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About time to start getting into water chemistry

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ABVIBUSRM

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I am finally starting to expand my involvment in the brewing process and im getting into water chemistry..The styles i mostly brew PA, stouts, ipas all turn out well without to much thought into the water so i always kinda dismissed water (stupid of me) we all know water is very important ingredient it makes up around 90% of beer ..anyway now its one of my main focuses and im gonna study until i grasp brewing water chemistry..its a pretty confusing aspect of brewing..so i found a water calculator on brewers friend and messed around with it to try and get the feel.. For example i put pilsner as my target water profile
and i was shocked to see pilsners are brewed with pretty much distilled water..i was planning on using distilled or RO for now on and build it up with brewing salts
So for my source water i left it blank and started adding salts to get me in the pilsen water range..i was pretty suprised that all it took to get the target ions was .5g of baking soda, 1g calcium chloride and 1g of epsom salt to get to target pilsner water (10G)..so once you get the water ions right next step is PH correct? if someone can validate that im on the right track or not even close i would apprieciate it..thats whats great about this hobby..you never stop learning..i feel like a noob again
 

Happywanderer

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Yes.

I'm just getting into playing mad scientist with my water as well.

Starting with good RO (and CHEAP at $.35/gal).

Get your salts where you need them. Then worry about pH taking into account grist bill as grains will have an effect on pH.

Phosphoric Acid, from everything I've read, is a good choice as it contributes no flavor to the final beer. Lactic acid MAY give a bit of flavor to the final beer.

Phosphoric Acid can be found cheap on amazon in 75% concentrations (which is way better than the 10% concentration found on HBS).

For a pilsner, I'd use brewer's friend water calculator (the advanced one). Input your grain bill and see how that affects your pH. You might not have to worry about pH at all.

EDIT: Just checked it out and used a generic pilsner AG recipe and the Pilsen water profile (you're right it is basically RO water... very little in that water)...

Turns out to be around a 5.7 pH... so a tad high. From what I've read, darker beers (more roasted/kilned grains) will have a lower pH than lighter beers with mostly base malt.
 

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.i was pretty suprised that all it took to get the target ions was .5g of baking soda, 1g calcium chloride and 1g of epsom salt to get to target pilsner water (10G)..so once you get the water ions right next step is PH correct? if someone can validate that im on the right track or not even close i would apprieciate it..thats whats great about this hobby..you never stop learning..i feel like a noob again
Your additions don't make sense. You add baking soda to increase the pH, but you probably want a LOWER pH and not higher. epsom salts are fine in tiny amounts, but you probably would want to increase the calcium, and not the magnesium, and generally you don't want more sulfate. I don't know what the "target" profile you have says, but hitting a "profile" is generally not a great idea- and you can see that you have a pH raising addition as a result. You may need acid to lower the pH, and you definitely don't need to raise the pH!

The most important thing (well, maybe the only really important thing) is mash pH. First, make sure your mash pH is correct and then if you want to make additions with salts you can.

Think of salts just as you would table salt. You put salt on your food at the table, for the flavor. That's the purpose of the salt additions- flavor. Sulfate and noble hops do not mix well, but a little calcium chloride is nice as chloride provides a "roundness" or "fullness" of flavor and calcium is great for yeast health.

I really like the water information in bru'nwater. The spreadsheet has a learning curve, so some don't like to use it, but the information in the preface is great and would really help with some of the basics of understanding what each additive does to the water.
 

duboman

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Your additions don't make sense. You add baking soda to increase the pH, but you probably want a LOWER pH and not higher. epsom salts are fine in tiny amounts, but you probably would want to increase the calcium, and not the magnesium, and generally you don't want more sulfate. I don't know what the "target" profile you have says, but hitting a "profile" is generally not a great idea- and you can see that you have a pH raising addition as a result. You may need acid to lower the pH, and you definitely don't need to raise the pH!

The most important thing (well, maybe the only really important thing) is mash pH. First, make sure your mash pH is correct and then if you want to make additions with salts you can.

Think of salts just as you would table salt. You put salt on your food at the table, for the flavor. That's the purpose of the salt additions- flavor. Sulfate and noble hops do not mix well, but a little calcium chloride is nice as chloride provides a "roundness" or "fullness" of flavor and calcium is great for yeast health.

