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Melbourne Water & Residual Alkalinity


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#1 tfxm

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 07:51 PM

hey guys,

so i have been reading and calculating a lot about my water recently using various texts and tools including those from palmer, daniels and the very helpful "key concepts in water treatment" for melbourne's water from wheeler. yep, another all grain brewer who needs to dig just that little bit deeper!! :)

i am kinda worried that my salt additions have been too insane; too much sulfate i think as they only seem to work with really hoppy ipa & iipa's. i am really only brewing pale ales, bitters, ipa's & the occasional stout. looking for some input from some melbourne brewer's who are happy with their mashing/water techniques.

in terms of ph, i have just been using the 5.2 buffer because i can't seem to understand the explanations on treating water correctly to hit the right ph. i think i understand the concept of residual alkalinity, but when i do the maths, i always seem to have to add bicarbonates (chalk) to mash to offset the calcium i need to hit (>50ppm) and hit a reasonable residual alkalinity for the predicted colour.

here is what i am using for melbourne's water:

Calcium (CA): 5.4
Bicarbonate (HCO3-): 12.0
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 9.8
Chloride (Cl): 13.0
Sulfate (SO): 8.0
Magnesium (Mg): 1.7
Sodium (Na): 7.6


And my calculations give me:

Effective Hardness: 4.9
Residual Alkalinity: 5.0
Min EBC: 11.0
Max EBC: 20.6


i am assuming that i would need to alter the water using some kinda acid ( phosphoric or something ) to get the residual alkalinity within range for the colour i am after, rather than adding bicarbonates which every text seems to be very clear on avoiding for pales beers ( despite burton being right up there ). am i on the right track? for some reason, i am hesitant to use acids ... but then, i am using 5.2. :huh:

is there anything wrong with me trying to match burton's water ( and hence balancing the calcium & bicarbonates ) to make a nice hoppy pale ale? or should i stick with getting the calcium up to around the 100ppm mark, sulfate to under 300ppm and just use the 5.2 buffer (or acid) to adjust the mash ph level? should i add all salts to just the strike water? or split with the sparge water (im am batch sparging), or add extra to the boil?

i know water is kinda a major topic, just trying to develop a clear path.
any thoughts, ideas or methods that work for others would be greatly appreciated.

cheers & cilurzo,
tom

#2 haysie

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 08:35 PM

Wow, thats some sort of homework Tom,. I thought our water was "soft" "nice" "a boutique mouth feel", all crap I have read re Melbourne water. I have no idea, but your topic is a beauty. Does it really make a difference? Before a/g I used to find my yeast didnt attentuate as well as they should, i put it down to chlorine, nasties in unboiled water.

#3 tfxm

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 09:06 PM

hey haysie ... yeh i have read/heard the same about melbourne (even just soft) water.
"blessed" with soft water, but then to get a reasonable calcium level all hell breaks loose (on paper).

i dunno if its worth my time thinking about it.
but there must be a simple-ish solution.
take mountain goat for example ... i was told they only add gypsum.

i had the same issue with attenuation as you prior to going all grain.
thats one reason i fast-tracked my move to AG, so i could control the aspects i think are important!
plus i love the smell of the mash .... damn. :D

#4 Stuster

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 10:29 PM

Melbourne water looks pretty similar to Sydney water, so I hope you'll admit the ramblings of a northerner into this thread even though you were looking for input from your city-people.

That 5.2 stabiliser is not really that useful with soft water like we have. It's more designed for hard water.

For me, residual alkalinity works out and for most beers it's a matter of adding gypsum or calcium chloride. You should only need chalk for dark beers. Can you post up an example of how you're working this out? Maybe Palmer's spreadsheet?

#5 dr K

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Posted 30 September 2008 - 10:43 PM

And my calculations give me:

Effective Hardness: 4.9
Residual Alkalinity: 5.0
Min EBC: 11.0
Max EBC: 20.6


Is it late so I just don't get it, or do I just not get it.
I have heard that highly alkaline waters produce a marginally darker beer, but then again most areas with alkaline water traditionally produce darker beers anyway so I may have my wires crossed.
EBC (I guess you mean colour) range of 11 - 20.6.....sheet thats sort of Carlton Draught to English Bitter range of colour.

