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Kaiser 01-30-2013 11:31 AM

A New Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator
 
When I started helping Brewer’s Friend as a technical adviser I couldn’t help but notice that the mash pH predicted by its brewing water calculator was way off. Since I have done extensive work on brewing water and mash chemistry already I took this as an opportunity to develop a new Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator from scratch. The goal was to build something that provides a simple and intuitive user interface yet implements the underlying chemistry to at a level of accuracy that is generally not done in brewing water calculators. In fact the only calculator that goes to that extent is A.J deLange’s NUBWS (Nearly Universal Brewing Water Spreadsheet).

Since Brewer’s Friend is an online recipe calculator the new calculator would also become an online tool. This worked very well in its favor since it is very cumbersome to model complex systems in spreadsheets. PHP, or any other programming language for that matter, makes that type of modeling much easier. In addition to that modern web browser technology makes it simple to create dynamic forms that can readily adjust the form to only asking the user for information that is actually needed based on the context.

That was 3 months ago and after many long nights of coding, re-coding, testing and even running more mash pH experiments version 1.0 has finally been released and is available on Brewer’s Friend.

When you first open the calculator it presents itself like any other basic water with sections for source water, salt additions, grist, mash pH and final water report following this flow chart:

http://braukaiser.com/blog/wp-conten...UseDiagram.png

Flow chart for basic use of the calculator
But that’s not all. For those who need want to do more complex water treatment calculations, the full flow chart looks more like this:

http://braukaiser.com/blog/wp-conten...UseDiagram.png


The first release features makes these features available:
  • Blending of two water sources
  • Bicarbonate/carbonate content can be set from either alkalinity or bicarbonate. pH can also be entered for increased accuracy
  • Electrical balance (ion balance) of the source water
  • Simple GH&KH measurements can be used as a crude way of specifying the source water.
  • Report of basic and advanced water parameters of the source water. Among the advanced properties are temporary/permanent hardness and CO2 partial pressure
  • supports all major salts (including magnesium chloride) as well as the hydroxides slaked lime and lye
  • Alkalinity reduction through boiling and slaked lime. These are features that rely on a more accurate implementation of the water’s carbo system
  • Wide range of supported acids including the less commonly used citric, tartaric and acetic acid.
  • Salt and acid additions can be made to all water or only the strike (mash) water
  • A different water source can be used for sparge water. In most cases that might be reverse osmosis water when the tap water is suitable for mashing.
  • Salt additions to sparge water or kettle
  • Sparge water acidification with a wide range of acids.
  • Detailed report of the treated mash water
  • Support for undissolved chalk.
  • Grist pH properties can be estimated from beer color or malt bill
  • Mash pH prediction based on balancing the various weak and strong acid systems that might be present (carbo system, weak acids and grist)
  • overall water report based on the mash and sparge water profile
  • target water comparison of the overall water report

For now this tool is only available as a stand-alone calculator but Brewer’s Friend is planning to integrate it into the recipe editor. This will eliminate duplicate entry of the beer’s malt bill. It will also allow the user to use saved source water profile(s).

Go ahead and give it a try. If you have feedback, positive or negative, please let me know:


Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator


In subsequent posts I’m planning to write more about some of the discoveries I made while writing this tool and how it’s mash pH prediction does compared to actual mash pH data that I have.

beergutbrew 01-30-2013 01:20 PM

I wish the Palmer/Kaminski book would hurry up and get released, but this new update will help a lot!!

I am having fits, trying to brew a dark hoppy beer with my brewing water.

Thanks

Kaiser 01-30-2013 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by beergutbrew (Post 4843488)
I wish the Palmer/Kaminski book would hurry up and get released, but this new update will help a lot!!

The book is coming along as far as I know. One of the challenges is that there are many unanswered questions and once you answer one question a few more pop up.

Kai

Hermit 01-30-2013 02:20 PM

Just looked it over and played with it some. Right now I have only DH/KH and water pH to go from. As I indicated in another thread my KH seems borked. I got 2 in my tap water, my RO water and my RO waste water. What I just did was enter my DH and pH then adjusted the KH until I got the mash pH I measured last time. I made my adjustments from there. Since I'll brew later today I'll test it out and see how I fare. I'm 50/50 on adding to the mash or the boil since I was right around 5.4 in the mash last time though. (same recipe) My calcium is low and I have to bring it up but not for mash purposes.

WoodlandBrew 01-30-2013 02:31 PM

very nice work. I'm looking forward to trying this out on my next brew. Is it safe to assume that all pH values are taken at ambient temperatures instead of mash temperature?

