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Old 10-21-2012, 03:40 AM   #1
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Default working with bru'n water sheet for the first time

I am prepping for a munich dunkel so I am using the munich boiled recommendations from the spreadsheet.

In order to prepare for my first lager and first water adjustment I am trying to apply this chemistry to a dunkelweizen and a hefe.

could I use this half distilled with the additions as seen in the attached photo and use the same new water profile for all three beers and only adjust the lactic acid to hit my target mash ph?

one thing that confuses me is the munich boiled profile in bru'n does not match beer smith or how to brew calcium (as an example). do I want the 75 ppm calcium or the 12 ppm recommended in the spreadsheet?

Thanks

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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 10-21-2012, 02:08 PM   #2
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Carbonaceous waters of Munich are boiled they are largely hardness/carbonate free and haven't much else in them. This is great for Helles or Weizen (though Weizens are made all over Germany with a wide variety of waters). So let's talk Weizens first understanding that the remarks apply to Helles as well. From the calcium POV you would be in good shape with a 1:1 dilution but not in such good shape from the alkalinity POV (though not in bad shape). Where you will be in trouble is with the sulfate. You really want that as low as possible with these beers so you should probably think about a 3:1 dilution. This would get the sulfate down to 19. I'd go even further (I installed an RO system to get rid of sulfate at 27 but that's because I brew mostly delicate lagers) and consider 4:1 dilution for sulfate at 15 or 5:1 to get it to 13. I don't like sulfate in general but that's me however many agree that sulfate and noble hops are a bad mix. Obviously if you are down to 1 part in 5 tap water the question is 'why bother with tap water at all - why not use straight RO?' and some do exactly that or use 10% tap water for 'trace' minerals. If you use high dilutions you will wipe out sulfate and kill alkalinity, both of which are good news but you will also wipe out calcium and chloride. Everyone will tell you you need to supplement the calcium but the secret to good lagers is also to have appreciable chloride so you need that too. The obvious answer is calcium chloride. Add about half a teaspoon (2.5 grams) of that to RO water or highly diluted tap water and you are on your way to an excellent Pils, Helles, Weizen etc. There is only one more thing you need to do and that's add some acidulated malt to set mash pH. 2-3% will do. You can also work out the equivalent lactic acid addition if you prefer that route (it may be easier to obtain) but the German breweries will use sauermalz or sauergut which lends some flavor characterisitics of their own. These are subtle but, IMO, desirable.

Now when you put Dunkle into the equation things change. Dunkles and dunkleweizen both contain dark malts and those are acid bearing and every brewer is taught that the Munich brewers used the dark malt to combat the carbonaceous waters until they discovered that boiling or lime treatment could be used to decarbonate after which Helles and Weiß beer were possible. Based on this concept dilution of your water would not be necessary from the alkalinity POV. However the sulfate problem remains so it seems you are back to RO/DI because of the sulfate. Now you are in the trickiest area of brewing water chemistry - dark beer with low alkalinity water. Many assume that this is a recipe for disaster because mash pH will fall to low. Actually that is often not the case. If the amounts of dark malts used are 'reasonable' your mash pH will be OK. In fact in can be towards the high end of the desirable range. 'Reasonable' here is defined as giving a balanced presentation of the qualities dark malts lend but as a home brewer you want to experiment and that means going outside the reasonable range. The obvious answer is to monitor mash pH with a pH meter.

My preferred recommendation for you would be to use the highly diluted RO water with calcium chloride supplementation but leaving out the lactic/sauermalz. If possible, check mash pH or better yet do a test mash before brewing. Should mash pH go to low correct with minute amounts of pickling lime. My less favored recommendation would be to brew with your water as it is and live with the sulfate. You might not find it that bad. Again check mash pH if possible.

There is no need to get too obsessive about whose profile works best with what beer. You can often make a better beer than the one you can do by following a profile. As a general rule the lowest mineral content makes the best (from the POV of drinkabilty) beer but you can go too far especially if chloride gets too low. Note that I didn't say the most authentic beer I said best from the POV of drikability.

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Old 10-21-2012, 03:11 PM   #3
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That 'boiled' Munich water profile is an example of what the water profile becomes. It is not a recommendation, just an example of where a brewer in Munich might have started from.

As AJ mentioned, boosting the calcium and chloride would be a good approach to creating a water for a Dunkel. Because the grist is just a little dark, it is less likely to need an external acid addition. With the moderate alkalinity remaining in an example of a boiled Munich water, its possible that an appropriate mash pH may be produced when the water is hardened with CaCl. That mineral addition reduces the water's RA and helps counter the alkalinity. For brewing a Dunkel, that RA reduction can be modest. For brewing a Hefe, that RA reduction needs to be much more significant. For the Hefe, an external acid addition like acid malt is probably a requirement.

