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Erik the Anglophile

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We recently moved and therefore I have different water to work with, I got the water report from the municipality for this year and a few years back. They seem to be pretty stable with only minor variations between the years. This is the most recent one.
Cl 23mg/L
SO4 26mg/L
Ca 7.4 mig/L
Mg 1.9 mg/L
Na 56 mg/L
PH 8.2
Alcalinity 96 mg/L ( as HCO3)
I brew mostly Brittish so I guess the high-ish Na might be a good thing. For styles like bitters etc with higher concentrations of SO4 I guess I should keep the Cl down to 50mg. Any thoughts on what to think about when brewing with this water?
 

cire

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For British styles like a Bitter, you might look at what a British Liquor Treatment calculator advises.

That water is interesting with little calcium and magnesium, but relatively high alkalinity. It has similarities with water treated by a water softener.

I agree you need not concern yourself about the level of sodium for brewing, but it does mean that alkalinity will not be reduced much by boiling, so will need acid addition.
 

cire

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Yes, very hygienic, I'm sure. Water is chlorinated as a matter of course in UK, but the need for compensation is infrequent.
 
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Erik the Anglophile

Erik the Anglophile

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For British styles like a Bitter, you might look at what a British Liquor Treatment calculator advises.

That water is interesting with little calcium and magnesium, but relatively high alkalinity. It has similarities with water treated by a water softener.

I agree you need not concern yourself about the level of sodium for brewing, but it does mean that alkalinity will not be reduced much by boiling, so will need acid addition.
Do you use those profiles yourself? I have been thinking about using UK levels of minerals but haven't had the balls yet.
I understand your water is generally quite hard and most traditional brewers make quite mineral heavy ales, so maybe I should.
And wich of those profiles would you recommend for Brown ales? I am thinking something like the sweet pale ale profile, or perhaps the Edinburgh profile at brewers friend, I generally prefer my brown ales at the drier end of the style.
 
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cire

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In a single emphatic word, YES! There is currently a movement by newer and other microbrewers to use less mineral profiles, but they are producing more trendy beers that are either loaded with high alpha hops or as a type of fruit smoothie and inevitably include words such as cloudy or unfined in their names.

Domestic water supplies in UK vary enormously, from even softer than yours to very hard like mine. However, English and other British Ales were mostly developed in hard water regions. It happens that most centres of population are built on limestone or chalk, but not all. I know this is of Scotland, but the beliefs that Scottish beer is entirely different to English is myth. Edinburgh beers were sold in vast quantities in north east England and even in vast quantities in New York before Prohibition. Glasgow's water is quite soft and Tennents brewed lager from the 19th century, while in Edinburgh, where the water is much harder, many of Scotland's wonderful ales were brewed and some still are, although Heineken now own the world renown Caledonian Brewery.

Brewlab run courses for brewing students from around the globe. Calculation for water (liquor) treatment water is found halfway down this page in their blog. Here the bullet point is : The next stage is to determine if you have enough calcium : not : Malt has all the calcium needed to make beer :, It doesn't. It does have enough calcium for the health of yeast, magnesium is what supports yeast as it does barley which can grow in soils with little calcium but won't where there is little magnesium. Yeast needs calcium to flocculate well.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Those who know me are well aware that I generally shy away from water profile discussions, but I got up on the UK side of the bed this morning and dreamed up what I consider 'might' be a decent UK_like water profile for UK_like ales:

For the treatment of 30 Liters of distilled or very high quality RO

Add:
7.00 grams Gypsum
4.00 grams Calcium Chloride (Warning: Presumes Freshly Opened Prills at ~94% CaCl2 & ~6% Water)
1.50 grams Epsom Salt
1.40 grams Baking Soda

Analysis (Rounded):
100 mg/L Calcium
5 mg/L Magnesium
13 mg/L Sodium
150 mg/L Sulfate
80 mg/L Chloride
25 mg/L Alkalinity (as CaCO3)
31 mg/L Bicarbonate
(Where ppm ~= mg/L)

Time-Out while I enter Flame Suit On mode:

Why add 1.40 Grams of Baking Soda?
1) Because real water most typically has inherent Alkalinity/Bicarbonate
2) Because real water typically has Sodium
3) Because (IMHO) fully 100% Alkalinity/Bicarbonate free brewing water makes for somewhat dull beer
4) Because brewing giants of yore proclaimed that at 25 mg/L Alk. there is no need for further Alk. reduction
(OK, actually they proclaimed 50 mg/L, but then said no worries at 25 mg/L, so lets be conservative here)
5) Because #4 also fully applies to Sparge Water
6) Because this works for pale to mid color beers, and darker beers will likely require more Baking Soda
7) Because if 175 mg/L Alkalinity water is acidified to pH 5.6 its remaining Alkalinity will be 25 mg/L
 

