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Old 10-13-2010, 04:20 PM   #1
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Default Water chemistry Primer questions/advice

It says to sharpen hop bitterness use additional sulfate. Sulfate wasn't mentioned in the baseline additions. One of the other posts refers to Gypsum as being (calcium sulfate). Is it add gypsum to increase hop bitterness?

It says for more sweetness add chloride. Is chloride the same as the aforementioned calcium chloride dihydrate?

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Old 10-13-2010, 04:24 PM   #2
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what about really hard and salty water?

Na - 211
HCO3 - 352

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Old 10-13-2010, 05:44 PM   #3
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It says to sharpen hop bitterness use additional sulfate. Sulfate wasn't mentioned in the baseline additions. One of the other posts refers to Gypsum as being (calcium sulfate). Is it add gypsum to increase hop bitterness?
Sulfate isn't in the baseline because lots of people don't like sulfate. The guideline does recommend some gyspsum (CaSO4.2H2O) for those doing British beers because they are commonly brewed with fairly gypseous water.

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It says for more sweetness add chloride. Is chloride the same as the aforementioned calcium chloride dihydrate?
Yes - CaCl2.2H2O.

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what about really hard and salty water?

Na - 211
HCO3 - 352
The real problem here is the alkalinity which is about 285 for a water with this much bicarb. It would have to be diluted down by 9:1 to get that alkalinity down to 28 which is still pushing things a bit. I'd probably just go with RO water (but note that 90% rejection of bicarb by your RO unit would would still leave alkalinity at 28.5. Check the rejection specs that come with the unit.
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Old 10-13-2010, 06:41 PM   #4
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Can anyone recommend a good RO system or manufacturer?

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Old 10-13-2010, 08:51 PM   #5
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For starting out (and probably most home brewing) GE makes an under-the-sink model which produces about 5 gallons a day. It's a little over $100 at Home Depot. Lots of guys here seem to have obtained systems for their aquaria. I personally use a Titan system.

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Old 10-13-2010, 09:33 PM   #6
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Sulfate isn't in the baseline because lots of people don't like sulfate.
Hi, ajdelange,

Your comments about the taste imparted by sulfates in this, and other, posts have led me to think they could be the main problem in my beers. For the sake of having a basis for comparison, would you mind commenting on the sulfate levels in Sierra Nevada Pale Ale? I figure that's probably one of the most readily available brands for anyone reading this post. So, if you pop open a bottle of SNPA and pour a glass...do you detect that sulfates are used in their brewing process? And if so...roughly in what range? I'm hoping you say that they are either NOT present, or are only present in very low levels (which would validate my current theory, haha). But of course, I'd rather hear the truth if it's not the case

The problem I've been having in my (several) attempts at cloning this and other American PA/IPA's is that they come out way too bitter. People have told me to watch my sparge temps, watch my mash pH, etc. I monitor all of these things...and they are all within appropriate levels. So, at this point, there's really no where in my process that I can pinpoint--except water chemistry.
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Old 10-14-2010, 01:47 PM   #7
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So, if you pop open a bottle of SNPA and pour a glass...do you detect that sulfates are used in their brewing process? And if so...roughly in what range?
I am extremely flattered that someone thinks my palate is that good! What I can do is pop open the presentation that one of their guys gave at an ASBC conference a couple of years back. Chico water is pretty low in sulfate but they dose it with gypsum to the extent of 60 mg/L sulfate. They found that that was OK if they controlled mash pH with acid but if they tired to control it with CaCl2 they 1) didn't control it very well and 2) got harsh beer. This is just more ammunition for me in my crusade to get people to control mash pH and de-emphasize mineral additions.

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The problem I've been having in my (several) attempts at cloning this and other American PA/IPA's is that they come out way too bitter. People have told me to watch my sparge temps, watch my mash pH, etc. I monitor all of these things...and they are all within appropriate levels. So, at this point, there's really no where in my process that I can pinpoint--except water chemistry.
Try a beer with reduced sulfate and see if you like the result better. Control mash pH and see if you like the beer better.
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:16 PM   #8
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The real problem here is the alkalinity which is about 285 for a water with this much bicarb. It would have to be diluted down by 9:1 to get that alkalinity down to 28 which is still pushing things a bit. I'd probably just go with RO water (but note that 90% rejection of bicarb by your RO unit would would still leave alkalinity at 28.5. Check the rejection specs that come with the unit.
what's the issue with RA? If i brew darker beers will that get me into an acceptable pH range?
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Old 10-14-2010, 02:16 PM   #9
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I am extremely flattered that someone thinks my palate is that good!


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Chico water is pretty low in sulfate but they dose it with gypsum to the extent of 60 mg/L sulfate.
A quick google search tells me that this is the same as 60ppm, which is much lower than the levels I've used in the past...and therefore validates my current hypothesis (that sulfates have been harshing up my beer!).

By the way...that information about SN is awesome. I've heard Steve Dressler in interviews and I've read some of his (alleged) posts online; he doesn't seem to hold his cards too close when it comes to recipes, which is really cool. But this is the first I've EVER heard about their actual water. I emailed them a couple of months back and asked specifically about the water they use; the information I got back was vague. Still...I thought it was pretty cool that they responded.

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Try a beer with reduced sulfate and see if you like the result better. Control mash pH and see if you like the beer better.
I currently do the latter...pH meter and all. I plan to try the former with my next batch using your baseline/primer approach (fingers crossed that it helps!).

Thanks again.
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Old 10-14-2010, 04:51 PM   #10
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We all know that the use of dark malt was a mechanism early brewers adopted to combat high water alkalinity. The use of roast and high color crystal malts lowered mash pH but perhaps not as much as we would like by today's standards. For water with alkalinity this high you doubtless could brew a pretty good dark beer but alkalinty that high would be a real problem for a lighter beer such as a pilsner.

Now if you cut that alkalinity by 10 and try to brew a dark beer you will probably be OK but you really should check mash pH and if it is too low add some chalk to the mash.
thanks for the info. i've been brewing with ice mountain spring water previously since my water obviously sucks, and my darker beers seem to have a twang to them. i've been thinking that the relatively soft spring water is the culprit, so i wanted to try a dark beer with tap water in the mash.

with spring water my lighter bitters/ambers/ipas have been great.
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