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Old 02-05-2013, 04:09 PM   #11
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Thank you Kai. I also saw the effects of high mash and boil pH on your site where you had two different worts (one correct pH, one high) next to each other and I agree with your statetment... the difference is remarkable. Probably not just in appearance either but in taste. I think the bottom line for me is to determine how much dilution should take place (more, possibly up to 90% for pale beers like a Czech Pils and less, maybe 25% for beers in the 7-12 SRM range), make sure my other ion levels are reasonable, make sure the mash/sparge/pre-boil wort pH is correct and then pray to the Gods of beer that everything else is in line. My experience tells me that even amber-colored beers can benefit from a reduction in bicarbonate. Thanks again!
yep. key is to stat with a good mash pH (around 5.3-5.5 is my preference) and keep the sparge water from raising that pH. The later may mean acidification or simply sparging with R/O water.

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Old 02-05-2013, 04:32 PM   #12
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I think bicarbonate's effect of the taste of the beer has more to do with its ability to raise mash and boil pH than the mere presence of bicarbonate ions. At beer pH there are virtually no bicarbonate ions left.
Yes, I agree with that. Proper pH, proper bicarbonate i.e. very little.

As to how to use acid (phosphoric or otherwise) the simplest method is doubtless to just add it in small increments to the water until mash pH is reached. This is before mashing, BTW. If your starting water is at pH 7 or above acidifying to pH 5.5 will remove about 90% of the alkalinity and you can then proceed to use this water as if it were decarbonated i.e. as if you had removed the bicarbonate with to that level by RO dilution. If you use a different acid, for example CRS (which is actually a blend) to take the water to pH 5.5 you will take the alkalinity a little lower. This is because phosphate is itself basic whereas sulfate and chloride are not (or much less so anyway).

I think I mentioned earlier that if the water is high is calcium some may be stripped if phosphoric is used.

Note that if you overshoot i.e. add too much acid you then simply add more water until the pH gets back up to 5.5. Strips are probably good enough for pH determination for this purpose but a meter is better.

If you have RO readily available that's obviously easier as you just take it, add some CaCl2 and CaSO4 and brew (and sauermalz or lactic to get the grains to pH 5.5 or whatver). If you don't acidification by this method may be simpler. No measuring. You will still probably need to add CaCl2, CaSO4 (if you like sulfate) and sauermalz or lactic acid.
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Old 02-05-2013, 04:43 PM   #13
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Yes, I agree with that. Proper pH, proper bicarbonate i.e. very little.

As to how to use acid (phosphoric or otherwise) the simplest method is doubtless to just add it in small increments to the water until mash pH is reached. This is before mashing, BTW. If your starting water is at pH 7 or above acidifying to pH 5.5 will remove about 90% of the alkalinity and you can then proceed to use this water as if it were decarbonated i.e. as if you had removed the bicarbonate with to that level by RO dilution. If you use a different acid, for example CRS (which is actually a blend) to take the water to pH 5.5 you will take the alkalinity a little lower. This is because phosphate is itself basic whereas sulfate and chloride are not (or much less so anyway).

I think I mentioned earlier that if the water is high is calcium some may be stripped if phosphoric is used.

Note that if you overshoot i.e. add too much acid you then simply add more water until the pH gets back up to 5.5. Strips are probably good enough for pH determination for this purpose but a meter is better.

If you have RO readily available that's obviously easier as you just take it, add some CaCl2 and CaSO4 and brew (and sauermalz or lactic to get the grains to pH 5.5 or whatver). If you don't acidification by this method may be simpler. No measuring. You will still probably need to add CaCl2, CaSO4 (if you like sulfate) and sauermalz or lactic acid.
Okay, so here is where it gets mildly fuzzy for me. Bear with me. If I had eight gallons of my filtered tap water (pH 6.6, bicarb 138, Ca 34, Cl 21, SO4 27) and added some sort of acid to it until the pH was 5.5 and then added only pale malt (which should keep the pH in the same area code), that would be the same as diluting to remove the bicarb? If so, how do I know how much bicarb is left after all of that? Also, if I were to do that for a beer that was say, 10-12 SRM, I assume the addition of darker malts would lower the pH into a zone that was too low. I guess I'm having a hard time determining how the addition of acid reduces the bicarb level and by how much. This angle interested me because, if I'm understanding correctly, this would be a way for me to use my filtered tap water without lugging RO or distilled water around. Maybe you could explain it as it might apply to making a soft beer like a Czech Pils. Lower the pH of the water to 5.5, add the pale malts and water to the mash, check the pH, further adjust with lactic acid if necessary, etc.? Also, what does this do to my calcium, chloride and sulfate level and what if I wanted to raise calcium because I'm only at 34ppm to begin with? Hmm, I apologize in advance for the confusion.
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Old 02-05-2013, 05:16 PM   #14
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Ken,