Either of the Munich profiles show that sulfate is quite low. As AJ said, sulfates would not be desirable in water for a malt focused style like Dunkel. The resulting low calcium content of that boiled profile provides plenty of room to add calcium and chloride to promote the malty perceptions that are desirable for the style.

In the case of this tap water, the sulfates are too high and the OP is incorporating dilution to moderate them. The welcome side effect is the reduction of the tap water's alkalinity. Adding CaCl was the proper approach. Looking at the Finished water profile, it appears that the OP may want to increase the dilution a bit to further reduce the sulfate content and further supplement with CaCl to make up for the calcium. The OP should keep an eye on the predicted mash pH to keep that in range. Given that they may reduce alkalinity further than desirable in a quest to reduce sulfate, there is always a possibility that additional alkalinity might be needed.

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Old 10-21-2012, 03:13 PM   #4
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Fantastic information! Thanks a lot. I am going to fire off a few questions for you that should help me. Ill start by saying I have the inferior ph test strips and was hoping to ball park it in the software than even mess with the strips. If this is too risky I will not brew today. I have been brewing with this water for a few years now with only a charcol filter and the beers turn out pretty good but always leave me wanting to change something.

-Would you avoid brewing until you had a PH meter in your hand or would you feel confident basing everything off of the bru'n spreadsheet if you were in my position?
-You say you traditionally mute as much of the sulfate as possible for your beers but up the Chloride and Calcium. How concerned should I be about the SO4:Cl ratio? in your post on another thread you state:

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Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Chloride/sulfate ratios may be applicable in brewing British beers but they are definitely not applicable in brewing most lagers as the desireable chloride to sulfate ratio for most of them in infinite sulfate as low as possible. Thus low sulfate water is really what is desired for dunkles and while the chloride is also low for Munich water most beers benefit from a modest amount of chloride.
Would this apply to german ales and lagers as they are generally all malt foward? also do you ever maintain a higher sulfate if you were brewing an IPA do your hop foward beers turn out fine without the sulfates?

-I see that the munich profiles that I have read up on are high in bicarbonates (150+ppm) Bru'n water spread sheet states that the bicarbonates are generally undesirable. From what I understand the are necessary buffers to prevent an unstable mash. If I am brewing a light beer (hefe) should I back off on the pickling lime additions to maintain a lower bicarbonate, and for darker beers (dunkelweizen/munich dunkel) up the bicarbonates with lime to have a higher buffering power for the darker malts?

this new attachment is profiled with my dunkelweizen malts and lands me at 5.4 mash ph. would you remove the pickling lime from the equation and bump the cacl? When I increase CaCl to .5g/gal it takes my calcium to 44.2ppm and the chloride to 71.4ppm. I do not have a good understanding of the relative terms "high" or "low" and cannot tell if the Ca or Cl would be too high or that the bicarbonates would be too low without the lime. Does this look appropriate? also am I correct that wheat malt not add to the malt acidification?
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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 10-21-2012, 03:31 PM   #5
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this is the screenshot removing lime and lactic acid. I would assume out of the three water profiles listed I would be best off with the 2nd one as it has a higher Ca, bicarbonate and a lower Cl. but perhaps I am putting too much emphasis on upping the bicarbs, and am too fearful of having that high of Cl as seen in the 3rd screen shot.

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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 10-21-2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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You have picked up on the fallacy of using a water profile from a historic brewing city. Those profiles might be where those brewers started, but they undoubtedly incorporated ingredients and/or procedures to alter that profile to make it work with the grist they were brewing. In most cases, that means that additional alkalinity was removed or neutralized to promote an appropriate mash pH. This fact could be a strong reason for using the 'more focused' water profiles included in Bru'n Water that are either color-based or aimed to specific styles instead of City profiles.

I see that brewing with this unadjusted tap water would probably work OK with some styles and not so well with others. The sulfate is high for malty styles and the bicarbonate is a little high for lighter colored styles. I expect with a decent charge of gypsum, that water produces a fine PA or IPA. With a dose of acid, it probably makes pretty good light-colored ales and lagers. Its far from a disaster, just lacking the capability to delve into some styles really successfully.

