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Old 03-20-2013, 07:47 PM   #1
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OK, so I am 4 All-Grain batches in, this is my current procedure:

Buy Reverse Osmosis Water at Grocery Machine or "Water Store"

Assuming Zero mineral content, I use "Balanced Profile II' on this calculator http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/ to determine how much of each salt to add. For Volume, I use my target volume into the Kettle (6.5-7 Gallons/assuming 5.5Gal into Carboy).

I add the salts to the Grain, before dough-in, since I noticed they didn't really dissolve when I tried adding to the water on my 1st batch.



1st off: Am I doing it correctly? Am I adding salts in the right way?

2nd: I hate that I can only buy these salts in tiny quantities at LHBS (morebeer), and I love the idea of the Burton Salts: a pre-made blend that comes in a big tub. Are there any other blends available that are not so style-specific? Is water chemistry a big enough issue that the burton salts would not be suitable for certain styles?

3rd: Would I be better off just using treated or filtered tap water? My water report is here - we've been buying and drinking RO water for a long time because the tap water tastes pretty bad, though it does seem fine for people who use a Brita.


Thank You all!

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Old 03-20-2013, 10:51 PM   #2
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Buy a whole house carbon filter, all parts are < $40, plenty of threads on how to do it, saves $$$ in the long run.

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Old 03-20-2013, 11:35 PM   #3
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In the brewing science forum, read the primer, if you haven't: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/bre...primer-198460/

1. I think it is typical to add the salts to the water. Gypsum and Calcium Chloride will disolve in the water. You may need to stir a bit, though. Chalk will not dissolve completely without some chemistry voodoo.
2. I would be suspect of "blends." You don't need to get complicated with water additions to make great beer. In fact, simpler water is probably a benefit.
3. I've been using RO water from the store. Its less than $5 per batch. An activated charcoal filter might get you where you need to be, though. One thing to watch for is chloramines. Not all filters do a great job at getting rid of it. Campden tables help with this.

Just a personal note on water chemistry from my reading. I'm no expert. So take it with a grain of salt *rimshot*:
There are really 2 reasons to add minerals. First is to adjust the mash pH. Second is for flavor. For almost all styles, you can almost certainly get where you need to be for the mash pH by using acid malt, calcium chloride, and gypsum. If you follow the primer, you will make good, if not great beer. Seriously, start there, and go forward in baby steps. Watch the pH of your mash. This will make a big difference.

As far as flavor goes, you have to just experiment. Err on the side of softer water though. Before you brew a recipe and add chalk, table salt, or epsom salts, brew the recipe with nothing but a bit of CaCL and/or gypsum. Add as little as possible to control the mash pH and see where you get. Then start adjusting a little at a time. You'll probably make great beer.

Trying to mimic waters of famous locations is kind of silly in most cases. Especially when the water is very hard. You have no idea what brewers do to treat their water. I'm pretty sure many German brewers would do all sorts of things to precipitate hardness out of their water before using it. One notable exeption might be Czech Pilsner. They use extremely soft water. If you want that style, I'd use RO. English beers might also be an exception, but I'd still argue that you should try them with soft water first and see if you like them. They might not taste super authentic, but I bet they'll be good.

Hope this helps. I've thought a lot about it and am no expert, but have determined that the KISS approach is most often the best. That an pH is important in your mash.

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:16 PM   #4
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If you added slightly too much, or used too little gypsum & calcium chloride in the mash (as opposed to the boil) then what are the downsides as it relates to pH? I am aware of the flavor effects.

I was under the impression that both of these items minimally decreased pH and had more of an affect on increasing alkalinity and hardness.

If so, then what is the difference between adding them to the mash vs. the boil? Assume we are talking about an AIPA with a light grist and fairly soft spring water for a base.

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:23 PM   #5
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My understanding:
Too Much: Mineral taste to beer. pH might be too low (acidic). Gypsum can accentuate hop bitterness - so too much and it might be harsh.

Too Little: pH too high. For a hoppy beers, the hop "pop" might be muted.

I always err on the side of too little.

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Old 03-21-2013, 08:02 PM   #6
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That tap water is not way out of line with respect to most ions. Its the alkalinity that would kill any beer made with that water. Its way too high. Acidification is an option for this water, but given the high alkalinity, I recommend using phosphoric acid. Bru'n Water has the tools for figuring out the acid additions.

As another post mentions, filtering with an activated carbon filter may be a good alternative. However, that is only true if the water is disinfected with chlorine and not chloramine. You would have to run a typical filter at such a low flow rate (like a tenth of a gallon/min) that most people would rather use campden tablets.

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Old 03-22-2013, 03:48 PM   #7
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So, it sounds like I am going to continue with the RO Water, but move my mineral additions to the water, instead of the grist. Maybe use a simpler mineral build.

Thanks for the help guys.

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Old 03-22-2013, 03:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayfound View Post
So, it sounds like I am going to continue with the RO Water, but move my mineral additions to the water, instead of the grist. Maybe use a simpler mineral build.

Thanks for the help guys.
You only need calcium chloride and gypsum, and not much of that. You don't need other things like chalk or epsom salts at all.
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