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Old 01-25-2011, 12:09 AM   #101
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I have recently brewed two IPA's with water adjustments being the only variable. With the first batch I added 5.2 stablizer (my standard practice) and for the second I added 3 tsp of Calcium Chloride, 1.5 tsp Gypsum, and .3 lbs (2%) of Acidulated malt roughly following the recomendations from this thread (I live in McLeansville, NC and my water comes from several different resorvoirs and I cannot get a definite water report but all of the potential reports - Greensboro and Burlington - show pretty soft water). I got a ph meter for Christmas (the Hanna Phep 5 from MoreBeer) and bought some Calcium Chloride, Sauermalt, Gypsum, as well as the necessary ph calibration solution and storage solution.

This was my first time using a ph meter and my mash was at 4.95ph at 152 degrees (the meter claims to have Automatic Temperature Compensation). My effieciency was just under 75%. I usually am between 73-80%.

The first beer will be ready soon and the second is in primary (very active fermentation within 16 hours).

I will gladly report my comparison of taste for the two beers.

My questions:

What are the consequences of low ph? What could I have done to adjust the ph after getting the low reading? Is there anything glaringly wrong with my process?

I recognize that you may need more information for my questions. This is my first time trying to adjust my water.

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Old 01-25-2011, 04:11 AM   #102
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You have added a lot of calcium - 3 times the recommendation of the Primer as the chloride and 1.5 times the recommendation for gypsum. The result from this calcium alone would be, in a water of low alkalinity, a drop in pH of 0.36 relative to a distilled water mash pH. Assuming that to be 5.75 you would be at 5.39. Two percent sauermalz would drop it, nominally, a further 0.2 for an estimated pH of 5.19 and that's at room temperature so you might expect, with the temperature dependence of mash pH, another drop of 0.2 at 152 °F which gets you to 4.99 - pretty close to what you measured so things are consistent with our understanding of what to expect. However, your meter is not intended to be used, or even stored above 122 °F. Its thermometer does not even read above 140 °F so, depending on how they apply the ATC algorithm, your measurement could be off quite a bit. Of course there can be quite a bit of variation in the calculation I did as well (because the drops in pH as a function of temperature and of the calcium concentration can be variable depending on water and malt). Nevertheless I am guessing you mash pH was probably OK. I'd be more worried about the meter. I suggest you see if you can get it to take a new calibration. If it can, then it doubtless survived.

So next time if you want to use that much calcium skip the sauermalz or if you can live with less calcium, reduce it and keep the sauermalz. Then be sure to measure mash pH at room temperature. If you find the pH going too low the usual recourse is to sprinkle in and thoroughly mix a small amount of chalk (calicum carbonate), wait a few minutes and check pH again.

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Old 01-25-2011, 04:57 PM   #103
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I have three factors that I wish to explore to better understand this for my particular situation:

1) My source water is pretty "soft", although it does not fall below 20 mg/l for Na and Cl.

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 9
Mg: 2
Na: 30
Cl: 42
SO4: 6
HCO3: 14

I would like to avoid diluting with RO. Ajdelange's baseline would have me dilute by a bit more than 50%, but add back in CaCl to move the Cl well over the current 42. If I do not dilute, the real effect is that I would have Na of 30 rather than 15. I do not suspect that that will be discernible, but if anyone wants to chime in, please do.

2) If I want to brew, say, an APA, and I want to increase SO4 for hop bitterness, I could cut back a bit on the CaCl addition and add CaSO4 and MgSO4. With the right proportions given my source water, I can still hit the minimum Ca and Cl for the baseline, stay under 20 ppm for Mg, and bump up the SO4 to say, 110 or so. Not that there is any magic around 110, but is that the right way to think about it?

3) I do full-volume, no sparge, BIAB, so I will typically use 8.25 gallons of water for a 10-12 lb. grain bill. My understanding is that with such a thin mash I can expect my mash pH to run higher, but I have no idea how much higher. I suppose the best way to deal with that is to get a pH meter, shoot for the lower end of the pH range the first time I use it, be ready to add CaCO3 or Sauermalz if I need to adjust, and use the experience to be smarter the next time. I have done plenty of successful BIAB brews, but it looks like it is time to invest in a pH meter to find out what is really going on. Any comments here?

Many thanks.

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Old 01-26-2011, 12:04 AM   #104
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Water chemistry is one element of brewing I've been neglecting to consider up until now. I'm hoping I can run a few questions past you guys just to make sure I'm understanding things correctly. Here's my current setup out of the tap:

Ca 31
Mg 10
SO4 59
Na 15
Cl 25
HCO3 34

Total hardness = 118
pH 7.8

1. Is there anything this water is good for without alteration? How worrisome is the low level of Ca here?

2. For pale ales and IPAs and such, I'm thinking of adding 1g gypsum per gallon of water, to give me something like this below. Look good? This does make the sulfate level fairly high, especially in relation to everything else (Cl in particular). Should I add anything else to balance?

