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Old 02-25-2012, 03:41 PM   #1
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Default Adjusting water for a Scottish Ale - working the numbers

Thinking out loud here. I've been diluting or using 100% RO water the last few brews and then adjusting using Ajdelange's awesome Primer.

My question is what is needed in water for a Scottish Ale. This is my TAP water profile (all water comes into the hose pre-softened)

Sodium, Na 106
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 19
Magnesium, Mg 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3 94
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 4
Chloride, Cl 4
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate,HCO3 303
Total Alkalinity,CaCO3 248

SO if I dilute 50% RO and 50% TAP my starting water is

Sodium, Na 53
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 10
Magnesium, Mg 5
Total Hardness, CaCO3 47
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 2
Chloride, Cl 2
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate,HCO3 151
Total Alkalinity,CaCO3 124

5 gallon batch

Looking at Palmer's book one teaspoon calcium sulfate would add 49ppm Ca and 118ppm of SO4.

and a teaspoon of Calcium Chloride would give me 49ppm Ca and 100ppm Cl.

so the total would be

98ppm Ca
118ppm SO4
100ppm Cl

Now the water profile would be (target in (parenthesis))

Sodium, Na 53 - (55)
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 108 - (125)
Magnesium, Mg 5 - (25)
Total Hardness, CaCO3 47
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.2
Sulfate, SO4-S 120 - (140)
Chloride, Cl 102 - (65)
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate,HCO3 151
Total Alkalinity,CaCO3 124

Is there anything else I can do in additions to get "about" what I need? Chloride seems a little high. I know this does not need to be exact but if there is a simple fix . . .

Does Magnesium take care of it self I seem short of the 25 wanted?


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Old 02-26-2012, 04:17 AM   #2
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You could try using chalk (calcium carbonate) as well or instead of Calcium Chloride, or cutting it half and half. It'll raise the Bicarbonates more, not sure what you were targeting for it, but 151 seems low enough that you can get away with more. you'll need to add a couple grams to kick up the Calcium. (sorry I'm all metric)

The magnesium is fine at 5 ppm for that style, if you wanted you could add a pinch of Epsom Salts, it'll raise the SO4 and Mg.

Water is a complex thing, I've been mixing up kits to use with 100% RO and it's made brewday a lot easier for me, not to mention the difference in the beer.


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Old 02-26-2012, 05:25 AM   #3
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Thanks matt, I'll have to obsess over chalk now LOL I've been spongelike and sucking up any knowledge (that I can understand,), it's fascinating. But you can't learned everything at once. I have to look in my pile of BYOs to see if water is mentioned anywhere. Bicarbonates are a quagmire.

HEY - don't apologize for America being backward and stubborn!

HCO3 seemed to be in the 225 area in the one book I was looking at (Palmers). "Designing Great Beers" has a nice Scottish section.
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Old 02-26-2012, 07:04 AM   #4
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Tell me how this sounds, What if you take a solution of a compound that is soluble in water but will form up with your cloride ion and form a percipitate and falls out of solution. Off the top of my head I would assume Silver ions (Ag) will grab the Cl ions and take them out of solution. So after if falls out of solution you can filter out the preceptant.

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Old 02-26-2012, 02:13 PM   #5
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Tell me how this sounds,....
Insane! I've many, many times written that one shouldn't add chalk to brewing water because it will ruin the beer but I've never had to write that one shouldn't add silver nitrate to the water because it will ruin the beer, the yeast and the drinker!
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:31 PM   #6
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So I should not concern myself with too much Chloride? For a Scottish?
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Old 02-26-2012, 03:14 PM   #7
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You shouldn't be worrying about 'targets' at this point. You should be worrying about making a good beer. Chasing targets will have you chasing your tail. You will not hit a target unless you are willing to use chalk and CO2 gas and most of the targets are erroneous and even if they represent accurately the water from the Hollyrood well you would need to know how the brewers at that brewery handled the water. And then there is the distinct possibility that you can make better beer than that guy could because you have more control, with modern technology, over your water than he did.

