A Brewing Water Chemistry Primer

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Silver_Is_Money

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My response #2 in post #1674 to Big Monk's point #2 in his post #1673 was between he and I, whereby both he and I know the pH at which Rochefort mashes. This "insider info" was not made public, but now that it is, the intent was that to duplicate Rochefort's documented mash pH one must know not only the ppm's of their water (such that they are also documented) but to hit their mash pH via duplicating their water is to hit their mEq's is to know their water to grist ratio. Another piece of the puzzle that was between he and I is that we both know that Rochefort does not adjust their mash pH. Thus my #2 in response to his #2 could indeed appear cryptic to someone other than he or myself, but in the end I was directly replying to him, and not to everyone else. Thus the logic may easily be missed by all but Big Monk and myself. Such is often the case for public forum replies.

Now on the other hand if one knew Rochefort's mash water mEq's then one would potentially be able to target duplication of their mash water mEq's via a plenitude of differing mash water mineralization ppm's and mash water to grist ratios. Thus taken by and of themselves, merely knowing Rochefort's mineral ppm's is flawed as I indicated. And if a book says to use Rocheforts mineralization ppm's (I.E., if it tells you to use their "water profile") it is indeed deceiving you if that is all of the instruction it offers to you.

PS: Not that it matters to my argument above, but Rochefort intentionally mashes at a pH that most typically falls between the extremes of 5.8 low and 5.9 high. One has to presume this to be as measured at room temperature (but in honesty, their pH measurement temperature is not specified in available data, at least as far as I can tell).
 
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beervoid

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No, I'm telling you that in 7 gallons of 50 ppm calcium ion water there are twice the mEq's of Ca++ ions as for 3.5 gallons of 50 ppm water.
If I understand you correctly the water to grist ratio influences how much ions are absorbed into the mash.
Thinner mash is more ions, thicker mash is less.

Does MME take into account water to grist ratio for calculating total ions in mash.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Does MME take into account water to grist ratio for calculating total ions in mash.
It's internal math does not specifically utilize the water to grist ratio directly as such, seeing as the ratio is merely a secondarily derived corollary involving grist weight and water volume, but effectively (since it accounts for these ratio building block components) you could indeed say that it does, as its ions in the mash output are in full accord with the water to grist ratio. MME utilizes mEq's, and for pH adjusting acids and bases it also applies their dissociation constants, which alter their relative mEq/L or mEq/gram "strengths" in accord with ones desired pH target. And for the unique case of Ca(OH)2 it also factors in that while this minerals OH- ions are driving mash pH upward, its Ca++ ion is simultaneously driving mash pH downward. And uniquely, MME attempts to merge the derived Ca++ and Mg++ pH shifting math model formula derived output per Kolbach with the real world observations as to these ions pH impact for high levels of these ions as per Taylor. Thus for MME Kolbach becomes a variable and not a fixed formula as per the other calculators, whereby as Ca++ and Mg++ mEq's are increased within the mash water, the impact of Kolbach's math model output upon downward pH shift is progressively diminished.
 
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Big Monk

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It's internal math does not specifically utilize the water to grist ratio directly as such, seeing as the ratio is merely a secondarily derived corollary involving grist weight and water volume, but effectively (since it accounts for these ratio building block components) you could indeed say that it does, as its ions in the mash output are in full accord with the water to grist ratio. MME utilizes mEq's, and for pH adjusting acids and bases it also applies their dissociation constants, which alter their relative mEq/L or mEq/gram "strengths" in accord with ones desired pH target. And for the unique case of Ca(OH)2 it also factors in that while this minerals OH- ions are driving mash pH upward, its Ca++ ion is simultaneously driving mash pH downward. And uniquely, MME attempts to merge the derived Ca++ and Mg++ pH shifting math model formula derived output per Kolbach with the real world observations as to these ions pH impact for high levels of these ions as per Taylor. Thus for MME Kolbach becomes a variable and not a fixed formula as per the other calculators, whereby as Ca++ and Mg++ mEq's are increased within the mash water, the impact of Kolbach's math model output upon downward pH shift is progressively diminished.
Translation: No, it doesn’t. But it kind of does.

