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Old 09-26-2010, 02:33 AM   #11
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3) Burton style beers brewed with softer water are better beers than ones brewed with "authentic" water.
This has been my whole point all along. Start with the highlights of the water of origin and then tone it back if possible. I think people are asking for the what is the toned back version.



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That's why I tell people to use RO water, use acid to set mash pH and then worry about the "stylistic" ions. Given that you are going to take this approach you might as well start with a clean sheet of paper and taste your way along rather than trying to deduce how much chalk to add from some seriously flawed model relating that to color.

I completely disagree with starting with 100% RO. While you may be able to get water that mimics the big brewing ions, you are also eliminating others that are important that can't be added back with brewing salts. RO should only be used to dilute out practically hard water to get it to a more usable level.



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There is no such thing as an ideal profile for a style IMO. Are you shooting for authenticity or the best beer? The water treatment will be different in many cases.
So when you start to brew a certain style, you always use a different water profile or do you use a basic variation of one that you've worked out before for that style? I think people are looking for the "this is what I've found works best for a style ....." profile.




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That's what I figured it had to be. I agree that it might be useful to normalize bittering by TE (most authors simply call it True Extract) but if I thought the IBU/TE for a beer was too low water chemistry would be the last place I'd look to fix it. I'd increase hopping, use a higher alpha hop, convert at a temperature that gives more maltose... Apparently people think that by changing the ratio of sulfate to chloride they can change the bitterness vs maltiness. This is not, IMO, the case at all. Adding sulfate only makes hops bitterness harsher and dryer (and IMO, less pleasant) whereas increasing chloride enhances the mouthfeel and mellowness and up to a point, sweetness. But maltiness is not exclusively sweetness - the melanoiding character is the mainstay of maltiness to me.

Ok so you are completely missing the point. I'm not saying that if I don't want to use enough hops to make an IPA all I have to do is compensate by jacking up the Sulphate. The two go hand in hand. If you want a nice crisp bitterness, you need both. One without the other won't get the job done.
The point is you have to start with a recipe to match a style and then follow it up with a water profile that will work with the attributes of the beer you are trying to brew. The "balance" of your recipe should be in line with the "balance" of your water.



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I guess I have "hoppy" water. I put in an RO system to get rid of sulfate (that's really the only reason I did it) and now supplement all my beers with calcium chloride so I now have "very malty" water. All my beers, hoppy or not are brewed with this "very malty" water.

I looked at data from 4 recently brewed beers (all measured -not calculated) and while that certainly isn't a very big sample there wasn't much of a correlation (Pearsons r = -0.24) between chloride to sulfate ratio and IBU/TE. But note that the correlation is negative. IOW a scatter plot of IBU/TE vs Cl:SO4 is pretty much centered around a horizontal line. I do not take chloride to sulfate ratio or IBU/TE ratio into account when designing brewing water (but I surely do think about TE and hopping levels in planning grist and hop charges) and based on this data I wouldn't. But you are saying perhaps I should? I'm sure as hell not adding any sulfate to my Pils!!! Or my ale - the bitterness is already too harsh for my taste.
I guess I'm not really following you on this one. The only way there would be a correlation between chloride to sulfate ratio and IBU/TE is if you made one through design. Anyone can brew a stout with RO, or a pilsner with Pacific Ocean water, they just won't taste right. The point is you need to match the water style to the type of beer you are brewing. The fact that you say they don't correlate just means you are doing something wrong in recipe or water design.


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It's not that you can't define it, it's that
1)You can't get data that would let you measure it
2)The data I have measured shows that the correlation doesn't exist (r<1/2 isn't a whole lot better than no correlation at all IMO)
Let's be clear, both the balance on the water and recipe side can be calculated. To be the best brewers, we should be taking both into account and making sure they are appropriate.



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I think a lot of people would have been saved from ruining a lot of beer if Palmer had never put that in his spreadheet or had, at least, caveated it in big red letters.
I know you're new but be carfull trashing the all might Palmer around here, it's like drawing the Proffet Muhamed eating a BLT. jk


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I think you must. If you are using profiles like the ones you posted originally I know I can have you making better beer than you are. Others besides me understand how this works and are getting similar results. Some of them post here.
Again, I posted the profiles I'd seen around the web because John000smith ask for them in this post. I also said we should discuss and try to make them better and take on the whole gamet of style/water profiles as a group.


