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Old 08-04-2013, 04:42 PM   #11
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Ok so only add carbonates when mash ph is too low. So if I'm brewing a stout and my ph test strips say it is under say 5.3 or so then I would want to add a little carbonate to bring it up to the 5.3-5.6 range? In this case would you recommend baking soda?

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Old 08-04-2013, 05:26 PM   #12
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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?
Yes, the decarbonated or 'boiled' profiles represent the result of a simple technology that has been utilized for centuries and the resulting water quality that would likely be required to brew some styles.

Attendees to this year's AHA conference in Philly that were able to make it to my morning session on Historic Water know that its very UNLIKELY that any Burton brewer regularly used the high sulfate content water quoted for that city. When groundwater samples are pulled from a monitoring well or underutilized well, they can exhibit the high degree of mineralization noted above. However, the hydrogeology of that region makes it impossible to have water that mineralized in shallow wells under active use. The active use qualifier is key here. It turns out that dilution plays a very significant role in the water quality when breweries were pulling thousands of gallons of water per day out of those shallow wells. AHA members should log on to the AHA site and review the audio and visual components of my presentation to get a better handle on this issue.

Sulfate levels in the 700 to 800 ppm range would not have routinely been used for brewing and there is plenty of examples that indicate that good beer is not made with sulfate levels that high. 300 to 350 ppm seems to be a more typical 'sweet spot' or upper limit for sulfate content for brewing very hoppy beers. Sulfate content is a subjective brewing water component, don't be afraid to reduce that upper limit to suit your taste preference.

As mentioned, when water is significantly hardened to create a water for brewing a pale ale, it is possible to end up with too little alkalinity in the water and low mash pH. That will reduce hop expression and bitter perceptions. Adding alkalinity via baking soda is a viable alternative. For the impact of adding 60 ppm sodium to the mash with baking soda, the alkalinity can be raised by 150 ppm as CaCO3. That is pretty much the worst case that I can imagine in brewing and most brewing will require much less alkalinity (and its sodium impact). Therefore, baking soda is viable. Another consideration is that baking soda is only added to the mashing water. So that worst case 60 ppm sodium should be diluted significantly when the sparging water is added. On top of that, it is apparent in my experience that modest sodium content in the overall wort can enhance flavor. In general, I recommend sodium to be less than 50 ppm in most cases, with a preference that it usually be less than 25 ppm.
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Old 08-04-2013, 06:38 PM   #13
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Yes, adding bicarbonate of soda is a fine way add some alakli up to the point where the sodium begins to become noticeable/objectionable. But be wary of test strips. They are notorious for reading 0.3 pH low but not reliably that we can just say increase every reading from strips by 0.3. If a good, properly calibrated pH meter shows you a pH of less than 5.4 (at room temperature) then some alkali should be added.

It is best, until you get to the point where you can predict from experience about where the pH will, to make a small test mash from about a pound of the grist you plant to mash with a suitable amount of water. Check the pH of that, made additions of acid or alkali to get that test mash correct and then scale to the whole mash on the actual brew day.

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Old 08-04-2013, 07:02 PM   #14
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If a good, properly calibrated pH meter shows you a pH of less than 5.4 (at room temperature) then some alkali should be added.
AJ deLange and Mabrungard are the water experts, so I have nothing to add, except for one comment to this sentence. In my own personal experience, some of my best pale ales (in that they are "brighter") came from having a mash pH of 5.3-5.35.

In my brewhouse, a mash pH of 5.3 is just dandy and I wouldn't add any baking soda to raise it.

In tasting beer, it's obvious that there are far more off-flavors from a too-high mash pH and I wouldn't try to raise a mash pH of 5.2-5.3 unless I had made that recipe before and knew I wanted it higher.
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Old 08-05-2013, 11:43 AM   #15
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I would add to that a comment to the effect that pH is like any other parameter in brewing. The correct pH is the one that gives the beer you (or your 'customers') like best. The prevalent thinking is that 5.3 at room temperature would translate to close to 5 at mash temperature and that that's too low. But if it works, it works and one would be foolish to forego good beer just because it is not in compliance with some guideline. We all should experiment with pH outside the nominally accepted range just as we experiment with different levels of sulfate, chloride etc.

