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Old 11-22-2012, 05:25 AM   #1
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Default Target Minerals

I'm looking at Brewing Water Chemistry Calculator at Brewers Friend.

One of the lines for input is called Target Minerals for:
Ca; Mg; SO4; Na Cl and HCO3

Does anyone know where to go to find what these target numbers are for different styles?

If I want to brew a dry stout or an oatmeal stout or an IPA or .....

I'd like to know were to find these numbers..

Anyone??



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Old 11-22-2012, 12:13 PM   #2
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You can make a good beer with calcium around 40 and chloride around 70 mg/L. Period. You can make a better beer if you take style and your personal tastes into account. For example in a Bohemian Pilsner you might like less calcium and chloride and in a Northern British ale you might like a little or quite a lot of sulfate to replace some of or in addition to that chloride. There is a Primer here that will get you started brewing good beer based on this premise. But you must experiment with mineral additions beyond the Primer's recommendations to find the sweet spot. There are lots of spreadsheets, calculators, websites, books, magazine articles etc that contain 'profiles' for various types of beer. Some organize these by the geographical region from which the beer came and some by the type of beer. The logic behind the geographical location arrangement is that if you want to brew a beer like Pilsner Urquell you must use a water like Pilsen's and this is correct. But that logic breaks down if you want to brew a Munich Helles, for example, and conclude that you should use water with a ion profile like Munich's because Munich water must be decarbonated to brew a Helles (though it does not need to be decarbonated to brew a Dunkles). You must, therefore, be cautious in using a profile as your guide. Really, in the last analysis, the profile you want is the one that had enough calcium to make the yeast happy, enough chloride and sulfate to set the taste the way you want, enough alkalinity to overcome dark malt acidity if you have used dark malt and enough acid to overcome malt alkalinity if you haven't. The real value of the spreadsheets is that they will help you calculate how much of which salts to add to set a particular ion content and give you estimates of how much acid or alkali are needed to get pH into the proper range. But they are not a replacement for your brain!



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Old 11-22-2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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Thanks AJ.. Yes, I'm looking for a starting point for the above specific beers.. what the "book" says the ion levels should be. It would be nice to have that as a starting point for those beers and go from there. We had a talk at our beer club this week by Colin.. and I went away.. blown away . He has a lab that can get him where he wants to be.. knowing the water sources and how he has to adjust. I would think that even if I had the lab.. I would like to know the starting point for each. For example, I have too much Mg in my water.. at least for many styles.. my 5 yr average is 21.5.. and my alkalinity is high at 140. Also, from an non-commercial brewery standpoint, I know my "average" for HCO3 is 171, CA is 25, Cl is 7.5, hardness is 153, Na is 9.2, SO4 is 15.5 and my pH is pretty consistent at 7.1. I'd guess most of the numbers are probably easy to modify.. If I knew where to point my gun.

So, as a for instance.. what would be the sweet spot to try to attain for an APA, IPA and a stout?? I was wondering if there were base numbers published someplace.

With a waste of energy, I could boil the water and cool it and siphon the top off and maybe reduce my alkalinity by 50%? Or dilute it with RO and reduce both it and the Mg by some percentage.. then adjust the other minerals to meet.. or get close to a good pH and balance for the beer I'd like to brew.

So, that is my question. I'd like to learn to play with the spreadsheets as a starting point.. but, I don't know what numbers in the spreadsheets to shoot for. Hope that makes sense from a non-scientist.

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Old 11-22-2012, 02:30 PM   #4
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There are lots of approaches one can take to this. Colin goes further than many craft brewers WRT approaching this scientifically. Other craft brewers I know don't do anything to their water except add some gypsum to adjust hops perception....

You can do what Colin does but would you want to? For some the answer is 'yes' because they are interested in the scientific aspects of it or because they are real perfectionists or for any of a variety of other reasons. But someone starting out with this way is a long way from heaving Colin's level of experience. He's been thinking water for at least 10 years and he brews more often than most of us. Most of us consider good beer as the primary goal and understanding the science behind is as frosting on the cake.

As to your water: the alkalinity and perhaps your magensium are too high and your sulfate and chloride are too low. You can reduce the alkalinity at the expense of calcium by boiling or lime treatment or you can reduce the alkalinity and simultaneously increase the chloride and/or sulfate. If you lived in the UK you would have access to a product designed expressly for this purpose but you don't. Or you can get rid of the alkalinity and magnesium at the expense of calcium by using 100% or blending in RO water. You must in this case add salts. This is, while not the least expensive means of doing things, it is the simplest to understand and implement and the most 'stable' in the sense that you don't have to do the measurements that Colin does because RO water is always the same - low mineral content.

But you still need to know where to set the ion content. As I noted there are lots of people who will give you detailed ion profiles for any particular beer and their recommendations vary and in many cases are not realizable. The whole situation is quite complex when questions as to what is in your water, how it varies with time, how you are going to remediate dearth or surfeit of a particular ion and what targets you should be aiming for in a particular beer are all considered. This is why I wrote the Primer. It attempts to clear away a lot of the smoke and get you making good beer. It does not even talk about ion targets. It just says to add a tsp of calcium chloride to 5 gal on low ion water and experiment with that amount. That's what I recommend. As your experience and knowledge grow you can use spreadsheets or calculators to help you understand the implications of what you are doing in terms of ion content. You will start to forget the notion of a 'target' for a particular beer.

You ask what is the sweet spot for an APA. My answer is that only you can answer that question. It depends on your personal taste or that of your 'customers'. Colin, for example, personally likes a lot more sulfate than his customers do and thus brews to their taste rather than his - a good choice for a commercial enterprise but not one you have to make.

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Old 11-22-2012, 03:13 PM   #5
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Thanks AJ.. I'll start at your point. Happy Thanksgiving

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Old 11-22-2012, 05:24 PM   #6
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As AJ said, you can brew a fine brew with little or minimal ionic content. The Primer provides good guidance using a minimal palate of adjustments. Fortunately, a brewer does have a few more ions that can be effective at adding flavor nuances. Bru'n Water includes a suite of water profiles that can be a resource to a brewer seeking to add those extra nuances to their beer.

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Old 11-23-2012, 12:01 PM   #7
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What I've found (with help from both of these two!) is that for me, "less is more" really is the key.

I love my beer more than ever now, and I blame both of them for my increased consumption.

Seriously, I've been using RO water for most of the brewing water (often, all of it) and using minimal additions. The resulting beer has been great.

One thing that I think is emphasized in Martin's brunwater spreadsheet but not anywhere else I've seen is the sparge water.

What I mean is, with water like yours, I'd suggest either acidifying the sparge water according to his sparge spreadsheet, or sparging with 100% RO water. Just trying that first will definitely improve the beer if you've been using 100% tap water. It was the first thing I did, while I was working on understanding the water chemistry, and it was a great start.

The water primer (one of the stickies in this forum) is a good start also. I've found that for me, not tweaking the water much but making sure the pH is in the correct range has made the best beer for me. I don't add much sulfate, even though I make mostly pale ales and IPAs. I don't like the harshness sulfate brings to the hops, although some people do.

If you start with the "less is more" philosophy, and it's not enough for you, you won't make bad beer so that's why I recommend starting there.



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