I would not focus at bicarbonate levels as much. It's more about the amount of acid that you have to add to get your mash pH into an acceptable range. For lighter beers you may find that the amount to add may affect the flavor negatively and thus you would be better off when starting out with lower bicarbonate.

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Old 02-05-2013, 06:28 PM   #15
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Okay, so here is where it gets mildly fuzzy for me. Bear with me. If I had eight gallons of my filtered tap water (pH 6.6, bicarb 138, Ca 34, Cl 21, SO4 27)
You've got some magnesium and/or sodium you are not telling me about so I'm putting in 13 mg/L magnesium and 15.25 mg/L magnesium
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...and added some sort of acid to it until the pH was 5.5 and then added only pale malt (which should keep the pH in the same area code), that would be the same as diluting to remove the bicarb?
Not exactly the same, of course. If you add phosphoric acid it would take 32 mL of 10% acid and you would have 21.6 ppm alkalinity left out of the original 113. IOW your alkalinity would have been reduced 81% and your bicarbonate would be at 27 mg/L. You would not have saturated WRT apatite and no calcium would precipitate.

If you used sulfuric acid your alkalinity would be a wee bit lower at 19.8.

While acid gets rid of the bicarbonate (or the lions's share of it) it obviously does not reduce chloride or sulfate or calcium (unless you saturate WRT apatite) and it replaces all the bicarbonate removed with sulfate or phosphates. With RO all ions get diluted by an equal factor and no acid anion(s) is/are added.

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If so, how do I know how much bicarb is left after all of that?
For starters you should be thinking in terms of alkalinity: not bicarbonate, not residual alkalinity. For acidification to pH 5.5 starting from 6.6 all but about 20% of alkalinity is removed. How do you know that? Well you have to do some pretty hairy calculations but I am trying to come up with some curves that include all those for you. Equipped with that set of curves you will use a curve for target pH and follow it to starting pH and read off the percentage of alkalinity not converted.

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Also, if I were to do that for a beer that was say, 10-12 SRM, I assume the addition of darker malts would lower the pH into a zone that was too low.
When I say it is like RO water what I mean is that if you plan your brew as if the alkalinity were 0 as opposed to 112 you won't be far off. That's what I'd do. I'd just use 3% sauermalz and go unless I wanted some extra chloride and sulfate.


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I guess I'm having a hard time determining how the addition of acid reduces the bicarb level and by how much.
How is easy:
HCO3- + HA --> CO2 + H2O + A-

How much is a little harder. That's why I hope to be able to offer curves. There are some out there but they were a first run and are in error. Corrected ones are in the works.

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Originally Posted by kenlenard View Post
This angle interested me because, if I'm understanding correctly, this would be a way for me to use my filtered tap water without lugging RO or distilled water around. Maybe you could explain it as it might apply to making a soft beer like a Czech Pils.
Czech pils would be one case where you would not want to take this approach as the best Boh. Pils is made with the lowest mineral content water possible consistent with having enough calcium to keep the yeast happy and chloride to give it a bit of body.

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Lower the pH of the water to 5.5, add the pale malts and water to the mash, check the pH, further adjust with lactic acid if necessary, etc.?
That is how you would do it.

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Also, what does this do to my calcium, chloride and sulfate level and what if I wanted to raise calcium because I'm only at 34ppm to begin with?
Your calcium, chloride and sulfate levels are unchanged as you have not diluted them (except by the volume of the added acid). With respect to the calcium: you should not try to raise it above 112 mg/L as the solution would be saturated at that point and it would probably just precipitate out.