Start by brewing a decent beer following the recommendations of the Primer which are based on very broad 'targets' which you can synthesize from RO water. Then adjust from there by repeatedly brewing the same beer until you arrive at your own target.

It turns out that some extra chloride is often beneficial to beer but obviously there are limits.
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Old 02-26-2012, 06:13 PM   #8
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Admittedly I'm new to this forum, and after reading AJ's response I went back as read a buck of posts ( his and others) and I have to agree with him, chasing targets will have you chasing your tail.

Let us know how the beer turns out, and what your method is!
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Old 02-26-2012, 11:19 PM   #9
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Ive brew 84 batches with a few being sold in a brew pub so I think I have the process down LOL.

I don't think it's a good idea to ignore water. And if you don't have a target . . . . What are you aiming at then.

But I understand what you are saying. For me the learning is wanting to know WHY to add this and that, not just blindly following a default. The default is great but then I want to know what THEIR numbers are.

Basically my additions ARE the default with additions (British beers). But I wanted to keep some of the sodium.
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Old 02-27-2012, 12:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinder12000 View Post
I don't think it's a good idea to ignore water.
It isn't but before you undertake to adjust water you need to understand the chemistry of the mash and water to much greater depth than the vast majority of home brewers and quite a few commercial brewers too. The latter do what they do because it works (i.e. makes beer that sells). That is but one of several criteria of optimality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinder12000 View Post
And if you don't have a target . . . . What are you aiming at then.
Better, by your chosen criterion of optimality, beer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinder12000 View Post
But I understand what you are saying. For me the learning is wanting to know WHY to add this and that, not just blindly following a default.
We can talk about the pH control aspect of it to some extent but there is more than one way to control pH. You can add minerals or acid or dark malt or combinations of the above. Once you have figured out how you are going to control pH the rest is basically seasoning.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinder12000 View Post
The default is great but then I want to know what THEIR numbers are.
Don't know who 'they' are. If it is the original brewer of the style then you have no way of knowing what their numbers are for the reasons cited in the earlier posts unless they did water analyses before they brewed, recorded those analyses and their treatments and you have their logs. Hints at some of this data are sometimes found as, for example, in the AHA monographs on the various styles and these are a great place to look. For example, Greg Noonan's on Scottish Ales is relevant to the current discussion. He has notes on the wells of Edinburg and something on their mineral content. From reading that book you can get a general idea as to what kind of water beers in that city were sourced from. You wouldn't try to brew those beers with the kind of water you would brew Bohemian Pilsner with nor the kind of water you would brew Burton Ale with. The best you can do is start off with water that is nominally like that available to the brewers of Edinburg (but remember that there is more to Scotland than Edinburg) and build from that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Grinder12000 View Post
Basically my additions ARE the default with additions (British beers). But I wanted to keep some of the sodium.
Why? What good does sodium do in a Scottish ale? Do not forget the very distinct possibility that you can brew a better Scottish ale than an early Scottish brewery because you can remove sodium easily and they couldn't. That's why you must experiment. Large commercial operations today install elaborate water treatment plants and dose in whatever minerals they need for consistency with the optimality criterion being increased sales (or rather increased profit). If yours is better taste then you must insure correct pH and then tweak things like sodium to your taste. If your optimality criterion is to make a beer your wife likes then you must tweak to her taste. If maximizing ribbons taken then authenticity, as defined by the BJCP guidelines, is what you need to strive for.

You can, of course, pick some target, and use that as a stepping off point but you will reach your goal quicker if you start simple and build up. If you give me a desired target profile and it is valid at least to the extent that it is physically realizable (many of the ones that appear in books, magazine articles and spreadsheets are not) I can tell you how to synthesize it but in nearly all cases it involves the use of CO2 gas which requires a lot of effort much of which is wasted as soon as the water is heated and the dissolved bicarbonate precipitates out just as it probably did in the brewery whose water you are targeting. Much easier, IMO, to skip all that and get reasonable calcium, chloride and sulfate levels.

That's my philosophy and it is catching on but of course you can chase profiles if that's what you prefer to do.


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