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Old 09-26-2010, 03:50 AM   #12
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Again, I posted the profiles I'd seen around the web because John000smith ask for them in this post. I also said we should discuss and try to make them better and take on the whole gamet of style/water profiles as a group.
THIS. I'm trying to wrap my head around the 'why' of water adjustments at the moments. One thing to have a list to go from, another to understand WHY.....


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Old 09-26-2010, 02:07 PM   #13
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This has been my whole point all along. Start with the highlights of the water of origin and then tone it back if possible. I think people are asking for the what is the toned back version.
The problem with that approach is that it doesn't please everyone. Personal taste really comes into it. I don't know if you have any training in science but if you do you know that you cannot speak of optimality without having an optimality criterion. Win a ribbon, make a beer my mates like and make a beer my wife will like are distinct criteria which may result in three different water profiles for the same beer.

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I completely disagree with starting with 100% RO. While you may be able to get water that mimics the big brewing ions, you are also eliminating others that are important that can't be added back with brewing salts. RO should only be used to dilute out practically hard water to get it to a more usable level.
That is, of course, your prerogative but it is entirely possible to brew with straight RO water for a couple of reasons. First, RO units do not reject 100% of anything i.e. RO water is not pure. With moderate mineral content in the feed the permeate of an RO unit will be pretty close to the water of say Ceske Budejovice - i.e. very soft, but not ion free. Second there are plenty of minerals in malt - certainly enough to supply cofactors for all all the enzymes. Barley malt is, for example, about 0.15% magnesium by weight. To those who feel as you do I say OK, blend back 5-10% of your source water (this is like dialing down the rejection of your RO unit).

Then remember that if you hit 100% efficiency (using the scheme that home brewers like) in conversion that means that you have gotten as much extract as the laboratory got using distilled water.


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So when you start to brew a certain style, you always use a different water profile or do you use a basic variation of one that you've worked out before for that style? I think people are looking for the "this is what I've found works best for a style ....." profile.
The latter. I have figured out how to do this over the years but I'm always experimenting. If you ask me how to brew a style I have brewed I can tell you what to do with the water but I can't guarantee that you will agree that what I have given you is optimum. It depends, as I noted above, on your criteria for optimality. Very soft water is required for authenticity in Bohemian Pilsner, for example, and very soft water makes great Boh. Pils if you use acid properly to set the pH (and this, is of course, exactly what the brewers of these beers in the Czech republic do). But suppose we added some extra chloride. Might the beer be "better". Not by the authenticity definition of optimality but perhaps by the "my wife likes" it one. Again I retrun to the Bernaise sauce analogy. I can give you a recipe for a Bernaise sauce that I and all my friends like but you may think it's too salty.

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The two go hand in hand. If you want a nice crisp bitterness, you need both. One without the other won't get the job done.
The point is you have to start with a recipe to match a style and then follow it up with a water profile that will work with the attributes of the beer you are trying to brew. The "balance" of your recipe should be in line with the "balance" of your water.
Not necessarily so. The anecdote I've told here and in other fora till I'm sick of typing it regards identical Burton style ales I brewed for a water class. One was done with "authentic" Burton water and the other with much softer, much less gypseous water. Everyone who tasted them agreed that the "authentic" wate one was more authentic but the softer water one was better. That included a professional brewer who asked "how do you get that wonderful smooth hops character". I'd seen the sacks of terra alba (gypsum) at his brewery and told him to just refrain from dumping one of those into the mash tun. He brewed it once (while I was out of country - the turkey) but it didn't go into their portfolio. Don't know why but my guess would be that it was because it didn't resemble what the clientele think of as "Ale". So again we have the question of definition of optimum. In the business optimum is defined in terms of how well it sells. Period.




