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Old 01-16-2013, 11:24 AM   #1
joenearboston
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Default water chemistry experiment - Ca, Cl, S04

I want to do the following all-grain experiment as an exercise to learn about water chemistry. I'm sick of reading about water chemistry and want to see for myself how things turn out. I wanted to see if anyone else tried something similar before I spend the time.

1) Brew a pale using RO water and salts to get approximately
Ca 100ppm
S04 100ppm
Cl 100ppm

2) Same as #1, but increase salts in same proportions to get about
Ca 300ppm
S04 300ppm
Cl 300ppm

3) Same as #1, but lower gypsum and increase CaCl to get about
Ca 150ppm
S04 50ppm
Cl 200ppm


All other things being equal, what would be the difference in flavor profile across 1,2, and 3?

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Old 01-16-2013, 12:50 PM   #2
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Go ahead and try it! We will look forward to your results. Unfortunately, I can preview to you that the high chloride levels you are contemplating will most likely leave you with a minerally taste. I suggest that if you want to experiment with the variation in chloride and sulfate, that you keep chloride more modest with a range between 50 and 100 ppm. Then go crazy with the sulfate as you wish to explore the effects. I do suggest that when you explore very high sulfate, you should keep the chloride closer to 50 ppm. Those ions tend to clash when both are high.

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Old 01-16-2013, 12:57 PM   #3
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Looking forward to hearing your results! Are you going to be measuring the mash pH?

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Old 01-16-2013, 01:06 PM   #4
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I applaud your desire to get real data. So few are willing to go to the trouble.

I suggest an incremental approach. Start with very soft (mineral free) water such as RO. I assume the test beer will be a nominal ale. Be sure to use some sauermalz to get the pH into the right range as you want to be sure that everything else is right with this beer. This beer will be drinkable - in fact it may be quite nice but if you want to see what minerals do you need to start at ground 0. For the next beer add half a tsp of calcium chloride - nothing else. For the next beer add half a tsp of calcium sulfate and nothing else. With any of these beers you will be able to get a rough indication as to what the effects of the minerals are by adding them to finished beer. For example, in the 1/2 tsp calcium chloride example adding a small amount of gypsum to the glass will give you an idea as to what a beer made with both calcium chloride and gypsum will taste like.

I usually recommend a starting point of RO water with 1 gram per gallon (1 tsp/5gal) calcium chloride and you can start with that if you like. See the Primer in the stickies at Brewing Science on this site. The main idea behind that Primer is that you need to experiment and taste. One gram/gallon will get you a good beer. You might as well experiment with good beer. It takes time but eventually you will find what you like but be sure to collect other people's thoughts too.

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Old 01-16-2013, 10:54 PM   #5
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I like ajdelange's approach. I'd start with 25ppm Ca as a baseline, rather than 0. Then maybe 75 and 150ppm Ca. For each, try 1:9 and 9:1 ratio Cl and SO4?

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Old 01-17-2013, 12:53 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone. I'll let you know how it goes. I brew one batch a month, this will take me three months, worth it though. Nothing is better than experience.

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Old 01-17-2013, 02:23 AM   #7
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Take PH readings during the mash too.
Please report back!

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Old 08-03-2013, 01:48 PM   #8
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This experiment is still in progress, but a few things I've learned so far

1) Use salts (gypsum, calcl) to manage flavor not pH
2) Use acid (lactic) to manage pH

I just purchased a pH meter - can't stand test strips.

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Old 08-03-2013, 01:52 PM   #9
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Also, I plan on trying the following - I'm after an amazingly smooth and soft Pale Ale that is hoppy but not super bitter:

RO water + very low salts to get almost a Pilsner water profile
Phosphoric acid to nail mash (4.2) and sparge (6)
No bittering hops, all hops in last 30 minutes or so (hop burst)

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Old 08-03-2013, 05:35 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joenearboston View Post
This experiment is still in progress, but a few things I've learned so far

1) Use salts (gypsum, calcl) to manage flavor not pH
Yes. Calcium does have an effect on mash pH but it takes an awful lot of it to get much of a change in pH. If you manage pH with acid then you are free to use the calcium salts to set chloride and sulfate levels where you want them as calcium is pretty flavor neutral.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenearboston View Post
2) Use acid (lactic) to manage pH
Follows from 1).

Quote:
Originally Posted by joenearboston View Post
I just purchased a pH meter..
A wise decision.
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