HBT 2015 Big Giveaway - This is it - Final Weekend to Enter!

Huge Supporting Membership Discounts - 20% Off - Final Weekend!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Detroit Water Analysis: Thoughts?
Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 02-18-2011, 11:57 AM   #1
fishkid
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Clawson, MI
Posts: 323
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default Detroit Water Analysis: Thoughts?

I did a bit of calling around a few weeks back and was able to track down a water analysis report from the plant that supplies water to my city. Making water adjustments is another step I'd like to take in advancing my brewing techniques and making better beers...but at this point I haven't done the homework to fully understand where certain mineral levels should be, how to adjust, etc..

I'm not looking for a full course on water adjustments, I was more or less hoping for some feedback on the following report. My city is supplied water from Detroit which I've always heard to be excellent water and I've done my first 20 or so batches using the tap water and can't yet complain about any of the results. It tastes darn good too. While I'm not ready to start adding salts and acids to the water quite yet, I look forward to understanding the following report and potentially making adjustments in the future.

The report I was able to obtain had the levels for each month of 2010 through October, I'll post the report from February 2010. I assume based on the weather etc, that February water is probably similar each year(?), Here she goes:

Mg 8.33 mg/L
Ca 29.7 mg/L
Na 8.52 mg/L
S04 31.2 mg/L
Cl 9.50 mg/L
Total Hardness: 104 mg/L
Total Alkalinity: 76 mg/L
Carbonate Alkalinity: 0 mg/L
Bicarbonate Alkalinity: 76 mg/L
Non-Carbonate Hardness: 28 mg/L
pH in pH units: 7.76

The only other thing I see that might be relevant is the asterisk by the alkalinity measurements that states "As Calcium Carbonate"

Have I missed anything, there's all sorts of other items on this report including Potassium, Manganese, Zinc, Silica etc...etc..

How does it look? Any glaring items that I might want to start looking into before I brew again?

Thanks in advance for any input,

Curt
__________________
Twitter
fishkid is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2011, 12:16 PM   #2
ajdelange
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 7,180
Liked 880 Times on 713 Posts
Likes Given: 23

Default

Very nominal and suitable for a wide range of beers. For delicate beers you can cut it with RO water (my well is very close to this water and I dilute 1 part of it with 9 parts RO for most of my lagers) and for something like Export or Burton ales you can add salts. You might want to have a look at the Primer in the stickies.
ajdelange is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2011, 01:10 PM   #3
fishkid
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Clawson, MI
Posts: 323
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Ok let's see if I've learned anything and am understanding at all. I've read through the Palmers How to Brew sections on mash pH and water and have now played a bit with some numbers as well as calculators.

When I punch my water profile into Palmer's nomograph based on 100% base malt mash I get approximately 12 SRM at a pH between 5.7 and 5.8. Based on what I've read pH will drop approx .35 when at mash temperatures which would put me between 5.35 and 5.45, which would be great, yes? maybe even a little lower to get within 5.2-5.4? I'll be using flaked corn/rice in my next batch (cream ale) how does one account for these adjuncts and their affect on the mash pH?

This cream ale will potentially be a beer I enter in contests so I'd like to try to brew to style, that being said the BJCP guidelines call for an SRM between 2.5 and 5, a bit lighter than the styles the nomograph says are ideal with my water.

If I'm understanding even a little bit, it would be beneficial for me to bring down the mash pH just a bit further and I've got a couple options to do that, gypsum, calcium chloride, epsom salt or acid malt. Looking at the nomograph adding gypsum or epsom salt raises my sulfate levels pretty significantly, probably moreso than I would like in a cream ale, yes? Based on my grist, EZ water calc shows that if I were to add 1 gram of calcium chloride my chloride to sulfate ratio would be 1.67 and put me into the malty category but estimates my mash ph as 5.57 (Does this calculator assume mash or room temperature?) If the calc assumes room temperature then my estimated mash pH is actually 5.57-.35 = 5.22, fantastic! Based on the nomograph, adding the above mentioned salts also looks to be making the water more desirable for lighter beers.

That being said I think the bigger issue here is that the tap water is not very desirable to use for the light cream ale (Is it safe to say because the water is too hard?). I imagine this is where diluting with RO water or starting with RO water comes into play. How hard should I try to adjust my tap water before I throw the hands up and build up RO water or dilute with RO water?

Wow, wall of text, sorry just trying to wrap my head around all of this!

