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sparkyaber

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I have been doing kit beers for over a year now and have decided to finally make the jump to AG. I have all of the equipment ready and am just waiting for a nice warm (above 40) day.
In the mean time I have been doing some research on the water here. I got my test results from ward last week and drew out my water on palmers nomograph. Looks to me like I have pretty hard water. I read the section in palmers book a bunch of times, but still am having a hard time grasping the concept of the ph of the mash, the additions, well pretty much everything. I see how If I add calcium I can lower my ph, but I would have to add a ton for a light beer. (like about 5 tablespoons of calciumSulfate). Now the way I read it is that I could split this between CaSO4, and CaCl2. Is that right? Is that all there is to it? I think this should be pretty hard. There is something I am not getting. I don't like to screw up, especially if I can figure it out in the first place. So basically what I am asking is if someone could explain it in laymans terms what I am looking at........

Here is my water test results:

pH 8.0
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 236
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.39
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.1 / 4.2
ppm
Sodium, Na 7
Potassium, K 1
Calcium, Ca 55
Magnesium, Mg 12
Total Hardness, CaCO3 188
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 2
Chloride, Cl 9
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 221
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 191
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
I can plot all of those on the nomograph, and came out with a base malt mash ph of about 5.94, or 140 ra.
Who wants a challenge??
One last thing, I did seach around for a while, but really did not find anything.
 

bull8042

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kaiser is very knowledgeable on this IIRC. If you don't get any help in the forums, you might try PM'ing him. He can at least point you in the right direction.
 

BuzzCraft

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I'd recommend downloading Palmer's excel spreadsheet and plugging in your numbers. Fiddle around with diluting your source water and see what kind of effects you end up with. I'm no expert, but I suspect you're going to be much better off diluting your source water with distilled water and not just adding a bunch of Ca in order to brew a light colored beer.
 

menschmaschine

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I would think to brew a lighter beer with that water, you could dilute it with distilled water to reduce the hardness, then add gypsum or calcium chloride to bring the calcium level back up (over 50 ppm is what Fix states is best) while simultaneously reducing the pH. An acid rest may also be helpful.
 
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I wouldn't worry to much about your water ph, it's your wort and boil ph that are key.

Pick up "Principles of Brewing Science" by George Fix, Ph. D (late). It has a lot of good info in it on water.

Edit: as for hardness, try 50/50 with distilled or RO for making light srm beers. Leave a is for dark ales/lagers.

Just noticed you were an extract brewer. Kits are already at the right wort PH. I wouldn't worry about your water as far as PH then. Just as above for hardness. Even then, most of that relates to the mash (which is done for you with extract).
 
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sparkyaber

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I wouldn't worry to much about your water ph, it's your wort and boil ph that are key.

Pick up "Principles of Brewing Science" by George Fix, Ph. D (late). It has a lot of good info in it on water.

Edit: as for hardness, try 50/50 with distilled or RO for making light srm beers. Leave a is for dark ales/lagers.

Just noticed you were an extract brewer. Kits are already at the right wort PH. I wouldn't worry about your water as far as PH then. Just as above for hardness. Even then, most of that relates to the mash (which is done for you with extract).

Yeah, all extract, but I have everything ready for AG, that will be my next beer. The book by Dr. Fix, is that pretty easy to understand? I am by no means a chemist.:)

I will look for that spreadsheet you speak of.
 
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sparkyaber

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All right, played with the spreadsheet. (WOW). What I am looking for is to make that little box at the bottom right Say "balanced" while the boxes to the left fall into the SRA or Residual Alkalinity for the beer style I am looking for??
How 'bout that acid and mash water? Do the same? Pick an acid, add desired amout to accomplish the same as above?
That sure beats doing all of the math on paper with pen.
 
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I think you are over complicating things. Why do you need to change the ph of the water? Most water is buffered and can be a bitch to change with chemicals.

Hardness is something you really need to adjust with soft water. (There' also temporary hardness vs hardness etc.)

You really need to see what your wort PH is beofre you start screwing with the water grains will change the PH and you really want to hit around the 5.2 mark. Dark malts have an easier time at this than light. Odds are your wort PH will be just fine. Hardness will make light beers seem a bit harsher, but like I said, some softer (distilled or even RO) water will take care of that.
 
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sparkyaber

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I was under the assumption that using palmer's nomographs basically predicted what my mash ph would be, give or take. Like I said above, I don't like to trial and error if I don't have to. I do have ph papers and definitely will be checking the ph of my wort. I guess you are right, even if my ph is off in the wort, it will still be beer in the end. I hope:)
 

SpanishCastleAle

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sparky,
Here's a thread I started that didn't go anywhere. It might help. It's basically what's been stated and what you're doing. For really light beers I brew with mostly distilled water with just a little spring water. At least a 3:1 ratio and sometimes as high as 7:1. My spring water is not quite as alkaline as yours though. HTH.