I really like the water information in bru'nwater. The spreadsheet has a learning curve, so some don't like to use it, but the information in the preface is great and would really help with some of the basics of understanding what each additive does to the water.
+1
In addition, Bru'n water also has many profiles associated with the world's brewing regions which is different than profiles to style so if you are trying to brew a beer style from a certain region you can make adjustments to come close to that regions water profile.
 

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ugh... I know I should... but I have zero interest in getting into water chemistrifying my beer... I know lots of brewers are the math/science loving type.. I'm more the LanguageArts/History loving type....


I want to do things right, but the science... and numbers of water treatment just don't excite me...

does that make me a bad person and bad brewer?
 

duboman

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ugh... I know I should... but I have zero interest in getting into water chemistrifying my beer... I know lots of brewers are the math/science loving type.. I'm more the LanguageArts/History loving type....


I want to do things right, but the science... and numbers of water treatment just don't excite me...

does that make me a bad person and bad brewer?
No, it doesn't make you a bad person/brewer but you did ask the questions so the advice is forthcoming:)

Beer is made up of water so using the best water possible increases your chances of making the best beer possible, I say chances because there are a lot of other factors involved in brewing great beer other than just water.

If you are generally happy with the beer you are brewing than work on the other aspects of your process like yeast management, pitch rates, starters, fresh ingredients, precise note taking and measuring, proper crush, etc, etc.

If you do some of those things and the beer gets better that's awesome! then you can start to tackle water and get to the next level. But...if you are not happy with the beer and you've tried many of the other things than you need to look at water sooner rather than later.
 

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Palmer's "Water" book is a great resource. I too am a non-sciencey type, so I had to read a couple of the key chapters twice (or 3X) to get it to sink in, but it really demystified a lot of the water chemistry stuff and now a lot of the stuff I read in the Brewing Science forum makes sense. If any of the stuff you're reading about water chemistry is going over your head (like it did with me) then Water is really a good place to start.
 

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".. I'm more the LanguageArts/History loving type...."

Yeah, but you see junior. Yeast love math and science. They're not into the liberal art stuff, that much. I guess it won't hurt to recite poetry to them while they're producing swill. But, I must admit, Lager yeast works better when I play music by Wagner and Rammstein for them.
 

bford

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".. I'm more the LanguageArts/History loving type...."

Yeah, but you see junior. Yeast love math and science. They're not into the liberal art stuff, that much. I guess it won't hurt to recite poetry to them while they're producing swill. But, I must admit, Lager yeast works better when I play music by Wagner and Rammstein for them.
Well I am a really good guitar player, so maybe I'll start playing for my wort as it ferments away...


As far as water... my beer did get much better once I started getting my water from one of those filtered/reverse osmosis places.... getting rid of the chlorinish stuff that was in my tap water....

I'm still only a year in.. so liquid yeast is next... then I'll start looking into water chemistry....
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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Your additions don't make sense. You add baking soda to increase the pH, but you probably want a LOWER pH and not higher. epsom salts are fine in tiny amounts, but you probably would want to increase the calcium, and not the magnesium, and generally you don't want more sulfate. I don't know what the "target" profile you have says, but hitting a "profile" is generally not a great idea- and you can see that you have a pH raising addition as a result. You may need acid to lower the pH, and you definitely don't need to raise the pH!

The most important thing (well, maybe the only really important thing) is mash pH. First, make sure your mash pH is correct and then if you want to make additions with salts you can.

Think of salts just as you would table salt. You put salt on your food at the table, for the flavor. That's the purpose of the salt additions- flavor. Sulfate and noble hops do not mix well, but a little calcium chloride is nice as chloride provides a "roundness" or "fullness" of flavor and calcium is great for yeast health.

I really like the water information in bru'nwater. The spreadsheet has a learning curve, so some don't like to use it, but the information in the preface is great and would really help with some of the basics of understanding what each additive does to the water.
Yooper thank you for the good info..let me see if im grasping this..Say its brew day, i have 10 gallons of distilled, water heat it up to desired temp , dough in test PH use some acid(if needed) to get PH right,then add some calcium and epsom for flavor? Im i on the right track?
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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Yes.

