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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > IPA water recipe - adjusting high bicarbonate water
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Old 08-17-2010, 05:38 PM   #11
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To do a Burton profile is more trouble than it is worth. People don't understand that Mother Nature dissolves limestone by using carbonic acid and wonder why they can't get a good match to published profiles with sulfuric or hydrochloric acid or, in most cases, by just tossing in whatever chalk a spreadsheet (that doesn't understand the concept either) tells them to and hoping it will dissolve in the mash. To closely approach an authentic profile you must calculate the chalk addition recognizing that it will be dissolved by CO2 and then dissolve it with CO2. This is a big PITA but it can be done. I've done it a couple of times in order to brew "authentic" Burton ale to be compared to ale brewed with my well water which has nominal mineral content. A couple of comments on what happened when I did this: 1) as soon as the authentic water hit the HLT and got warmed up a portion of the chalk I had so laboriously dissolved precipitated right back out. 2) People (in the workshop and others) agreed that the Burton water beer was more authentic but that the soft water beer was a much better beer.

I believe that the Burton brewers brewed what they did because that was the water they had. Bass ale isn't brewed with water with anything like the sulfate content of the traditional ale.

I recommend to anyone who will listen (precious few) that they should start with RO water with a tsp calcium chloride per 5 gallons and brew the beer with that to see what they think of it. Then, and only then, should they add some gypsum to get a handle on the effects of sulfate on hops. If they want more sulfate/hops they can then increase the gypsum even more on subsequent brews. If they don't they can decrease or eliminate gypsum.

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Old 08-17-2010, 07:10 PM   #12
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great point on the chalk. i never thought twice about it, but now that you point it out, it's obvious you can't just add any amount and have it dissolve

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Old 08-28-2010, 03:47 AM   #13
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I recommend to anyone who will listen (precious few) that they should start with RO water with a tsp calcium chloride per 5 gallons and brew the beer with that to see what they think of it.
Would you recommend this as a good starting point for most styles?
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Old 08-28-2010, 05:43 AM   #14
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Yes. Maybe half a tsp for Bohemian Pils.

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Old 08-28-2010, 12:35 PM   #15
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Yes. Maybe half a tsp for Bohemian Pils.
And for a stout, still just 1 tsp?

I've been using the various spread sheets and I actually think my beer has gotten worse. Part of it is probably I didn't know about the SO4 number from Ward's lab.

The pH strips read the same no matter what, so I need to invert in a pH meter, I suppose.
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Old 08-28-2010, 02:05 PM   #16
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And for a stout, still just 1 tsp?
Yes, it should work fine for a stout but if your tap water is has alkalinity less than say 100 you ought to be able to use it.

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I've been using the various spread sheets and I actually think my beer has gotten worse. Part of it is probably I didn't know about the SO4 number from Ward's lab.
If you have been adding carbonate in the quantities the spreadsheets call for for darker beers (stouts, porters, bocks, barley wines....) it is probably high mash pH, kettle pH, fermenter pH and plus possible carryover of bicarbonate into the beer that would have been the major detriments. The sulfate factor, even though it is three results in addition of too much sulfate in trying to match a level but it's often not as bad as you might think. For example, if you wanted 100 and your Ward Labs report said you had 20 you would add 80. Since the level as sulfate is 60 you would have 80 + 60 = 140 total "only" a 40% overshoot.

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The pH strips read the same no matter what, so I need to invert in a pH meter, I suppose.
I think you do. They only cost $80 or so these days and even if they only last a couple of years you should know what's going on by then to the point where you don't have to check pH every brew.
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:04 PM   #17
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...I recommend to anyone who will listen (precious few) that they should start with RO water with a tsp calcium chloride per 5 gallons and brew the beer with that to see what they think of it. Then, and only then, should they add some gypsum to get a handle on the effects of sulfate on hops. If they want more sulfate/hops they can then increase the gypsum even more on subsequent brews. If they don't they can decrease or eliminate gypsum.
AJ -

Is the sulfate thing something that could be done a glass at a time after fermentation? I would like to taste the differences side-by-side without the differences due to brewing separate batches.
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Old 09-30-2010, 09:15 PM   #18
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AJ -

Is the sulfate thing something that could be done a glass at a time after fermentation? I would like to taste the differences side-by-side without the differences due to brewing separate batches.
I don't really know. Since, as far as I know, there is no dependence in the isomerization reaction on the amount of sulfate in the wort I'm assuming that sulfate affects the way we perceive the bittering rather than the actual chemistry of the bittering but I could be wrong on that. If you did do a taste test with sulfate additions on some finished beer I think you'd know pretty quickly whether my surmise is correct or not.
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Old 10-01-2010, 02:37 PM   #19
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that is what i assumed too. i think on my next hoppy brew i will do just cacl2 then do some side-by-side tasting with various amounts of added sulfate

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Old 10-01-2010, 06:29 PM   #20
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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...
Adding gypsum has really helped with my hop flavor, much crisper, not nearly as muddled as before. I don't need to add any bicarbonates to my water, I already have plenty. I don't go up to 800ppm though, somewhere around 300

My water looks like this after adjustment. I add gypsum and bit of calcium chloride (for the calcium) in the mash and in the boil kettle
Calcium Magnesium Sodium Chloride Sulfate Alkalinity
(Ca ppm) (Mg ppm) (Na ppm) (Cl ppm) (SO4 ppm) (CaCO3 ppm)
230 27 62 184 334 210
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