EDIT: your water has more Mg than mine too so you wouldn't need as much (if any) Epsom salts if you dilute your water with a lot of distilled. I almost have no Mg left after I dilute my spring water so much so I have to add some Epsom to get my Mg back.
 

Saccharomyces

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My water is about 35ppm Calcium and 140ppm total hardness. I typically dilute 50/50 with RO water, treat with campden tablets 1/2 tablet to 10 gallons to remove chloramine, and then add a tsp of calcium chloride for malty brews or a tsp of gypsum for hoppy brews to get the calcium up for the yeast while dropping the mash pH to the 5.0 to 5.4 range. For dark brews I can get away with straight tap water and a pinch of calcium chloride to adjust the pH depending on the % of dark grains; porters and stouts require no adjustment at all to hit a mash pH of 5.2 to 5.4.

One important thing to note is I treat all of my brewing water and not just the strike water. With a lot of bicarbonates you need to drop the alkalinity of your sparge water to avoid extracting tannins. A lower sparge pH also seems to improve mash/lauter efficiency as well. In my brewhouse I can usually get very close to the maximum 92% theoretical double batch sparge efficiency.

With this simple of a treatment I have had excellent results. If you use pH test strips to test the mash and adjust as needed, after a few brews under your belt you'll have a really good idea of how much calcium you need to add to overcome the buffering power of your water. It doesn't have to be complicated; you can make it as complex or as simple as you want.
 
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sparkyaber

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saccharomyces, thanks for the great info. My mash (4.4 gallons) water will receive 1 gram of CaCl and 1 gram of gypsum?
This is for an IPA with the srm of about 16. According to palmers spreadsheet I can add 4ml of muriatic acid to the sparge water? (5gallons)
Does this sound out of the relm?
 
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sparkyaber

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brewed my first AG this weekend, everything went well, I thought. Until I checked my gravity. Not good, got about 50% efficiency.
About the water, I used 2 g Gypsum, and 2 grams Calcium Chloride in the mash. I added 2 ml of muriatic acid to the sparge water.
My mash ph came out at 5.4-5-6. This is pre sparge. I didn't check the wort.
What are my options? Is my high ph related to the low efficiency?
Thanks
 
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sparkyaber

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Thanks, I kept hearing about mash ph needed to be at 5.2. Looks like I am starting to get this water stuff figured out. Well at least I am pointed in the right direction.
 

Saccharomyces

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Check your thermometer(s) with boiling/ice water to see if they are out to lunch. Tighten up your crush, and then try again. At least you know the water isn't your problem now, that is a good thing since most people look there last.
 

conpewter

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I tend to adjust all of my water. I figure the chloride/sulfate ratio is important for the actual boil (hop utilization) not for the mash. Really starting to love Palmer's new spreadsheets (ok 1 year old but I found them today..)

I normally use Five-Star 5.2 stabilizer in my mash, I have so much RA though that it won't do the job by itself for lighter brews. I'm adjusting all my water now to match the style, so I shouldn't need the 5.2 stabilizer, I may throw in half the usual amount though just to be on the safe side as far as conversion goes.
 

BuzzCraft

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Thanks, I kept hearing about mash ph needed to be at 5.2. Looks like I am starting to get this water stuff figured out. Well at least I am pointed in the right direction.
5.2 at mash temp is correct...it's going to read higher at room temp. 0.35 units higher is most commonly quoted. So, if you're getting 5.4-5.6 at room temp, you're good there. Check your other variables, as suggested.
 
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sparkyaber

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Well, the 5.4-5.6 was in the mash tun itself, right after a stir. Temp was about 160ish.
As for the thermometer, it is funny you should mention that. I threw 3 probes in a glass of ice water, and they all read 38 degrees, go figure. So I did make all of my adjustments. One that note, when the pot was at a boil, it read 211, so maybe as it gets warmer, it gets more accurate?
 
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sparkyaber

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I tend to adjust all of my water. I figure the chloride/sulfate ratio is important for the actual boil (hop utilization) not for the mash. Really starting to love Palmer's new spreadsheets (ok 1 year old but I found them today..)
Are these the nomograph, connect the dot thingies? Or is it an excel program?
 