Curt
__________________
Twitter
fishkid is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2011, 02:37 PM   #4
ajdelange
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 7,180
Liked 880 Times on 713 Posts
Likes Given: 23

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
When I punch my water profile into Palmer's nomograph based on 100% base malt mash I get approximately 12 SRM...
Forget about this. I have brewed beers which range in color from 4.3 SRM (the lightest I was ever able to get) and 84 with water which is very similar. Water chemistry has little (i.e. it is only loosely correlated) effect on beer color.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
...at a pH between 5.7 and 5.8.
The water doesn't have enough mineral content to shift the pH much relative to a distilled water mash - perhaps 0.08 pH. If your base malt were typical Pilsner malt the distilled water pH might be about 5.75. I have recently measured the DI pH of Maris Otter at 5.60. Your water would take these up to, respectively, 5.83 and 5.68. This, of course, represents a rough estimate. It depends on the malt. You could brew at these levels but would in all liklihood get a better beer if you lowered it some.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
Based on what I've read pH will drop approx .35 when at mash temperatures which would put me between 5.35 and 5.45, which would be great, yes?
The drop depends on water and malt and what you consider mash temperature. Calling 21 °C room temperature and 65 °C mash temperature you might expect the drop to be between 0.18 to 0.20.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
maybe even a little lower to get within 5.2-5.4?
There is plenty of debate about what the proper pH range is and part of that is stimulated by the fact that authors (with some exceptions) have not been consistent in stating whether pH numbers are for room or mash temperature and if at mash temperature, which mash temperature. This situation has improved recently. You should shoot for a mash pH in the 5.4 - 5.5 region at room temperature (which, of you want to convert to 65 °C would probably get you 5.2 - 5.3 but as you'll never know unless you are willing to sacrifice a pH electrode and measure at that temperature just shoot for that range at room temperature).

It is a good idea to lower your mash pH some. I'm guessing that you will be using a pale ale malt for base and as such expecting a DI water mash pH of around 5.65 - 5.7 (i.e. not as low as Maris Otter - if you are using that then expect 5.6). To get to 5.4 (measured at room temperature) the simplest action is to add sauermalz at the rate of 1% of the grist for each 0.1 pH drop you want to achieve which amounts to 2%-3% in this case. This rule of thumb is a rule of thumb and thus not guaranteed to get you spot on. I never miss an opportunity to advise the purchase of an inexpensive pH meter and its use in checking DI water pH and the effect of sauermalz additions but I understand that you are starting out here and may not want to add another complication to your brew day.


Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
I'll be using flaked corn/rice in my next batch (cream ale) how does one account for these adjuncts and their affect on the mash pH?
The only way to account for them with certainty is to make a test mash without these adjuncts (add-junks as a fellow Reinheitsgebot adherent used to call them), measure its pH and repeat for another test mash with. As they are not roasted I would expect them to behave as do the lightest base malts i.e. I wouldn't expect much of a shift from them with a Pils base but with a pale ale malt base the pH might go up a bit. This is pure speculation on my part. You have probably guessed from the wisecrack that I don't use them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
This cream ale will potentially be a beer I enter in contests so I'd like to try to brew to style, that being said the BJCP guidelines call for an SRM between 2.5 and 5, a bit lighter than the styles the nomograph says are ideal with my water.
This is definitely not a problem. You will never hit SRM 2.5 with home brewing equipment (Bud is 2.4, Miller light 2.8, St Pauli Girl 3.2) but it won't be because of the water. Water chemistry doesn't change beer color (except perhaps for a red shift if there is lots of bicarbonate). What it can do is cause the brewery to add dark malts for their acid hence the correlation, weak though it may be, between color and water composition. You will need to lower pH, as discussed earlier but you won't be doing it with dark malt.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
If I'm understanding even a little bit, it would be beneficial for me to bring down the mash pH just a bit further and I've got a couple options to do that, gypsum, calcium chloride, epsom salt or acid malt. Looking at the nomograph adding gypsum or epsom salt raises my sulfate levels pretty significantly, probably moreso than I would like in a cream ale, yes?
Yes, and that's why I recommend sauermalz (acid malt) though I am not familiar with the style. The name suggests that soft water might be desirable. Just as a general comment: addition of calcium for control of pH is of limited effectiveness because it takes so much. And when all the malt's phosphate has been exhausted you can add all the calcium chloride you want and the pH won't drop any further.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
Based on my grist, EZ water calc shows that if I were to add 1 gram of calcium chloride my chloride to sulfate ratio would be 1.67 and put me into the malty category but estimates my mash ph as 5.57 (Does this calculator assume mash or room temperature?)
Room temperature AFAIK. Chloride to sulfate ratio is another element of this subject that is overblown. Learn to recognize the effects of chloride and sulfate separately. They are not antipodal as the CSR ratio adherents would have you believe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
Based on the nomograph, adding the above mentioned salts also looks to be making the water more desirable for lighter beers.
This is a perfect example of how these spreadsheets can lead one astray. It would make your water less desirable for lighter beers because they are best when made with soft water (unless you are shooting for something like an Export). The spreadsheets assume that because the water of Pilsen (very soft) would not lower mash pH into the proper range the Pilsen brewers must have added minerals to get the pH into the right range even though the authors know perfectly well that they didn't - they used soured mash (i.e. sauermalz) and that's how the breweries (that still follow Reinheits gebot) do it today. pH's with minerals. This isn't because the spreadsheet makers are lazy or stupid. It's because they need a simple model which applies to all beers. In brewing one size does not fit all any more than it does in any other field.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fishkid View Post
That being said I think the bigger issue here is that the tap water is not very desirable to use for the light cream ale (Is it safe to say because the water is too hard?). I imagine this is where diluting with RO water or starting with RO water comes into play. How hard should I try to adjust my tap water before I throw the hands up and build up RO water or dilute with RO water?
I think this is very perceptive of you. Light colored, delicate beers shouldn't taste of minerals and so seem to come out better when made with soft water but mash pH control is as or more important. As I mentioned I have never brewed a cream ale but when I brew Pilsner, Kölsch or wheat beer I generally take 10% well water (very similar to yours) and blend it with RO water and supplement the calcium to about 30 mg/L using calcium chloride.