I have tasted PAs and IPAs that were brewed with too little sulfate, but I can't say what that minimum concentration is. A few of those beers were brewed with near distilled water and I can attest that they were bland. The problem is that I can't define what a minimum sulfate level for a hop focused style is at this point. Some have suggested a sulfate level in the 100 ppm range. That seems reasonable, but I don't have that experience since I enjoy the sulfate level in my hoppy styles in the 300 ppm range. I have promised to explore this lower limit in my next PA. I'll be brewing with about 75 ppm sulfate into the fermenter and check higher doses with 'in the glass' additions of gypsum to see if I can find my preference. I'll be leaving the chloride level at my typical 55 ppm level.

If regular paper pH strips are all that is available, I would place far more confidence in the Bru'n Water pH prediction. The only times I've heard of Bru'n Water mis-predicting is when a lot of roast grains are used or if chalk is used. The problem with chalk is that it doesn't work at all in the mash unless you properly dissolve it with CO2. If you can get the plastic colorpHast strips, they seem to be more reliable excepting for an apparent pH shift lower than actual of about 0.2 to 0.3 units. So a strip reading of 5.0 suggests an actual pH of 5.2 to 5.3.

The concept of high or low when it comes to ion concentrations in brewing water are sometimes debated. I've included features into Bru'n Water that help keep a brewer within range via color-coded flags or notes in the cells. I think that the ranges I present are fairly agreed upon, but there are many sources that fail to qualify appropriate ion ranges when they are present with other ions. I think Bru'n Water provides guidance that includes those antagonistic effects that brewers should avoid. That can be a reason why Bru'n Water tends to flag high levels of some ions.

Regarding the concept of high or low when we are discussing bicarbonate...there is no prescribed value or range. The correct concentration should always be based on what the mash needs to achieve an appropriate pH. A brewer may notice that the bicarbonate cell in the Finished Water Profile in Bru'n Water never turns Green like the other cells in that row. That is because there isn't a bicarbonate target. A brewer can see that the water profiles included in Bru'n Water do have bicarbonate values, but those are not targets. They are starting points and the brewer should be adjusting their bicarbonate content to allow the mash to achieve a desirable pH.

Enjoy!

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Old 10-21-2012, 06:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
If this is too risky I will not brew today. I have been brewing with this water for a few years now with only a charcol filter and the beers turn out pretty good but always leave me wanting to change something.
No - not too risky. Only a few years ago you would be told you have great water and that you should be able to brew almost anything you like with it and you have demonstrated that this is the case. Today with RO/DI it is possible to have virtually any ion profile you like and so we can make recommendations tailored to your requirements/desirements.

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Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
-Would you avoid brewing until you had a PH meter in your hand or would you feel confident basing everything off of the bru'n spreadsheet if you were in my position?
I'd go ahead. The dark beers are the riskiest because of uncertainty/variability in the malt acidities. If the spreadsheet predicts 4.8 I'd look at the amount and type of dark malts you are using. If it predicts 5.4 - 5.6 then I think you'll be OK.

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-You say you traditionally mute as much of the sulfate as possible for your beers but up the Chloride and Calcium. How concerned should I be about the SO4:Cl ratio?
I wouldn't worry about it at all. Write it down in your logbook as additional data but don't let it drive your decisions. Forget about this 'malt forward'/hops forward stuff. YOu get malty beer by using more malt of the correct type. You get hoppy beer by using more hops of the correct type in the correct amount. I think the implication that you can dial in a desired hops/malt experience by setting the sulfate to chloride ratio is one of the cruelist hoaxes ever perpetrated on home brewers.

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Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
in your post on another thread you state:
Would this apply to german ales and lagers as they are generally all malt foward? also do you ever maintain a higher sulfate if you were brewing an IPA do your hop foward beers turn out fine without the sulfates?
As you know some German lagers are made with high sulfate waters and turn out fine. The brewers of those beers know what hop varieties to use and in what kind of charges with the water they have to brew with. I do Kölsch and the rare wheat beer with 0 (or as low as my RO system can get them) sulfate water the same as my Pils, Helles, Bock, Vienna. I do British ales only rarely and there I will go with the tap water which is 27 ppm. I've done pair comparisons for water classes in which I do an ale with 27 ppm and one with Burton level sulfate and everything else as ceteris paribus as I can manage. I've done this twice and the results were the same both times: the low sulfate beer was judged better but less authentic than the other. I'm associated with a brewpub where the guy cranks out really hoppy beers which the patrons love. His sulfate level is 47 and he doesn't supplement (AFAIK) being of the Michael Lewis 'your water is your terroir' school. So I'm pretty convinced that the notion that you must have high sulfate in British ales really needs to be looked at. But I am not recommending 27 or 47 or any other number as the 'proper' level for sulfate. It really is a matter of personal taste. I recommend experimentation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
-I see that the munich profiles that I have read up on are high in bicarbonates (150+ppm) Bru'n water spread sheet states that the bicarbonates are generally undesirable.
That's generally true. The only place you want bicarbonate is if you are brewing a beer based on a style that used a lot of dark malt to combat the bicarbonate in the local water and you want the roast/toast flavors. Dunkles could be an example of that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
From what I understand the are necessary buffers to prevent an unstable mash.
Umm - not so sure about that. Biarbonate/carbonic buffers to pH 6.38 and mash pH is often within 1 pH of that and the rule of thumb is that a buffer should be designed for a pH less than one unit away from the pK (6.38) so in that sense I suppose you could consider the buffering capacity of the carbonic/bicarbonate system but I generally think of bicarbonate as a base that is stressing the buffers of the malt by trying to pull pH higher than I want. I often say the first of the cardinal rules of brewing is 'alkalinity = bad'.


Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
If I am brewing a light beer (hefe) should I back off on the pickling lime additions to maintain a lower bicarbonate,
For lighter beers you should avoid alkali (pickling lime, bicarbonate, carbonate) alltogether. You will need acid for these beers, not alkali,


Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
and for darker beers (dunkelweizen/munich dunkel) up the bicarbonates with lime to have a higher buffering power for the darker malts?
Possibly but I always say that one should never (this is the second cardinal rule) add alkali unless it is confirmed by pH meter reading that it is necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
this new attachment is profiled with my dunkelweizen malts and lands me at 5.4 mash ph. would you remove the pickling lime from the equation and bump the cacl? When I increase CaCl to .5g/gal it takes my calcium to 44.2ppm and the chloride to 71.4ppm.
Yes because I believe the risks of going too high in pH by adding alkali are higher than the risks of going too low by omitting it but there is a risk that you will go too low. Things depend on how much of which dark malts you are using.


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I do not have a good understanding of the relative terms "high" or "low" and cannot tell if the Ca or Cl would be too high or that the bicarbonates would be too low without the lime.
The calcium and chloride levels look just dandy.


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also am I correct that wheat malt not add to the malt acidification?
No - not compared to what sauermalz does if that's what you are asking.
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Old 10-21-2012, 06:46 PM   #8
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I really appreciate all the help guys. I have been digging through books for months now trying to wrap my head around all this.

my last immediate question about what malts add malt acidification. in Bru'n water spreadsheet it only allows input for 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich, Crystal 40L, Special B, and Carafa. I cannot find charts in my books for malt acidity contributions which leaves me omitting pilsner and wheat malt. by doing this it treats my 13 lb grist as 4 lbs. (missing 6.9 lbs wheat and 2 lbs pils.) and calculates my estimated room temp mash ph at my deisred 5.6ph.

I can only assume adding the other 9 lbs of malt will change the ph and thus requiring an updated balance of additives. Could you point me in the right direction on where to find the necessary values to calculate an updated ph with wheat and pils, or whither or not it would change much.

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I just got a Mr Beer kit and want to brew a Double Imperial Blueberry Heffy Witesit....we have no air conditioning and live next to the sun...do you think I can logger and bottle this in time for a party I will be having next week?
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Old 10-21-2012, 07:19 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaSaBiS View Post
I really appreciate all the help guys. I have been digging through books for months now trying to wrap my head around all this.

my last immediate question about what malts add malt acidification. in Bru'n water spreadsheet it only allows input for 2 Row Pale Malt, Munich, Crystal 40L, Special B, and Carafa. I cannot find charts in my books for malt acidity contributions which leaves me omitting pilsner and wheat malt. by doing this it treats my 13 lb grist as 4 lbs. (missing 6.9 lbs wheat and 2 lbs pils.) and calculates my estimated room temp mash ph at my deisred 5.6ph.

I can only assume adding the other 9 lbs of malt will change the ph and thus requiring an updated balance of additives. Could you point me in the right direction on where to find the necessary values to calculate an updated ph with wheat and pils, or whither or not it would change much.
What??? Those are only malt names. You can enter any names you want in those blue cells. The names are just for your reference so that you can tell when you have all your recipe's malts entered. The malt types are in the drop down boxes. There are only 4 categories of malts: Base malts, Crystal malts, Roast malts, and Acid malt. Pils and Wheat malts are base malts. I'm sorry I mis-lead you in the program.
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Old 10-21-2012, 08:08 PM   #10
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My aha moment was that its not until I punch in the °L that the acidity contribution is calculated.
Thanks!

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