K

#6 yum yum yum

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 06:25 AM

Water chemistry is really hard to get your head around. i have tried quickly once or twice but never got that deep into it. The only piece of advice that i can give is to not try and copy Burtons water chemistry. Remember they have been brewing here for 100s of years, well before water chemistry was even thought to affect beer. From what i understand is countries like ireland have been producing stouts for so long because it was the only thing they could do well, similarly with pilsen and pilsners. The reason was there water, but they had no idea at the time. Burtons water is not like that to produce great beer, its just how it is. Im also an AG brewer in Melbourne and find that i only need to modify the salts in my water very slightly if at all.

Edited by yum yum yum, 01 October 2008 - 06:27 AM.


#7 tfxm

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 07:48 AM

Thanks for the replies and advice!

yeh, i would like to stop using 5.2 .... and go towards just adding a touch of slats.
there is something about throwing magic dust in the mash that is kinda annoying me. :)

here is my rough workings using palmers spreadsheet. i have added melbourne's water as the source, a basic target water, and going for an EBC of 20. you can see in the salt additions section that if i add gypsum to boost the calcium and sulfate levels up, then i need to add chalk to balance the hardness with some alkalinity?

Attached File  Palmers_Metric_RA_Melb.xls   76.5KB   163 downloads

cheers!
t
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#8 Stuster

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:27 AM

True, for a 20EBC wort you are looking at balancing gypsum and chalk. If you add 2g of each, you're pretty much there without getting the high sulphate and carbonate levels you'd get with what you had. If you change it to a 10EBC wort, you only need to 3g of gypsum or calcium chloride or a combination, no need for chalk.

#9 tfxm

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:44 AM

ahh ... so my brain is getting there.
kinda starting to make sense.

i also just noticed that the software i am using to predict colour was using "daniels" as the formula.
the following is the difference between formulas available for a simple pale ale.

Expected Color (using Morey): 14.6 EBC
Expected Color (using Daniels): 25.0 EBC
Expected Color (using Mosher): 17.2 EBC

thats quite a difference!

#10 Stuster

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:54 AM

Wow. That's some difference. According to an article in the current BYO by John Palmer, the whole colour thing is a bit of a fiddle anyway. He shows a range of beers which are measured to have the same SRM but look different visually. But for calculating water additions, there's no real need to be perfectly exact I think. Close enough will be fine so maybe choose the formula which seems closest to the colour you get out from your system.

#11 RobW

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:57 AM

Water chemistry can really do your head in.
Like Stuster I've settled on adding gypsum or calcium chloride, plus for light coloured beers a little citric acid.

#12 tfxm

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 09:04 AM

And do my head in it has! Ouch.

#13 katzke

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 02:20 PM

hey guys,

so i have been reading and calculating a lot about my water recently using various texts and tools including those from palmer, daniels and the very helpful "key concepts in water treatment" for melbourne's water from wheeler. yep, another all grain brewer who needs to dig just that little bit deeper!! :)

i am kinda worried that my salt additions have been too insane; too much sulfate i think as they only seem to work with really hoppy ipa & iipa's. i am really only brewing pale ales, bitters, ipa's & the occasional stout. looking for some input from some melbourne brewer's who are happy with their mashing/water techniques.

in terms of ph, i have just been using the 5.2 buffer because i can't seem to understand the explanations on treating water correctly to hit the right ph. i think i understand the concept of residual alkalinity, but when i do the maths, i always seem to have to add bicarbonates (chalk) to mash to offset the calcium i need to hit (>50ppm) and hit a reasonable residual alkalinity for the predicted colour.

here is what i am using for melbourne's water:

Calcium (CA): 5.4
Bicarbonate (HCO3-): 12.0
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 9.8
Chloride (Cl): 13.0
Sulfate (SO): 8.0
Magnesium (Mg): 1.7
Sodium (Na): 7.6