Were I you contemplating brewing this beer I would probably do exactly that which is in essence what the Primer directions for soft water beers advises but that's my take on it which isn't everyone's but I am getting good reports back from people using the Primer.

There is a real danger that beginners will, correctly perceiving that water is a very important part of beer, incorrectly think they must precisely adjust it and consequently over engineer their water treatment. Most of the guys that promulgate these spreadsheets are engineers and I am one too. I also have a spreadsheet and I use it all the time but I don't advertise it because I fear it would do you more harm than good (though it doesn't contain any mash pH or color vs RA models - IMO those things can't be modeled). Basically I brew by the Primer and I like the beers which isn't to say that you would but I think there's a pretty good chance you would.
ajdelange is offline
2
People Like This 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-20-2011, 10:07 PM   #5
fishkid
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Clawson, MI
Posts: 323
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

Wow amazing reply, thank you! I have to re-read it to absorb everything a bit more and once I do and believe I can make a educated response, I will do just that!

Thanks again ajdelange!
__________________
Twitter
fishkid is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2011, 01:37 AM   #6
fishkid
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Clawson, MI
Posts: 323
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Default

I'm still digesting the earlier response in regards to my light cream ale and greatly appreciate the feedback. Today a buddy wanted to brew up a stout so I thought this might be an easier first attempt at the some water adjustments. I used 100% tap water and based on my crystal/roasted malts, EZ water calc estimated my mash pH at 5.46. As was mentioned, this looked to be a good pre-mash temp pH target without having to use any acid malt. I added 1 gram calcium chloride into my strike water and 1 gram calcium chloride at the beginning of the boil. My theory behind this was to get my Ca ppm closer to 50 for yeast health and bump my chloride numbers to help emphasize my high mash temps and my desire for a good malty beer.

Thoughts? FWIW, the hydro sample tasted sweet and malty. I doesn't seem that I've made some poison stout with my Calcium Chloride additions. Exciting!

Curt
__________________
Twitter
fishkid is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 01:34 AM   #7
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,808
Liked 2839 Times on 1686 Posts
Likes Given: 3499

Default

Ok, so at Natl Homebrew Day at Cap N Cork, I decided I'm going to brew a clone attempt of the old Double Diamond Burton Ale. Since it's a beer that was brewed in Burton on Trent, I need to get to their profile, from the Detroit Water Profile you have here.

Here's the Burton Profile I found on Brewer's Lair.....

Quote:
What it is:

This water profile has high total alkalinity and has moderately high permanent hardness. It is also known for containing moderate levels of sulfates. Representative ion levels for this profile are shown below.

