Water chemistry question for Seattle

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julian81

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So, I'm delving into the somewhat tricky business of figuring out my water mineral content and adjusting it as necessary.

I'm finding that my pale beers (APA/IPA) tend to not be as "crisp" and prominent on the hops, and have an overall subtle malty profile to them, even if they are bitter.

Here's a link to last year's Seattle water supply (I believe I get mine from the Cedar supply)

http://www.seattle.gov/util/groups/public/@spu/@ssw/documents/webcontent/01_009501.pdf

I've plugged all this info into the EZ Water Calculator that TH built and wanted some feedback to see if I'm on the right track.

Below is the raw dump from the spreadsheet:

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 23
Mg: 0.94
Na: 1.9
Cl: 3.6
SO4: 1.4
CaCO3: 20.2

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 4.3 / 3.5
Dilution Rate: 0%

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaCO3: 1 / 0.813953488
CaSO4: 4 / 3.255813953
CaCl2: 0.5 / 0.406976744
MgSO4: 3 / 2.441860465
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
NaCl: 0.5 / 0.406976744
HCL Acid: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid: 0 / 0

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 112 / 112
Mg: 18 / 18
Na: 14 / 14
Cl: 37 / 37
SO4: 210 / 210
CaCO3: 50 / 50

RA (mash only): -40 (2 to 7 SRM)
Cl to SO4 (total water): 0.18 (Very Bitter)

I guess my questions are specifically:

1. Do these salt additions look appropriate? Any issues?
2. When I entered the amount of grams of each mineral to add, it populated the "Sparge Additions" box automatically. The spreadsheet says this should be added to the boil kettle not the sparge water. Does this mean I add the amount it calculated IN ADDITION to what I put in the mash or instead of? If the former, would I add them at the beginning of the boil or near the end? Slightly confused on this.

Thanks and I hope I'm on the right track here. Seattle water is VERY low in everything so I'm thinking with the proper adjustments I can get my beers to go from good/great to AMAZING!

Thanks!
Julian
 

DizzyPants

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Julian,

I apologize b/c I don't have any insight. I live in Magnolia and have been brewing for two years. I just started using Campden tablets and Five Star 5.2 mash buffer. I used it for the 15 gallons I did this weekend. Hopefully I will see some change in taste, not that I have been getting less that good results. Good Luck!
 

seabass07

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There's a spreadsheet at the bottom with a good calculator for additions. It will also tell you whether there's too much SO4 in comparison to Chloride and how it will effect bitterness. I've heard people saying that there is more chloride in the water than there was when that report was done.
+1 on the campden. It may be all you need.
http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

I think that's way too much gypsum. It will give you too much sulfate.
 

Saccharomyces

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Way too much sulfate and calcium. Looks to me like you are overdoing it a bit. Think minimal ... your water is pretty good as-is, if you just adjust your mash pH with acid you might be happy with the results, try it.
 
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julian81

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How do you define "good water"? Because from my perspective I have VERY soft water. And from plugging my mineral content into the spreadsheets and online tools, it's ideal (without treatment) for pale beers but does nothing to help accentuate the hop crispness or bitterness. All of the tools, including John Palmer's nomograph and stating that my water profile is "very malty". Not that I'm getting terrible beers, quite the contrary. I'm just not getting world class beers and that's what I'm striving for. Such a low sulfate and calcium content is no good for pale and hoppy beers, thus the need to treat them the way I did, and keep the sulfate to chloride ratio balanced for the pale styles I'm going for.

Is the consensus really that this is too much? I'm not disputing your guys opinions or advice, because I value it (don't get me wrong). I just thought I did my homework...

Or perhaps you're saying I need to start in increments when it comes to water treatment. Start with changing one variable at a time?

Keep the feedback coming, it's been great so far! :D
 

seabass07

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Or perhaps you're saying I need to start in increments when it comes to water treatment. Start with changing one variable at a time?

Keep the feedback coming, it's been great so far! :D

This. I don't think it's a good idea to go from one extreme to another. Maybe start with half the gypsum. It may be a good idea to only do that one addition. Then try a different addition on the following batch. It looks like your only complaint about your beer is the lack of hops bite. So start with the sulfate.
 
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julian81

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This. I don't think it's a good idea to go from one extreme to another. Maybe start with half the gypsum. It may be a good idea to only do that one addition. Then try a different addition on the following batch. It looks like your only complaint about your beer is the lack of hops bite. So start with the sulfate.
If I add enough hops I get the bite, but it's not that clean, commercial crispness and hoppy bite I'm really wanting. You know what I mean?

I'll think I'll start with half the gypsum, good call. Does this get added to the mash or the boil or both. Using the EZ Water Calculator it's not clear.

My understanding is that it should be both. In the mash to adjust pH, and in the boil to balance and control underlying flavor. Is this correct?
 

Bigscience

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Check your starting numbers. You can't use the Seattle water reports as is due to how the values are formatted.

Ca is listed as CaCO3 and not ppm Ca. How to Brew has a conversion table.

Also, I don't think your Adjusted Ca level or SO4 is that high for what you are trying to brew.
 
