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Old 02-01-2013, 11:31 AM   #1
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Default Less dilution, more acid - or - more dilution, more salts?

Hi guys,

I'm working on learning as much about mash water chemistry as I can before I dive into creating a water profile for my next batch. I seem to be getting differing opinions on acids vs. salts.

In my case, for the IPA I'm going to be brewing, I have less minerals in my base water than what I need. I would have to add 5.8g gypsum to my mash and 7.4g to my sparge, as well as .7g epsom to my mash and .9g to my sparge to raise the minerals to the desired levels (based on Bru'n Water's Pale Ale profile). However, without diluting, I will need to add 1.8mL of lactic acid to my mash, and 4.2mL to my sparge water.

If I decided to dilute my water with say 25% distilled water, I would have to add 6.3g gypsum to my mash and 8.1g to my sparge, 1.2g epsom to my mash and 1.6g to my sparge, and .5g calcium chloride to my mash and .7g to my sparge to raise the minerals to the desired levels. With diluting, I will only need to add .7mL of lactic acid to my mash, and 3.2mL to my sparge water.

So, if I don't dilute, I end up with 14.8g of salts and 6mL of lactic acid total. With the diluted water, I end up with 18.4g of salts and 3.9mL of lactic acid.

Anyways.... what's better? More acids or more salts? To dilute or not to dilute?

Any help would be appreciated!

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Old 02-01-2013, 11:59 AM   #2
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Can you provide your water profile? Assuming your water is pretty good to start, and it sounds like it is, I would probably not dilute. Although I would probably skip the MgSO4. Malt has enough magnisium is it. More calcium is better for most water I have seen (again, it depends on what you have)

Also the sparge acid additions seem quite high. The spread sheets don't seem to work well for my grist, and it might be the same for you. It seems to be more reliable to dough in, and then measure pH.

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Old 02-01-2013, 05:24 PM   #3
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Brewing a hoppy beer is now about the only time I recommend adding magnesium to brewing water. I feel its beneficial to the flavors you want in a hoppy ale. You don't need to add it to other beers. But if added at very low levels, it doesn't detract.

Regarding which to go...more acid or more minerals...it depends. If using lactic, then you are limited in how much acid you can use without taste effects. Bru'n Water allows you to see what the amount of bicarbonate you are neutralizing by looking at the negative bicarbonate reading on the acid addition line of the Water Adjustment sheet. The taste threshold for lactate in beer is about 400 ppm, but some yeasts excrete more lactate than others. I like to keep the lactate to 200 ppm or less. That is equal to the -bicarb value. So, if your water has a lot of alkalinity, you may need to dilute and add the minerals back instead of just neutralizing the excess bicarb. Moving to phosphoric acid avoids that limit since its relatively flavor-free in beer.

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Old 02-01-2013, 07:43 PM   #4
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If you have to add minerals and lactic acid I suspect that your water is high in bicarbonate. But if its high in bicarbonate what are the metal ions that are elevated?

Check out this water calculator: http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-chemistry-and-brewing-water-calculator for your brewing water calculation needs. It also shows the lactic acid additions as an equivalent % acid malt in the grist.

Kai

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Old 02-01-2013, 07:53 PM   #5
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How many ml of %88 lactic is 200ppm in 10 gallons?

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Old 02-01-2013, 08:59 PM   #6
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Thank you to all of you for your helpful replies!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
Brewing a hoppy beer is now about the only time I recommend adding magnesium to brewing water. I feel its beneficial to the flavors you want in a hoppy ale. You don't need to add it to other beers. But if added at very low levels, it doesn't detract.

Regarding which to go...more acid or more minerals...it depends. If using lactic, then you are limited in how much acid you can use without taste effects. Bru'n Water allows you to see what the amount of bicarbonate you are neutralizing by looking at the negative bicarbonate reading on the acid addition line of the Water Adjustment sheet. The taste threshold for lactate in beer is about 400 ppm, but some yeasts excrete more lactate than others. I like to keep the lactate to 200 ppm or less. That is equal to the -bicarb value. So, if your water has a lot of alkalinity, you may need to dilute and add the minerals back instead of just neutralizing the excess bicarb. Moving to phosphoric acid avoids that limit since its relatively flavor-free in beer.
Does the –bicarb level include the –bicarb level added to the sparge water? If not, and I use the –bicarb listed on the mash adjustment sheet to calculate the total:

Not Diluted:
Mash –bicarb = -76.4 (1.8mL) lactic acid
Sparge –bicarb = 4.2mL (calculated from sparge sheet) / 1.8mL * -76.4 = -178.3
Total –bicarb = -76.4 + -178.3 = -254.7

This –bicarb of -254.7 would be over your recommended 200pm level.

Diluted (25%):
Mash –bicarb = -28.6 (.7mL) lactic acid
Sparge –bicarb = 3.2mL (calculated from sparge sheet) / .7mL * -28.6 = -130.7
Total –bicarb = -28.6 + -130.7 = -159.3

Would this be right? If so, I’ll go with the diluted water for this next batch. Thank you for sharing your recommended max lactate level. I don’t want my beer to taste too minerally (trying to reach the high sulfate level in your Pale Ale profile), but I certainly don’t want to taste the lactic acid.

