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Old 09-29-2012, 04:10 AM   #1
jskinner10
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Default Water Profile for IPA

So here is what I have to work with...

pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 158
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.26
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.0 / 3.0

Sodium, Na < 1
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 37
Magnesium, Mg 12
Total Hardness, CaCO3 143
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 1
Chloride, Cl 1
Carbonate, CO3 9
Bicarbonate, HCO3 160
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 147
Total Phosphorus, P 0.24
Total Iron, Fe 0.09

Any input on additions I should consider to improve this profile for an IPA would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Old 09-29-2012, 12:44 PM   #2
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Interesting report in that it is better balanced than many Ward Labs reports. But this one is inconsistent WRT the ratio of bicarbonate to bicarbonate and the pH (which would have to be about 9 for the stated ratio).

You have high alkalinity and low chloride and sulfate. The obvious approach is to replace the bicarbonate (which is actually closer to 175 mg/L if we trust the pH and alkalinity numbers) with chloride and sulfate. If you lived in the UK you'd be able to by CRS (carbonate reducing solution) which is ideal for this job and that's why they sell it over there. It's a mix of hydrochloric and sulfuric acids. Alas, it's not available (AFAIK) in the US. You can still use those acids if you can obtain them in food grade and know how to handle them. I don't recommend them unless you can and do. Do not use concrete preparation acid from the hardware store and battery acid from the auto parts store.

So that leaves phosphoric acid or lactic acid which you can get from your LHBS. Phosphoric acid is flavor neutral and it will take about 3.56 ml per 5 gal 80% to reduce the water's pH to 5.5 and cut the bicarbonate back to 22 mg/L - a manageable level. But you will want to build up the chloride and sulfate ant that will require the addition of calcium chloride and calcium sulfate. With the level of phosphate left from the acidification with phosphoric acid the maximum calcium level that can be tolerated without precipitation of calcium phosphate is 78 mg/L but that's OK because in the course of removing phosphate the calcium releases protons which will over come the alkalinity of the malts and help establish mash pH in the proper range. Lactic acid doesn't have this 'problem'. 4.55 mL of 88% lactic acid will have the same effect as the 3.56 ml of phosphoric (per 5 gal). Lactic is strongly flavored, however, and you might be able to taste it. Phosphoric is preferred from that point of view but it makes calculations much more difficult.

There is another approach to getting rid of the alkalinity and that is to dilute it away. Cutting your water 4:1 with RO or DI water will reduce the alkalinity to about 30 which is OK. You will still need to add sulfate and chloride and will still need some acid to hit mash pH but the amounts will be much less. This is a much simpler approach (if you have a supply of RO water). It is described in the Primer in the Stickies.

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Old 09-29-2012, 03:31 PM   #3
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Thanks for the fantastic reply, aj. It sounds like the simplest approach would be to start using RO water for most of my brew.

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Old 09-29-2012, 06:10 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jskinner10 View Post
Thanks for the fantastic reply, aj. It sounds like the simplest approach would be to start using RO water for most of my brew.
I disagree. This tap water may have too much alkalinity for some brews, but that is easily corrected with a minor acid addition when dealing with an IPA water. For an IPA, I'd suggest boosting the calcium and sulfate significantly with gypsum. That calcium dose will effectively reduce the residual alkalinity of the brewing water and reduce the need to neutralize the excessive alkalinity. I enjoy a sulfate level in the 300 ppm range, but that is certainly a matter of taste. I do suggest a sulfate level of at least 200 ppm to provide the dryness and crispness that is a hallmark of the style.
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Old 09-29-2012, 09:24 PM   #5
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>>I enjoy a sulfate level in the 300 ppm range, but that is certainly a matter of taste. I do suggest a sulfate level of at least 200 ppm to provide the dryness and crispness that is a hallmark of the style.

Martin,
In BrunWater the only Style with a sulfate level > 200 is Pale Ale (at 300) unless thats a typo.
The "Amber Bitter" has a profile of 110 Sulfate

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Old 09-29-2012, 10:28 PM   #6
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So is the bicarbonate level in my water going to be problematic for pale ales and IPAs?

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Old 09-29-2012, 11:58 PM   #7
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Yes, it is but how much of a problem? Many a home brewer has brewed IPA's (and other beers) for years with water like yours and while they may not have been as good as they might have been they haven't been bad. If you get rid of the alkalinity and use a bit of sauermalz in your grist you will get a good beer. Getting mash pH into the right range is like turning up the saturation control in Photoshop. All the flavors become 'brighter'. Control of mash pH is very easy if you have low mineral water. Just add sauermalz at about 2% and you are done. You can then adjust chloride and sulfate to taste (see Primer). Pale ales and IPA's are traditionally made with high sulfate content. That doesn't say the best pale ales or IPA's are made with high sulfate contest. What is best is a matter of your personal prefference. I always recommend starting out with low sulfate and working up until you hit (or exceed) what you like best. Keep in mind that you can get a rough idea about what sulfate will do when added to the mash tun by experimenting with finished beer to which you add more or less gypsum in taste testing.

There is no magic formula, spreadsheet, calculator or primer that is going to take you straight to Nirvana. You are going to have to experiment. It's like everything else in cooking.

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Old 10-03-2012, 06:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
For an IPA, I'd suggest boosting the calcium and sulfate significantly with gypsum. That calcium dose will effectively reduce the residual alkalinity of the brewing water and reduce the need to neutralize the excessive alkalinity. I enjoy a sulfate level in the 300 ppm range, but that is certainly a matter of taste. I do suggest a sulfate level of at least 200 ppm to provide the dryness and crispness that is a hallmark of the style.
I agree, but you don't have to go that high. Been brewing amazing IPAs with 80-90 ppm sulfate / 40-50 ppm chloride / 100-120 ppm calcium for awhile now with great success. Some gypsum and calcium chloride should do the trick. I think it's more about the ratios than the overall amounts (to an extent).

I would also suggest bringing the sodium up to 10-15 ppm. A little canning salt goes a long way in terms of overall flavor perception. Don't add more magnesium or bicarbonate though.
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