Ca 92.5
Mg 10
SO4 206
Na 15
Cl 25
HCO3 34

3. I also like to brew a lot of stouts, with a pretty heft amount of roasted grain. My initial thought for these beers is to add 1g CaCO3 per gallon, giving me this below. How does this look?

Ca 137
Mg 10
SO4 59
Na 15
Cl 25
HCO3 195

Bicarbonates still seem a bit low here for a dark stout. I could also use baking soda to up the bicarbonates, but my sulfate level is already high in relation to the sodium level, and I'm guessing I don't want to increase the sodium that much. Any recommendations?

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Old 01-26-2011, 01:30 AM   #105
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GuldTuborg - I'd say that those water alterations are fine for those listed styles (they aren't "wrong"). Adding/subbing CaCl2 to either of those (pale ale or stout) would help boost some maltiness that may be lacking.

Looking into palmer's Cl:SO4 ratio (sometimes stated as SO4:Cl). The Brew Strong podcast has 4 water alteration ("water-ganza"?) episodes that are worth perusing.

It is said in there to have a minimum Ca conc. of 50ppm for proper fermentation purposes (but I wouldn't get fanatical about it unless you try it and really think it improves your beers, but it will prolly help most of your pale ones).

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Old 01-26-2011, 03:00 AM   #106
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Thanks. One of the problems I've noticed as a common theme in my brewing is that the body of my beers (regardless of style) always seems to be lighter than what I'd prefer, and what I shoot for. I've read that low calcium can produce beers with thinner bodies, and so part of me is wondering if the calcium element is to blame, if only in part.

I'll listen to the Brew Strong episodes and see if any further tweaking is needed. I'm sure trial and error will be the best way to get things right, but I'd prefer to start closer to, rather than further from, whatever that ideal is. Thanks and I'm open to more suggestions and criticism, should anyone else want to weigh in.

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Old 01-29-2011, 11:46 AM   #107
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So how does this look for an APA on the hoppier side, assuming that I tweak the pH if needed to account for the full-volume, BIAB, no-sparge? Thanks.

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 9
Mg: 2
Na: 30
Cl: 42
SO4: 6
CaCO3: 14

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 8.25 / 0
RO or distilled %: 0% / 0%

Total Grain (lb): 10.5
Non-Roasted Spec. Grain: 0.5
Roasted Grain: 0
Beer Color (SRM): 4.5

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaSO4: 2.5 / 0
CaCl2: 5.5 / 0
MgSO4: 5 / 0
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
NaCl: 0 / 0
CaCO3: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid (ml): 0
Sauermalz (oz): 3.3

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 75 / 75
Mg: 17 / 17
Na: 30 / 30
Cl: 127 / 127
SO4: 113 / 113
Cl to SO4 Ratio: 1.12 / 1.12

Alkalinity (CaCO3): -69
RA: -133
Estimated pH: 5.30

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Old 01-29-2011, 01:25 PM   #108
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Looks fine. Your sauermalz percentage is about 2 and given your grain bill your mash pH will, this, probably be closer to 5.75 - 0.2 - 0.08 = 5.47 than 5.3 but that should be OK. Those numbers represent, respectively, estimated distilled water mash pH, the drop from the 2% sauermazl, the drop from calcium and magnesium.

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Old 01-29-2011, 02:42 PM   #109
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I tasted the first beer I made using the guidelines in this thread. It was an APA, and it came much better than the previous all-tap water version.

Thanks for the primer and yet another number to try and hit on brew day.

Also, fwiw, in cooking a teaspoon is assumed to be 4.2 grams.

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Old 01-30-2011, 02:09 PM   #110
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Looks fine. Your sauermalz percentage is about 2 and given your grain bill your mash pH will, this, probably be closer to 5.75 - 0.2 - 0.08 = 5.47 than 5.3 but that should be OK. Those numbers represent, respectively, estimated distilled water mash pH, the drop from the 2% sauermazl, the drop from calcium and magnesium.
Thanks for the feedback. I have a pH meter on order, and I am very curious to see what I hit. If I oberve 5.47, then I can add sauermalz (2.9 oz to reach 3.7% of grain bill), and lower it to 5.3, correct?

Conceding that the chemistry calculations can get fairly complicated, is the difference between your pH calculation (5.47) and that of the EZ spreadsheet (5.3) mostly a function of my thin mash (3.14 qt/lb)?
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