Kaiser 01-30-2013 02:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WoodlandBrew (Post 4843784)
very nice work. I'm looking forward to trying this out on my next brew. Is it safe to assume that all pH values are taken at ambient temperatures instead of mash temperature?

yes. I'll make a note of that in the next release. Thanks for bringing this up.

Kai

Kaiser 01-30-2013 02:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Hermit (Post 4843741)
Just looked it over and played with it some. Right now I have only DH/KH and water pH to go from.

you mean GH&KH? DH, or better written as dH, refers to a hardness used by Gemans (Deutsche Haerte) and could be the unit of both GH and KH.


Quote:

I got 2 in my tap water, my RO water and my RO waste water. What I just did was enter my DH and pH then adjusted the KH until I got the mash pH I measured last time.
How much did you have to adjust it?

Kai

Hermit 01-30-2013 03:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Kaiser (Post 4843832)
you mean GH&KH? DH, or better written as dH, refers to a hardness used by Gemans (Deutsche Haerte) and could be the unit of both GH and KH.




How much did you have to adjust it?

Kai

I use an aquarium test kit for now. Still waiting to here back from the city since we have reservoir water I don't want to be sending off samples every month. But, basically I raised KH from 2 dH to 3dH and that agreed well enough with the pH reading I got from mash last time. I'm doing the same recipe. Since untreated water gave me a mash pH of just a shade over 5.4 I'm thinking of just adding my calcium supplements to the kettle and not messing with the mash for this brew.

Using the balanced profile throwing in 2 grams each of calcium chloride and gypsum drives my pH down to 5.3 and still leaves the profile lacking according to the 'basic' profile.
Code:

          Ca+2        Mg+2        Na+        SO4-2        Cl-        HCO       

Actual        82.9        7.7        0.0        59.0        51.0        9.619       
                                                         
Delta        7.9        2.7        -40.0        -21.0        -24.0        -100.4

Two grams of baking soda brings me closer to 5.5

Code:

        Ca+2        Mg+2        Na+        SO4-2        Cl-        HCO       
Actual        82.9        7.7        28.9        59.0        51.0        70.043       
                                                         
Delta        7.9        2.7        -11.1        -21.0        -24.0        -40.0


Wynne-R 01-30-2013 03:29 PM

Very cool, Kai! It predicts my actual mash pH, most of the spreadsheets guess high. I found the interface to be easy to use and the feedback very interesting.

The only thing I’m not sure of is the range check at the very bottom. Apparently it does not correlate with the target style. I chose the ‘Pale/Light’ profile which recommends 10ppm SO4. Mine came out at 29 but the stupid blue arrow complains that it’s low. That seems off in context.

I would either correlate it to the target water or move it up to ‘Overall Water Report.’ Also a print option would be a groovy thing, especially since it lives on the web. Having gone to the trouble of punching in all the numbers it would be nice to have something to look at later. Or maybe members could save their profiles.

Good job.

Kaiser 01-30-2013 04:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Wynne-R (Post 4844012)
Very cool, Kai! It predicts my actual mash pH, most of the spreadsheets guess high. I found the interface to be easy to use and the feedback very interesting.

Thanks. I do have some limited competitive pH prediction data and want to expand that more before I publish it. One thing I learned is that there is both and art and a science to predicting mash pH. The art comes into play since science is too complex and not enough understood to be properly modeled.

Quote:

The only thing I’m not sure of is the range check at the very bottom. Apparently it does not correlate with the target style. I chose the ‘Pale/Light’ profile which recommends 10ppm SO4. Mine came out at 29 but the stupid blue arrow complains that it’s low. That seems off in context.
The current set of target profiles is what Brewer’s Friend had for its old calculator. I haven’t spent much time on scrubbing them but plan to do that soon. Personally I don’t use them. I just eyeball the overall report.

Quote:

I would either correlate it to the target water or move it up to ‘Overall Water Report.’ Also a print option would be a groovy thing, especially since it lives on the web. Having gone to the trouble of punching in all the numbers it would be nice to have something to look at later. Or maybe members could save their profiles.
I agree that the range check should move to the Overall Report section.

Print option will be nice. I was planning to have it print a “water treatment plan”. For simple adjustments it just lists salt and acid additions. If brewers use boiling or slaked lime treatment it would include detailed steps for that. That may take a bit though.

Saving the state is on top of the list of new features. We left if out for the first release since I want to wait any longer for a release.

Kai


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