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Old 08-02-2013, 10:39 PM   #1
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Default Water chemistry for Portland, OR water made easy.

I made this for my own use so I don't have to calculate how much of each water agent I need every time I brew. I thought it may be helpful to other Portland brewers so I am posting it. Its designed for a 5 gallon batch at about 6% ABV using 11 lbs of grain and 8.8 total mash and sparge water. If I eventually find the time to expand upon it I may create a spreadsheet for different beer strengths but I thought 6% was a good average for most styles of ale. Hopefully someone else finds this helpful. Also I am open to any suggestions anyone may have for it.

Portland Oregon Brewing Water Additions for Different Styles.

This information is based on an average 5 gallon batch using a total of 8.8 gallons of mash and sparge water for 11lbs of grain. It is based off of the Portland Water Bureau's water quality analysis for April 2013 and the Brewers Friend Water Chemistry Calculator. The water in Portland has a very low mineral content which gives us a clean slate for adding brewing salts for specific style water profiles. The water mineral content doesn't vary significantly from year to year so these approximate brewing salt additions for various styles should be close enough to continue using for many years. While it is slightly less accurate, to keep things simple measurements are in teaspoons in ¼ teaspoon increments rather than grams so that no special scale is required.. If you have a Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) then add the salts to that, if not mix all the salts together and add just under half to the mash and the rest to your sparge water. If you are brewing with significantly more or less mash water than the 8.8 gallons this is intended for then I would suggest using the brewer's friend water chemistry calculator and inputting your mash and sparge water total and using the following mineral content for Portland.

Portland Water Mineral Content measured in ppm
Ca - 1.4, Mg - 0.5, SO4 - 0.41, Na - 2.8, Cl - 2.5, HCO3 - 7.1

Balanced profile 1
1 tsp Baking Soda
1.25 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride

Balanced profile 2
2.25 tsp Baking Soda
2.5 tsp Gypsum
3 tsp Calcium Chloride

Light colored and malty
0.75 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

Light colored and hoppy
2.25 tsp Gypsum
0.75 tsp Calcium Chloride

Burton on Trent (Historic)
2.75 tsp Baking Soda
8.5 tsp Gypsum
1.25 tsp Calcium Chloride
3 tsp Epsom Salt
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

Dortmund (Historic)
4.75 tsp Chalk
3.5 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.5 tsp Epsom Salt
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

Dublin (Dry Stout)
4 tsp Chalk
0.75 tsp Gypsum
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

Edinburgh (Scottish Ale, Malty Ale)
3 tsp Chalk
0.25 tsp Baking Soda
0.75 tsp Gypsum
0.25 tsp Calcium Chloride
1 tsp Epsom Salt
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

London (Porter, Dark Ales)
2.25 tsp Chalk
0.75 tsp Baking Soda
0.75 tsp Gypsum
1 tsp Calcium Chloride
1 tsp Epsom Salts

Munich (Dark Lager)
4 Chalk
0.5 tsp Baking Soda
0.5 tsp Epsom Salt

Pilsen (Light Lager)
0.25 tsp Baking Soda
.025 tsp Gypsum

Dusseldorf (Altbier)
1.5 tsp Chalk
1.25 tsp Baking Soda
0.25 tsp Gypsum
1.75 tsp Calcium Chloride
1 tsp Epsom Salt

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Old 08-02-2013, 11:15 PM   #2
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That is a nice start. However, the alkalinity level that you are creating in most of those profiles is excessive. Those historic profiles are especially flawed in that respect. Those profiles attempt to recreate the RAW water quality. Unfortunately, that is not what the brewers in those locations used to brew with. A variety of techniques were used to reduce the raw water alkalinity to enable proper brewing with those waters.

