A tale of three people who very precisely "hit their numbers" with regard to the exact same water profile and recipe

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Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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All three were making 5 gallons of the very same recipe.
All three were reading the very same book on water profiles. And reading the very same water profile. And recipe...
All three decided that to best hit the slam dunk magical profile they should start with distilled water.
All three very carefully made up the exact same ppm's of 8 gallons of this magical elixir / mineralization water.

#1 mashed in 6 gallons of this water and sparged with 2 gallons
#2 mashed with 4 gallons of this water an sparged with 4 gallons
#3 mashed with all 8 gallons and did not sparge at all

#3 mashed in twice as many mEq's of minerals as did #2, and 50% more mEq's of minerals than did #1.
All three made different beers and none of them resembled the beer nirvana hinted at within the book.
All three had no clue as to why they all used the same magical water profile, book, recipe, and beer final volume, and yet made different beers.
All three never knew that the author they were reading had no clue either.

And the moral of this story is that mineral profiles derived from ppm's (mg/L's) are useless.
 

CascadesBrewer

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And the moral of this story is that mineral profiles derived from ppm's (mg/L's) are useless.
Or maybe that mineral profiles derived from ppm's need to be adapted to one's process and preferences?

I have wondered about your point before. I have been doing full volume mash BIAB with a 60 minute boil, so that is my reference. I have been moving beers to 30 minute boils, which means 1/2 gal less water and a little less mineral additions. For a big beer I might need to sparge, so I am not quite sure how I want to treat my mash and sparge water and if this impacts the final pH of my beer. I am also not quite sure of the impact of 30 min vs 60 min vs 2 hour boil times, other than a long boil means more water and more minerals added.

Another wild card is the mineral levels from the grain. It is a topic seldom discussed. It is a bit silly to worry about 45 ppm vs 60 ppm if your grain jacks that up by 250 ppm.
 
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Useless? Hmmm. What I take from the tale of three brewers:

To investigate the value of mineral additions (or the lack thereof) , one might try using a consistent brewing process but varying the water chemistry, in case the effects of differing processes might overwhelm the changes wrought by differing mineral profiles.
 

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I'm not sure the actual "moral" of this story is as given...
 

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The mineral profile of the finished beer matters.
The mineral profile of the mash and its interaction with the grist also matters.

Lots of variables involved in making beer.
Let’s pick a different variable and plug it into your moral statement:
And the moral of this story is that mineral profiles grain bills derived from ppm's (mg/L's) percentages (%) are useless.
I find ^ that ^ moral just as underdeveloped.
You cannot isolate one variable, change others and fault the control for not preventing differences in the outcome.

Is there something you want to share, and your OP was just a stage?
What’s act 1?
 
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Is there something you want to share, and your OP was just a stage?
What’s act 1?
I want to share that mineral mEq's matter, whereas mineral ppm's do not. Particularly in the mash. I've brought this same issue up a few times now. Every once in awhile it needs brought up so as to catch a few new sets of eyes.

I might add that in general many (to most?) of the minerals inherent within the individual malts themselves vastly dwarf those added by the brewer, and they are influenced by local to regional soil conditions, planting season, year, weather, planting location, minerals and manures added to the soil by the farmer, seed varietals, local water, etc... Perhaps this should be act 2.

But then one might also consider that minerals added to the mash and minerals added to the sparge do not precisely sum as would be expected merely by adding them together, as many minerals added to the mash do not pass straight through to the wort. Act 3?
 
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Vale71

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What's your point exactly? That these guys made three different beers using water profiles they copied from some book and the results were disappointing?

There's lots of reasons why the final product might have been sub-par, it doesn't have to have anything to do with the water profile necessarily.

You can start with the perfect water profile and the perfect grain bill but if for example your fermentation management is beyond appalling then you will most likely end up with a disappointing result. To expect that a beer must be perfect just because you followed some water profile is disingenuous at best. To say that water profiles are worthless because you brewed a sub-par beer despite using some water profile is just as disingenuous IMHO.
 
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Perhaps the point hearkens back to when I requested that water profile discussions be removed from the brew science forum, and moved into their own forum. This side of Alkalinity there is little that can be distinctly called science in it. More like generalities and rules of thumb and hearsay. But post #7 should suffice.
 