And my calculations give me:

Effective Hardness: 4.9
Residual Alkalinity: 5.0
Min EBC: 11.0
Max EBC: 20.6


i am assuming that i would need to alter the water using some kinda acid ( phosphoric or something ) to get the residual alkalinity within range for the colour i am after, rather than adding bicarbonates which every text seems to be very clear on avoiding for pales beers ( despite burton being right up there ). am i on the right track? for some reason, i am hesitant to use acids ... but then, i am using 5.2. :huh:

is there anything wrong with me trying to match burton's water ( and hence balancing the calcium & bicarbonates ) to make a nice hoppy pale ale? or should i stick with getting the calcium up to around the 100ppm mark, sulfate to under 300ppm and just use the 5.2 buffer (or acid) to adjust the mash ph level? should i add all salts to just the strike water? or split with the sparge water (im am batch sparging), or add extra to the boil?

i know water is kinda a major topic, just trying to develop a clear path.
any thoughts, ideas or methods that work for others would be greatly appreciated.

cheers & cilurzo,
tom


It is late here and my mind is not on water but here goes.

It looks like you have great water for light colored beers. Light color brews like low alkalinity and darker beers like higher alkalinity. The reason is the dark malts acidify the mash more then light malts.

All you need to do is adjust the salts for the desired flavor profile. Like maltyness or hops and so one.

I am confused why you would be thinking of acid with low residual alkalinity. Acid is a last resort for people like me.

I do understand your confusion as water is a big secret and home brewers are too dumb to understand it so no one makes it easy. I am working on charts for different styles and when I get them done I will post them. They will not be based on historic water profiles but style guidelines. I have to work out all the info I have found and come to a reasonable range. From what I have found the range will be a bit forgiving to allow different water to work.

The best goal for adjusting your water is to get the residual alkalinity correct then the important salts for the style.

#14 tfxm

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 04:24 PM

yeh ... i think im getting a handle on it now.

i just get confused when i try to plan brewing a pale, but highly hopped ale (ipa for example).
the residual alkalinity is perfect without any salt additions for the colour (lets say ~15 EBC or ~7 SRM) ....

but when i start adding some calcium sulfate to get the salt levels to where i'd like them for the style, the residual alkalinity calculations slip outta range ... telling me i need to brew it even lighter ( like ~5 EBC or ~2 SRM ).

should i just forget about that, and add the salts for flavour anyway?

#15 jjeffrey

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 10:15 PM

I'm a melbourne brewer, most of my water comes from the silvan dam (I'm in Doncaster). Contact your water provider and they will tell you what catchment your water comes from, and probably give you the latest water analysis as well. Attached is last years water analysis for the various dams, which my water provider recently sent me:

Attached File  Melbourne_Water_Analysis_2007.pdf   60.02KB   124 downloads

Despite what Palmer reckons, I've found it far easier to manipulate colour with grains. Colour shift tends only to come into play with relatively hard water, and is far more sensitive to malt kilning than solvent make-up.

Go easy on your salt additions.

Calcium and Magnesium is important for the fermentation, as well as enabling your pH to drop to and stabilise at 5.2-5.4. Go for 50-150 ppm Ca, and 5-15ppm Mg. Try to maintain a 10:1 ratio b/w Ca and Mg.

I reckon that 300ppm SO4 is a bit high and will start to give you some harshness, especially in an IPA where you already are bumping bitternerss with your hops. I would try and keep it below 150ppm. To me, sulphates add a bit of "tang", and help accentuate hop flavour. Sulphates work well in English style ales, together with Fuggles and Goldings varieties.

Likelwise, try and keep chlorides below 150ppm, but I like to keep it above 50ppm on ales cause I reckon it brings out a sweetness in the malt and adds a bit of mouthfeel.

Bicarbonates are just a pain in the arse- try to minimise them. The breweries in Burton-on-Trent spend millions of dollars on water treatment to soften their water. Bicarbonates will de-stabilise your buffer and result in higher pHs. It also fouls your kettle, and precipitates as a powder in your wort.

