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Old 03-10-2009, 04:40 PM   #1
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Default IPA water recipe - adjusting high bicarbonate water

I've gone around a bit with water chemistry on the forums before. I found some good spreadsheets (one done by BearCat which was really nice) but I think I'm going to settle into using Palmer's updated spreadsheet (It wasn't on his site when I read through the whole thing back on '07)

Here's the link

http://howtobrew.com/section3/Palmers_Mash_RA_ver2d.xls

This really is well made, and what I love about it is he tells us the password so we can change it to fit our needs (not that I've done that yet).

Anyway on to my question. I'm trying to replicate Burton on Trent's water. I have a high bicarbonate level (383 ppm...) which is close to their bicarbonates. To adjust my water to be similar I basically add a fair amount of Gypsum, which gets me close (though I have more Chloride than them 121 vs. 16). The thing I'm wondering is palmer's writing about sulfate and the stated values in Burton On Trent's water

Quote:
At concentrations over 400 ppm however, the resulting bitterness can become astringent and unpleasant, and at concentrations over 750 ppm, it can cause diarrhea. Sulfate is only weakly alkaline and does not contribute to the overall alkalinity of water.
How to Brew - By John Palmer - Reading a Water Report

My question here is that he reports Burton On Trent's water to be 820ppm, which would mean that everyone who drinks their water has diarrhea and the beer is astringent and unpleasant? I doubt this so I am wondering why 820ppm makes a very good IPA...
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Old 03-10-2009, 10:27 PM   #2
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First I would not be too concerned with hitting exact numbers when shooting for a specific water profile. Frankly you will never be able to do it and as long as you are "in the ballpark" everything will be just fine. I have never seen any other comments on levels of sulphate @ 400ppm+. I can only give you my empirical data that in the many dozens of IPA I have brewed over the years with water adjusted to a Burton profile that problem has never been encountered by myself nor have I ever had a report of a problem from anybody drinking my beer.

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Old 03-11-2009, 01:05 AM   #3
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Sulfate is the key to an IPA. It makes the hops shine through. With proper water adjustment you can get an IPA where you can pick out each hop as the beer moves across your palate. Go with the Burton upon Trent water profile.

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Old 03-11-2009, 12:26 PM   #4
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Thanks guys!

I always thought that I couldn't do light beers with my water (bicarbonates off the chart) but Burton upon Trent has the same bicarbs, just a crapload more calcium and sulfate. Luckly that is exactly the ions in Gypsum so I can adjust my water with that. I won't be able to get all the way up to their sulfate level, and I do have more chloride than their water, but I should be able to get close enough (as mentioned it is not anything you can get perfect).

Now for a pilsner I still need to buy distlled/RO water, but I can deal with that.

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Old 03-13-2009, 02:54 PM   #5
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Good thread! I'm so frustrated with water reports, I wish i'd never had mine tested. To be honest I have no desire to delve into the science of water, it would be nice to have a base water reports one for low, medium and high srm beers. I read somewhere that even though the Burton upon Trent is good for Ipa's it was overly high on some of the levels.

That's why a base level for certain styles would be a great thing! Hint, hint.
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Old 03-13-2009, 04:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Sulfate is the key to an IPA.
Sulphate alone or the Sulphate:Chloride ratio? Palmer talks about how the ratio affects the crispness/maltiness respectively and his spreadsheet shows high Sulphate:Chloride ratio as 'Bitter to Very Bitter' and low ratio as 'Malty and Very Malty'.

But I've never done any tests or anything...just sort of taken it as gospel and went with it. Truly asking here.

I've always been a leetle skeered to try BOT water or Dublin water profiles...so extreme. Then again I'll make an uber-soft Pils water and think nothing of it...obv I'm biased.
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Old 03-13-2009, 07:48 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
Sulphate alone or the Sulphate:Chloride ratio? Palmer talks about how the ratio affects the crispness/maltiness respectively and his spreadsheet shows high Sulphate:Chloride ratio as 'Bitter to Very Bitter' and low ratio as 'Malty and Very Malty'.

But I've never done any tests or anything...just sort of taken it as gospel and went with it. Truly asking here.

I've always been a leetle skeered to try BOT water or Dublin water profiles...so extreme. Then again I'll make an uber-soft Pils water and think nothing of it...obv I'm biased.
Your right, it's not sulfate alone, it has to do with the chlorine to, and every other ion kind of. But in everything I've read and experienced sulfate is very key to getting that multi-dimensional IPA.

When I get home I'll look some stuff up in Brew Science if you want... or you could download it.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:04 AM   #8
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The reason Burton on Trent made light beer is because they couldn't do anything else well - they were limited by their water! The 800+ppm thing is similar to the numbers I have, but that's well above what you'd need. Think 'saturation' levels - you'd only need half that in order to accomplish what you want.

Sulphate increases detectable bitterness, so it your beer has a greater, fuller bitter taste to it. Without a balance of chloride though, it becomes icky and almost 'coats' your tongue - there IS such a thing as too much.

For style-appropriate levels, I posted some general guidelines in my 'pH and water treatment' thread - it's not very pretty right now, but I'll see if I can find something easier to read.

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Old 10-28-2009, 04:55 AM   #9
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Another note when trying to adjust your water to a classic profile: we don't necessarily have any idea what those breweries are doing to their water once they pull it from the municipal system. From this information we may be able to understand why certain styles are indigenous to certain areas, and what the overall function of certain minerals is and their ratio to each other. But we can't duplicate a profile and expect our beer to mirror that of the classic city.

Palmer does nail it pretty well in his book. But there is a lot of room to tinker with each specific water profile. You and I could brew the exact same beer and end up with a noticeably different result. It's the final frontier of brewing...?

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Old 08-17-2010, 04:19 PM   #10
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conpewter, did you ever do this? how did it turn out? i'm looking to do a burton profile but it just seems like so much...

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