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Old 01-15-2014, 11:44 PM   #11
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It really depends on the alkalinity of your water
Does it ? My point is that treating your mash is not enough, maybe not even the primary concern.

Based on my experience, more acid is required for the sparge, and the consequences of not treating the water are way worse.

If you treat all the water at the same time, it may be close enough.

My water is a little over 100ppm alkalinity, which I think is pretty typical for surface water. My guess, is that if you need acid for the mash, you need more acid for the sparge.

Hi Yooper I would totally vote for you if I were in the AHA. Maybe you can straighten them out to the point that I would join. Good luck with that.
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Old 01-16-2014, 01:19 AM   #12
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I understand the argument, but agree with Yooper that alkalinity in the sparge water is what drives the need for and amount of acid required. Like Yooper, I switched to all RO and no longer treat the sparge liquor as the bicarbonate (the primary buffer) is nearly depleted. It has made all the difference in the world in the quality of my beers... Treating to 6.0 is really to minimize the amount of acid (and flavor impact) and cap the higher pH potential. Otherwise we would treat to 5.2 or 5.4 (AJ discusses this in a recent post... Titrating the whole liquor to 5.4).

That said... Screw up the mash and the beer is ruined. Screw up the sparge, and the beer MAY be ruined. I don't remember to what extent the Primer speaks to sparge water treatment, but for low alkaline water, the risks of tannin extraction fall. Very high levels of alkalinity will pull the mash pH up sharply creating the issue. I tend to focus on the mash because it is the hardest to get right.

I did experience your point, Wynne-R, when I was using my tap, filtered and Camden treated. The astringency, as well as the seemingly large amounts of acid I needed were ruining my beers. The bicarb content of my rural Bastrop Texas water is well over 400 ppm...

FYI to you and Yooper, Bastrop Brewhouse is closing this week. It's a real shame, but the owner seems bent on a production brewery not a brewpub. Hopefully someone will fill the gap soon.

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Old 01-16-2014, 12:50 PM   #13
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FYI to you and Yooper, Bastrop Brewhouse is closing this week. It's a real shame, but the owner seems bent on a production brewery not a brewpub. Hopefully someone will fill the gap soon.
I'm sorry to hear that! I was hoping to stop in in a few weeks. We're leaving tomorrow morning for the coast, and should be in Rockport on Sunday. I'm not sure when we're going up to Smithville to our friend's 40, but we will make sure to stop in Shiner on the way. I love the Shiner brewery, and it's right on the way.

Anyway, I'm certainly no water expert but if I sparge with RO water, I do not need to add acid. I sometimes treat my sparge and mash water separately, as my HLT only holds about 14 gallons and I have to refill it after I mash in. Otherwise, it would be appropriate to treat the mash and the sparge water the same and acidify it, as it wouldn't hurt- but it's not necessary when using RO water or distilled water due to the low alkalinity. As Matt mentioned, it has to do with the buffering and not the actual pH of the water.
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:34 PM   #14
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I notice the focus always seems to be on mash pH.
That's because it is the sine qua non. Botch mash pH and it doesn't matter if you did everything else right or not, the beer will be diminished.

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I find my mash pH is pretty close but if I don’t acidify the sparge water, it extracts astringency. I use twice as much acid in the sparge as in the mash.
Assuming that you are getting proper mash pH this implies that you are using a fair amount of acidic malt in your brews. Some of even the relatively light colored crystals and caramels have quite a bit of acid in them.

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Is it just me? I am pretty sensitive to phenols. If the mash pH is off, it’s a little dull. If the sparge pH is off it seriously hurts the beer.
It could be that you are hyper sensitive. OTOH if you wait long enough phenols tend to complex and settle out. In lager brewing the husks are boiled twice. Typical mash pH offers some protection but a fair amount of phenol is extracted. These fall out during lagering.

As to the OP: Given the description, my money is on chlorphenolics. A simple test in which a glass of the water is allowed to stand over night and then poured back and forth between two glasses in a pretty good indicator, if chlorine is smelled the next day, that chloramine is present. A quarter campden tablet in each 5 gallons should solve that problem.
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:52 PM   #15
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I picked up some campden tablets and also put my water profile into Brunwater. According to the program, I would be alright to treat my water with a little acid.

Spring water is all that seems to be available in my area to purchase. Can I be certain that the alkalinity will be low enough in it?

Could I just use the Campden tabs with my water instead of RO water if I needed to, for a test of the off flavour coming from chlorine?

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Old 01-16-2014, 06:35 PM   #16
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I picked up some campden tablets and also put my water profile into Brunwater. According to the program, I would be alright to treat my water with a little acid.

Spring water is all that seems to be available in my area to purchase. Can I be certain that the alkalinity will be low enough in it?

Could I just use the Campden tabs with my water instead of RO water if I needed to, for a test of the off flavour coming from chlorine?
Spring water is a term that has no water quality indications. It could have very low mineralization to very high mineralization depending upon where it came from. If you require low alkalinity water, use either RO or distilled water.

Campden tablets are for another purpose...the removal of chlorine compounds from the brewing water so that they don't react with wort compounds and form chlorophenols.
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Old 01-16-2014, 06:56 PM   #17
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Spring water is a term that has no water quality indications. It could have very low mineralization to very high mineralization depending upon where it came from. If you require low alkalinity water, use either RO or distilled water.



Campden tablets are for another purpose...the removal of chlorine compounds from the brewing water so that they don't react with wort compounds and form chlorophenols.

Yes, the Camden tabs were for that reason. Mentioned earlier about the off flavour, it was thought that the flavour may have been due to chlorine in the tab water, rather than the ph.

The flavour was described as being a little burnt with a rubber or plastic taste as well.

That's what I thought about the spring water as well.

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Old 01-16-2014, 07:39 PM   #18
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Thanks for the answers, Yooper, Matt, AJ.

To the OP, ‘plastic’ is a good description of chlorophenol, and Campden is an easy solution.

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Old 01-16-2014, 08:24 PM   #19
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The flavour was described as being a little burnt with a rubber or plastic taste as well.
Those words describe yeast autolysis.

To do an is-it-chloramine test all you have to do is the experiment I described in #14 with water standing overnight. If you want to be absolutely sure just brew with the water that has been giving you problems with a half a campden tablet per 5 gal. That will completely knock out any chlorine or chloramine and you will have no smoky or plastic-like flavor/aroma. This won't have any effect on yeast autolysis (burnt, rubber....) tastes.
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Old 01-17-2014, 12:07 AM   #20
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Those words describe yeast autolysis.

To do an is-it-chloramine test all you have to do is the experiment I described in #14 with water standing overnight. If you want to be absolutely sure just brew with the water that has been giving you problems with a half a campden tablet per 5 gal. That will completely knock out any chlorine or chloramine and you will have no smoky or plastic-like flavor/aroma. This won't have any effect on yeast autolysis (burnt, rubber....) tastes.

The thing is, I could taste this off flavour right after the boil when the wort was cooled, without the yeast added yet.
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