Don't look at regional water make-up and draw the conclusion that it is the same base water that is used to make the beer- it's simply not true, the water is almost always treated prior. I'm not saying that this was always historically the case, but it certainly is today. Contrary to popular belief, Guiness does NOT use Dublin water which is very high in bicarbonates, rather it uses soft water from the surrounding hillsides. That is, in fact, why Arthur Guiness originally put his brewery where it was in the late 1700s- on a soft water stream that flowed from the granite hills surrounding, into the Liffy. Having said that, dark beers do handle bicarbonate better because they are more acidic than lighter kilned malts, but you don't need to worry about that because you are using a buffer salt to stabilise your pH (5.2-5.4 is spot on).

Use salts for flavour, but do it sparingly. Go under rather than over. If you can, measure your mash pH (after salt additions!) and if it is a bit high, add a bit of acid if you need to- phosphoric is great because the yeast use the phosphorus during growth, lactic acid is also good. But you probably won't need to do this if you stick to your pH buffer salts- they are great.

Attached is what I use for my ales for Melbourne water (straight out of beersmith profiler), note that the total water volume that I make up is 80L:
Attached File  water_profile_for_PA.JPG   54.81KB   195 downloads

Hope this helps.

jj.

#16 tfxm

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 11:16 PM

great info, thanks jj.
:icon_cheers:

#17 lupulin5446

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 02:33 AM

Residual Alkalinity =
Total Alkalinity (as ppm CaCO3) X (0.056)
- Calcium (as ppm Ca2+) X (0.04)
- Magnesium (as ppm Mg2+) X (0.033)

For example, Burton, and Munich have similar levels of alkalinity, but Munich has a much higher Residual Alkalinity.
The approximate levels of alkalinity in Burton and Munich are 236 and 253 respectively. Burton has approximately 263 ppm calcium, and 62 ppm magnesium. To calculate the RA, simply plug in the numbers. RA= (236) X (0.056) - (263) X (0.04) - (62) X (0.033) OR RA= (13.216) - (10.52) - (2.046) The RA for Burton is approximately .65

For Munich, the calcium is 76 ppm, and magnesium is 18 ppm. RA = (253) X (0.056) - (76) X (0.04) - (18) X (0.033) OR RA= (14.168) - (3.04) - (0.594) The Residual Alkalinity for Munich is approximately 10.534

To calculate the approximate wort pH of a 12P wort made from pale malt, use the formula: Wort pH = 5.59 + (0.028 X Residual Alkalinity) Darker malts are more acidic, and will nuetralize water with a higher RA. Ideally, for a pale wort, the RA should be between 0 and -14.

If your mash is too alkaline, you can compensate for it by adding calcium salts, or food grade acids. These can be added to the wort, or directly to the mash, but note that alkaline water will leach more tannins during the sparge, and can cause lautering problems, so for some styles, it would be beneficial to sparge with less alkaline water. To adjust the pH by 0.1, add to the mash: 3g calcium sulphate, 2.5g calcium chloride, or .58g lactic acid PER kg of malt. When adding to the wort, use 2.5g, 2.1g, and .29g respectively.

To adjust calcium in the brewing water at room temperature, 260 mg(0.26g) calcium sulphate per Liter will add approximately 60 mg/L (ppm) of calcium. For calcium chloride, 220 mg per Liter will add approximately the same amount of calcium. For magnesium, 155 mg per Liter of magnesium sulphate will add roughly the same. To increase the alkalinity, you can add 100 mg/L calcium carbonate (chalk), or 80 mg/L NaHCO3 (baking soda) to increase the alkalinity by 60ppm CaCO3. Keep in mind, that 100mg/L of chalk will also add 40ppm calcium.

This is an adaptation of information provided in a brewing course, it is not absolutely perfect, but it should suffice. If you are interested in an online course, check out http://www.siebelinstitute.com

#18 Mardoo

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Posted 05 June 2012 - 06:35 AM

:D Awesome thread guys. I know it's 500 years later, but thanks for your work!