;)
 

ep_brew

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If you're trying to better understand water like me, I think Silver_Is_Money brings up a good point about BIAB or No Sparge brewers blindly following recipes that were probably written by Fly Sparge or Batch Sparge brewers. I don't have a natural science background and I've been learning more about water chemistry through the posts here and John Palmer's How To Brew 4th ed., chapter 21. Working through the Kolbach equation in the book I started to understand whats involved. I got the Briess malt data from How To Brew and the Weyermann from Silver_Is_Money's posts. This is just a basic example, the pH software guys and the Water book have more developed models.

A recipe for a North American Lager:
Batch size = 5 gallon (19 liters)
Mash pH target = 5.4
Distilled water with 50 ppm added calcium

Grain Bill
99% Briess Brewers Malt, 11 lbs (5 kg) * 5.0 mEq/kg to target 5.4 pH = 25 mEq
1% Weyermann Acidulated Malt, 1.75 oz (0.05 kg) * -320 mEq/kg to target 5.4 pH = -16 mEq

The grain bill has 25 - 16 = 9 mEq of alkalinity.

Water
50 ppm calcium / 20 equivalent weight = 2.5 mEq/Liter

Kolbach's Residual Alkalinity in mEq/Liter = alkalinity (0 distilled water) - ((2.5 calcium / 3.5) + ( 0 magnesium / 7))

The water has -0.7 RA per liter.

Fly Sparge or Batch Sparge, 3.5 gallon (13.25 liters) * -0.7 RA = -9.3 water RA
BIAB or No Sparge, 7 gallon (26.5 liters) * -0.7 RA = -18.6 water RA

Doubling the water in the mash has doubled the RA. Both mashes are 50 ppm calcium.

Mash
Fly Sparge or Batch Sparge, 9 mEq malt alkalinity + (-9.3 water RA) = -0.3 acidity
BIAB or No Sparge, 9 mEq malt alkalinity + (-18.6 water RA) = -9.6 acidity

For these two mashes with 50 ppm calcium to be the "same", the BIAB or No Sparge mash has 0.3 - 9.6 = -9.3 mEq acidity that needs the neutralized.

Sodium bicarbonate has 11.8 mEq/L alkalinity. 9.3 / 11.8 = 0.8 grams of baking soda required.

I think with all the knowledge about water now, there's a lot of benefit to using one of the water calculators and No Sparge / BIAB brewers should know the calcium and magnesium in their water at the same ppm of the recipe, will acidify their mash pH more because you're increasing the total quantity of calcium and magnesium in the mash. I think I followed the book correctly but let me know if I made any mistakes.
 
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Hi,

I have been developing a new water calculator (oh no, not ANOTHER one......!). With some input it calculates a good water profile for most styles of beer. It also calculates acid or alkalinity additions, salt additions and target pH. If interested it's located here:

An update to my previous post. I have moved the calculator to another website. If interested visit:

 
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Hi Brewbuzzrd. Thanks for the link. However, I feel that I'm already fairly knowledgeable about brewing water basics, and was instead particularly asking about what A.J. deLange meant in the first message of this thread ("Primer") as modified by his later comments, particularly regarding "minerally" beers.

He provided a baseline, and said that the subsequent types of beers were to be "deviated" by the amounts he suggested. The only type of beer that didn't make any sense regarding "deviation" is the last one - "minerally beers". He said that the chloride and gypsum were to be doubled. Since no gypsum is added to the baseline beers, how can you "double" the amount? Thus, I assumed he was actually not referring to the "baseline" beer in this particular case, but rather to the previous type of beer (British beers), where gypsum IS mentioned. This makes sense since a more minerally type of beer would certainly be more than the previous type of beer by about that amount.