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sparkyaber

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Yeah, I just found that one the other day (ok someone gave it to me) but it works great.
Do you have it totally figured out already? I am still learning. I posted some questions earlier in this thread about it, but I think I got if figured.?
 

conpewter

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All right, played with the spreadsheet. (WOW). What I am looking for is to make that little box at the bottom right Say "balanced" while the boxes to the left fall into the SRA or Residual Alkalinity for the beer style I am looking for??
How 'bout that acid and mash water? Do the same? Pick an acid, add desired amout to accomplish the same as above?
That sure beats doing all of the math on paper with pen.

Well you don't want "Balanced" for all styles. For an Octoberfest you'd want "malty" or "very malty" for instance (this is more Chloride than Sulfate). For an IPA you'd want it the other way around and have more Sulfate than Chloride "Very Bitter"

You are right about the Residual Alkalinity matching the SRM of the beer (This is a shorthand for how the roasted grains lower the PH more than pale, it's not exact but it works)

I'd suggest looking at the spreadsheet attache to this post. I have been working on it some and trying to figure out the additions to my water per style. This gives the "Ideal" water profiles per style. Don't get too fanatic on it though, it just helps to know what is really high/low etc. per style.

View attachment Water Calculations.zip
 
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sparkyaber

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are you able to calculate the adjustments in that program(the one you just posted), or are you using the other spreadsheet(the one I was using before)?
 

conpewter

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I've used both, both work well but I've been using the Palmer one recently and I think it is fairly intuitive.

The other program is one that BearCat made and it is really nice and has some other good features. The spreadsheet with the "Ideal" profiles is where I've started to record the aditions/dilutions I need for each style. At some point once I work them all out I can put away the calculators, post the spreadsheet near the brew-rig and just go off that per style.
 

BuzzCraft

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Here's an article I found very useful when I first started using Palmer's excel sheet.

http://www.craftbrewer.dk/misc/Optimum Mash Ph.pdf

It discusses the use of the sheet and the author did some experiments using a pH meter to see how close his mash pH would be if he went by the recommendations. Turns out pretty close, EXCEPT, that if you end up with a result that suggests a residual alkalinity above 250, you want to stop at 250. I'm glad I knew that tidbit before I first put the sheet to use in a brew session, because I was brewing an oatmeal stout and the sheet indicated an RA of 400 or so (for my water source....I have soft water). I added CaC03 and NaHCO3 to reach 250 and my mash pH was close to perfect.

One point that I think bears consideration is whether you're using this sheet for a partial mash or doing an AG batch. The reason I think it's important is that when you enter the estimated color of the beer you want to brew, that's the color of the final batch. If you're doing a partial mash and, for example, using a lot of dark grains, they are going to have a different (and more substantial, I'd expect) effect on mash pH than in an AG mash....the mash will be darker, so more acidic than a full mash. I don't think it matters what color beer you're brewing, I think this will hold true. Now, whether this matters in practice or not, I don't know. I haven't done the experiments.

Anyone have an opinion??
 

SpanishCastleAle

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It discusses the use of the sheet and the author did some experiments using a pH meter to see how close his mash pH would be if he went by the recommendations. Turns out pretty close, EXCEPT, that if you end up with a result that suggests a residual alkalinity above 250, you want to stop at 250. I'm glad I knew that tidbit before I first put the sheet to use in a brew session, because I was brewing an oatmeal stout and the sheet indicated an RA of 400 or so (for my water source....I have soft water). I added CaC03 and NaHCO3 to reach 250 and my mash pH was close to perfect.
I have experienced this very thing with my Foreign Extra Stout recently. My mash pH was around 5.6-5.7 or so and I expected lower. I can't remember the exact RA I tried to hit though...have to check notes.


One point that I think bears consideration is whether you're using this sheet for a partial mash or doing an AG batch. The reason I think it's important is that when you enter the estimated color of the beer you want to brew, that's the color of the final batch. If you're doing a partial mash and, for example, using a lot of dark grains, they are going to have a different (and more substantial, I'd expect) effect on mash pH than in an AG mash....the mash will be darker, so more acidic than a full mash. I don't think it matters what color beer you're brewing, I think this will hold true. Now, whether this matters in practice or not, I don't know. I haven't done the experiments.[/
This is important. Another example (at the other end of the spectrum) is a Dubbel I recently did. There is a significant color contribution by the Dark Candi Syrup so I made sure to not include that in my calculation. The final beer was ~20 SRM but the 'grain contribution' was only ~12 SRM.
 
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sparkyaber

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Thanks for all of useful info. I thought I was getting the hang of this, but I guess there is much more to learn. I guess the day you stop learning is the day you die.
 
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sparkyaber

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Buzzcraft, thanks for the link to that article. It was easy to understand and reaffirmed what I was doing is correct.
 

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