Quantcast

Water Adjustments Starting with RO/Distilled

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
Hey everyone,

I was previously using local well water to brew with, and had some great results, but our well yield has dropped significantly since my last couple brews, so I've been using RO water (without any additions) with just OK results. I'm interested in building up my brew water from scratch, something I have no experience with yet. I've looked at Bru'n Water and EZWater, and I think it's starting to click, but I just wanted an opinion or two.

I'll be brewing a moderately hoppy pale ale this weekend starting from RO water, and from what I'm seeing I can safely consider that RO would be starting at zeros for Ca/Mg/Na/Cl/SO4 for the starting profile. I know it varies depending on original water source, but can I assume RO should be close enough to zero without doing a water report for just a 5gal batch? If that's the case do these additions seem reasonable for this grain bill:

9lb 2-Row
1lb Munich
.5lb Crystal 20
.5lb White Weat
.3lb Biscuit
.25lb Aromatic
.25lb Carapils

5.25 into fermenter, 8.95 gal mash and sparge water total

For 4.75gal Mash Water add the following:
4g Gypsum
4g Cal Chloride
4g Epsom Salt

For 4.2gal Sparge Water add the following:
3.5g Gypsum
3.5g Cal Chloride
3.5g Epsom

According to EZ Water, this results in the following ppms:
Calcium 111ppm
Magnesium 21ppm
Sodium 0ppm
Chloride 107ppm
Sulfate 211ppm
Chloride/Sulfate Ratio 0.51

Intuitively, that seems like hefty amount of salts to add, but starting with RO perhaps it's necessary. Thanks in advance for any input and let me know if this is the wrong forum to post this question in!
 

specharka

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
937
Reaction score
318
There’s a profile for RO water on B’run Water. It’s not “zero” mineral content but effectively there. I have a couple suggestions for you:

You really don’t need the magnesium content to ensure successful fermentation. Malted barley has plenty to ensure a successful fermentation. The only reason I would ever suggest using Epsom salts is to increase the sulfur content in high calcium / bicarbonate water, and RO base water is far from that.

More importantly than establishing ion concentrations, you should focus on hitting your intended mash pH. The effective range for beer is 5.2-5.6, and more commonly, 5.35-5.45. For most pale beers, this will necessitate acid additions of 0.25-0.5 mL / gal of 88% lactic. You can also achieve this using acidulated malt to the tune of 2-4% of the grainbill weight.

It’s far easier to correct a slightly under-modified water profile than dilute a minerally beer. As such, I would recommend reducing the total dissolved solids by half, so if you’re looking for a drier west coast profile, limit the Cl to 50 ppm and SO4 to 100 ppm. You can absolutely dose a beer post fermentation to a different ionic concentration of your liking, and use that to project future calculations.

And finally, learn and use B’run Water. It is by far the most powerful and accurate water profile tool commonly available, and its creator is a frequent and knowledgeable contributor here. I’ve found the target mash pH is usually within 0.01-0.02 points to the actual readings, and much closer than all the other models I’ve used.
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
Thanks I really appreciate the response. I didn't consider modifying after fermentation, so I'll definitely cut out the epsom and half the Cl and SO4. I've been trying to get into Bru'n Water but haven't had the time yet to really dig into it and found it had a bit more of a learning curve. I didn't realize there was a built in profile for RO, so I'll definitely take another look at it. Cheers!
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
Alright so I plugged everything into Brun Water 1.22, without acidulated malt added to the grainbill or adding any lactic acid. Looks like without the introduction of either of those, it's still pulling in an Estimated Mash pH of 5.40, with the only additions being 2g each of Gypsum and CaCl into Mash water and then about the same into sparge water. Have dilution profile set to RO, and percent dilution set to 100%. Seems like it's safe to assume that if it actually gets me to 5.40 (or at least close), there's no need to introduce lactic or acidulated malt?
 

specharka

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 13, 2015
Messages
937
Reaction score
318
Alright so I plugged everything into Brun Water 1.22, without acidulated malt added to the grainbill or adding any lactic acid. Looks like without the introduction of either of those, it's still pulling in an Estimated Mash pH of 5.40, with the only additions being 2g each of Gypsum and CaCl into Mash water and then about the same into sparge water. Have dilution profile set to RO, and percent dilution set to 100%. Seems like it's safe to assume that if it actually gets me to 5.40 (or at least close), there's no need to introduce lactic or acidulated malt?
Yes, you’re absolutely correct. That’s a very stable mash pH and will produce a balanced finish. I would still recommend acidifying your sparge water to a pH of 6.0 or less to prevent tannins from being leached, but that’s it.

I usually build my water with slightly alkaline tap water, so I’m accustomed to using a bit more acid than you would need starting with RO water. I should have taken that into consideration.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,548
Reaction score
12,100
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
If you're using distilled or RO water, there is no need to acidify the sparge water.

