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Water chemistry - what to chose?

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Phillip Taud

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Hi there,

I am here in Germany trying to brew crisp, dry Pale Ales / IPAs and fresh american Lagers. So far I have been aiming for these water targets. What are your thoughts and am I doing the right thing? My beers definitely could be dryer. My pre-mash pH is also usually a little high at 5,9 which I have not adjusted so far.

Suggestions would be great!

Thx, Phillip

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Phillip Taud

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up. did I place this question in the wrong forum section?
 

Silver_Is_Money

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I'm not sure what a Pre-Mash pH refers to, but 124 mg/L bicarbonate isn't helping you to reduce the 5.9 pH. All that really may matter though is that you acidify sufficiently to knock the fully collected Wort pH down to 5.2 pre-boil.
 
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Phillip Taud

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I'm not sure what a Pre-Mash pH refers to, but 124 mg/L bicarbonate isn't helping you to reduce the 5.9 pH. All that really may matter though is that you acidify sufficiently to knock the fully collected Wort pH down to 5.2 pre-boil.
I mean the pH after adding the water chemistry is at 5.9

What targets should I aim for for a fresh and dry / hoppy IPA? Is there any useful profile you could suggest?
 

IslandLizard

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I mean the pH after adding the water chemistry is at 5.9
The pH itself of the brewing water is rather meaningless.
It's the amount of buffering provided by the minerals it contains, including those added by the malts, which resists the change of pH.

As @Silver_Is_Money said, you definitely need to add some acid in whatever form, to remove/counteract the bicarbonates and bring the pH down. That's useful in the mash, in the boil, and during fermentation.

On a side note, I've moved your thread to the Brew Science Forum, the best place for these kind of questions.
 
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Phillip Taud

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The pH itself of the brewing water is rather meaningless.
It's the amount of buffering provided by the minerals it contains, including those added by the malts, which resists the change of pH.

As @Silver_Is_Money said, you definitely need to add some acid in whatever form, to remove/counteract the bicarbonates and bring the pH down. That's useful in the mash, in the boil, and during fermentation.

On a side note, I've moved your thread to the Brew Science Forum, the best place for these kind of questions.
ok, thanks a bunch!

so for someone who has been brewing for 2 years but only started paying attention to water chem. recently, what targets would you suggest to aim for?
 

Silver_Is_Money

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My suggestion would be to target adjustment toward hitting 5.5-5.6 pH in the mash, followed by a second adjustment to hit a target of 5.1-5.2 pH pre-boil. Both as measured at room temperature. And with the second being of more importance than the first. A typical compromise is to target a Mash pH that lies between these two targets and then hope that the boil reduces post-boil Wort pH to ~5.1-5.2, but this is a totally hit or miss approach that merely banks upon luck.

As @IslandLizard said, the grist components relative acidities (positive or negative with respect to the 5.5-5.6 pH target) will massively dwarf the pH of the initial water, making the pH of the water (sans for its highly buffering bicarbonate component, which is for the most part independent of the waters pH) highly irrelevant.
 
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Silver_Is_Money

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I also suggest adding minerals and acid or base to the water pre-mash, and reading the mash pH at 30 minutes into the mash. 10-15 minute sampling has (for me at least) led to false low mash pH readings.

If you sparge, also be sure to reduce sparge water pH to 5.4-5.6 via acidification to free it from most of the bicarbonate mg/L's.
 
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Phillip Taud

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I also suggest adding minerals and acid or base to the water pre-mash, and reading the mash pH at 30 minutes into the mash. 10-15 minute sampling has (for me at least) led to false low mash pH readings.

If you sparge, also be sure to reduce sparge water pH to 5.4-5.6 via acidification to free it from most of the bicarbonate mg/L's.
ok, thanks. Good point. I usually treated the sparge water the same as the pre mash water, but it makes sense that it should have the pre-boil pH as the mashed wort.

The pH after my mash was around 5.6 as I didnt use any acid malts.

Sorry for sounding like a broken record. What target minerals should I be aiming for, for my desired dry IPA?
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Several older (1950's-1960's era) peer reviewed industry level documents available through "Wiley Online Library" state that once sparge water alkalinity is reduced to 50 mg/L (50 ppm) or less there is no further need for sparge water acidification (and one emphasizes that this holds true even if the sparge water pH is high, no less*). Zero bicarbonate species and thereby effectively zero alkalinity is only achieved when a pH of 4.3 to 4.5 is reached, but a pH of 5.4 to 5.6 is totally adequate.

*We do not think like this today, and thereby typically target 5.4-5.6 pH regardless of where that drops the alkalinity of the sparge water, but that does not necessarily negate the likely tried and true accuracy of this aging 50 ppm regardless of the pH advice.
 
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Silver_Is_Money

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Sorry for sounding like a broken record. What target minerals should I be aiming for, for my desired dry IPA?
I'm not much for mineral profiles, but I would 'ballpark' suggest around 150 mg/L SO4-- for the characteristic of dryness, with Cl- at perhaps half of that.
 

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Instead of trying to mimic a water that may be treated at the brewery to change it (dropping the bicarbonate, for example), why not target the mash pH to be 5.3-5.5, and add your salts to enhance the beer's flavor?

Those profiles don't really mean anything. In a few cases, you could look at one to get a good idea of the character- for example, why Dortmunder beer is so minerally, but that doesn't mean you want to recreate most of it since you don't know what the breweries actually used, or did to their water to make their beer.
 
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Phillip Taud

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Instead of trying to mimic a water that may be treated at the brewery to change it (dropping the bicarbonate, for example), why not target the mash pH to be 5.3-5.5, and add your salts to enhance the beer's flavor?

Those profiles don't really mean anything. In a few cases, you could look at one to get a good idea of the character- for example, why Dortmunder beer is so minerally, but that doesn't mean you want to recreate most of it since you don't know what the breweries actually used, or did to their water to make their beer.
you might be right but I've gotta start somewhere :) so do nothing to my beer and simply add lactic acid? :) As you can tell I am really poking around here not really knowing what to do.
 

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No, you can definitely start "somewhere". First, target a mash pH of 5.3 or so for lighter colored beers, 5.5 for roasty beers.

Then, consider the flavor ions. Think of the brewing salts like seasonings for your food. I liken it to spaghetti sauce. Plain tomato sauce is ok, just like using distilled water in brewing. But add some salt and pepper and it's better. (Consider that a good mash pH). Add some garlic and onion (maybe calcium chloride and gypsum), and you've taken an ok thing into something really good.

Less is more, so don't overdo. There are some things that you can definitely try right away. For example, in a West Coast IPA, get your sulfate via gypsum to 150 ppm. That will increase the calcium, for better yeast flocculation, as well as bring your sulfate to a level to enhance dryness (which you want for that crisp dry IPA).
For your lagers, use soft water with very little ionic content, and target a mash pH of 5.3. You can use some calcium chloride if you would like, but in German lagers it's usually not necessary.
Beyond that, read. Read, read, read. Ask us what we do (we may do things differently, but can always help!).

If you have a beer now (and why wouldn't you!), maybe add the tiniest pinch of gypsum to your glass and taste to see what it does to the beer. Do the same with calcium chloride (different glass.......) and table salt. Pick up what you can in those flavors because that's what happens when you add it to the whole batch.
 
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