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Old 03-07-2012, 07:51 PM   #1
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Default Still another water report

Ok, I am currently reading and trying to teach myself about brewing water. In using the brewing calculators, it seems at times that changing the amount of additions will guide the numbers in the direction you want to move but often adding as little as .1g too much can skew the numbers the opposite direction. And when adding Gypsum to raise the Ca level to something equal to water for say Bass Ale, it warns of danger do not brew at this level.

If I wanted to brew a Bass clone what would you add to my water?

This is what the brewing water chemistry calc says it should be:
Ca-270 Mg-24 SO4-660 Na-50 Cl-35 HCO3-290

pH 8.7
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 176
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.29
Cations / Anions, me/L 2.5 / 2.4

ppm
Sodium, Na 15
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 17
Magnesium, Mg 12
Total Hardness, CaCO3 93
Nitrate, NO3-N 1.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 8
Chloride, Cl 23
Carbonate, CO3 4
Bicarbonate, HCO3 57
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 54
Total Phosphorus, P 0.50
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Thanks

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Old 03-07-2012, 08:02 PM   #2
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Good question. I had the QA guy from the local regional (now alas defunct) over here for something or other (think it was when they were making vinegar from their beer and wanted to know how much alcohol was in it) and, surprise, surprise, we started drinking beer. He was really impressed with my ale, wanted to know how I got the wonderful malt flavors etc. If you know me and how seriously I take ales you'll understand that it took me a while to be able to answer without laughing out loud. I'd been out to his place and seen the sacks or 'terra alba' (gypsum) lying around. I told him just skip the gypsum because their water out there was similar to mine.

Another similar anecdote: I've done brewing water classes in which I demo by serving 2 "Burton" ales - one with simulated Burton water and one with untreated well water. Both times I did this everyone agreed the Burton water one was more authentic but the other (no gypsum) water beer was the better beer.

The point of all this is that you need to ask yourself whether you want better or more authentic beer. If the answer is 'better' then follow the Primer guidelines with no gypsum. If the answer is 'more authentic' then follow the Primer guidelines with more gypsum than calcium chloride. Whichever you do repeat the brew varying the amounts of gypsum and calcium chloride until you hit the 'sweet spot' by whatever your criterion of goodness is.

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Old 03-07-2012, 10:53 PM   #3
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Thanks ajdelange,

If I understand you correctly, I shouldn't necessarily try to match the regional water profiles exactly, but instead try to mitigate anything in my water that might be detrimental for a given style. And adjust as needed based on taste.

Back to reading...

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Old 03-08-2012, 12:30 AM   #4
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Yes, that's the essence of it. You can, and probably should, try to match, in broad terms, the general characteristics of the water of the region in which the style originated. For example, Bohemian Pils should be brewed with low mineral content water and Burton ale shouldn't. But as the example in the last post pointed out there is a wide range of sulfate bearing waters that are reasonable candidates for Burton ale.

Definitely tweak looking for the sweet spot as you define it.

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Old 03-08-2012, 02:31 PM   #5
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I echo AJ's advice. Don't try and duplicate water profiles from historic brewing towns. You don't know what those brewers did to further treat their local water to make brewing good beer possible. For instance, Munich water has huge temporary hardness. They probably boiled that water prior to using it for the lighter colored styles from that area. Someone who blindly uses the raw water profile would be in big trouble when brewing a light colored beer.

Bru'n Water includes accurate water profiles from those brewing centers, but they are provided as a counter to the grossly inaccurate profiles that litter the web and print media. In many cases, I've included the post-boiled water profiles for those cities to give brewers an idea what the water might have been like after the brewers performed the most prevalent treatment of the time.

Bru'n Water also includes color-based water profiles that represent examples of relatively low mineral content brewing water. Those profiles are more in line with the philosophy that AJ is trying to get across...don't add too much stuff to your water and if your water already contains a lot of stuff, then you need to use RO water for your brewing. Those color-based profiles are probably better targets than the city profiles are are more likely to produce better tasting beer.

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Old 03-08-2012, 04:13 PM   #6
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There is a local brewery around me and I found out they use the city water with no special filtering system. They bring water to a boil and kill the heat and then add cold water to get the right strike temp. When asked they stated that what they did worked and that was the water profile for their beer. I bet 90% of you have had their beer and loved it. So as long as you are not trying to clone something the water you use is going to make that beer unique to your water. The same beer made with two kids of water will taste diferent. If you want a New Castle clone then you need to start with distilled water and add minerals to match the water they use or have them ship you water. Tap water is ok as long as you are not trying to match something unless your clorine levels are way too high.

