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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Ward Labs report and whether I need to treat soft water
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Old 05-11-2011, 05:36 PM   #11
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Grew up there, and still work there. Still hate 66!
If you are coming up here every day from Charlottesville it's not hard to see why.

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Would you mind looking at the attached jpg of my calculation page? With a target SRM of 16 (basic pale ale/IPA), and a target RA of 80, in addition to wanting to get my magnesium up to a minimum of 10 ppm and the Calcium up to a minimum of 50 ppm,
The Palmer spreadsheet has led many a brewer astray. It computes a desired RA based on color. There is, in fact, little relationship between color and RA. Pale ale/IPA is often brewed with negative RA. There is no need to add magnesium as malt is full of it. Getting calcium up is generally a good idea.

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I've basically determined that I need to add the following to an 8 gallon total mash:

2 grams Gypsum
4 grams Calcium Chloride
3 grams Epsom Salts
6 grams baking soda

This results in 11 ppm Mg, 59 ppm Na, 86 RA and a Sulfate to Chloride ratio of "balanced".
Skip the Epsom salts (no harm in adding them if you want to) and absolutely skip the baking soda. This will raise mash pH when in fact you want to lower it. The gypsum and calcium chloride additions are OK but I usually recommend doing a brew without gypsum the first time and then adding the gypsum the second. This is because people frequently do not like the effects of sulfate on hops. How much, if any, sulfate you use is ultimately a matter of personal taste and/or a desire for an authentic beer.

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.I don't really know if any of those counteract each other ???
A lot of brewers seem to think that sulfate chloride ratio is the main determinant of a beers "malty - hoppy" character. This is nonsense IMO. That's why I recommend doing replicate brews with and without sulfate.


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Old 05-11-2011, 06:11 PM   #12
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I would not sweat the RA much. I'd focus on having the minimum of the necessary minerals and hitting the pH. There has been recent conjecture that the So4/CL ratio is not a factor in hoppy vs malty brews, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that the two minerals affect the way you taste those flavors. Who knows. I think a high sulfate ratio for hoppy beers might make them seem bright, or maybe harsh, depending on your tastes. Having a lower ratio may make them seem muted, or dull.

I too think it would be an interesting experiment to make the same beer with two different water makeups and see what they taste like in a blind test.


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Old 05-11-2011, 06:14 PM   #13
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I barely have enough time to make a single batch, nevermind two different ones

Thanks for the advice. I am actually going to brew a repeat beer from my last session because it was pretty tasty (Lagunitas IPA clone). For this next batch, I'll just try adding a teaspoon of Calcium Chloride, which I believe works out to about 3.4 grams. That way I can see what the addition of Ca and Cl does to my beer. Then maybe later I'll add sulfates, although I liked the hop aroma of the last one I made with just my standard well water.
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Old 05-11-2011, 08:57 PM   #14
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Regarding Palmer's correlation for RA and beer color, its far too extreme and really can lead brewers astray in the dark range. Listen to AJ and avoid messing with your water too much. Less is more!

Bru'n Water doesn't use a beer color based method of estimating mash pH. It uses a mash grist based method that is far more accurate. There is a large amount of brewing water knowledge that will help you understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. It also has fairly good guidance to help you avoid creating 'soda water'. Download it at the link in my signature line.
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Old 05-12-2011, 01:34 PM   #15
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Regarding Palmer's correlation for RA and beer color, its far too extreme and really can lead brewers astray in the dark range. Listen to AJ and avoid messing with your water too much. Less is more!

Bru'n Water doesn't use a beer color based method of estimating mash pH. It uses a mash grist based method that is far more accurate. There is a large amount of brewing water knowledge that will help you understand what you're doing and why you're doing it. It also has fairly good guidance to help you avoid creating 'soda water'. Download it at the link in my signature line.
Bru'n water is the best of the adjustment spreadsheets IMO. And while it doesn't use color to estimate beer pH, it does list RA so you can see what it's likely to be. There is still a coincidence going on, but I would not use it as a measurement for my beer.

As far as the SO4/CL thing, I don't know if it would affect the aroma or not. I think the minerals tend to have an effect on how the bitterness feels in the mouth when tasting, rather than being a flavor component like aroma. I tend to stick near the middle when figuring this out. Maybe slightly off center for malty or bitter styles, but generally I think "balanced" is a good target to try and hit. I'm not overly found of very bitter beers, and prefer my IPAs to have tons of flavor and aroma rather than tons of bitterness.


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