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Old 08-03-2013, 12:12 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
That is a nice start. However, the alkalinity level that you are creating in most of those profiles is excessive. Those historic profiles are especially flawed in that respect. Those profiles attempt to recreate the RAW water quality. Unfortunately, that is not what the brewers in those locations used to brew with. A variety of techniques were used to reduce the raw water alkalinity to enable proper brewing with those waters.
So what you are saying is the historical profiles on the Brewers friend calculator are flawed?
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:18 AM   #4
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So what you are saying is the historical profiles on the Brewers friend calculator are flawed?
Well, they aren't "flawed" in the sense that the water profile may be incorrect. It very well might be. But the brewers who may have had that water profile didn't brew with it like that necessarily. The "profile" listed doesn't tell you that a brewery boiled the water before using it to drop the alkalinity, for example.

Just like at my house, my tap water may or may not be my brewing water. I can do some lime softening to drop the akalinity, or preboil my sparge water to do the same.

In general, adding chalk to brewing water is a bad idea. Some of the other additions may be ok, depending. I've never needed to raise my mash pH, so I've never used baking soda. Usually, a too-high mash pH is the issue for brewers, not the reverse. But there may be some cases where adding some (like in your portland water) for a dark stout might be a good idea.
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:20 AM   #5
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I just did a test on the brewers friend calculator to see how these numbers worked for different water volumes for other grain bills. Since you are shooting for the same water volume in the kettle you are only adjusting for water absorption by the grains with more or less grain so the difference in water required for 8lbs of grain and 14lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch is only about 3/4 gallon. Therefore these numbers actually hold up well for a 5 gallon batch in general regardless of your grain bill.

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Old 08-03-2013, 12:24 AM   #6
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Well, they aren't "flawed" in the sense that the water profile may be incorrect. It very well might be. But the brewers who may have had that water profile didn't brew with it like that necessarily. The "profile" listed doesn't tell you that a brewery boiled the water before using it to drop the alkalinity, for example.

Just like at my house, my tap water may or may not be my brewing water. I can do some lime softening to drop the akalinity, or preboil my sparge water to do the same.

In general, adding chalk to brewing water is a bad idea. Some of the other additions may be ok, depending. I've never needed to raise my mash pH, so I've never used baking soda. Usually, a too-high mash pH is the issue for brewers, not the reverse. But there may be some cases where adding some (like in your portland water) for a dark stout might be a good idea.
Thanks for the good info, especially about the chalk. I will mostly be using the balanced, light malty and light hoppy profiles, do those additions look ok?
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Old 08-03-2013, 12:35 AM   #7
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Thanks for the good info, especially about the chalk. I will mostly be using the balanced, light malty and light hoppy profiles, do those additions look ok?
Probably, but I didn't run it through the bru'n water spreadsheet to check the numbers. Mabrungard is the expert, so I'll defer to him on that!
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Old 08-03-2013, 04:28 AM   #8
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Your basic idea is a very reasonable one and many have endeavored to come up with a set of water 'recipes' over the years, including me. Just for laughs, here's mine for Munich from way back when:

Munich 2
Target City: Munich2 Base Water: Deionized
Balancing pH 9.8255 is greater than 8.40 and is thus set to 8.40
Net charge (imbalance) at this pH: 0.9102 mEq/L
SALTS ADDED FOR THIS SYNTHESIS:
Sodium Chloride : 1.37 mg/L
Calcium Sulfate Dihydrate : 15.22 mg/L
Calcium Chloride Dihydrate : 76.56 mg/L
Magnesium Sulfate Heptahydrate : 197.94 mg/L
Calcium Carbonate : 161.21 mg/L
Magnesium Carbonate : 0.00 mg/L
Sodium Bicarbonate : 5.32 mg/L
Carbonic Acid : 3.16 mEq/L

You can see this recipe and the others at http://www.wetnewf.org/pdfs/Brewing_...es/Recipes.pdf. They were generated so long ago that they were done, not by a handy spreadsheet as we do today, but by FORTRAN code that ran overnight to produce these 21 recipes.