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The point is you need to match the water style to the type of beer you are brewing. The fact that you say they don't correlate just means you are doing something wrong in recipe or water design.
Guess I must be doing something wrong then but I guess I'll continue to do it because the beers keep getting better! Little tongue in cheek there but the real point is that chloride to sulfate ratio is not a design parameter for a beer. You need to understand what chloride does and you need to understand what sulfate does and you need to understand what influences RDF. These are largely independent of one another. The whole chloride sulfate ratio got kicked off, I believe, when the following paragraph appeared in the second edition of the Handbook of Brewing (p111). Prior to the paragraph in question he had referred to the "somewhat antagonistic" effects of chloride and sulfate. Here's the quote: "These effects are repeatable at different absolute concentrations of chloride and sulfate. It appears that, in many cases, it is the relative ratio of the two ions that has the major flavor influence, often irrespective of the accompanying cations." Someone latched on to this and launched the Cl:SO4 ratio thing. Note that he says "in many cases". That does not mean all cases. German brewing texts are much more direct. They just advise minimizing sulfate.


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Let's be clear, both the balance on the water and recipe side can be calculated. To be the best brewers, we should be taking both into account and making sure they are appropriate.
The best brewers will understand what the effects of each ion are and will have determined by experimentation, what makes the beer that is "best" under his optimality criterion. If he wants a stingingly (to quote Dave Miller) hoppy pils he'll know that his sulfate should be, ideally 0 (i.e. chloride to sulfate ratio infinite). I chose this example because it flies in the face of hoppy beers requiring low chloride to sulfate ratio.

How does one calculate when he has no data to work with? We've established that the reports for water that you have are largely flawed and water reports you get from you water supplier are hokey too because they often represent averages or the sulfate is measured on alternate thursdays wheras the chloride on measured every tuesday. You can, of course, measure the water parameters yourself. Are you willing to do that. And you can measure true extract (quite simply actually) yourself but are you willing to do that. The same goes for color and bitterness but these take expensive equipment and time.


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I know you're new but be carfull trashing the all might Palmer around here, it's like drawing the Proffet Muhamed eating a BLT. jk
I've known John for years. If you look in the acknowledgments and footnotes to his water chapter you'll find me there. I've met him at AHA conferences, corresponded with him and appeared with him on Brew Strong. I never could figure out exactly what he was up to with the color/SRM thing but nonetheless don't feel that he would disagree with anything I've said. He himself posted on another forum that the color/SRM thing is "nothing but handwaving". It's like the Cl:SO4 ratio thing. Guys starting out are adrift in a stormy sea (of brewing water) and grasp at straws. Wouldn't it be great if you could plan you water by looking at the SRM and the BU/TE ratio? You could put together a simple spreadsheet.... The problems come in when you go about using a rule that's based on a weak correlation between two variables with high associated uncertainties. You get huge estimation errors.

The same things happen when guys try to use the Tinseth rule to predict hops bitterness. Yes, it's a model (doubtless the best) but it doesn't fit the data very well. And when you try to predict mash pH based on Kolbach's RA based pH shift and titratable acidity of malt. You get a general idea but the result can't be expected to be accurate enough for planning. That's why you must measure/experiment.

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Again, I posted the profiles I'd seen around the web because John000smith ask for them in this post. I also said we should discuss and try to make them better and take on the whole gamet of style/water profiles as a group.
Before you post a profile you pick up from the web, a magazine or book you should at least check the cation/anion balance. Most of published ones don't. Now if you give me a profile, any profile, I can come up with a "best" approximation to it using common salts. But you must define your optimality criterion here too. Do you want to minimize the average error (difference between what you want and what you get), the rmse (root mean square error), the peak error or the rms log error? And do you want to weight bicarbonate more than sulfate, for example? Also you must recognize that anything I can synthesize will be anion/cation balanced (this is because of the laws of physics, not because I'm stubborn). Therefore, I can't do a very good job at matching an imbalanced target.

I know you are trying to give them something simple they can use. After pondering this over the years I conclude that this is:

Use RO water with a tsp of calcium chloride per 5 gal, adjust pH with acid and add gypsum to taste on subsequent brews.
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Old 09-26-2010, 04:58 PM   #14
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Well, I was the one who started this thread, and I think that this dialogue is great. Couple of questions; is there a "recommended range" of a given suite of minerals, like TH's original spreadsheet recommends (from Palmer, I assume). In other words, shouldn't one strive to at least be in that range?

Secondly, if there is no correlation between SRM and mash pH, why would it be published? Isn't there more than one way to skin a cat?

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Old 09-26-2010, 05:41 PM   #15
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Secondly, if there is no correlation between SRM and mash pH, why would it be published? Isn't there more than one way to skin a cat?
There is a weak correlation, nobody is denying that. It just isn't good enough to rely on and if you try to extrapolate the model to very dark beers it gives absurd recommendations and people using the model seem to uniformly not understand that weakness.