Silver_Is_Money

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So now, how to turn 30L of this:

Cl 23mg/L
SO4 26mg/L
Ca 7.4 mig/L
Mg 1.9 mg/L
Na 56 mg/L
Alcalinity 96 mg/L ( as HCO3)

Into 30L of 'roughly ballpark' this:

100 mg/L Calcium
5 mg/L Magnesium
13 mg/L Sodium
150 mg/L Sulfate
80 mg/L Chloride
25 mg/L Alkalinity (as CaCO3)

An Answer (mine, but certainly not the only answer):

Step 1: Add 37.7 mL of 10% Phosphoric Acid. Alkalinity now = 25 mg/L
Step 2: Add 6.7 grams of Gypsum, 2.85 grams of Calcium Chloride (@ 94%)
Step 3: Ignore the Sodium and leave it at 56 mg/L (since only dilution will reduce it).
 

mabrungard

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If you enjoy a minerally note to your beer, those British profiles should provide satisfaction. I’m less enthused with going that far. I prefer to taste my beer’s malt and hops with the water in the background, not the opposite.

The OP’s water should be a decent starting point since its ion concentrations are modest or low. It’s easier to add than take out. The alkalinity level is quite manageable.
 
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Erik the Anglophile

Erik the Anglophile

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Thank you for the replies, I think I can use this water for brewing, and the higher carbonate content might actually come in handy for stouts and porters.
I have brewed and been rather modest with my mineral additions, but I think I will try some with more hardcore additions. I have gotten the malt flavors etc right, but not the "zing" from the commercial beers I compare to, and I am starting to believe that comes from the high mineral content water many Brittish breweries use.
 

cire

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Possibly one the most important sentences in the "Handbook of Brewing", a book for students of brewing and professionals, not one by amateurs for amateurs, is copied below.

Without question, water is the principal ingredient of beer. In reality, the “water” supplied to a brewery is actually a dilute solution of various salts, in which small quantities of gases and organic compounds may also be dissolved.

Regularly here we see advice to get rid of those salts and attendant minor ions. Amongst many aspects that are rarely (if ever) explained here, but covered in that world renown reference book, is the importance of FAN, the Free Amino Acids extracted from the endosperm in the mash, essential for yeast and good fermentation, enabled by the presence of sufficient calcium. So much happens in the mash, yet has become imagined as a time for throwing in acid to correct a natural reaction, then all is perfect once the wrong is righted and the timer sounds. How has brewing come to this?

Why are calcium salts so often suggested or perceived as flavoring by some American homebrewers? They are essential ingredients for a process, but only if known why and how. The insane assumption that a calcium salt passes through a mash, underback, boil, hopback, fermentation, conditioning and carbonation as a non-participating, unaffected, inert flavor, that the same result is achieved by adding it to a finished beer only serve to demonstrate a lack of knowledge of a complex process. How little must anyone know or think of the masses of chemical and biological reactions to hold a contrary view to the latest bible on brewing?

Currently, 60% of beers consumed in the world are made by just 4 companies. Do they make the best beers. If your answer is yes, then it's quite likely my beer isn't for you and my argument lost, but some time past, British drinkers reacted to being faced with bland alcoholic flavored beverages. In 1980 UK was down to 142 breweries and USA had 92, but with 76 times the land mass of out few little islands, so were proportionally spoilt for choice with our beers.

I wonder how many offering advice for brewing British style beers ever sat in a decent British pub to be faced with choice of a dozen or more hand-pulled beers? A pint of fresh hand-pulled British beer is a joy to behold. It is not pasteurized, it is not filtered, it is not artificially carbonated with CO2. It is live, it contains yeast while beautifully clear, the carbonation is natural, it is served at cellar temperature allowing unfrozen taste buds free reign through malt and hop and never hearing the word minerally mentioned in a lifetime. British beers are brewed to British profiles as publicized.

Who can have enjoyed a traditional British beer to claim that a few grams of near tasteless calcium salts are a spoiler when mixed in as many pounds of malted barley loaded with many times more potassium, magnesium and phosphates? Someone who either doesn't like or has not correctly brewed a traditional British beer?
 
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mabrungard

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Cire, your citation is appropriate. However, it doesn’t support anything else you mention.

