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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Water modification after the fact?
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Old 03-28-2010, 03:21 AM   #1
Joe Camel
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Default Water modification after the fact?

I've been fiddling around with the EZ water adjustment spreadsheet (thanks TH for your good work) after already brewing up a pale ale with my well water.

On further analysis, my water is a bit weak in ions and a little high in alkalinity for the colour of beer I wanted, but that ship has sailed as the beer was already in carboy at the time.

I'm assuming here that Calcium, Magnesium and alkalinity need to be controlled during mash to hit the proper pH and make sure your conversion goes as planned.

The chloride to sulfate ratio sounds more like it affects the taste of the beer by playing with your palate, can this be mucked with after the fact to tune your beer?

Here is my water report :

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 25
Mg: 15
Na: 6
Cl: 11.1
SO4: 7.2
HCO3: 88


Not only are the salts low, their ratio puts them in the "Malty" range. Can I add CaCl2 and gypsum to boost my numbers now and alter the chloride sulfate ratio? Will it make a difference at this point? If I add 2grams of CaCl2 and 3 grams of gypsum to my 5 gallon fermenter, I'll end up with this:

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 90 / 90
Mg: 15 / 15
Na: 6 / 6
Cl: 62 / 62
SO4: 96 / 96
CaCO3: 72 / 72

RA (mash only): -1 (5 to 10 SRM)
Cl to SO4 (total water): 0.65 (Bitter)

Am I wasting my time or can I make a late stage adjustment and improvement?

Thanks in advance,

Joe

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Old 03-29-2010, 02:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Joe Camel View Post

Am I wasting my time or can I make a late stage adjustment and improvement?

Thanks in advance,

Joe

Hey Joe

Er, if the beer is already brewed you would be wasting your time. Is this AG or extract btw? Next time if it is AG treat the water you will mash with the salts, if it is extract then treat the water you will use for the boil. The ion's are necessary for the mash to work properly. This is less important if you extract brew because your wort has already been made in appropriate water by the malter. The extract brewer would still benefit however because getting the water to the desired ranges also helps the yeast out. I would just not worry about this batch, it will turn out fine. Next batch consider the salt modification.
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Old 03-29-2010, 05:21 PM   #3
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Hey Joe

Er, if the beer is already brewed you would be wasting your time. Is this AG or extract btw? Next time if it is AG treat the water you will mash with the salts, if it is extract then treat the water you will use for the boil. The ion's are necessary for the mash to work properly. This is less important if you extract brew because your wort has already been made in appropriate water by the malter. The extract brewer would still benefit however because getting the water to the desired ranges also helps the yeast out. I would just not worry about this batch, it will turn out fine. Next batch consider the salt modification.
Hey Netflyer,

It was an AG batch. Thanks for responding, but I'm not sure it addresses the question I had. That's my fault, I tend to ramble in the build up to the question and get bored myself rereading it (must work on clarity)

The question I have is: Is the chloride:sulfate ratio strictly a taste bud effect?
If it is then I'm guessing that modification of this ratio can be done after the fact, during bottling for instance.
If there are chemical reactions that take place, maybe during the boil to enhance bitterness, etc, then it can't be late modified.

If someone has done this experiment before, I'd love to hear the results, otherwise I can fiddle with this batch at bottling.
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Old 03-30-2010, 04:43 AM   #4
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Ah, sorry, I didn't see that part of the question! It really has a lot to do with flavor but I'm not sure of the impact after the wort is fermenting. Someone else will help I'm sure!

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Old 03-30-2010, 04:34 PM   #5
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Joe -- I have not used mineral salts to modify the chloride:sulfate ratio, but I *have* had good success with post fermentation pH adjustments (using potassium bicarbonate to increase pH and acid to reduce it). I was amazed at how much one can 'fine-tune' a beer this way.

I say give it a shot. Try it out in a pitcher of beer first, and see if you are successful. My guess is that it may be easier to increase maltiness with chlorides rather than the other way around, but I have no good reason to believe that (just a hunch).

If you try it, please let us know how it turns out!

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Old 07-15-2010, 08:05 PM   #6
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Joe, did you go ahead and add salts after fermentation?

I was just contemplating this when reviewing my notes about two pale ales (same recipe except for the hop variety). The first batch was much more crisp. I attributed the differences to the hops, but I realized I upped the sulfates on the first batch and I wonder if that was the difference. I was wondering, like you, if I could dose the flabbier pale I have now with something to affect the flavor.

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