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Old 09-28-2009, 09:39 PM   #1
ipscman
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Default Who says we really want to use the source water profile?

George Fix challenges this whole idea. Yes, you want to adjust your pH; yes, you may want to adjust your chloride to sulfate ratio. But, the idea that you want to match a given profile is full of holes.

1. The water profiles we see change radically depending on time of year. Part of the year some areas use wells, reservoirs, other times rivers, aquaducts.

2. The profiles may or may not be what they were in the past.

3. As here, most professional brewers adjust their water for different styles of beer. They don't blindly imitate any profile. E.g. the calcium levels in Munich and Vienna are way too low for basic mashing, boiling and fermenting requirements. If we blindly followed their profile we would have poor extraction, poor hot-break coagulation, poor flocculation of yeast, etc. Priest, Handbook of Brewing, says the Germans adjust their calcium up to address this. They don't use the profile just because it is there.

Fix, Principles of Brewing Science, 2nd ed., pp. 14-15
"One must be careful, on the other hand, with indiscriminate use of historical models, for they can be misleading. A striking case is Dortmund...The Dortmund water is very hard in the sense that it is loaded with minerals. According to Michael Jacksoon (1997), however, Dortmund beers are generally 'big and malty, with a clean, delicate sweetness.' These characteristics and the Dortmund water-ion cconcentrations will have a mineral or salty taste with an underlying harsh aftertaste, totally uncharacteristic of authentic styles.

This conflict is resolved in part by noting that Dortmund brewers have always been in the forefront of development of techniques for treating water...(which) tends to support the notion that extensive mineral reduction is used...These data tend to support the notion that authentic Dortmunders are brewed with water that is as soft or softer than that used for Czech Pilsners. In short, using the Dortmund water-ion concentrations as a guide to desired water composition for this style is at best dubious. There are many other examples that illustrate analolous effects, Viennese style beers are a prominent example.

Thus, instead of using historical examples as a guuide, the best overall strategy is to first make sure the technical requirements of the mash are met (i.e., a proper pH) and then to adjust the mineral content by using the finished beer's flavors as the guide."

I think some of us have confused the fact that brewers of old had to deal with the water they had. So, if highly alkaline water is what you had in Burton-on-Trent, you could use the darker malts to acidify that particular type of water. That doesn't mean we have to go reinvent their water problem to make that style of beer.

NOW, however, the brewers there, as here, know HOW to adjust their water to pretty much make any kind of beer. Know what your water is. Adjust the pH accordingly. Add mineral salts to get the chloride to sulfate ratio you think fits the style and move ahead.

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Old 09-28-2009, 09:59 PM   #2
lamarguy
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Default

Agreed, the various water profiles are more of a historical reference not to be directly applied to one's recipe without considerable thought/checking.

However, some beers do benefit from a higher (balanced) mineral content to give the impression of a fuller body and texture, which goes beyond a simple Cl/SO4 ratio.

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Old 09-28-2009, 10:16 PM   #3
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Default Example?

I think I agree. Can you give some examples? What I'm seeing as a constant is the need to ensure that the mash has at least 75 ppm of Calcium (in some form) and 100 ppm of Calcium (in some form) survives, or is added, into the boil kettle. The mash neutralizes calcium - 1 calcium ion works with 2 bicarbonate ions, neutralizing both; thus reducing the calcium by whatever one-half of one's bicarbonate levels are. In my case I have bicarbonate at 45 ppm. Thus I lose 22.5 calcium ions in that equation in the mash.

In addition the mash absorbs 50-60% of the calcium in the spent grains. So that all has to be taken into account if the boil kettle is to get a residual of at least 100 ppm to be effective according to Briggs, Kunze, Narziss, Lewis, etc.

What I saw often was that raising the bicarbonate levels to change flavor, match a historical model, create more mouthfeel... made this difficult to do. If you have too much calcium (much over 150 ppm in the boil) you run into other problems (not enough phosphate survival for adequate fermentation, flavor effects, etc.). If you have higher bicarbonates than calcium, the calcium is reduced to too low a level for the boil requirements.

Can you give some examples that meet your criteria while addressing these issues? I'm definitely interested. We all want to make better the best beer possible.

;-)

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