At some point the pH is going to get into a region that is too low. This has not ever happened to me but then I don't do a lot with roast malts. When I started my campaign against chalk in any beer above a certain SRM a couple of years ago I would get arguments to the effect that yes, the lower pH range did produce the brighter flavors but that they were too bright. Others argued that low mash pH led to sour tasting beer. Whatever the truth may be if it tastes good it is good (paraphrasing Duke Ellington).

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Old 08-09-2013, 03:14 PM   #16
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So I re-worked the profiles based on the input I got from this thread. I eliminated most of the carbonate inputs except for a very small amount of baking soda for the Dublin and London profiles for traditional stouts and porters. However, based on some of your comments regarding pH here maybe I shouldn't even add that unless my test strips are indicating that the pH is below about 5.2 at room temperature. So for those profiles should I just leave the baking soda out and keep my HCO3 levels at the very low 7.1 ppm that Portland water has? I also dialed back the additions of any of the minerals that would be above the recommended maximums on the bru'n water knowledge website such as taking the sulfate level below 300 instead of above 600 for the burton water profile. I added a small Epsom salt addition to every profile to bring the Mg levels above 5ppm, is this necessary or is there enough Mg in the grain that I can skip this step? In some cases I added extra gypsum and calcium chloride to bring the calcium levels above 40ppm. This resulted in higher levels of sulfate and chlorides than was present in some of the historical profiles but I attempted to keep the SO4/Cl ratio balanced for the style. Was that a good idea or is there a better way to do that? I would appreciate any further input on these profiles to improve them even further. Thanks!

Portland Oregon Brewing Water Additions for Different Styles.
This information is based off of the Portland Water Bureau's water quality analysis for April 2013 and the Brewers Friend Water Chemistry Calculator - http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/. The historical brewing city profiles are based off of the profiles built into the Brewer's Friend Calculator and the Bru'n Water website - https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge and they use the profiles which estimate the mineral content of the water after it was boiled to remove bicarbonates.

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.
A small amount of Epsom Salt was added to every profile to bring Mg above the recommended 5 ppm minimum, you may be ok skipping this addition as there may be enough magnesium in the grain. For some historical brewing city profiles the sulfites and/or Chlorides are higher than they were historically. This is because I had to add Gypsum and/or Calcium Chloride to bring the Calcium above the recommended 40 ppm to receive its benefits on enzyme performance in the mash and yeast flocculation in the fermenter. For the historical water profiles from cities that were known for dark beers with roasted malts I added a small amount of baking soda to increase the pH of the mash to offset the acidity of roasted malts. This also may not be necessary and probably should be avoided if the pH of the mash is above 5.2 before adding the baking soda. I will test this next time I make a stout and if the pH is at an appropriate level before the baking soda addition I will modify this document to remove that addition.

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

Balanced profile

Appropriate for light to medium colored beers with a balanced malt to hops ratio such as American Brown Ale, Blonde Ale, Barley Wine, Oktoberfest and American Wheat.

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
65-5-98-21-79-7

1.25 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Epsom Salt
0.25 tsp Canning Salt

Malty beers

Appropriate for light to medium colored beers that lean a little to the maltier side such as English Mild, Bock, Scottish ales, English Brown and Belgian Abbey Ales

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
57-5-48-3-77-7

0.5 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Epsom Salt

Hoppy beers

Appropriate for light to medium colored beers that lean a little to the hoppier side such as Pale ales, IPAs and most beers 40ibu or above.

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
85-8-160-3-52-7

2 tsp Gypsum
1 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.5 tsp Epsom Salt

Burton on Trent (dialed down to not exceed guidelines for each mineral)

Appropriate for ESB, Bitters, English pale ale, English IPA.