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Old 03-08-2012, 06:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gunrunner View Post
There is a local brewery around me and I found out they use the city water with no special filtering system. They bring water to a boil and kill the heat and then add cold water to get the right strike temp. When asked they stated that what they did worked and that was the water profile for their beer.
Must have studied under Michael Lewis at UCD. He taught that one's water was one's 'terroir' and that one did not, therefore, mess with it. That's fine as long as you match the beers you brew to the water at hand but in a modern operation where the portfolio is likely to be diverse you have to match the water to the beers.

I was at a local brewpub last night where the head brewer (and CEO), a student of Lewis's, had just released his Czech pils. All Saaz, the traditional lagering program and all but exactly what you'd expect a Pils to taste like if done with water with a bunch of temporary hardness. It smelled hoppy but it wasn't spicy Saaz hoppy and, of course, the hops just grabbed you at the back of the throat and the overall impression was not one of smoothness despite the long traditional lagering.
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Old 03-08-2012, 11:09 PM   #8
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mabrungard,

My water report from ward labs as posted above does not balance according to bru'n water. I have tried the steps recommended if your water does not balance, however I am still unable to get these to balance within the specified range. The Cation/ Anion ratio for my water comes up as 1.09. Should I have my water retested or ask for testing of other ions? If so which ones?

I did notice the value as calculated by ward labs was 2.5/2.4 which fall within the given range, howerver Bru'n water has it as 2.54/2/32

Thanks,

-Walt

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Old 03-09-2012, 12:02 AM   #9
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Ward Labs does not calculate bicarbonate and carbonate correctly and thus their balances tend not to be correct. Even if they handled bicarbonate and carbonate correctly their reports would not balance because no measurement they make is error free and it is possible that some other ion, not reported, is present. Given an imbalanced report there is absolutely nothing you can do about it because you don't know how the errors are distributed. Within a spreadsheet you can force balance by, for example, arbitrarily increasing some cation or by decreasing some anion or a bit of each or of some other or some combinations. You are really flopping about in the blind.

As for other ions - getting a read on them won't solve the problem because there are still errors in the individual measurements and are probably, thus, not worth paying for. In the report posted the calcium and magnesium concentrations correspond to a total hardness of 91.79 whereas the total hardness reported is 93 suggesting that there are 1.2 ppm as CaCO3 unaccounted for under the assumption that Ca and Mg were measured with ICP whilst the total hardness was measured with EDTA. In the mid west there could be strontium or this discrepancy could be explainable by errors in either the ICP measurements or the EDTA titration. There is no way to know.

Does it really matter that your report is imbalanced by 9%? That's not much and won't have much of an effect on anything especially if you assume it is distributed across the various ions.

Doing the carbonate correctly and assuming the end point of the alkalinity titration was 4.3 the balance is 2.539 cations and 2.308 anions. Just assuming the end point of the alkalinity titration was 5.0 would raise the anion count to 2.387. That isn't bad. Just accept it and live with it.

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Old 03-09-2012, 02:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Ward Labs does not calculate bicarbonate and carbonate correctly and thus their balances tend not to be correct. Even if they handled bicarbonate and carbonate correctly their reports would not balance because no measurement they make is error free and it is possible that some other ion, not reported, is present. Given an imbalanced report there is absolutely nothing you can do about it because you don't know how the errors are distributed. Within a spreadsheet you can force balance by, for example, arbitrarily increasing some cation or by decreasing some anion or a bit of each or of some other or some combinations. You are really flopping about in the blind.

As for other ions - getting a read on them won't solve the problem because there are still errors in the individual measurements and are probably, thus, not worth paying for. In the report posted the calcium and magnesium concentrations correspond to a total hardness of 91.79 whereas the total hardness reported is 93 suggesting that there are 1.2 ppm as CaCO3 unaccounted for under the assumption that Ca and Mg were measured with ICP whilst the total hardness was measured with EDTA. In the mid west there could be strontium or this discrepancy could be explainable by errors in either the ICP measurements or the EDTA titration. There is no way to know.

Does it really matter that your report is imbalanced by 9%? That's not much and won't have much of an effect on anything especially if you assume it is distributed across the various ions.

Doing the carbonate correctly and assuming the end point of the alkalinity titration was 4.3 the balance is 2.539 cations and 2.308 anions. Just assuming the end point of the alkalinity titration was 5.0 would raise the anion count to 2.387. That isn't bad. Just accept it and live with it.
Thanks for the explaination, I will work with what I have for now. For future reference is there a better lab to send water samples to for analysis?
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