Since those days perspectives have changed and the idea of following a recipe has fallen into disfavor for reasons, some of which, have been aluded to in earlier posts. One is the problem with chalk. If you look at my Munich recipe you will see that chalk is listed and that is because carbonaceous waters come about through the dissolving of limestone by carbonic acid. If you want to emulate carbonaceous waters you must use carbonic acid. Just adding chalk is half the process. You cannot closely duplicate a carbonaceous water without the CO2.

Without going into all the other problems with profiles (one of which is that most of the profiles in the literature are not valid because they cannot balance electrically unless the pH is unreasonably high, IOW, they tend to understate the alkalinity) I will mention that even if you do correctly implement one by the use of CO2, a laborious process (but nature takes even longer) most of the chalk/CO2 will come right out of solution as soon as the water is heated in the HLT and all your trouble will have been wasted.

We treat water for two reasons. First, is to establish proper mash pH. This must be done whatever type of beer we are brewing. Getting rid of alkalinity is the key to proper mash pH thus any profile that calls for addition of carbonate or bicarbonate is suspect. The exception is beers that use a lot of dark crystal or roast malts. These contribute acid which can drive pH too low and in those cases alkalinity is needed to neutralize that acid. If a beer requires alkalinity then it probably has too much dark malt. This comment needs to be clearly marked as opinion as home brewers love to experiment and may well wish to brew beers with 'too much' dark malt in them. In these cases sodium bicarbonate can be used in the water up to the point where the sodium becomes annoying or lime (calcium hydroxide) can be used in the mash. Chalk should be avoided for rather complex reasons but they are set out at http://www.wetnewf.org/pdfs/chalk.html if you are interested.

The other reason for treating brewing water is to make sure that it has appropriate levels of chloride for the desired body/mellowness and appropriate level of sulfate for hops harshness/dryness.

The question then is how does one proceed given that he wants to brew a Munich Helles? Rather than try to recreate the water of the ISAR or the sources used by the modern city of Munich he should realize that light beer cannot be brewed with carbonaceous water and that absent the hardness and bicarbonate Munich water is pretty soft and low in sulfate and chloride. Starting with low mineral water such as RO or Portland water a modest addition of calcium chloride should be all that is necessary. The fact that Munich water contains some magnesium does not mean that you want magnesium in your Munich style beer.

By contrast, if you are going to brew a Burton style ale you need to understand that a lot of Burton brewries' waters were highly gypseous and add some calcium sulfate in addition to the calcium chloride. This is a good place to caution against cleaving to the chloride to sulfate ratio as a parameter whose value must be closely maintained for a particular beer to be any good. The correct amounts of chloride and sulfate are those that give you the beer you want. This must be determined by experiment. You can use published profiles to give you an idea as to what those levels may be the first time you brew a particular style and you can experiment with adding gypsum and calcium chloride to finished beer to see what their flavor effects are.

I could go on but all this stuff has been hashed over thoroughly here and elsewhere in the home brewing 'literature'.

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Old 08-04-2013, 05:06 AM   #9
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So the water chemistry calculator at brewery's friend also has "decarbonated" versions of burton and Munich waters which are supposed to emulate the water after the brewers boiled off the carbonates. I didn't realize what it meant by decarbonated at first and thought it had something do do with the fact that the beers were historically served with low or no carbonation and I had no interest in brewing a totally flat beer.

With the much lower carbonate level would these profiles be better to work with? They still seem pretty extreme on the level of sulfites in the burton profile at 720ppm or is that not as much of an issue?

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Old 08-04-2013, 06:07 AM   #10
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You are blessed in having so little alkalinity (bicarbonate). I wouldn't add any. The only reason to have it is to balance the acids of dark malt. If you have enough dark malt to lower pH too far you must add some alkalinity but as most beers need acid having very low alkalinity water as opposed to the 1 mEq/L levels typical of decarbonated water only means that less acid is needed.

That is an awful lot of sulfate but I have seen water reports for Burton that list that much. Whether you would want to make a beer with that much or not is a different matter. Before doing so I would make a beer with 1/2 or 1/4 that much and test the effects of sulfate by adding gypsum to the beer in the glass. If you like having that much, use it in the next brew.

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