Also, since I have this opportunity to speak with someone so knowledgeable… when the sparge acid additions are calculated on the spare acidification sheet, which is then transferred over to the adjustment summary sheet, I notice that the salt additions are not figured in to lower the sparge pH… just the acid is. I’m concerned that if I add the recommended acid to my sparge water, which according to the sheet will drop my pH down to 5.85, the additions of the salts will drop the pH even lower. Should I be concerned? I’m purposely staying on the high end of the recommended range of 5.5 – 6.0 to account for the unknown. I don’t have a pH tester so I’m banking on the spreadsheet being accurate.

Thank you again for taking the time to help me! Your spreadsheet is truly amazing!


Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodlandBrew View Post
Can you provide your water profile? Assuming your water is pretty good to start, and it sounds like it is, I would probably not dilute. Although I would probably skip the MgSO4. Malt has enough magnisium is it. More calcium is better for most water I have seen (again, it depends on what you have)

Also the sparge acid additions seem quite high. The spread sheets don't seem to work well for my grist, and it might be the same for you. It seems to be more reliable to dough in, and then measure pH.
Thanks for the advice about the MgSO4 addition. My base water already has 14ppm Mg and the profile calls for 18ppm Mg, so there really is no reason to add. But if I dilute, I will probably just add a little to get closer to the profile.

I guess I have to go out and invest in a pH meter one of these days. I’m currently just trying to shoot for the middle in the acceptable pH ranges of mash and sparge to leave room for error incase Bru’N Water happens to be off a little (due to my own error I'm sure). Obviously, I won't be able to know if I'm off without a pH meter… I am certainly crossing my fingers that it’s pretty accurate.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
If you have to add minerals and lactic acid I suspect that your water is high in bicarbonate. But if its high in bicarbonate what are the metal ions that are elevated?

Check out this water calculator: http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-chemistry-and-brewing-water-calculator for your brewing water calculation needs. It also shows the lactic acid additions as an equivalent % acid malt in the grist.

Kai
Yes, my base bicarbonate is high.

Calcium (Ca) 59.0
Magnesium (Mg) 14.0
Sodium (Na) 19.0
Potassium (K) 2.0
Iron (Fe) 0.0
Nitrate (NO3) 14.6
Nitrite (NO2) 0.0
Fluoride (F) 0.0
Sulfate (SO4) 36.0
Chloride (Cl) 44.0
Carbonate (CO3) 0.2
Bicarbonate (HCO3) 185.0
Alkalinity 152
pH 7.4
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grathan View Post
How many ml of %88 lactic is 200ppm in 10 gallons?
200ppm is 200E-6 is 0.02%
88%/0.02% is 0.0227%
10 gallons x 0.0227% is 0.00227 gallons
0.00227 gallons * 3785.41178 is 8.60 ml

So that's the recommended flavor safe threshold?
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Old 02-01-2013, 10:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodlandBrew View Post
200ppm is 200E-6 is 0.02%
88%/0.02% is 0.0227%
10 gallons x 0.0227% is 0.00227 gallons
0.00227 gallons * 3785.41178 is 8.60 ml

So that's the recommended flavor safe threshold?
If that is the calculation, it's definately good to know... I'll have to add that to a separate sheet on Bru'n to see where my lactic acid limit should be. Do you know if that amount would be the maximum total amount added to the total water (not including boil off, trub, etc...)? Or, would it be the recommended amount for the post boil volume? So, if 10gal is my total water, and 5.9gal is my post boil, which one would I use in the formula?

Thanks!
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:25 AM   #9
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The 200 ppm value is a SWAG based on the reported taste threshold of 400 ppm for lactate in beer as reported in Malting and Brewing Science. There are several factors that influence my recommendation to provide a factor of safety between that reported taste threshold and the added lactic acid quantity. The first is that different people have differing sensitivity to lactate taste. I assume that 400 ppm is the average taster. There are super-tasters that would have a much lower tolerance. The second reason is that differing yeasts produce lactate or lactic acid in their fermentation. So there would be some lactate in beer without the brewer adding lactic acid.

With regard to the OP's alkalinity, it is similar to the level I had to deal with when I was brewing in Tallahassee. I didn't note a lactic flavor, but maybe I'm not sensitive to it. The best work-around may be to use phosphoric acid or possibly perform a comparison of those acids in successive brews.

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Old 02-02-2013, 01:58 AM   #10
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Martin,

My lactate should be well under 200ppm, so I think I am safe. However, in regards to the calculation of -bicarb in Bru'n, is that for the mash or both the mash and the sparge? I believe I know how to calculate the total -bicarb/lactate (as shown in my earlier post), do you think that is the correct way of doing it? Also, the sparge acidification sheet doesn't figure in the pH drop due to the salt additions in the sparge, only the acid. Should I be concerned? How much should I figure on for the pH drop? I am thinking anywhere from .05-.23 depending on the salt additions.

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