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Old 04-22-2009, 05:53 PM   #1
Beerrific
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Default Building Water for a Kolsch

I have decided to finally give building my water a go for the first time on an upcoming Kolsch. I have access to this year's water report, our water here is very soft so I am going to just build from there.

I was hoping some of the water experts would look over this and see if I am making any horrible mistakes.

Here is the base water (ppm):
Ca: 4
Mg: 1.1
Na: 9.4
Cl: 5
SO4: 7
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 22


Adding calcium chloride, gypsum, and epsom salt to achieve (ppm):
Ca: 96
Mg: 14
Na: 9.4
Cl: 125
SO4: 122
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 22

A few questions:
1. Is it easier to treat all the water (~10 gallons) and draw off for the mash and sparge, or treat the mash and the sparge separately?
2. How hard is to get this stuff to dissolve? I am thinking I might treat the mash and the sparge separately so I can use the heating of the water to aid in dissolving the salts. I know it is not technically necessary to treat the sparge water, but I want to achieve certain ion levels/ratios in the final beer.

On a side note: Anyone have water with Ca this low? I did not realize it was so low, I think I have been cheating my yeasts out of a needed nutrient.

Am I missing anything here?

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Old 04-22-2009, 10:01 PM   #2
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You're overdoing it for a Kolsch. Ditch the gypsum and magnesium sulphate, you don't want a sulphate influenced hop profile in this beer. Just use some calcium chloride to get the Ca+ up to 50/75 ppm and leave it at that.

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Old 04-22-2009, 11:11 PM   #3
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I was under the impression that it was the ratio of chloride to sulfate ratio that really determined the bitter/malty balance. I wanted it around 1:1 to keep it balanced.

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Old 04-23-2009, 03:00 AM   #4
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+1 on Big Ed's answer. I totally envy your base water.

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Old 04-23-2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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looks like good numbers to me. I'm not an expert by any means, but it is also my understanding that the ratio of sulfate to chloride determines malty/bitterness.


good bad or ugly, I add all my salts to my total volume (not they don't all dissolve) stir it up very vigorously and then draw off my strike water. Can't say if this is the right or wrong way, but it's easy, and seems to work out. My base water here in tucson is already pretty suitable for dark beers, and I really haven't noticed much of a difference in my stouts and porters as I only bump up the calcium and magnesium a tad. I've started cutting half and half with distilled for my pale ales and building it back up, and it's made a world of difference.

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Old 04-23-2009, 03:49 PM   #6
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Wow, nice water profile... I need to get mine tested soon! I think your numbers look pretty good... maybe the Mg is a little on the high side for this style. I don't have a lot of experience with water adjustment and only mess with it when I am brewing a hoppy beer (adding Gypsum). Here is a chart for water profile by beer type, if you don't have it:

Homebrewing and water quality

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Old 05-25-2009, 02:56 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beerrific View Post
I have decided to finally give building my water a go for the first time on an upcoming Kolsch. I have access to this year's water report, our water here is very soft so I am going to just build from there.

I was hoping some of the water experts would look over this and see if I am making any horrible mistakes.

Here is the base water (ppm):
Ca: 4
Mg: 1.1
Na: 9.4
Cl: 5
SO4: 7
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 22


Adding calcium chloride, gypsum, and epsom salt to achieve (ppm):
Ca: 96
Mg: 14
Na: 9.4
Cl: 125
SO4: 122
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 22

A few questions:
1. Is it easier to treat all the water (~10 gallons) and draw off for the mash and sparge, or treat the mash and the sparge separately?
2. How hard is to get this stuff to dissolve? I am thinking I might treat the mash and the sparge separately so I can use the heating of the water to aid in dissolving the salts. I know it is not technically necessary to treat the sparge water, but I want to achieve certain ion levels/ratios in the final beer.

On a side note: Anyone have water with Ca this low? I did not realize it was so low, I think I have been cheating my yeasts out of a needed nutrient.

Am I missing anything here?
Did you end up going with this? I'm brewing your Kolsch today.
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Old 05-25-2009, 03:14 PM   #8
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I haven't done it yet. I think I am happy with it and probably will use it.

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Old 05-26-2009, 06:13 PM   #9
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Look what I get to work with. It's near impossible to even get close to a Munich water profile.

My tap:

Ca 70
Mg 18
Na 35
SO4 58
Cl 39
HCO3 432

If I cut the HCO3 with RO down to half, it takes my Ca too low. Then if I try adding either Gypsum or Calcium Chloride to bring it back up, then my SO4 or Cl are way too high.

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Old 05-27-2009, 12:12 PM   #10
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Regarding your questions: I've wondered this myself too. John Palmer actually addresses this in some recent podcasts (Brewing Network). He suggests the process of shooting for a target by adding a given amount of salts. Make the first salt addition to the mash to take care alkalinity, pH, hardness, etc. Then add the remainder of the salts (total - mash) to the boil to achieve your total ion level for yeast health & taste (chloride:sulfate, sodium, etc.).

The main reasoning for this is that the salts will readily dissolve in hot water (mash & boil) and treating sparge water is unnecessary.

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