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 Home Brew Forums > Water Adjustments - Am I doing this correctly?
08-27-2013, 05:16 PM   #1
bglass77
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 Water Adjustments - Am I doing this correctly?

Here is the water report from my city (Mission, B.C. Canada)

Calcium - 1.44ppm
Magnesium - 0.18ppm
Sodium - 0.758ppm
Chloride - 0.84ppm
Sulfate - 0.76ppm
Alkalinity CaCO3 - 4.09ppm

I've been using the EZ Water Calculator Spreadsheet 3.0 for my adjustments. My concern is the amount of additions it seems to call for. For example:

If I input the following Porter recipe into the spreadsheet:

Mash Water amount is 4 gallons. Sparge water is 5.21 gallons.

8lbs - Marris Otter
1lbs - Munich
1lbs - Crystal 30/37
1lbs - Crystal 75
12oz - Chocolate Malt
8oz - Flaked Oats
8oz - Black Malt

According to the EZ Water Spreadsheet, that leaves me at a estimated room-temp mash pH of 5.53. Which according to the spreadsheet is within range, but at the higher end.

Then I do the following additions:

Gypsum = .3g in Mash - .4g in boil kettle
Calcium Chloride = 3g in Mash - 3.9g in boil kettle
Epsom Salts = 1.6g in Mash - 2.1g in boil kettle
Lactic Acid = 2ml in Mash
Baking Soda = 4.5g in Mash - 5.9g in boil kettle

All of that combines to (supposedly) give me the following:

Estimated Mash pH = 5.51
Calcium = 60ppm
Magnesium = 10ppm
Sodium = 82ppm
Chloride = 96ppm
Sulfate = 53ppm
Chloride/Sulfate Ratio = 1.82

Those end target numbers I've shot for are based on some proposed water profile targets that I read on the Mad Fermentationist web site. According to the EZ Water Spreadsheet they are all within the "Palmers Recommended Ranges"

Am I doing this correctly? Some of those additions (Baking Soda in particular) seem really high.

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08-27-2013, 05:19 PM   #2
Yooper
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First, toss out the baking soda (it raises pH), and see what you get. Also, leave out the epsom salts. They aren't needed either.

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08-27-2013, 05:27 PM   #3
bglass77
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Yooper First, toss out the baking soda (it raises pH), and see what you get. Also, leave out the epsom salts. They aren't needed either.

Leaving out the baking soda and the epsom salts leaves me low on Magnesium and Sulfates (according to the spreadsheet). The baking soda and epsom salts were added in an effort to bring the Mg and SO4 levels to something appropriate for a porter. The baking soda does raise the pH, hence the Lactic Acid addition in an effort to bring the pH down.

Just trying to find the balance between what works and adding too much..
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08-27-2013, 05:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by bglass77 Thanks for the quick reply. Leaving out the baking soda and the epsom salts leaves me low on Magnesium and Sulfates (according to the spreadsheet). The baking soda and epsom salts were added in an effort to bring the Mg and SO4 levels to something appropriate for a porter. The baking soda does raise the pH, hence the Lactic Acid addition in an effort to bring the pH down. Just trying to find the balance between what works and adding too much..
You aren't low on magnesium- malt has plenty of magnesium so you can ignore that. Some people like to add magnesium, as it can produce this "sharp" sort of sour flavor that can enhance hops and it may be nice if you like it, but I'd leave it out totally until you know you love it. (And in larger amounts, it has a laxative effect).

If you're low in sulfate, you can increase the calcium sulfate (gypsum). But it would be weird to have a high sulfate level in a porter.
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08-27-2013, 05:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Yooper You aren't low on magnesium- malt has plenty of magnesium so you can ignore that. Some people like to add magnesium, as it can produce this "sharp" sort of sour flavor that can enhance hops and it may be nice if you like it, but I'd leave it out totally until you know you love it. (And in larger amounts, it has a laxative effect). If you're low in sulfate, you can increase the calcium sulfate (gypsum). But it would be weird to have a high sulfate level in a porter.
I've ditched the Epsom Salts, Baking Soda, and Lactic Acid. The estimated room-temp mash pH is 5.46.

Ion levels for the water profile now look pretty good, with the exception of Sodium, which is reportedly 1ppm. This is still within the recommended ranges, but I've read in many places that the sodium value should be higher for a porter (to bring out the chocolate flavors). Maybe that's bogus information..

Is there any particular numbers to shoot for with the ion values? I understand the traditional water profiles (Dortmund, Burton, etc) are not really what I want to shoot for, but surely there must be some generally accepted ranges for particular beer styles?

Sulfate - Hoppy = 175ppm
Sulfate - Moderately Hoppy = 75ppm
Sulfate - Low Hopped = Less than 50ppm

Chloride - Hoppy = Less than 50ppm
Chloride - Moderately Hoppy = 75ppm
Chloride - Low Hopped = 100ppm

Sodium - Hoppy = Less than 30ppm
Sodium - Moderately Hoppy = 50ppm
Sodium - Sweet and Malty = 75ppm

Any good? Or no?
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08-27-2013, 05:52 PM   #6
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While we all want to have things simple (especially me!), that is overly simplistic.

I highly recommend trying bru'n water for a spreadsheet. It's harder than EZ water at first- but it's chock full of water information that is incredibly easy to understand in the way it's written. Also, instead of going by a simple "rule of thumb" like that (which may or may not work well, depending on the combos) there is a general water profile that will really help when you add your salts. You can choose, say, "black malty" and that will help you target where you want your ions. It really would be a great way to do this, with your recipe and your water and additions.

I have company arriving shortly, otherwise I'd run it through bru'n water for you. But try it! It's very helpful even if you use a different water spreadsheet in the end.

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08-27-2013, 05:56 PM   #7
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08-27-2013, 06:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by bglass77 Here is the water report from my city (Mission, B.C. Canada) Calcium - 1.44ppm Magnesium - 0.18ppm Sodium - 0.758ppm Chloride - 0.84ppm Sulfate - 0.76ppm Alkalinity CaCO3 - 4.09ppm
Are these numbers correct? I have never seen values that low in a posted water report. Does your city run it through a giant RO machine before it enters the mains?
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08-27-2013, 07:05 PM   #9
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by jmf143 Are these numbers correct? I have never seen values that low in a posted water report. Does your city run it through a giant RO machine before it enters the mains?
Numbers are correct. That's BC water for ya...
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08-27-2013, 08:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
 Originally Posted by Yooper I have company arriving shortly, otherwise I'd run it through bru'n water for you. But try it! It's very helpful even if you use a different water spreadsheet in the end.
I'm reading through everything now..yes it's a little more complicated. Any chance you could run the numbers on my water/recipe and see what it comes up with? I find I can understand things better when I can work backwards from the answer anyways..No rush..when you have time. Thank-you!
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