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This experienced beer taster could not tell a beer made using straight unmineralized RO water from the identical beer made by hitting the numbers of his favorite water profile on the head:


I would ask that restraint is used whereby this thread doesn't wind up being merely another of dozens of Brulosophy bashing sessions. There are so many minerals within the individual grist components that it is quite likely that a side by side comparison of final beer mineral analyticals as done by a lab would reveal little difference.
 
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Vale71

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No bashing here. A hop-forward, Kveik fermented ale is exactly the kind of delicate beer style I would also have used to try and detect a subtle difference that might be attributable to a change in water profile only. Nothing in that recipe that might mask such a small difference at all. No sir. :p
 

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And the moral of this story is that mineral profiles derived from ppm's (mg/L's) are useless.
I don't get your point.
When I make the salt and acid calculation for water, I only consider mash water. The point of the entire exercise is mash pH.
Sparging happens after the mash is over.
Sparge water has different requirements than mash water, and it can be calculated apart, or it can be entirely neglected if one doesn't sparge or if he sparges with distilled water.

The three homebrewers mashed with three different waters, because the first two put in the sparge water part of the salts that should have gone in their mash water, so they worked with "undermodified" mash water if compared to the third guy.
 
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The three homebrewers mashed with three different waters, because the first two put in the sparge water part of the salts that should have gone in their mash water, so they worked with "undermodified" mash water if compared to the third guy.
Yes! But how were the three independently unawares homebrewers to know this merely by faithfully accepting that a ppm (mg/L) based (and to them seemingly as if magical) water profile as gotten from a respected book (or online source, etc...) was the sum total of what is required whereby to properly clone this beer in its requisite magic water? Likely 95% of us either don't have a pH meter, or don't bother to use it. And therefore fly directly off of advice such as recipes with a stated water profile.

The fault (in my opinion) goes all the way back to the author of the book/source of the profile. Had the mineralization been denominated in mEq's for each mineral to be added to the mash, with remaining mEq's (if any) to be placed into the sparge water then there would have been much greater uniformity across the expected end products of the three homebrewers, even if they didn't all use the same mash/sparge water volumes related process, and instead retained their own of such processes (as given in post #1 of this thread).

The only way the originator of the profile could have retained ppm's and kept everyone on the same page would have been to specify the precise volume quantities and mineral makeups required of both mash and sparge water. But that the originator did not do this is where my inference that the profile originator also had no clue was derived. How often is such specificity actually detailed for canned water profiles?
 

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@Silver_Is_Money

I see your point, but the average homebrewer, such as my humble self, doesn't really know what mEq is.

The wise homebrewer knows, or should be told, that mineral and acid additions have a different logic in each phase:

One modifies mash water in order to reach the desired mash pH;
One might modify sparge water in order to avoid tannin extraction;
One might modify the wort to bring to boil with minerals for flavour, and as I learn from you with acid for a better hot-break and a better fining performance;
Or, again per your suggestion, one can instead acidify the wort at the end of boiling for a better fining performance without interfering with hop extraction.

Each phase has its own recipe to be executed. Anybody suggesting the opposite is certainly not giving good advice.
 
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All three of those would have a different mash pH, and possibly a different sparge water if the salts added to the sparge water included alkalinity.
Precisely! It's not at all uncommon to see 'generally' undesired levels of Alkalinity within "Water Profiles". And water profiles do not generally specify or even hint that this Alkalinity undesirability is even more true and universal for sparge water, where Bicarbonate and other forms of Alkalinity must either be zero, or be highly neutralized/suppressed to a sparge water pH of ~5.4 to 5.6.

Another major frustration appears when "Water Profiles" do not exhibit the requisite cation mEq/L and anion mEq/L balance. Meaning that any and all of such water profiles are utterly impossible to fabricate to begin with. I'm not sure if I've ever seen the mEq/L cation and mEq/L anion values explicitly detailed for and in conjunction with any so-called "Water Profile". Mega-Kudos of a sort must go out to water profile magicians who actually take the time to achieve such ionic charge balance before publishing their profiles. There are indeed some who strive to at least accomplish this task.

And then there is the frustration that comes with stating that "this is the water profile of city or region so an so, home of famous beer such and such". No one generally knows what form(s) of modification/alteration the brewer of such and such must go through whereby to make water from so and so suitable to their beer brewing. Or if the profiled source is a local river, but the breweries in that region use well water. Etc...
 
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