I'm just getting into playing mad scientist with my water as well.

Starting with good RO (and CHEAP at $.35/gal).

Get your salts where you need them. Then worry about pH taking into account grist bill as grains will have an effect on pH.

Phosphoric Acid, from everything I've read, is a good choice as it contributes no flavor to the final beer. Lactic acid MAY give a bit of flavor to the final beer.

Phosphoric Acid can be found cheap on amazon in 75% concentrations (which is way better than the 10% concentration found on HBS).

For a pilsner, I'd use brewer's friend water calculator (the advanced one). Input your grain bill and see how that affects your pH. You might not have to worry about pH at all.

EDIT: Just checked it out and used a generic pilsner AG recipe and the Pilsen water profile (you're right it is basically RO water... very little in that water)...

Turns out to be around a 5.7 pH... so a tad high. From what I've read, darker beers (more roasted/kilned grains) will have a lower pH than lighter beers with mostly base malt.
Alright cool thanks alot..starting to make sense
 

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The most important thing (well, maybe the only really important thing) is mash pH. First, make sure your mash pH is correct and then if you want to make additions with salts you can.
2nd this.

I think a lot of people feel like they need to hit certain ppms for certain styles and forget about pH. Getting mash pH should be goal #1 and then the focus should go onto flavor profiles.

For the record, the only minerals I buy are gypsum, CaCl, and Calcium carbonate, and I rarely use the Calcium carbonate
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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Palmer's "Water" book is a great resource. I too am a non-sciencey type, so I had to read a couple of the key chapters twice (or 3X) to get it to sink in, but it really demystified a lot of the water chemistry stuff and now a lot of the stuff I read in the Brewing Science forum makes sense. If any of the stuff you're reading about water chemistry is going over your head (like it did with me) then Water is really a good place to start.
Gonna pick that up along with JZ and Chris whites Yeast..thats the next step after understanding water...yeast ranching
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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How about the prouduct PH stabilizer along with brewing salts for brewing with distilled?
 

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Like I said before, Water is a great help to understanding this stuff. (I'm hoping to read Yeast in the near future too!)

As for the stabilizer stuff, the consensus around here is that it doesn't do much. It provides buffers that may help keep your mash from changing from a particular pH, but it does not make your mash BECOME a particular pH. In the end, it just adds stuff you don't need and stuff you might taste. I'd say skip it.
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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Like I said before, Water is a great help to understanding this stuff. (I'm hoping to read Yeast in the near future too!)

As for the stabilizer stuff, the consensus around here is that it doesn't do much. It provides buffers that may help keep your mash from changing from a particular pH, but it does not make your mash BECOME a particular pH. In the end, it just adds stuff you don't need and stuff you might taste. I'd say skip it.
Right on
 

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How about the prouduct PH stabilizer along with brewing salts for brewing with distilled?
As Jon said, do not use the "stabilizer". There is a lot of info over in the Brew Science forum on why it doesn't work, and in fact the reason why it can't work- and it's interesting to read up on.

Distilled or reverse osmosis (RO) water is a perfect place to start, and you may need just a bit of calcium chloride to make a great blank slate for beer. It doesn't have to be complicated or complex, if you start with good water for brewing and RO or distilled water is perfect.
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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i started thinking about what yooper said that brewing salts are for flavor of beer like table salt is to food and that the most important part is the PH..So what i have gathered is chlorides enhance the maltiness and round out the beer and sulfates enhance the hops and has a drier finish..thats the seasoning part, but the important thing is the ph of the mash to provide enzymes a good party environment for good conversion..correct me if im wrong..so it seems just adding some calcium chloride to some spring water(if you have the report) maybe a little epsom for flavor and acid in the mash/sparge..That would work with a 100% pilsner grain right?
 

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I use Brewers Friend for my water calculations and I think it is pretty slick.
If you pay attention to everything it has to offer and fill in the blanks properly it gives you a lot of control over your beer.
I too have the Palmer, Kaminski Water book and taking the knowledge gained from that source to the water calculator at BF has really helped my beer.
What I have found as it relates to ph is that if I choose a water profile (or build my own...advanced...), upload my grain bill to the calculator, choose the mash ph I am shooting for and get my salt/acid additions dialed in that I hit my ph every time dead on. Now it almost seems redundant to check my ph in the mash but I continue to do so for peace of mind.
If you continue to use that calculator sit down and play around with it a little to get a feel for it. Watch what happens when you make changes to your additions. It will tell you when you are about to do something stupid.
Finally, get a little education in water chemistry as it relates to brewing beer so you can make educated decisions and it will pay off.
 

