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Old 11-06-2012, 06:43 PM   #1
babayaga
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Default Water Addition Advice - 1st AG Batch

Hi all, new all-grain brewer here. I'm about ready to start my first all-grain batch, a Sierra Madre Kit from NB. It contains 10 lb 2-row malt and 0.75 lb 60L Crystal malt. My question is on my water addition targets....

I'm in Omaha and my water report chemistry is as such:

46 ppm Ca
13 ppm Mg
90 ppm Na
24 ppm Cl
110 ppm SO4
107 ppm Total Alkalinity

With no salt or acid adjustments, using the EZ water calc spreadsheet I have an estimated residual alkalinity of 66, a Room-Temp Mash pH of 5.58, and a Cl/SO4 ratio of 0.22.

My thought was to add a bit of CaCl2 to reduce the Mash pH, to bring up the Ca, and to bring the Cl/SO4 ratio up a bit. Perhaps add some acid. Looking at the nomograph in "how to brew," it appears that the pH is already too low (it seems to say a pH of ~5.7 is optimal with a RA around 0), but the EZ water calc spreadsheet RA/pH doesn't seem to correlate with the nomograph (if I make CaCl2 additions to drop the RA, I'm at a pH of ~5.5). What would be a good RA and Mash pH target for this Pale Ale? Cl/SO4 ratio?



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Old 11-06-2012, 08:46 PM   #2
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I've had pretty decent results following the guidelines in the EZ water spreadsheet. A pH around 5.5 is good, I wouldn't worry too much there. The lower the chloride to sulfate ratio, the more pronounced the hop flavor is said to be (I personally haven't experimented with this much). It's my understanding that those values (.77 to enhance bitterness and 1.33 to accentuate maltiness) are merely guidelines. Sorry, I'm not much help, but I think your beer will be fine. Being that this is your first AG, you'll have plenty of other stuff to worry about that will likely have a larger impact than subtle water adjustments.

Good luck on the first batch! BTW- I save my water calculations into a recipe file that I create for each batch of beer. I figure this will allow me to make modifications as I gain experience.



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Old 11-07-2012, 05:53 AM   #3
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Without getting into the specific math of it, in order to get exactly what your looking for you'd have to cut with RO or Distilled (to reduce your hardness) and then build it back up a little. Honestly, that water looks pretty good though. Focus on the process and leave the water chemistry go for now (I don't think I would even mess with it much once I got my head around AG). Your mash will perform just fine at 5.5, you could probably ad some CaCl if you wanted. It would give you a little more Ca for the yeast, lower the mash pH, and make your beer seem more malty.

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Old 11-07-2012, 06:21 AM   #4
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I wasted a lot of time trying to get those spreadsheets and RA nomographs to work....and it gets even harder if you actually check your pH with a meter because you realize they don't work If your water is free of chloromine, it isn't horrible. if you boil it before hand, a lot of the alkalinity will likely drop out but that might not even be necessary. I'd say just brew with it but talk to your LHBS or other local brewers and see what they suggest. If that isn't an option get some RO water and follow the recommendations here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/

Water chemistry does make a difference but it is subtle compared to other parts of your brewing process.

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Old 11-07-2012, 06:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx View Post
I wasted a lot of time trying to get those spreadsheets and RA nomographs to work....and it gets even harder if you actually check your pH with a meter because you realize they don't work If your water is free of chloromine, it isn't horrible. if you boil it before hand, a lot of the alkalinity will likely drop out but that might not even be necessary. I'd say just brew with it but talk to your LHBS or other local brewers and see what they suggest. If that isn't an option get some RO water and follow the recommendations here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/

Water chemistry does make a difference but it is subtle compared to other parts of your brewing process.
Good point on the chloramine. Gosh, he's got good water though, I'd try Campden tablets to take the chloramine out.
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Old 11-07-2012, 02:37 PM   #6
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Your water looks goods except for high levels of Na and SO4. Should be fine for hoppy ales, but for lagers I definitely would use at least 50% RO/distilled. And since you're new to AG, worry about fine-tuning the water later. For now, just watch the pH.

p.s. stop using those nomographs -- there are much better and more accurate free tools available (Brunwater and EZ Water).

p.p.s. don't target a RA value. It's mash pH to worry about. Target 5.2 to 5.5 give or take.

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Old 11-07-2012, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedYellow View Post
p.s. stop using those nomographs -- there are much better and more accurate free tools available (Brunwater and EZ Water).

p.p.s. don't target a RA value. It's mash pH to worry about. Target 5.2 to 5.5 give or take.
I haven't been able to get any of those spreadsheets to work when checking my pH with a meter and there is debate on what mash pH you should target. Its not an exact science despite what the books might make it seem. If your water doesn't have chloromine, brew with it as nothing in it is too out of range and a decent SO4/Cl ratio for a pale ale. If you do want to mess with your water, see the water primer I linked above, it is the best source of water chemistry info you will find.
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Old 11-07-2012, 04:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gbx

I haven't been able to get any of those spreadsheets to work when checking my pH with a meter and there is debate on what mash pH you should target...
What reputable sources are saying that we should target something outside of 5.2-5.5?

But I agree with you that the spreadsheets are not the end-all answer to the pH question. But they're much more useful than the nomograph.
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedYellow View Post
What reputable sources are saying that we should target something outside of 5.2-5.5?

But I agree with you that the spreadsheets are not the end-all answer to the pH question. But they're much more useful than the nomograph.
I asked the same thing about pH here http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/index28.html#post3835639
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:30 PM   #10
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For a Sierra Nevada clone u would not add CaCl, you want that enhanced happiness, not the maltyness the Cl will bring out. You have plenty on Na to back up the sweetness. Dough in with water as is and adjust with lactic acid. Like this:
http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/2012/10/mash-ph.html



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