Let me ask you the opposite question, if the correlation exists and is useful, why did only a small handful of the hundreds of people who have written about water in brewing publish it?

You can use Palmer's model and check mash pH with a pH meter and observe that it is wrong nearly all of the time (and badly wrong for dark beers). That is not disputable.

That's not to say Palmer's model isn't useful, just that if you don't understand it's limitations it will do more harm than good.
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:34 PM   #16
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Well, I was the one who started this thread, and I think that this dialogue is great. Couple of questions; is there a "recommended range" of a given suite of minerals, like TH's original spreadsheet recommends (from Palmer, I assume). In other words, shouldn't one strive to at least be in that range?
I tend to think there is and I believe the debate here is as to how to define it as the edges of that range would be, I think, pretty fuzzy. I sometimes refer people to my water map at http://www.pbase.com/agamid/image/57446374. This plots the reported waters of several famous brewing cities by their effective hardness (calcium hardness plus half magnesium hardness) against their alkalinities. If you make such a plot lines of constant residual alkalinity are diagonals and the "map" shows those too. If you want to brew a Pilsner and buy the concept that Pilsner was defined by the water of Pilsen you locate Pilsn (lower left corner of the map) and see that the water is very soft (low effective hardness) and has very low alkalinity. Knowing that Pilsner uses noble hops you conclude that sulfate should also be low and proceed. In this case, you have made all the right decisions. Your beer will be very good. But how hard can the water be or how high can it's alkalinity be and still give you a good Pils? Or how much sulfate can you tolerate? Those questions are harder to answer. Look now at Burton. It's obvious that there is lots more mineral content in Burton water but there are about 6 reports for Burton plotted on the chart. They are pretty consistent WRT effective hardness but quite disparate WRT alkalinity. Which should be choose in making a recommendation for a Burton ale? Perhaps just going into the center of mass of the Burton reports would do. But looking at the Burton reports we see that none really balances at reasonable pH. One balances better than the others, though. Should be choose that one. Or should be just say these beers are characterized by a lot of hardness, a lot of sulfate and modest alkalinity and put together water with a lot of sulfate, a lot of calcium and modest alkalinity.

To get the modest alkalinity you must dissolve limestone with carbon dioxide gas. If you try to do it with acid you get calcium sulfate or calcium chloride, not calcium bicarbonate which is what is in Burton water. So what do you do about that? If you go to all the trouble to do it "properly" with carbon dioxide and heat the result in your HLT much of the calcium carbonate will drop out. Was this done in Burton or did they strike cold? How do you compensate for that?

My recommendation for a Burton ale is soft water with supplements of calcium chloride and calcium sulfate in about equal amounts - i.e. 1 tsp of each for 5 gal. If you find that a beer made that way lacks "mineral crispness" add more of each. If you find adding more of each makes the hops too harsh, emphasize the chloride at the expense of the sulfate. If you want really sharp hoppiness emphasize the sulfate. You are going to have to experiment to get what suits you best because you are a unique person.

Thanks to remilard for answering the other question. I get a bit weary of being the vox clamantis.
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Old 09-26-2010, 08:34 PM   #17
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There is a weak correlation, nobody is denying that. It just isn't good enough to rely on and if you try to extrapolate the model to very dark beers it gives absurd recommendations and people using the model seem to uniformly not understand that weakness.

Let me ask you the opposite question, if the correlation exists and is useful, why did only a small handful of the hundreds of people who have written about water in brewing publish it?

You can use Palmer's model and check mash pH with a pH meter and observe that it is wrong nearly all of the time (and badly wrong for dark beers). That is not disputable.

That's not to say Palmer's model isn't useful, just that if you don't understand it's limitations it will do more harm than good.
How does this limitation apply to TH's revised spreadsheet? I guess I should ask him directly. I don't currently have a pH meter, and I guess I took it for granted that the modest additions of Ca, Mg, and Cl2 would work to bring me at least within the recommended brewing ranges.