Vital Statistics

Calcium (ppm): 294

Sulfates (ppm): 800

Magnesium (ppm): 24

Sodium (ppm): 24

Chloride (ppm): 36

Carbonates (ppm): 200

How it works:
For brewing purposes, the ion profile of the water is important for four main reasons:

* Mash pH - The six main ions affect the mash pH, which in turn contributes to enzyme effectiveness in converting the malt’s starches into maltose. Darker malts, and lighter Vienna and Munich malts, require greater temporary hardness for successful conversion. The reverse is true for light malts.
* Beer Flavor - These ions are generally not present in sufficient amounts to affect flavor, unless there is contamination.
* Hop Utilization – High water alkalinity can contribute to highly alkaline wort (pH above 5.7), which can exaggerate hop bitterness. Hop dosage may need to be reduced compared to that used with softer water.
* Yeast Nutrients – There is usually sufficient magnesium present to feed the yeast.

Treating your base water is largely needed only for all-grain brewing, since malt extract manufacturers account for the necessary water chemistry in making the extract for you. However, a large percentage of specialty grains in an extract brew may make water treatment necessary.

Dosage:


Use our Water Treatment calculator to compute the types and amounts of additives needed to modify your base water to mimic that of Burton-on-Trent. Know the starting ion levels present in your source water so that you do not overcompensate with additives.

Preparation:
To imitate the Burton-on-Trent water profile, we recommend that you begin with distilled water. Then, consider adding gypsum, Epsom salts, non-iodized canning salt, baking soda, calcium chloride, and chalk. Put these additives in the mash, not the plain base water, or some may not dissolve. Monitor the pH of the mash during these additions to ensure that it remains between 5 to 5.5, which is optimal for desired enzyme activity.
So at cap n cork we will have two options for water on site, the standard hose water, which would be basic Detroit water profile, and the water inside which is run through a filter/water softener. Or the third option would be to buy some distilled.

Can any of you water gurus tell me how to get from either fishkid's profile or the other options to Burton's Famous water? But please speak really slowly, I'm a total noob where water chemistry is concerned. I haven't gotten to that point in my brewing where I've played with it, but since I know the profile of the original beer I figured I should do this.
__________________
Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew
Revvy is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 01:56 AM   #8
ajdelange
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 7,180
Liked 880 Times on 713 Posts
Likes Given: 23

Default

The posted profile is, as is so often the case, not one that can be physically realized. The cations and anions do not balance at any reasonable pH.

Beyond that I chuckle when I see 800 mg/L sulfate described as "moderate".

Burton water is characterized by high sulfate, low (relatively) bicarbonate and high (relatively) calcium hardness. Nevertheless, to synthesize it (assuming you have one of the physically realizable profiles to hand) requires the use of chalk which must be dissolved with carbonic acid (CO2). This is a lot of trouble and while it will give you a perhaps authentic beer you will brew a better one with water of much less mineral content than Burton's.

Starting from the profile in the OP: I would add nothing for a first attempt at this beer. In a subsequent brew I might supplement the sulfate with perhaps a tsp of gypsum per 5 gal. See which beer you like better and be guided by that.
ajdelange is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 02:09 AM   #9
Revvy
Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
Revvy's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: "Detroitish" Michigan
Posts: 40,808
Liked 2839 Times on 1686 Posts
Likes Given: 3499

Default

Thanks ajdelange, maybe I just won't worry about it. The other thought I had was to go with the pre-mixed burton salts and R/o water. But maybe it just won't be necessary.

__________________
Like my snazzy new avatar? Get Sons of Zymurgy swag, here, and brew with the best.

Revvy's one of the cool reverends. He has a Harley and a t-shirt that says on the back "If you can read this, the bitch was Raptured. - Madman

I gotta tell ya, just between us girls, that Revvy is HOT. Very tall, gorgeous grey hair and a terrific smile. He's very good looking in person, with a charismatic personality... he drives like a ****ing maniac! - YooperBrew
Revvy is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Old 04-29-2011, 02:23 AM   #10
bschoenb
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Posts: 322
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts
Likes Given: 4

Default

On the lighter beers I just use the filtered tap water; on the darker malted beers I add some Gypsum.....

I'm also an Engineer so I understand the need...... Relax the water is about as good as it gets.
__________________
~ BIAB : All Grain Made Easy ; Mash, Sparge, Boil all in the same Kettle ~ all you need is a bag and a hook!
bschoenb is offline
 
Reply With Quote
Reply


Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
S.J. CA water analysis CrystallineEntity Brew Science 7 10-01-2014 03:42 PM
Water Analysis Question adromo Brew Science 3 06-28-2010 06:57 PM
soft water analysis? MikeM Brew Science 5 05-18-2010 01:29 PM
Water analysis HollisBrewCo Brew Science 2 04-22-2010 05:28 PM
Water Analysis help! jheist Brew Science 2 02-02-2010 05:12 PM


Forum Jump

Newest Threads

LATEST SPONSOR DEALS