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Who bothers with water chemistry?


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#1 mtb

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:08 PM

There are plenty of threads on water chemistry in specifics, but I want to know, how many of you take the time to make mineral additions / pH adjustments?

I became confident it had some merit after noticing that the most statistically significant Brulosophy XBMT was one that focussed solely on water chemistry. Researching local Canberra water and plugging variables into Bru'n Water told me that my mash pH was too high (5.85), sulfate / calcium / chloride was too low etc. I now brew with modified water and results are good thus far but there's a good chance that is due to confirmation bias.

 

Any AHBers swear by (or swear against) water modification, and the extra effort it requires?



#2 Coodgee

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:09 PM

I have a good ph meter and take a reading every brew. I adjust with lactic acid and salts as necessary.
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#3 timmi9191

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:14 PM

Me



#4 Rocker1986

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:15 PM

I've been doing it with my pilsners for about 18 months by distilling water for them and adding back small amounts of minerals. These batches have turned out nicer than one I did with straight tap water.

 

After getting a water report, or at least a rough idea of what my water is like I have begun mucking around with salt additions to suit certain styles of beer. The first of these is an APA that will be fermented next, so not sure what impact this will have yet. pH is something I haven't looked into in great detail yet, but the beers are turning out well and I have no efficiency problems or anything, so I figure it must be pretty much in the zone.



#5 fletcher

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:25 PM

me. i think it's worth it, but my issue is not knowing enough about the nuances of all the additions - eg, how i personally prefer x water profile over y water profile. i'm sure i'll get there eventually. might split batches and alter only their water chemistry to compare.



#6 MHB

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:26 PM

Wouldn't exactly call it a lot of effort, once you have done a couple of treatments you should have a pretty good idea of what you will need to add.

Something to do while the water is heating up or the grain is being milled...

Mark



#7 manticle

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:28 PM

I make water additions but for me it's pretty simple. When I first started, I did a lot of reading, some writing (helped me understand the ins and outs) and measured mash pH before and after additions. I also followed the local water report and used software/spreadsheets to estimate required amounts.

 

I do think it makes a difference.

 

Now, however my approach is pretty slapdash as I feel I have a handle on the process, start with very soft, clean water, * and am confident in my system, palate, etc. I also rarely brew exactly the same beer and develop my own recipes so being super consistent isn't high on my list. I cook the same way these days.

 

Thus I now eyeball salts into the mash and boil, dash a bit of lactic into paler mash and into sparge water and enjoy my day. I rarely measure my hop additions any more either. I only recommend this approach if you are more than happy with where you are at - if struggling with process issues, be precise.

 

Understanding the chemistry at play was the most important part for me and something in which I retain interest.

 

*If I had loads of minerals or chlorine in my water, I'd be a bit more precise and do some filtering/cleaning first - water down here is good to go though.



#8 good4whatAlesU

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:31 PM

Very early into the learning process for me. Main concern is taking out the chlorine which is quite high in our water supply. 

 

I'm also quite into Stouts so have been trying to learn how to adjust the pH (calcium additions) to account for the dark grains lowering it too much. 



#9 manticle

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:32 PM

Cold steeping and adding to last ten minutes of mash is my preferred route. Otherwise slaked lime or adding acid (specific acid from memory - braukauiser should have more info) to calcium carbonate.

 

http://braukaiser.co...dissolved_chalk



#10 mtb

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:34 PM

Glad to hear I'm not going overboard in spending time researching water profiles etc.

 

Wouldn't exactly call it a lot of effort

Fair point - I referred to the effort involved in researching and targeting a specific water profile. For example, achieving the right sulfate:chloride ratio (dodgy Brulosophy research indicates a sulfate-sided ratio accentuates hop flavour, for example).

 

I will point out for the educated masses that I consider Brulosophy's XBMT conclusions to be based very loosely on actual scientific method (not looking for a repeat of this thread although I completely agree with Doc and MHB), but in a list of dodgy XBMTs, I consider the top 5% of statistically significant outcomes to more likely be dependable


Edited by mtb, 01 December 2016 - 02:35 PM.


