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Old 03-20-2007, 09:55 PM   #1
jammer
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Default water chemistry - RA vs ions brew geekery

so some of you may remember me being frustrated by my local water department's lack of cooperation. i got a test done by ward labs. it is attached below.

So i have read palmer's section on RA and such and i believe i understand it to some extent. now my questions. my water is most closely related to Pilsen water. RA and hardness are both just a little higher. so if i add .1mL of lactic acid per gallon of mash water then my RA get a lot closer. But i will still have higher concentrations of everything except Mg (not by too much). I know that all the ions will affect the taste, but by how much? if i get close with hardness and RA am i good to go?

Then, when looking at burton-on-trent water to make something for an IPA, if i add 5g of gypsum, 1g epsom salt, .5 g baking soda per gallon of mash water i get pretty close to burton's water. but do i want to be that close to burton's water? or is there something more ideal? sulfate, calcium, and hardness are wicked high. i know sulfate is important for hop bite in an ipa, but do i want to approach the 820 ppm that burton has?

does anyone have like 4-6 profiles that are ideal for different beer styles? or is it better just to match to the region where the beer style comes from?

Finally, what about treating mash or sparge water? do people just treat all their water? does RA and hardness just matter for mash water? or should i be matching the ion level throughout the water so i get the right taste profile? (i realize chalk only goes in the mash water)

thanks for any help and sorry for the long post.....

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Old 03-20-2007, 09:59 PM   #2
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I don't know about you, but I think we overthink stuff. I'm just going to brew with my water and what comes out will probably be pretty damn good. I have enough stuff to add in and worry about. My .02 though.



Dan

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Old 03-20-2007, 10:04 PM   #3
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opps

pH 8.0
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 169
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.28
Cations / Anions, me/L/ 1.9/2.1

Sodium, Na 16
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 17
Magnesium, Mg 3
Total Hardness, CaCO 55
Nitrate, NO -N 0.4 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO -S 12
Chloride, Cl 27
Carbonate, CO 13
Bicarbonate, HCO 32
Total Alkalinity, CaCO 27



not all the chemical compostitions copied correctly. look at the name, not the composition.

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Old 03-20-2007, 10:10 PM   #4
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thats cool. i guess i just tend to over analyze things. but i did hear of some people going from solid 70% eff for 20 brews to 88-90% eff from water chemistry. it also made the difference between so so beers and great beers he said.

i figure its at least worth looking into.

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Old 03-21-2007, 02:59 AM   #5
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Jammer,

that's great brewing water you have there since for most of the styles you just have to add salts to get the right water profile for that style. If you really want to work on consistent mash pH you should get yourself some means of measuring pH, aim for a certain range (5.3 - 5.5) and keep track of the actual pH you got. On the Wiki I wrote some information on what is out there for measuring pH (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Understanding_Mash_pH#Measuring_Mash_pH)

Regarding the brewing water of the different cities, you should not see this to binding. It works for some styles, but won't work for other styles since nobody is telling you what water teatment is necessary before that water can be used in a brewery in this region.

Dortmunder water for example is very alkaline, but a Dortmunder is a light beer. No way that they can brew such a beer with the given water w/o water teatment to lower its alkalinity. And that's correct. Dortmunder brewers have been one of the pioneers when it comes to water treatment for brewing.

The same with Munich water and brewing a Munich Helles.

I'm in a similar boot as you are. I have RO water and need to build my own water and are somewhat scared about overdoing it with the salt additions. First of all the RA needs to be adjusted so you hit the mash pH. Then you want to make sure you have enough Ca. This is necessary for good yeast health and fermentation. Palmer suggestes at least 50 ppm. Some Mg is also good. I keep the Sulphates low for malt based beers and may raise them when I want to enhance the hops a little. The rest you will find out over time when you read more on the subject and brewed more beers. Palmers book has a nice table about the recommended ranges for the ions in brewing water.

Kai

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Old 03-21-2007, 03:09 AM   #6
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Thanks for the help Kaiser. Any suggestions as to where i could learn more once i read Palmer? More advanced doesnt bother me. I think i can handle it.

Do you have any general profiles you will be aiming for for certain styles?

Also, how do the german breweries adjust water chemistry? acid rest and acid malts? other then that do they just take whats in there? do they use boiling to precipitate what they can? (Ca off the top of my head)?

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