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Old 09-07-2009, 03:34 AM   #1
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Default water chemistry - adjust top-up water?

I'd like to adjust my water to up my residual alkalinity for darker brews (and also up my sulfate so my Cl:SO4 ratio isn't so skewed - currently 14). However, I'm not sure when/what to adjust. I do partial mashes and partial boils. Do I adjust the mash, sparge, AND top-up water in the fermenter (I currently get 2.5-3 gallons out of the kettle and top up with an additional 2-2.5)? or is water chemistry really only important during the mash?


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Old 09-08-2009, 02:36 AM   #2
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anyone? anyone? Bueller?

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Old 09-08-2009, 12:06 PM   #3
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Mash water chemistry is important (but not absolutely necessary) for conversion and wort quality. Adjusting anything else is for flavor, IMO. The general idea i follow is to match the water (as a whole) to a certain city's profile, depending on the style of beer. For example, if i'm brewing a pilsner, i try to match Pilsn's water.

As i do all-grain (w/ batch sparging), that typically means for 11gal total water (strike + sparge) i'll need to add X amount of salts. To get my mash in the proper chemical state, i'll add 1/2X or so salts to the mash. Then prior to boil, i'll add the other 1/2X salts to get the final Pilsn target water. I know to match exactly i'd need to obtain the target profile for both strike & sparge water, but with batch sparging, the chemistry of the sparge water isn't as important, so i try to get the pre-boil profile to match. It's not exact, but it's close enough for me.

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Old 09-09-2009, 12:39 AM   #4
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First I recommend using Brewing Water Chemistry Calculator | Brewer's Friend.

Second, I recommend creating your own profile based on the intended flavor of the recipe. Use chapter 15-1 in How to Brew to come up with a value each mineral based on the descriptions Palmer makes and his suggestions in the Brewing Range for each value. How to Brew - By John Palmer - Reading a Water Report

Third plug everything into the calculator. Play around with the additions to hit your target. The calculator will tell you everything you need to know. Pay attention to the "Ion Levels" to make sure you are hitting your target. Pay attention to the "Ion Balance" to make sure you are targeting the intended flavor/color of the beer you are trying to make.

As for how to add. The additions are based on volume. The best way to do it is in two steps. First, come up with the necessary additions for your mash volume. Second, come up with the necessary additions for the remaining water. Add the mash additions into the mash, and add the rest into the wort.

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Old 09-09-2009, 01:10 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boredatwork View Post
As for how to add. The additions are based on volume. The best way to do it is in two steps. First, come up with the necessary additions for your mash volume. Second, come up with the necessary additions for the remaining water. Add the mash additions into the mash, and add the rest into the wort.
Thanks, but what about the top-up water? Necessary to adjust that?
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Old 09-09-2009, 01:38 AM   #6
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Top up water would be the same as sparge water so I would say yes you need to adjust it as well.

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Old 09-09-2009, 02:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amiaji View Post
Top up water would be the same as sparge water so I would say yes you need to adjust it as well.
Normally I just top off with water directly from the tap. Can I add the necessary additions to the fermenter either before or after I add the wort? Or do I need to prepare the top off water ahead of time?
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amiaji View Post
Top up water would be the same as sparge water so I would say yes you need to adjust it as well.
If you're batch sparging, it doesn't matter. You can forego treating the sparge water and add the remainder of salts to the boil (for flavor purposes). If you're fly sparging, you need to treat your sparge water to ensure proper pH during the sparging process.

Eventhough you're not doing a full boil, you could add the total salt to the boil anyway. Adding the salts to the top-off water would be the next best thing since it's getting your end result to your target salt level, but typically (depending on how much you add) the salts won't readily dissolve in cold water.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:40 PM   #9
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I don't know if there is a right answer here. I think if you calculate your additions based on the pre-boil volume, then you could probably add top off water straight from the tap, assuming its not an incredibly large amount.

The best way to find out it is to try it both ways and see which is better.

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Old 09-20-2009, 03:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cactusgarrett View Post
Eventhough you're not doing a full boil, you could add the total salt to the boil anyway. Adding the salts to the top-off water would be the next best thing since it's getting your end result to your target salt level, but typically (depending on how much you add) the salts won't readily dissolve in cold water.
So, if I mash with ~1.5 gallons and sparge with ~1.5 gallons (thus boiling ~2.5 gallons after accounting for some absorption of water by the grain), I should add the appropriate additions to the 1.5 gallons of mash water, then add the appropriate amount of additions for an additional 3 gallons to the boil, so that when all is said and done, I'll have ~5.5 gallons in my fermenter (~2.5 from the boil, ~3 gallons from the tap as top-off water) with the targeted water profile.

This would mean that my boil would contain more that twice the concentration of the various ions that I am going to end up with in the fermenter (since I'm going to dilute the boil water with tap water). Will this high concentration affect anything in the brew kettle?
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