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julian81

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Check your starting numbers. You can't use the Seattle water reports as is due to how the values are formatted.

Ca is listed as CaCO3 and not ppm Ca. How to Brew has a conversion table.

Also, I don't think your Adjusted Ca level or SO4 is that high for what you are trying to brew.
Ah good catch! I'm not sure how this affects the actual Calcium content in ppm though. I'm trying to find the conversion table you're looking for and can only find Table 16 in How To Brew. Is this what you're referring to? I think this is used more for figuring out how much of each mineral in ppm, each salt will add.

It says Concentration at 1 gram/gallon for Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) a.k.a. Chalk = 105 ppm Ca+2, 158 ppm CO3-2

How would I derive the actual Ca content in ppm from the Calcium (as CaCO3) that's listed on my water report? (23.0)

EDIT: So 1 mg/L = 1 ppm therefore I have 23 ppm of CaCO3. I just need to figure out how many ppm of that is Ca...
 

Bigscience

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I'm away from my notes and on my phone but I think it's CaCO3/50x20=ppm Ca (or maybe not).

It will shift your starting calcium to around 10.

Edit- Table 13 on the Internet.
 
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julian81

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OK you're right Bigscience. It comes out to 9.2 ppm Ca.

The other formula (basically the same thing) is multiple CaCO3 by 0.4 to get Ca.

With that said, this doesn't change much with my additions...in fact it makes them a lot more balanced.

It comes out to a RA of -30 and a Chloride to Sulfate Ratio of 0.18. I think these additions would make sense for an IPA/IIPA or even pale.

------------

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 9.2
Mg: 0.94
Na: 1.9
Cl: 3.6
SO4: 1.4
CaCO3: 20.2

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 4.3 / 3.5
Dilution Rate: 0%

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaCO3: 1 / 0.813953488
CaSO4: 4 / 3.255813953
CaCl2: 0.5 / 0.406976744
MgSO4: 3 / 2.441860465
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
NaCl: 0.5 / 0.406976744
HCL Acid: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid: 0 / 0

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 98 / 98
Mg: 18 / 18
Na: 14 / 14
Cl: 37 / 37
SO4: 210 / 210
CaCO3: 50 / 50

RA (mash only): -30 (3 to 8 SRM)
Cl to SO4 (total water): 0.18 (Very Bitter)

So now my only remaining question is, in the adjustments section above, do I add EACH of those amounts to the mash AND kettle respectively or just one or the other? I'm unsure how to go about this...
 

Jubilee

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Seattle here, too (west Seattle). I took a class with Alejandro at Big Al's a while back. He told us most Seattle breweries don't do a thing to their water, save filtering. FWIW, I'm still extract brewing (about to go AG) and my friends tell me they would gladly buy my creations at the pub. That said, I don't plan on changing anything about my tapwater.
 
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julian81

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Jubilee, I've heard the same thing, but I'm not sure I believe it. They've got to be doing something different since our water is so damn soft. At the very least they're using gypsum or some form of sulfate additions...
 
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julian81

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So still haven't quite got an answer as to whether the mineral salt additions go into the mash or boil. I know they CAN go into both depending on what you're trying to accomplish (pH adjustment in mash, or flavor/balance in boil) but I'm unclear as to what quantities and when go in based on what I'm adding on the EZ water spreadsheet.


Again the adjustments would be:

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaCO3: 1 / 0.813953488
CaSO4: 4 / 3.255813953
CaCl2: 0.5 / 0.406976744
MgSO4: 3 / 2.441860465
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
NaCl: 0.5 / 0.406976744
HCL Acid: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid: 0 / 0


So for instance if I take the first line:
Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaCO3: 1 / 0.813953488

Does that mean I add 1gram to the mash AND 0.81grams to the boil?

Same for the rest of the additions?

Thanks!
 

Bigscience

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If you are trying to mimic a water profile or achieve amounts in the finished beer then they would go into both. I haven't used EZ in a long time but I thought it allowed you to specify just the mash or both. I also seem to remember a glitch (or what I thought of as a glitch) where the boil additions were slightly off due to the fact that it assumed that the water that was held back also held back it's salts during the sparging.

Does that answer your question or are you still left wanting?
 
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julian81

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I'm not trying to mimic any particular water style, I'm just trying to boost certain mineral contents higher so that they are more in line with the styles I want to brew, specifically a pale beer like a pale/ipa/dipa.

So in the EZ calc, there is a checkbox to "Adj for Sparge Water y/n" And then under that it calculates the additions and provides you a number, based on what you entered for the mash additions. It also says "Sparge additions (add to boil)".

So if I'm clicking this button to calculate the sparge(boil) additions I should be adding both the amount I entered into the mash, and the amount it calculated for me into the boil, correct? I've never done any mineral water adjustment, so this is new to me. It seems like a lot of salts to add in various places...just want to make sure I'm on the right track.
 