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
85-24-293-28-58-7

3 tsp Gypsum
1.75 tsp Epsom Salt
0.5 tsp Canning Salt

Dublin

Appropriate for traditional Dry Stouts

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
42-5-64-12-39-31

0.25 baking soda
0.75 tsp Gypsum
0.75 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Epsom Salt

Needed to add extra Calcium Cloride to bring Ca levels above the recommended minimum of 40 ppm. This brought Cl above historical levels but it is still an balance with Sulfates.

Edinburgh

Appropriate for traditional Scottish Ales

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
78-5-98-3-77-7

1.25 tsp Gypsum
1.5 tsp Calcium Chloride
.25 tsp Epsom Salt
Had to reduce Mg from historical levels to balance SO4 and get enough Ca from Gypsum. Also added Calcium Chloride to increase Ca level and to reduce SO4 to Cl ratio to improve malt perception which is characteristic of Scottish Ales.

London

Appropriate for traditional Porters and Dark Ales

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
42-5-64-12-39-31

0.25 tsp Baking Soda
0.75 tsp Gypsum
0.75 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Epsom Salt

Had to add extra Gypsum to get Ca level above the recommended 40 ppm minimum. SO4 level is still balanced with Cl.

Munich and Pilsen

Appropriate for traditional Dark and Light Lagers

Ca-Mg-SO4-Na-Cl-HCO3
42-5-64-3-39-7
0.75 tsp Gypsum
0.75 tsp Calcium Chloride
0.25 tsp Epsom Salt

Had to add extra Gypsum and Calcium Chloride to get Ca level above the recommended 40 ppm minimum. SO4 level is still balanced with Cl.

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Old 08-09-2013, 04:08 PM   #17
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Magnesium is unnecessary in your brewing water supply since malt adds all that is needed for the yeast. If you were brewing something with an outrageous percentage of raw sugar, then maybe you should add Mg. In most cases, Mg should only be added if you want the ion's astringent and bitter flavor effect in the finished beer. That is welcome in a pale ale, but probably not so welcome in a light lager style.

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Old 08-11-2013, 08:57 AM   #18
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I'd just like to give a thank you to this thread and the more expert home brewers with helping water adjustment questions. I just started looking into this after half a year of AG brewing and have learned a lot in the past three days. Anyways, there is also an article by the OBC on water adjustments for portland water http://www.oregonbrewcrew.org/Defaul...pageId=1508508.

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Old 08-11-2013, 08:01 PM   #19
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I'd just like to give a thank you to this thread and the more expert home brewers with helping water adjustment questions. I just started looking into this after half a year of AG brewing and have learned a lot in the past three days. Anyways, there is also an article by the OBC on water adjustments for portland water http://www.oregonbrewcrew.org/Defaul...pageId=1508508.
I've learned a lot too. From what I've learned in the past week or so since my original post is that the OBC article may not be a good water adjustment to go by because they add lots of chalk to bring the level of carbonates up to pre-boiling levels of the historical profiles which would make your mash way too alkaline. I will post my newest version of my water additions document soon, I removed the Epsom salt additions because the grain already has enough magnesium and I also removed any carbonate additions so as not to make the mash too alkaline.

I think what I've really learned is usually you only need to add a little gypsum and calcium chloride and maybe the occasional small addition of non-iodized table salt. If its a hoppy beer you add more gypsum and for a malty beer you add more calcium chloride.
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:32 PM   #20
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That's pretty much how it goes.

Another problem I spotted with the OBC article was the advice to boil the water to remove chlorine and precipitate solids. This water is so soft that boiling will precipitate nothing. Also, it is not necessary to boil to remove chlorine as that escapes by itself if the water is allowed to stand a few hours (e.g. over night). If chloramines are used then boiling for less than several hours will not remove it effectively. The use of Campden tablets will solve this problem.

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