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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > just a few questions...
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Old 03-25-2011, 03:48 PM   #1
Zeppman
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Default just a few questions...

Hey everyone,

I've been brewing for a few years now and figured I'd start exploring water chemistry. My beer hasn't been bad, but I know there is room for some improvement. So I've been doing a lot of reading, talking to a guy at my local LHBS, and I obtained a copy of the Chicago water report. Below is a pic of the EZcalculator with some information added. I chose a very simple recipe to start off with. 6.5lbs 2-row, 6.5lbs pale wheat, 1oz hops at 60min, Safale-04 yeast w/starter. You can see the calculator below with the Chicago water info, my recipe, and my salts, lactic acid, and acidulated malt additions.

My questions are:
1)First off... am I on the right path? I feel like I'm taking shots in the dark here since I have never done this before and don't have any brewing friends who have.
2)For the salts, per the calculator, I add 1g of CaCl2 and MgSO4 to the mash, and 1.2g of each to my sparge? the calculator says (add to boil)... So I was just curious what I add it to.. the sparge water that sparges the grain, or the boil?
3)Guy at the LHBS said to add the Lactic acid to the sparge water, not the mash. He said this is because I'm already adjusting the mash water with the acidulated malt and the salts... Which is it? mash or sparge water?
4) For the "Flavor Ions" (Results on the calculator) I have no idea if I am correct... I just adjusted things until I got in the recommended ranges and the style said "balanced".
5) where can I find MgSO4? The brew store did not have it.

Thank you all for helping another new guy. It's very appreciated.

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Old 03-25-2011, 05:19 PM   #2
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Lactic acid is added to the mash water (the spreadsheet indicates this - can't lower mash pH without being in the mash). You can find my thread on my recent experiences with this spreadsheet, but for me my spreadsheet target will now be a pH of 5.45. This is because my adjusted mash pH @80F was measured at 5.23 when I set my target to 5.2, which implies my mash pH was actually 5.0 or so at mash temps. Way too low. Target mash pH at room temp should be 5.5-5.8, which equates to a mash pH of 5.2-5.5. Not sure why this spreadsheet doesn't indicate that it's mash pH at room temp, but it should.

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Old 03-25-2011, 05:21 PM   #3
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Ok... So If the mash pH is at 5.2-5.5 and then you sparge with "untreated" water, won't that have some negative effects on what I'm trying to accomplish?

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Old 03-25-2011, 05:31 PM   #4
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You can adjust your sparge for pH (to keep it < 6 I believe?) if you are concerned about leaching out tannins, but the goal of the spreadsheet is to get your mash pH right. Whether you adjust your sparge or not depends on how you sparge. For batch sparging you don't really have to adjust your sparge water IMHO, but if you do a traditional sparge it's always a good idea to adjust your sparge pH with a little lactic acid.

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:11 PM   #5
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I always advise not worrying about matching to or balancing anything when first starting out. There is a Primer in the Stickies that is written to address questions exactly like these. It says, in a nutshell, dilute the water down until it is "soft". Add 1 tsp calcium chloride per 5 gal and, if you like sulfate's influence some gypsum. Add a couple percent sauermalz to the grist. Brew the beer and taste. Then brew again with a different sulfate level and compare. Adjust levels of chloride and sulfate until satisfied with taste.

You don't really need magnesium sulfate but if you really want it it is sold as Epsom Salts at any pharmacy.

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:13 PM   #6
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If it were me (my water has a similar alkalinity @ 115 ppm as CaCO3) I would dilute with distilled/RO and then add CaCl and possibly Gypsum to get my Calcium back up in the 50ppm range. Doing this will reduce the amount of lactic or sauermalz that you need. I think with the amount of lactic/sauermalz you need with your undiluted water you're getting into the range where it might impact flavor. I also wouldn't add any Epsom (MgSO4, available at any grocery/drug store), there is sufficient Magnesium in the malt and if you want sulphate, get that from Gypsum (which will add Calcium which you will need anyway).

I would add all salts to the mash water only, then sparge with 100% distilled/RO. Add enough Calcium to the mash to get a final water profile (after adding sparge water) of ~50 ppm Calcium. Others like to treat all the water but for me that's more of a PITA. And this way you get the 'extra' Calcium in the mash where it's needed more (i.e. the mash water profile will have more Calcium than your final water profile and it's the final water profile that is driving the amount of Calcium you add).

In any case, I wouldn't sparge with that water untreated unless it was a tiny amount of sparge water. And you have a lot of sparge water there.

I wouldn't worry too much about the 'Malty/Balanced/Bitter' stuff regarding Chloride and Sulphate except for now I'd steer clear of the 'bitter' end.

Basically, I'd use primer water (from the water primer sticky at the top of this forum) but made to suit my system/preferences.

EDIT: AJ posted as I was typing; he's the guy for brewing water help.

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Old 03-25-2011, 06:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpanishCastleAle View Post
... primer water..
I like that. Think I'll head on over to the trademark office.
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Old 03-25-2011, 06:34 PM   #8
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OK, I was trying to avoid having to go to the store to purchase water (Or getting a RO filter), but it seems that I should go that route? I did read the primer, I was just trying to get decent results with water straight out of my tap (through a charcoal filter).

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