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i started thinking about what yooper said that brewing salts are for flavor of beer like table salt is to food and that the most important part is the PH..So what i have gathered is chlorides enhance the maltiness and round out the beer and sulfates enhance the hops and has a drier finish..thats the seasoning part, but the important thing is the ph of the mash to provide enzymes a good party environment for good conversion..correct me if im wrong..so it seems just adding some calcium chloride to some spring water(if you have the report) maybe a little epsom for flavor and acid in the mash/sparge..That would work with a 100% pilsner grain right?
You're on the right track as far as what the chloride and sulfates do - but be aware that lots of people believe that certain hops (European hops, especially) do NOT benefit from sulfates. And it's common to get most sulfates from gypsum (calcium sulfate) and to use epsom salts sparingly.

And here's another really helpful resource when starting out. Toward the bottom of the first post, it gives some general guidelines on what to add to pilsner type beers, dark beers, etc. , both in terms of flavor additions and acid for pH.

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/brewing-water-chemistry-primer-198460/
 

Happywanderer

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I am reading Palmers water book again and I have to disagree with the assertion that you should set mash pH first then worry about salts.

The various salts effect mash pH as does the grist bill.

I do agree that mash pH is crucial. But it should be the LAST adjusted factor to ensure you don't overshoot or undershoot desired pH level.

My source for this thinking is from page three of the Water book...the paragraph in italics.


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew
 

Natdavis777

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I am reading Palmers water book again and I have to disagree with the assertion that you should set mash pH first then worry about salts.

The various salts effect mash pH as does the grist bill.

I do agree that mash pH is crucial. But it should be the LAST adjusted factor to ensure you don't overshoot or undershoot desired pH level.

My source for this thinking is from page three of the Water book...the paragraph in italics.


Sent from my iPad using Home Brew

You want to use the salts to aid in the adjustment of mash pH. I don't think anyone was trying to convey that they were last priority. Some people fixate on hitting certain ppm of minerals and end up wasting material bc they add "x" amount of gypsum and CaCl to their mash bc a calculator says to, only to have the mash go too low, and counteract that with chalk to raise it back into the appropriate pH.

If your mash is in the correct pH without the calculated mineral additions, save that amount and add it to the boil. You still mash with the correct ph and you also get your desired water profile in respect to the ppms

For example, I use RO water. My Milk Stout recipe, with no mineral additions or acid, comes in with a mash pH of 5.4 via Bru'n Water. Now I do want to add some gypsum and CaCl to get my calcium/sulfate/chloride levels where I want them for this style of beer. If I were to add these additions that Brun Water calculates to my mash, my pH drops. Now I have to use some Calcium carbonate to bring my pH back up (shooting for 5.4). Instead, I can save my mineral additions that were intended for the mash and add them with the additions to the BK and hit my style profile.
 
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ABVIBUSRM

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You want to use the salts to aid in the adjustment of mash pH. I don't think anyone was trying to convey that they were last priority. Some people fixate on hitting certain ppm of minerals and end up wasting material bc they add "x" amount of gypsum and CaCl to their mash bc a calculator says to, only to have the mash go too low, and counteract that with chalk to raise it back into the appropriate pH.

If your mash is in the correct pH without the calculated mineral additions, save that amount and add it to the boil. You still mash with the correct ph and you also get your desired water profile in respect to the ppms

For example, I use RO water. My Milk Stout recipe, with no mineral additions or acid, comes in with a mash pH of 5.4 via Bru'n Water. Now I do want to add some gypsum and CaCl to get my calcium/sulfate/chloride levels where I want them for this style of beer. If I were to add these additions that Brun Water calculates to my mash, my pH drops. Now I have to use some Calcium carbonate to bring my pH back up (shooting for 5.4). Instead, I can save my mineral additions that were intended for the mash and add them with the additions to the BK and hit my style profile.
Alright cool..thanks for the info
 
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