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Old 02-04-2008, 07:54 PM   #1
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Default Help me with water. RO adding minerals back in...

Ok, let me start out with a little defensiveness: I know we dont HAVE to use Reverse Osmosis and I KNOW springwater works fine. That being said I HAVE reverse osmosis and I have minerals. What I don't have is the understanding... yet... hopefully...

So, I was doing a German hefe and added 5 grams of Burton water salts, 5 grams of Gypsum, and 5 grams of chalk to 5 gallons.

My observations: stirred into water, and heated to 170 for mash in (lowers to 153 on mixing with grains) . Then I heated another batch to 170 for sparge. (never boiled until adding hops)

I did everything as usual with past springwater batches. I noticed that a lot of the minerals that I added went to the bottom of the water holding tanks.

I also noticed my efficiency was waaaay low this time; around 43%. Last few batches I have been at 70%. I have to assume this time was the water, as everything else was the same. The PH of the strike water was 8.5, and upon mashing in it measured at 4.9 PH. (Digital PH meter). I forgot to test my TDS.

So here are the questions...
Do you have to boil water to get the minerals dissolved (or to bind)?

Does a higher mineral content of mash water/sparge water lower efficiency normally?

Does strike water PH matter? I know the grains will create the right PH usually if the minerals are correct.... right?

Thanks in advance, I've been reading through this forum and haven't found any definitive answers to these questions...

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Old 02-04-2008, 07:57 PM   #2
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Quote:
Does a higher mineral content of mash water/sparge water lower efficiency normally?
Shurely, it does ....

My personal experience
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Old 02-04-2008, 08:56 PM   #3
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I will you give you my obligatory water reply, to which I link How to brew, Chapter 15

Also, some salts, such as Calcium Carbonate (chalk) do not readily dissolve in water until the pH is lowered as in the mash. FWIW, I've been building water from RO and have been adding all my salts directly to the mash (in with the grains) and I've been getting the best efficiencies of my life (80-85). I would not add anything to any water until I had a very good grasp of what it was (Burton water salts always worry me as that is a little ambiguous) and exactly what it would do to the mash (chapter 15 helps with that).

In response to your questions:
1. No
2. Depends
3. Not really (mash pH is what really matters)

Good luck!

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Old 02-04-2008, 09:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clayof2day
I will you give you my obligatory water reply, to which I link How to brew, Chapter 15

Also, some salts, such as Calcium Carbonate (chalk) do not readily dissolve in water until the pH is lowered as in the mash. FWIW, I've been building water from RO and have been adding all my salts directly to the mash (in with the grains) and I've been getting the best efficiencies of my life (80-85). I would not add anything to any water until I had a very good grasp of what it was (Burton water salts always worry me as that is a little ambiguous) and exactly what it would do to the mash (chapter 15 helps with that).

In response to your questions:
1. No
2. Depends
3. Not really (mash pH is what really matters)

Good luck!
Clay thank you; that IS very helpful. It sounds as if you've done this a bit with RO. I've read that chapter on How to Brew, and have read 'New Brewing Lager Beer' chapter on water. Honestly, when I get into chemistry it goes in one ear and out the other. I understand that you have to have a minor understanding to have it make sense...

would you be willing to share what you do add to your mash? (obviously, I would think it would be different for different brews). I am curious to say what you would add to RO for a light ale, then what you add to a dark stout, and if you have an in between.?

Also, do you specifically add for mineral content, buffer ability, or ph level?

Do you/or did you, measure the mash PH after a few minutes, then add more salt or buffer to get the desired PH? Do/did you worry about TDS in your water beforehand?
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Old 02-04-2008, 09:52 PM   #5
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I would suggest using a water profiler like the one in ProMash to help you determine how much of each salt to add to your water to get it to match the style you are brewing. Use a gram scale and add it in just before you add your grains. Chalk you should add in with the grains as is doesn't dissolve until the water is around 8.3 pH which is way high for brewing. Building to style will get the proper minerals back in the water for the yeast and should change your alkalinity closer to what you need. I would then suggest using 5.2 buffer to set the pH of your mash. Add the minerals to both your strike and sparge water but the 5.2 to just your mash. The pH of the sparge water isn't as important, but you do want to add the proper minerals back into it.

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Old 02-04-2008, 10:17 PM   #6
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If you are adding the right minerals to your water for style there is no need for 5.2. Your mash pH will be appropriate. You are doing the reverse of what our brewing forefathers/mothers did. They found the right style to brew with their local water to make great beer. You are trying to recreate the right water to brew the style you want.

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Old 02-04-2008, 11:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Got Trub?
If you are adding the right minerals to your water for style there is no need for 5.2. Your mash pH will be appropriate. You are doing the reverse of what our brewing forefathers/mothers did. They found the right style to brew with their local water to make great beer. You are trying to recreate the right water to brew the style you want.

GT
Not necessarily. Pilsen water is very low in mineral content and by all accounts shouldn't make a very good beer. But the brewers found that by doing an extended acid rest, the mash would acidify enough for good conversion. Lots of brewers have found ways around their water inadequacies by changing their process or out right changing the pH in the kettle. By adding 5.2, you can guarantee that your mash will convert regardless of the make up of the grist or the pH of the water. True, you shouldn't have to use it but it will give you that guarantee of success. Also, with using RO water, you will need to add some minerals back in if you want to have healthy yeast.
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Old 02-05-2008, 03:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdoiv
Not necessarily. Pilsen water is very low in mineral content and by all accounts shouldn't make a very good beer. But the brewers found that by doing an extended acid rest, the mash would acidify enough for good conversion. Lots of brewers have found ways around their water inadequacies by changing their process or out right changing the pH in the kettle. By adding 5.2, you can guarantee that your mash will convert regardless of the make up of the grist or the pH of the water. True, you shouldn't have to use it but it will give you that guarantee of success. Also, with using RO water, you will need to add some minerals back in if you want to have healthy yeast.
So essentially, according to what you are implying, which makes sense, is that even by matching the water, if you don't plan on imposing the same exact brewing process, you won't get the same results; but by using 5.2 you can get similar PH even with using water that is not balanced according to the water originally used. (unless you plan to do an acid rest... and so on). Interesting.

Unfortunately, doesn't answer what I should be adding to RO water to get a baseline of a 'healthy' water to produce a typical ale.

And not to knock 5.2, but because I don't know what it is, I prefer to not use it.... I would rather have unknowns, and instead, make a batch with the conceptual amount of TDS, then if I find the PH is low or high, make additions of chemicals that I do know at that time. Then next time I can change the water recipe for that said recipe.

So, does anyone have a clue as to what a typical addition would be to RO water for a basic ale? (I really think recipes should give a water profile with the recipe)
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Old 02-05-2008, 10:09 AM   #9
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How to brew chapter 15 its a must read.

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Old 02-05-2008, 02:06 PM   #10
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Here is the Ideal Pale Ale water that I built in ProMash based on distilled/RO water:

Quantites are grams per gallon:
Gypsum 1.8
Epsom Salts .7
Canning Salt .2
Calcium Chloride .2

This gives you the following profile in PPM:

Ca 125.1
Mg 18.3
Na 20.8
SO4 337.4
Cl 57.5

and a pH of 7.0

Edit: This is really simple to do in ProMash. There are ideal water profiles for most of the basic styles. This is a very old school way of brewing and as I mentioned above, doesn't necessarily mean it's going to fit the grain bill you are using (just like the Pilsen example above). As far as anyone has been able to tell, 5.2 is made of phosphate buffers and shouldn't really affect the flavor of the water as salts do. What you should really be concerned with is the Residual Alkalinity in the water and Mash.

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