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Hmm, I apologize in advance for the confusion.
The questions are well put and reasonable ones. To summarize:

You add acid to a chosen mash pH.
You look on a curve to see if your alkalinity reduction is acceptable
You look on another curve to see how much extra calcium you can tolerate.
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Old 02-05-2013, 06:49 PM   #16
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Thank you again. These curves will be very interesting to see. How do you plan to unveil these curves? My suggestion... a Superbowl ad! Cheers and thanks again.

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Old 02-05-2013, 08:40 PM   #17
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Thank you again. These curves will be very interesting to see. How do you plan to unveil these curves?
A preliminary set is out there at http://wetnewf.org/pdfs/alkalinity-reduction-with.html

Take these with a grain of salt as I know there are errors!

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My suggestion... a Superbowl ad!
Well, yes. That's what I had in mind! As the site is hosted by GoDaddy I thought I'd see if they wanted me to do one of their ads.


If you aren't chuckling at this point see

http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c4#...an-godaddy.cnn
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:17 PM   #18
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You will still probably need to add CaCl2, CaSO4 (if you like sulfate) and sauermalz or lactic acid.
This is an interesting statement. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of an overuse of sulfate. I have no problem adding it to a beer where I would like to see the hops pop a little bit but it occurs to me that it's easy to overdo it and it seems like a preference like anything else. My preference on sulfate is similar to my preference with hops... they should be in the equation but not necessarily a giant part of it. I know people love their hops but I prefer balance on the hops and the water profile. Great stuff guys! Thanks so much for the help.
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:45 PM   #19
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You are in a minority but not alone. Most craft brew/home brew afficionados seem to want hops hops and more hops. I'm associated with a brewpub where the guy is an excellent Kölsch brewer, has gotten medals at GABF for his Kölsch's etc but the patrons don't by them (and they are good, believe me). They buy his insanely hopped stuff. Whatever they'll buy is OK with me (and him) so that's fine but not everyone likes beer that way. I'm one of them.

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Old 02-05-2013, 11:05 PM   #20
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This is an interesting statement. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a fan of an overuse of sulfate. I have no problem adding it to a beer where I would like to see the hops pop a little bit but it occurs to me that it's easy to overdo it and it seems like a preference like anything else. My preference on sulfate is similar to my preference with hops... they should be in the equation but not necessarily a giant part of it. I know people love their hops but I prefer balance on the hops and the water profile. Great stuff guys! Thanks so much for the help.
Ken, I'm going to try and digest the great information here and regurgitate my simplified layman's response.

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Ken,

I would not focus at bicarbonate levels as much. It's more about the amount of acid that you have to add to get your mash pH into an acceptable range. For lighter beers you may find that the amount to add may affect the flavor negatively and thus you would be better off when starting out with lower bicarbonate.

Kai

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I think I mentioned earlier that if the water is high is calcium some may be stripped if phosphoric is used.

Note that if you overshoot i.e. add too much acid you then simply add more water until the pH gets back up to 5.5. Strips are probably good enough for pH determination for this purpose but a meter is better.

If you have RO readily available that's obviously easier as you just take it, add some CaCl2 and CaSO4 and brew (and sauermalz or lactic to get the grains to pH 5.5 or whatver). If you don't acidification by this method may be simpler. No measuring. You will still probably need to add CaCl2, CaSO4 (if you like sulfate) and sauermalz or lactic acid.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
While acid gets rid of the bicarbonate (or the lions's share of it) it obviously does not reduce chloride or sulfate or calcium (unless you saturate WRT apatite) and it replaces all the bicarbonate removed with sulfate or phosphates. With RO all ions get diluted by an equal factor and no acid anion(s) is/are added.
Because of these reasons and because you brew a lot of lighter colored lagers I still think the simplest way out is to use either all RO (assuming your local supplier straightens out their filter) or distilled and then make some small Calcium salt additions as needed. This will save you from trying to deal with how much residual carbonates are left after dilution as well as any SO4 problems or excess acid causing precipitation of Calcium or intruding on the beer's flavor. Yes you will have to lug the acquired water back to the house but you will be almost certain, after adjustment, that the water is where you want it for the beer, especially for the upcoming Czech Pils.
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