What do you end up with your water profile being? For a pale ale, I go with something like:

Ca 75 ppm (60-100 is ok), Mg 0 Chloride 50 or less, Sulfate 135-150, mash pH 5.4.

When you take the sulfate lower 100, make sure you keep the chloride 50 or less to avoid a "minerally" flavor.
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
Yes, you’re absolutely correct. That’s a very stable mash pH and will produce a balanced finish. I would still recommend acidifying your sparge water to a pH of 6.0 or less to prevent tannins from being leached, but that’s it.

I usually build my water with slightly alkaline tap water, so I’m accustomed to using a bit more acid than you would need starting with RO water. I should have taken that into consideration.
Thanks specharka, I appreciate the response. Wasn't able to brew this weekend so I'm crashing my starter and will do it this week with just the Gypsum and CaCl.
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
If you're using distilled or RO water, there is no need to acidify the sparge water.

What do you end up with your water profile being? For a pale ale, I go with something like:

Ca 75 ppm (60-100 is ok), Mg 0 Chloride 50 or less, Sulfate 135-150, mash pH 5.4.

When you take the sulfate lower 100, make sure you keep the chloride 50 or less to avoid a "minerally" flavor.
Bru'n Water has me at Ca 79ppm, Mg 0ppm, Sodium 8ppm, Sulfate 75ppm, Chloride 88ppm, and 16 for bicarb. That's for ~4.5g of Gypsum and CaCl each split between mash and sparge water. And not adding any acid to the water or acid malt to the mash. Estimates mash pH at 5.40

edit: Accidentally posted the Yellow Dry profile, not the Mashing Water Profile. Edited. So should I try to get my Chloride lower?
 
Last edited:

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,548
Reaction score
12,100
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
Bru'n Water has me at Ca 79ppm, Mg 0ppm, Sodium 8ppm, Sulfate 75ppm, Chloride 88ppm, and 16 for bicarb. That's for ~4.5g of Gypsum and CaCl each split between mash and sparge water. And not adding any acid to the water or acid malt to the mash. Estimates mash pH at 5.40

edit: Accidentally posted the Yellow Dry profile, not the Mashing Water Profile. Edited. So should I try to get my Chloride lower?
That's a balanced profile, and it would be ok but I'd probably lower the chloride and raise up the sulfate a little for a pale ale just to tweak it a little more to a drier finish.
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
That's a balanced profile, and it would be ok but I'd probably lower the chloride and raise up the sulfate a little for a pale ale just to tweak it a little more to a drier finish.
So if I go up to 1g/gal Gypsum and down to .25g/gal CaCl split between mash/sparge volumes, Bru'n Water puts my profile here:

Ca 85, Mg 0, Sodium 0, Sulfate 147, Chloride 42

Does that seem a little more in line with a dry, hoppy, ale. Looks like Bru'n Water's Pale Ale Profile suggests a target of Ca 139 and Sulfate 299 which is much higher. Also lowers my estimated mash pH to 5.38.
 

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Admin
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
74,548
Reaction score
12,100
Location
UP/Snowbird in Florida
So if I go up to 1g/gal Gypsum and down to .25g/gal CaCl split between mash/sparge volumes, Bru'n Water puts my profile here:

Ca 85, Mg 0, Sodium 0, Sulfate 147, Chloride 42

Does that seem a little more in line with a dry, hoppy, ale. Looks like Bru'n Water's Pale Ale Profile suggests a target of Ca 139 and Sulfate 299 which is much higher. Also lowers my estimated mash pH to 5.38.
Yes, bru'n water's profile is much higher in sulfate. And that's appropriate for many recipes. In my experience, I have only one IPA recipe that I like with that much sulfate and the rest I like 135-150 ppm of sulfate.

I'd suggest starting with the lower amount first, because you can always add more next time but for the first time, see what you think of 150 ppm of sulfate first.

Sulfate enhances dryness, but it can also bring out the harshness of the bittering hops when you do that. So a modest amount is always really good, and sometimes less is more.

Once this beer is done, you can add a pinch of gypsum to the glass to see if you like it better with more sulfate and adjust for your next pale ales if you want a drier finish.
 
OP
N

ncbrew

Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
8
Reaction score
0
Location
Asheville
Yes, bru'n water's profile is much higher in sulfate. And that's appropriate for many recipes. In my experience, I have only one IPA recipe that I like with that much sulfate and the rest I like 135-150 ppm of sulfate.

I'd suggest starting with the lower amount first, because you can always add more next time but for the first time, see what you think of 150 ppm of sulfate first.

Sulfate enhances dryness, but it can also bring out the harshness of the bittering hops when you do that. So a modest amount is always really good, and sometimes less is more.

Once this beer is done, you can add a pinch of gypsum to the glass to see if you like it better with more sulfate and adjust for your next pale ales if you want a drier finish.
Thanks yooper, I appreciate the advice! Will be brewing it this week.
 

Latest posts

Top