I just asked for clarification, which likely only A.J. deLange can himself provide. (There was a comment during the discussion that he made, which seems to generally confirm my interpretation, although not specifically).

Sorry if I wasn't clear enough before.
I am curious about this as well. I understand the concepts but would like to know what minerals to use in instances such as this particularly because I am brewing a dortmunder soon.

Thanks
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I am curious about this as well. I understand the concepts but would like to know what minerals to use in instances such as this particularly because I am brewing a dortmunder soon.

Thanks
Per Brewer's Friend, renowned German brewing scientist P. Kolbach documented that the decarbonated water in which Dortmunder Lager was brewed back in the 1930's-1950's era was as follows:

Ca++ = 155 mg/L
Mg++ = 23 mg/L
Na+ = 10 mg/L
Cl- = 100 mg/L
SO4-- = 300 mg/L
Alkalinity = 43 mg/L

This decarbonated water passes the critical Cation/Anion charge balance test. I don't generally think much of 'water profiles', but this one comes with a pedigree.

It appears that not much of this style is still being brewed in Dortmund. Sans for export, it appears to be a dying breed of lager. It is one of my favorites due to reasonably local to me 'Great Lakes Dortmunder Gold' getting (from me) a big thumbs up.
 
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Dortmunder gold is one of my favorites too. There is also a brewery in nowheresville wi called manitowish brewing that does one that was great as well. Way out of the way even for the state residents though.

I appreciate the water profile. I was specifically thinking about how to adopt the water primer. I generally use brew father or brewers friend to calculate with much success so far. I really wanted to try and simplify my water chemistry mostly because chemistry is an area I am not strong in so it’s always a huge guess and trusting the software.
 
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Dortmunder gold is one of my favorites too. There is also a brewery in nowheresville wi called manitowish brewing that does one that was great as well. Way out of the way even for the state residents though.

I appreciate the water profile. I was specifically thinking about how to adopt the water primer. I generally use brew father or brewers friend to calculate with much success so far. I really wanted to try and simplify my water chemistry mostly because chemistry is an area I am not strong in so it’s always a huge guess and trusting the software.
I wrote in a message above about the water chemistry website I've been working on. See if this helps.
phantomwingbrew.com
 

14chow

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I just got my water report from Wards so obviously I'll be doing tons of reading on here to figure this out myself but thought I'd post it to see any opinions on how jacked up (or good?) it is in the meantime.

pH 7.2
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 84
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.14
Cations / Anions, me/L 1.3 / 1.2

ppm
Sodium, Na 18
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 5.5
Magnesium, Mg 2
Total Hardness, CaCO3 23
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 9
Chloride, Cl 9
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 20
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 17
Total Phosphorus, P 0.38
Total Iron, Fe 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Thanks
 

Miraculix

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I just got my water report from Wards so obviously I'll be doing tons of reading on here to figure this out myself but thought I'd post it to see any opinions on how jacked up (or good?) it is in the meantime.

pH 7.2
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 84
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.14
Cations / Anions, me/L 1.3 / 1.2

ppm
Sodium, Na 18
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 5.5
Magnesium, Mg 2
Total Hardness, CaCO3 23
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 9
Chloride, Cl 9
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 20
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 17
Total Phosphorus, P 0.38
Total Iron, Fe 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Thanks
Wow, that's a dream!
 

jerrylotto

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It does look great but I would assume that there still could be up to 4 mg/l chloramine as a disinfectant. I would treat it with Campden as a matter of course just to make sure.
 

14chow

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I should have mentioned that I sent the water for testing after filtering through a water filter setup (one I built from a popular DIY project thread from here around 2013ish...filter isn't that old of course!). Wondering if that is why you guys are saying the water is so good or maybe the filtering doesn't affect the minerals? But yes, I have always use a Campden tablet split between my mash and sparge water just to be safe.
 