I haven’t read anyone on this forum advocating ion-less or low ion brewing for British styles. My comments were a caution on creating minerally beer with excess water additions. The bitters, milds, and porters I’ve made over the years have been similarly flavorful as the commercial British beers I’ve tasted and I assure you that I didn’t mineralize my water as shown in that guide above.

It just doesn’t seem that high mineralization is really necessary to produce great British beers.
 

cire

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OK Martin, but British beer in bottles are not hand pulled from a cask at atmospheric pressure and cellar temperature. A hand pulled pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord is a wonderful experience, while the bottled version has crystal added and is sent in tankers over the Pennines to be filtered, pasteurized and bottled at another brewery, becoming in the process a darker looking and your average bottled beer. Some beers are bottle conditioned, but still don't quite make the standard of a pint pulled through a beer engine from an open cask. I have one ready to tap in the garage and I'd really wish you could come and try it with me. You'd not be the first American beer enthusiast to visit here for that experience.

There are quite a number in these ranks having experienced REAL CASK ALE when in UK, doing their utmost to replicate it in every aspect of its creation and dispense. Some are getting there, particularly with Mild, which has long been made with both hard and softer water, although the two are different and both out of fashion at the moment. Great efforts are being made by many to obtain exact ingredients and manufacture invert sugars to enter the wonderful world of beers by previous generations of brewers and breweries so well covered by Ron Pattinson, who also treads these boards to forward knowledge.

Martin, few British beers are made with less than 100ppm calcium and some of the best have levels in excess of 200ppm. Murphy and Son supply most British breweries with all their chemical needs. They test water on a quarterly basis and provide specific water treatment schedules free of charge, and for ales, every one exceeds level said to produce minerally beer.

Just let others try without adding they make minerally beer, which I with every bit of endeavor will dispute. For my part, I'll not advise any making an American style that they need more calcium.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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D. G. Taylor is referenced quite frequently in technical brewing journals and literature with regard to brewing beers in the UK. Taylor always recommends that one achieve levels of between 100-200 ppm calcium for both mash and sparge water. Here is but one reference to Taylor which mentions this, from the 'Master Brewers Association of the Americas'.

 

Silver_Is_Money

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In drinking water triangle tests:

For specifically Calcium Chloride (which of the tested substances proved to be detectable at the lowest level)
The threshold value estimation corresponding to 50% discrimination ± 95% confidence intervals was 291 ± 73 mg of Ca/L, corresponding to a water sample with a calcium chloride concentration of 1.1 ± 0.3 g/L.
Discussion
This study shows that the sensory detection threshold of water with added calcium salts allows the increase of calcium concentration of water up to a level of 500 mg of calcium /L.
 

cire

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Thanks for those extra pieces of information, Silver. I've never been able to taste calcium salts added to my water. It comes with a decent mineral level and drinks as well as any bottled water does irrespective of its country of origin or price.

Sorry Erik if we have digressed a little, but coming back to your questions and specifically that for Brown Ale.

Brown Ales vary massively in UK and have changed through time. They are mostly perceived as bottled Mild Ales, and I will attempt an answer in that vein. Of the reports by Murphy and Son to hand, the following is about the closest to your water. Murphy and Son, based in Nottingham, have been in business since the 19th century, initially as a brewer, later to become a brewing consultancy and chemical manufacturer and supplier. In this one, Murphy advise leaving the alkalinity for Stouts, Porters and Mild as is, although I would reduce the alkalinity should the intended Brown Ale be not very brown/dark. The figures fr "Raw Liquor" are those determined by Murphy's.

MurphySP&M.jpg


With your water and the above suggests the addition of 13 or 14g of calcium chloride and 4.3g of gypsum would be recommended by then for brewing Stouts, Porters or your Brown Ale.

This is one for pale beers and harder water.

MurphyP&B.jpg


Hope this might help to clarify advice given to British brewers.
 
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Silver_Is_Money

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Ah, I see now (thanks to @cire) that for Brown Ale's the Chloride Ion should predominate over the Sulfate Ion. I also see where my stab at a British (like) water profile falls short on calcium, as well as falling short on just about everything else. The UK truly does not shy away from minerals in the brewing water.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I'm surprised that 'Murphy & Son' do not offer guidance on mg/L sodium levels.
 

cire

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Yes, it's big failing of Murphy's, and they have several, particularly some silly errors on their website. Without a quantity for sodium it is impossible to do a balance check, but their answer has long been one of cost. They got my analysis wrong on their first attempt to eventually blame a reagent. Had they made a good stab at sodium content they would have known there was a problem.

It's an old established company, and when I last enquired, with an old established board. However, they are at the end of a telephone and stoch just about anything a brewer needs, and what little they don't stock, they know who does.
 

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