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I tend to think there is and I believe the debate here is as to how to define it as the edges of that range would be, I think, pretty fuzzy. I sometimes refer people to my water map at http://www.pbase.com/agamid/image/57446374. This plots the reported waters of several famous brewing cities by their effective hardness (calcium hardness plus half magnesium hardness) against their alkalinities. If you make such a plot lines of constant residual alkalinity are diagonals and the "map" shows those too.
My water is very soft, almost Pilsen-like. As you can see, the majority of minerals are well outside the "recommended range" for brewing. My pale ales seemed fine however, I was unable to brew stouts that had any body. Hence the addition of CaSO4 and CaCO3 to bring me within an acceptable range. It's quite a shock to me, as well as other people I'm sure, that Palmer's model, and all subsequent revisions have been leading us down the wrong path perhaps. All I want to do is be able to brew the best beer I can, across the SRM ranges. How would one realistically achieve this through water modification without a chemical engineering background? I'm sure we can make this as complicated as we wish, but the real challenge is to make it simple enough for the average homebrewer to understand and implement.

Here is my starting water profile, via Ward Labs:

Ca-8
Mg-2
Na-25
Cl-15
SO4-11
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-20
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Old 09-27-2010, 12:27 PM   #18
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My water is very soft, almost Pilsen-like. As you can see, the majority of minerals are well outside the "recommended range" for brewing. My pale ales seemed fine however, I was unable to brew stouts that had any body. Hence the addition of CaSO4 and CaCO3 to bring me within an acceptable range. It's quite a shock to me, as well as other people I'm sure, that Palmer's model, and all subsequent revisions have been leading us down the wrong path perhaps. All I want to do is be able to brew the best beer I can, across the SRM ranges. How would one realistically achieve this through water modification without a chemical engineering background?

Here is my starting water profile, via Ward Labs:

Ca-8
Mg-2
Na-25
Cl-15
SO4-11
Alkalinity (as CaCO3)-20
[/QUOTE]

Is that sulfate number SO4-S 11 on the report or have you converted it to as SO4? SO4-S = 11 means SO4 = 33. Taking it as you have posted it the following should serve you well:


Baseline Treatment: add one tsp calcium chloride to each 5 gal of water being treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half that amount of calcium chloride increase the sauermalz to 3%

For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz

For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.


If the sulfate was SO4-S = 11 then you will want to cut the water 1:1 with RO water when doing anything using noble hops because that much sulfate is too much for them.


This should get you started but won't necessarily give you the "best" beer (remembering from the discussion in this thread that "best" has multiple definitions). To move from the baseline to "best" you will need to experiment increasing one salt on one brew and decreasing it on the next both in order to educate you palate with respect to what the individual salts do and to give you guidance on how ultimately to set them. It is really extremely helpful to have a pH meter available. This is the only way to be sure you are getting mash pH correct.
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:05 PM   #19
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Is that sulfate number SO4-S 11 on the report or have you converted it to as SO4? SO4-S = 11 means SO4 = 33. Taking it as you have posted it the following should serve you well:


Baseline Treatment: add one tsp calcium chloride to each 5 gal of water being treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:

For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half that amount of calcium chloride increase the sauermalz to 3%

For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz

For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.


If the sulfate was SO4-S = 11 then you will want to cut the water 1:1 with RO water when doing anything using noble hops because that much sulfate is too much for them.


This should get you started but won't necessarily give you the "best" beer (remembering from the discussion in this thread that "best" has multiple definitions). To move from the baseline to "best" you will need to experiment increasing one salt on one brew and decreasing it on the next both in order to educate you palate with respect to what the individual salts do and to give you guidance on how ultimately to set them. It is really extremely helpful to have a pH meter available. This is the only way to be sure you are getting mash pH correct.
Why sauermalz instead of an acid rest or lactic acid. Ease, personal preference?
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Old 09-27-2010, 06:30 PM   #20
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Why sauermalz instead of an acid rest or lactic acid. Ease, personal preference?
Ease and certainty. An acid rest takes hours, needs to be done at elevated temperature, has the lactos consuming some extract and risks spoilage. With acid you need to do calculations and measure out the acid rather precisely. If a pH meter is available, then that's a good way to go but if you are relying solely on the 1 % of grist per 0.1 pH drop rule of thumb the sauermalz seems to me the easier way to do it. In continental beers sauermalz also adds subtle complexity that actually improves the beers. It is definitely not traditional in British brewing but the more authentic alternative, CRS, is not available in the US (AFAIK).


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