VikeMan

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Wondering if that is why you guys are saying the water is so good or maybe the filtering doesn't affect the minerals?
What kind of filter is it?
 

VikeMan

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Does anyone have a good pH meter recommendation (i.e. fairly inexpensive but accurate)?
Milwaukee MW101 or MW102. Neither is dirt cheap, but IMO they are great bang for the buck. Or you can pick up something from Amazon for $20 that won't be accurate, precise, or reliable.

There is one that's a bit cheaper than the Milwaukees that has tested well, but I can't remember the name. Hopefully someone will chime in on that.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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The Apera pH60 is a very nice pH meter. It may be the one VikeMan is referring to.
 

day_trippr

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I can vouch for the Apera pH60. It's a better deal than the Hach Pocket Pro Plus, and head and tails above the Hanna 98128...

Cheers!
 

jerrylotto

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One caveat about the cheap meters, if you check and optionally calibrate them before every use, they are functionally accurate. The problem with them is that they tend to drift and the probes don't last forever. if you mix up a 4.00 and maybe a 7.00 standard solution and keep them on hand, a quick calibration check is a simple step to add. That Milwaukee unit is nice however :)
 
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VikeMan

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One caveat about the cheap meters, if you check and optionally calibrate them before every use, they are functionally accurate.
Sometimes. But I've seen cheap meters do the following:
- Slowly move toward the true pH and then slowly keep going right on past it, in such a manner that it's impossible to determine that the reading has stabilized.
- Require calibration before every reading. Not just every session, but every reading, even a minute later. I witnessed one meter that consistently read higher on the same sample every time (after the first time), until it was calibrated again. If one didn't know the meter behaved that way (because who normally measures the same sample twice?), the accuracy of readings would just keep getting worse in fairly short order,
 

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I think it's clear that Milwaukee and Hanna are the same producer. Hanna has a higher price bracket and Milwaukee a lower price bracket.

This might be due to simple smart marketing, or to the firm marking Hanna the instrument of the best batches, or the firm giving Hanna a better post-sale assistance, but ultimately I think it's mostly marketing.

Buy Milwaukee if you want to buy Hanna.
 

Birrofilo

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That's true of my digital electronic refractometer as well. The only physical difference between the two products appears to be the color of the external case and the logo.
If we look at the manuals, the Hanna's says "two drops" and the Milwaukee's says "2-3 drops". Response time: Hanna: 1,5 seconds. Milwaukee: 2 seconds.

I think this is marketing tweaking in order to artificially differentiate two identical products. Accuracy is 0,2 Brix for both (they state 0,2 % but that's obviously wrong, they certainly mean 0,2 Brix, which is a percentage. Although I have to see it would have been more honest to say 0,2 Brix).
 

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If we look at the manuals, the Hanna's says "two drops" and the Milwaukee's says "2-3 drops". Response time: Hanna: 1,5 seconds. Milwaukee: 2 seconds.

I think this is marketing tweaking in order to artificially differentiate two identical products. Accuracy is 0,2 Brix for both (they state 0,2 % but that's obviously wrong, they certainly mean 0,2 Brix, which is a percentage. Although I have to see it would have been more honest to say 0,2 Brix).
A little off-topic, but maybe someone can answer. My work area for brewing and wine making has incandescent lighting (8' ceiling, 100W bulbs), but the work area where I usually take refractometer readings has a suspended fluorescent fixture. I've noticed a slight variation between readings registered under the two light sources. This seems odd since I'd have thought that the refractive indices would only (at least predominently) dependent on the media they were passing through, rather than the light source being refracted.

The differences are not great, perhaps only a 1/1000th of a derived SG point (Novotny calculation). Still more accurate than I can do with a narrow range calibrated hydrometer, and uses a lot less sample.