944play

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IMO, you don't need to add sodium or magnesium. Na won't help, and grain should provide enough Mg for yeast health. I'd just up the calcium using CaSO4 and CaCl2 in a proportion appropriate to the beer style (more gypsum for bitter ales, less for delicate wheats and lagers) and check mash pH. Acidify if necessary. Your water is so soft, I'd not do anything to sparge additions.
 
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julian81

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944play,

Thanks for the info. Yeah, the water is soft. So what you're saying is just add some gypsum and calcium chloride. To the mash? And that's it? And then sparge as usual with my untreated water and boil as usual with no further salt additions?

I thought boil additions were necessary for the flavor more so than the mash?
 

seabass07

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I'd just put it all in the mash. If the water was to your liking out of the tap, you'd just use it. The additions will still be there after the mash. So I'd do the additions for the full amount of water I was using in the mash, then not add anything to sparge water or boil.
 
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julian81

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Ok, let's say I did want to add it to the boil though, at what point would I add it? What's the typical accepted time to add salts to the boil?
 

944play

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If you added during boil, you wouldn't get the advantages of reduced pH and calcium ions in the mash.
 

mabrungard

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You need to add the proper amount of calcium or magnesium to the mash to develop the proper mash pH. You can't just add the minerals calculated for the mash and sparge to the mash only or to the sparge or kettle only. That may not produce ideal mashing conditions.
 

seabass07

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Is it really needed with soft water on a pale ale? I understand with a lot of dark malts, you need more calcium, but isn't that to keep it from going too low? I didn't think that was a problem with a pale ale or ipa.
 
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julian81

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You need to add the proper amount of calcium or magnesium to the mash to develop the proper mash pH. You can't just add the minerals calculated for the mash and sparge to the mash only or to the sparge or kettle only. That may not produce ideal mashing conditions.
Right that makes sense. I would only add the mash additions to the mash and no others. But I guess what I'm getting at is, do these minerals not stick around during/after boil? Why is there a need to also add them to the boil?

I get the need to treat your mash to achieve the correct pH, but is this sufficient for the rest of the brew? Would I need to treat the pre-boil wort as well? If so, why? What happened to the minerals I added in the mash?
 
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julian81

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Is it really needed with soft water on a pale ale? I understand with a lot of dark malts, you need more calcium, but isn't that to keep it from going too low? I didn't think that was a problem with a pale ale or ipa.
My current water profile, at least according to the EZ calculator (which is based off of Palmer's calculator) is "very malty" for low SRM beers. I need more sulfate and calcium at minimum to "balance" it out, or help bring out the bitterness. I'm making good pales as is, but not GREAT ones and thinking it has to do with my water.
 

944play

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I'll bet the lack of crispness has more to do with pH than minerals. Calcium chloride and gypsum will help a little, but acid in the form of acidulated malt (sauermalz) or phosphoric will go a lot further. I'll bet you can brew an awesome stout with the acidity contributed from the roasted barley!
 

Bigscience

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I'd just put it all in the mash. If the water was to your liking out of the tap, you'd just use it. The additions will still be there after the mash. So I'd do the additions for the full amount of water I was using in the mash, then not add anything to sparge water or boil.
If you added the mash and boil salts all to the mash, your mash would be off but you'd end up with the water profile listed in the end. This could really mess up your mash. Mash salts will make it into the boil but the purpose of adding the boil (sparge) salts is to prevent them from being diluted out by the sparge.


My current water profile, at least according to the EZ calculator (which is based off of Palmer's calculator) is "very malty" for low SRM beers. I need more sulfate and calcium at minimum to "balance" it out, or help bring out the bitterness. I'm making good pales as is, but not GREAT ones and thinking it has to do with my water.
I feel you. You can add a ton of hops with our water but they don't shine with our water. You have to crank up the Sulphate.

Is it really needed with soft water on a pale ale? I understand with a lot of dark malts, you need more calcium, but isn't that to keep it from going too low? I didn't think that was a problem with a pale ale or ipa.
Ca helps with fermentation and clarity as well as RA. Be concerned with pH of the mash and not so much color.

Right that makes sense. I would only add the mash additions to the mash and no others. But I guess what I'm getting at is, do these minerals not stick around during/after boil? Why is there a need to also add them to the boil?

I get the need to treat your mash to achieve the correct pH, but is this sufficient for the rest of the brew? Would I need to treat the pre-boil wort as well? If so, why? What happened to the minerals I added in the mash?

Mash salts are diluted out by the sparge water so unless you want to add more to carry through and potentially mess up your mash, you add both. If you added all the SO4 you wanted to just the mash, you could have problems. Try this out, save two copies of the spreadsheet, one that has both additions and the other that has the same amounts but added to the mash. See how your pH changes even though you'd have the same profile in the final beer.
 
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julian81

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OK. I'm going to experiment on my next pale brew by adding in a few grams of gypsum to the mash and possibly a gram or less to the boil. Thanks for all the feedback guys!
 

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Hey Julian, just wondering if you noticed any difference from your additions. I'm considering playing with my mineral profile, because I've got a bit too much "maltiness" coming through on my ales. Curious if you actually could taste any difference, or if your beer had a different mouthfeel, after adding the minerals.
 

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