missing the bitter, kick you in your teeth, hops flavor that commercial IPA's have. I've started using commercial clone recipes from Can You Brew It with the same results, I am starting to wonder if it is my water that is the issue. My water report looks like this;

CA - 60
Mg - 15
NA - 6
S04 - 50
CL - 8
HC03 - 150
Ph - 7.7

I consider myself to still be a brewing noob (brewing 1 year now, skipped extract, went all grain from day 1), but I've got the basics down at this point (process, sanitation, ferm temps, consistency). I have just been using filtered tap water and doing nothing else to my water (I thought I should start making consistently good beer before mucking around with my water). IPA's have to by my favorite style and not being able to replicate that hoppy "punch" I'm looking for in my beers has become frustrating. Any thoughts? I've been told my water profile is great for dark beers and little else, I've also been told by local brewers that they can brew great examples of every style with this water. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 01-16-2015, 05:24 PM   #2
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Taste is obviously subjective, but;

Most people find that a lower bicarbonate and higher sulfate levels will give a much more pronounced bitterness.

If you mixed your tap water with some RO water (or bottled from the store) about 50/50 and added some gypsum, you'll likely notice a difference.

Alternatively, if your beer isn't bitter enough, you can always up the bittering hops. eg if you are targeting 60IBU currently, try 90IBU or even 120IBU.

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Old 01-16-2015, 06:03 PM   #3
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Sulfate levels accentuate the hops. You've got 50 ppm there. Some people (like me!) like their sulfate levels to be as high as 300 ppm in hoppy beers, others like a little less.

Try adding a pinch of gypsum to a glass of your IPA, stir it in, and give it a taste. Then add more and try again. You might find that's the thing that's been missing.

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Old 01-16-2015, 06:41 PM   #4
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I've been told that my water has "temporary hardness". I take that to mean that I can pre-boil my water to reduce bicarbonate by about 1/2. However I've also read that doing so will remove all of my calcium, would diluting my tap water with RO water be the better plan in this case?

How much bicarbonate should I be shooting for in my water? Do I need to worry about the rest of the minerals becoming too diluted since my bicarbonate level is so high? Or should I just dilute and worry about bumping my sulfate back up to a high enough level and not worry about the rest?

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Old 01-16-2015, 07:10 PM   #5
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What are you using for hops? That is obviously key - regardless of water. If I want a BIG IPA I will get 50IBU's at least early on in bittering. Maybe some more around 10 minutes. 3-5 ounces at flame out and allow for a 30-45 minute hopstand at 180 degrees. Another 3-6 ounces dry hop.

That said, your water is not ideal for IPA's. I shoot for low bicarbonate..... around 40 or so because that is just enough to get me in the 5.4 pH range for my mash.

Here is what has been my "go to" IPA profile for the last 6 months or so.

90% RO water/10% filtered Tap for both mash and sparge water(I have 260 bicarbonate - so you might be able to go 75-80% RO).

1.3 grams of gypsum per gallon of mash and sparge water
.2 grams of CaCl per gallon of mash and sparge water

I put another 2 grams (total) of gypsum directly in the boil (6.5 gallon finished batch size.)

This gets me to the followning #'s in the mash:
pH = 5.4
Ca = 100
Sul = 200
Chlor = 30
Bicarb = 40
Mg and Na = <10

The extra gypsum in the boil kicks the sulfate up to 240-260 range about.

This has dramatically improved my IPA's (along with the increased hopping, late hops,hopstands, etc.)

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Old 01-16-2015, 07:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHopfather View Post
I've been told that my water has "temporary hardness". I take that to mean that I can pre-boil my water to reduce bicarbonate by about 1/2. However I've also read that doing so will remove all of my calcium, would diluting my tap water with RO water be the better plan in this case?

How much bicarbonate should I be shooting for in my water? Do I need to worry about the rest of the minerals becoming too diluted since my bicarbonate level is so high? Or should I just dilute and worry about bumping my sulfate back up to a high enough level and not worry about the rest?
The common way to up sulfates is with gypsum. That has calcium too.

Personally, I think it's almost always easier to dilute than to boil and decant, but both work.
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Old 01-16-2015, 07:57 PM   #7
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You're pretty spot on Braufessor. I just plugged my numbers into Bru'N Water and it is damn near identical to what you've said.

80% RO & 20% Tap water + 1.3 g of gypsum/gal gets me;

pH 5.6
Ca - 92.7
Sul - 202.5
Chlor - 4.8 (<---is this too low?)
Bicarb - 42.8
Mg & Na - <10

My latest IPA was a Stone IPA clone put out by Stone itself. It calls for Magnum & Perle at 90 min for 23.3 & 19.9 IBU's respectively (43.2 total @ 90). It then calls for 36 IBU's of Centennial at 15 min and a big dry hop. The beer ended up tasting like hops but it was missing that big bitter kick I'm looking for.

billl - whoops! Of course gypsum has additional calcium in it, not sure why that didn't click for me. The black art of water science is confusing. Thanks for pointing that out.

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Old 01-16-2015, 08:00 PM   #8
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Default Help With My IPAs - Water Issue?

You can add a touch of 88% lactic acid solution or some aciduated malt to get that pH down a touch too. 5.6 is a hair too high.

EDIT: you can add some calcium chloride to up the chloride level. That will, of course, increase the calcium. If the calcium gets too high, you can sub some of the gypsum for Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate) to get the sulfate without increasing calcium. I think Bru'n Water recommends a maximum of 18 or so ppm of magnesium, so don't go too nuts with the Epsom salts.

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Old 01-16-2015, 08:02 PM   #9
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Magnum is a really smooth bittering hop. I like it, but if you are going for more of a slap in the face, you can do columbus or chinook.

Another note, if you bag your hops in any way, you might not be getting the calculated IBU.

Also, the perceived bitterness is greatly impacted by how dry the beer is. You can try mashing at a lower temp and/or adding some simple sugar to dry it out.

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Old 01-16-2015, 08:07 PM   #10
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This^.

I like the slap-in-the-face bitterness, so my house IPA recipe uses 2 oz. of Columbus at 60, and I mash at 148.

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