A difference between hand held and bench mounted electronic devices is the sample size. Although the directions says "1or 2 drops" I've found that I get more consistent readings when I flood the well of the electronic refractometer. It still takes only 1ml or less, but when I use a 1-2 drop sample, if I take multiple readings of the same sample over a period of several minutes I can get some "drift" in the readings that's not there when I flood the sample well.

None of these are deal breakers for me, and I genuinely favor refractometers over hydrometers. Much easier to chill a shot glass of boiling wort down to 16°C during a brew session than trying to do the same with a hydrometer sample jar. Less wasteful, too.
 

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For what I know, manual refractometers are calibrated for "daylight" (supposing such a thing exist, I imagine a certain high-quality light source with a very broad spectrum) and whenever they are used in a different light source they might give an imprecise result.
I suppose, though, that the error is minimal, especially if one takes the precaution to "zero" the instrument in the same light of the reading.
In the last decades or so, both incandescent lights and fluorescent lights have become much better in mimicking sun light.

Digital refractometers have their own light source, which is constant, and one must only take the precaution to cover the sample with one hand, or a cardboard etc. during measurement, because the instrument must not be "blinded" by ambient light.

The drift of measurement might be due to evaporation. When one only puts 1 or 2 drops, the evaporation is much faster than if one "floods" the pit. On the other hand, flooding has other disadvantages if the liquid is not very clear and if it is at a different temperature as the instrument. I now use a coffee filter and I filter the samples, I find the results much more consistent, with minimal drift between measurements.

I move the refractometer a couple hours in advance in the room, and I put at the same time the distilled water in a couple coffee cups (for zeroing and cleaning) so as to have those at the same temperature. If I measure the density of a beer from the fermenter, I also move a coffee cup in the room together with the rest.

After I drop the drops on the measuring lens, I wait for 4 or 5 seconds before taking the density so as to allow the temperatures to equalize.
 

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For what I know, manual refractometers are calibrated for "daylight" (supposing such a thing exist, I imagine a certain high-quality light source with a very broad spectrum) and whenever they are used in a different light source they might give an imprecise result.
this is probably in reference to the light's "temperature" in Kelvin.
Very important in digital photography and can see examples if you search 'LED light temperature'
 

Birrofilo

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this is probably in reference to the light's "temperature" in Kelvin.
Very important in digital photography and can see examples if you search 'LED light temperature'
Very important in analogue photography as well! That's why I say "supposing such a thing exist", instruments are probably calibrated to the emission of the "black body" heated to 5600 °K, just like it was standard for daylight film, but daylight actually varies from 5000 to 7000 °K in full light (in the shade with a clear blue sky the light is very bluish).

Fluorescent lamps and incandescent lamps don't have the spectrum breadth of the daylight and so, even if they "hit" the °K rating, they might not give exact results on a refractometer.
 

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Hefeweizen: Baseline

Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

Deviate from the baseline as follows:


Hefeweizen: For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3% (you can make great Hefe with soft water too).

Porter: For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz.

Light Ale: For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

IPA: For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum.



If you follow just the baseline without any of the deviations you won't make a 'dumper'. That's the whole idea behind the primer. Should get you a decent beer whatever the style.
I'm brewing Jamil's Dunkelweizen from Brewing Classic Styles, since it utilizes some roasted malts do I follow the roast malt profile or the soft water profile? Apologies if this has already been answered, I did try to find a similar post.
 

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I'm brewing Jamil's Dunkelweizen from Brewing Classic Styles, since it utilizes some roasted malts do I follow the roast malt profile or the soft water profile? Brewing with 100% R/O if that matters.. Apologies if this has already been answered, I did try to find a similar post.
 

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I'm brewing Jamil's Dunkelweizen from Brewing Classic Styles, since it utilizes some roasted malts do I follow the roast malt profile or the soft water profile? Apologies if this has already been answered, I did try to find a similar post.
What kind of water are you starting with? Do you use any brewing software?
 

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