#11 good4whatAlesU

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 02:36 PM

Cold steeping and adding to last ten minutes of mash is my preferred route. Otherwise slaked lime or adding acid (specific acid from memory - braukauiser should have more info) to calcium carbonate.

 

http://braukaiser.co...dissolved_chalk

 

Sound advice there. I've just kegged a cold steeped stout last weekend, so I'm impatient to find out what it turns out like. Will have to wait a month until I finish what's in the fridge (no room for two kegs). A month aging won't hurt it. 



#12 welly2

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 03:05 PM

The last three or four batches I've put through Bru'n Water spreadsheet and added appropriate salt additions. Those three or four batches have been the best beers I've made so far. Not necessarily the tastiest (but still very tasty) as they've been a bit experimental but definitely the most well made. I'm going to remake a couple of beers I've made in the past with salt additions and see if/how they improve. Definitely very little extra work - a few minutes setting up in Bru'n Water, measuring out the salts, running strike and sparge water through my filter, just part of the process now.

Also, O2 when pitching yeast, but we've been through this on another thread. It's the small things that seem to make a better beer.

Edited by welly2, 01 December 2016 - 03:11 PM.


#13 BKBrews

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 03:58 PM

I've improved my beer out of sight since using the EZ Water Calculator and adding acidulated Malt, calcium chloride, calcium Sulphate and magnesium Sulphate to my mash. Notoriously soft water here on the Coast.
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#14 Bribie G

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 04:17 PM

Likewise, I've got a "cocktail bar" of salts, as well as Calcium Lactate that I buffer with Lactic Acid.

 

I use rainwater nowadays and adjust according to style: Burtonisation for Southern UK and hoppy styles, Calcium Chloride for Yorkshire bitters and Lactic for lagers.

 

However I found that EZwater doesn't "do" BIAB very well so it's mostly a half tsp of this, half tsp of that.

 

Works out ok.



#15 Coodgee

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 04:57 PM

I had a cheap pH meter that just wasn't accurate enough when i first started measuring mash pH. I measured pH 5.0 on a mid strength beer so i added a teaspoon of baking soda which gave me a measurement of ph 5.4. Turned out astringent as hell. When i got a better pH meter and measured the mash pH of a subsequent brew of the same recipe it was pH 5.7 before any salt additions!

The lesson is unless you invest in a decent pH meter and store and calibrate it correctly you could end up doing more harm than good

#16 BKBrews

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 05:25 PM

I had a cheap pH meter that just wasn't accurate enough when i first started measuring mash pH. I measured pH 5.0 on a mid strength beer so i added a teaspoon of baking soda which gave me a measurement of ph 5.4. Turned out astringent as hell. When i got a better pH meter and measured the mash pH of a subsequent brew of the same recipe it was pH 5.7 before any salt additions!

The lesson is unless you invest in a decent pH meter and store and calibrate it correctly you could end up doing more harm than good


I know a few people who have used the EZ Water Calculator and the estimated mash pH was spot on. I'm comfortable enough to rely on this without a pH meter, especially if I'm still producing good beer.

#17 Danscraftbeer

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 05:33 PM

I do but I keep it soft. I've never gone high on minerals like Burton on Trent for example is excessive to look at. My additions work out to be around 25% of that profile as for the volume of finished beer. Not for the volume of water used etc.

I use filtered Melbourne water that I consider as a blank start with a pH ` 6.0. Minerals added to mash water. Sparged with filtered water. I hit expected pH and efficiency consistently with just minor variations from Pales to Darks etc.

I get much more malty character in my beer now. Good clarity without any post ferment finings. The results are great to me so I'm not going to mess or experiment much more from the profile I've come up with. -

For now anyway.....


Edited by Danscraftbeer, 01 December 2016 - 05:35 PM.


#18 mtb

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 05:40 PM

I don't actually use a pH meter, I rely on the pH/hardness rating from the water report and Bru'n Water's estimates of my mash pH based on that. Sounds like it'd do me some good to invest in a meter..



#19 mtb

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 05:41 PM

(local water pH is 7.7 apparently which gives me a mash pH of 5.8 without acid malt, which apparently is a bit high)



#20 manticle

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Posted 01 December 2016 - 05:50 PM

It is high but is that number for pale beers, mid or dark? Measured at room temp?