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Mash And Water Ph Adjustment: 'traditional' Water Profiles?

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manticle

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Just interested in the perspective of those who adjust their water or mash with ionic salts or other means as to whether you try and replicate reported famous water profiles such as Dublin, Burton or Vienna or whether you try and build a profile to push flavours you want in your final beer?

Do you focus on pH first and flavour second or simply try and build a profile from a specific city?

Whichever you do - why and how? Do you adjust mash, mash and boil, mash and sparge or total brewing liquor?
 

Steve@PMF82

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Start with rain water that is as good as pure distilled water for me - yes it probably has some very low ionic concentration but its as good as nothing in my books, it makes crap coffee and does not quench thirst(goes straight through you) so i supplement with mineral water or weak powerade.

I actually tried copying sydney nth beaches tap water for brewing my coffee and it works very well.

As for brewing beer, these days i just treat the entire brewing liquor beforehand with gypsum and calcium chloride, then adjust ph using dilute phosphoric acid and the desired starting ph will depend on how dark the grain bill is.

I always treat with 0.5g total salts / L water. I usually use equal parts gypsum and calcium chloride but have have previously done experimentation with more gypsum for hoppy beers and vice versa for malt driven. A lot of beers i will just use chloride but generally i prefer the 50/50 additions. I have found an improvement in how assertive my bitterness is using more gypsum.

If i am unsure about something or feel the need to check now and then i will run things through ezywater calc and check my mash ph with strips.
 

seamad

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On very clean tank water with typically under 15ppm TDS
Don't try to emulate brew city water profiles as most nowadays would treat their water anyway.
I have a single vessel system and start with full volume more or less, usually quick "sparge" with up to a litre of water whilst draining grain just as a rinse.
Use mainly CaCl and CaSO4. Sometimes a touch of epsom salt ( not really for pH more flavour)
I use acid malt in a few brews anywhere from 1-3%. Iirc at these levels no taste effects.
Cl:So4 ratio varies on beer type, from no So4 in subtle pale beers to a 1:2 ratio for hoppy beers.
I check pH with a bench top meter accurate to 2 decimal places and ATC and record readings to help fine tune future brews.
I add some CaCl and if using some CaSO4 to the mash to get pH correct and then some more to the boil as some Ca is retained in the grain ( and the trub later on). From some reading need @ 50ppm for yeast flocculation, allowing for losses need @ 100ppm to start with, which is a minimum amount to aid in protein break formation as well, so most brew have @100-150ppm Ca.
With dark beers I either hot/cold steep the dark grains to avoid having to use carbonates to manage pH. Liquid added at end of boil or into fermenter.
Hope this makes some sense,
chhers
sean
 

manticle

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I started this thread because I'm really interested in the disparity between the Palmer/BJCP pushed idea that we should all try and make our water the same as Vienna in 1865 or London in 1828 or Dublin in 1884 (or wherever, whenever) and the fairly (to my mind) more commonly sensible approach of manipulating water and mash to provide the flavours we want.

Water profiles in Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth change over time and that's with water being manipulated by our water authorities. Why would Vienna water be the same in 1884 and 1897? Why would it even be the same between 1884 and 1885? We get told that stout must be brewed with hard water because that's how it was in Dublin but modern dublin water is now soft.

Brewers often manipulate their water (commercial brewers I mean although some HB people do too) but it's not just something that someone started doing yesterday. Dortmunder export in the BJCP is often spoken of as requiring hard, minerally water yet brewing science texts suggest it is made with soft water and that German brewers are among some of the early practitioners of water and mash manipulation - in order to get the results they wanted.

Burtonising water may lead to a dry, minerally, hoppy beer but will it lead to the best dry, hoppy minerally beer? Some yeasts contribute a mineral character, dryness and hoppiness can be accentuated and manipulated without a bucket of sulphate. Dry stout can be smooth and beuatiful without a chalk quarry thrown at it. I've had some UK beers that are way too minerally and out of balance and the best ones - Fullers ESB, Tim Taylor's etc don't taste overly minerally or sulphatey to me.

I'm not suggesting people don't add lots of sulphate etc if they know what it does and that's what they want but the idea of replicating water profiles seems very outdated, wrong headed and I'm surprised to see it still get pushed by organisations like BJCP. It should be used as a reference as to why certain beer styles evolved in the places they did.

Personally, I add salts according to the beer style I want to make so calcium for yeast health, enzymatic activity and mash pH control, acid where necessary for pH control and my calcium salts are chosen for their effect on flavour and added to mash (pH mainly) and to the boil (flavour mainly).

Hopefully get some more interesting discussion going.
 

Muscovy_333

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Water chemisty is my new frontier.
Having said that I am only working on adjusting mash pH and calcium additions for yeast ATM.
Mainly using Calcium sulphate and Epsom salts at this point in time.
If i need to sour for flavour i generally use one of the commercially available food acids, depending on the type of sourness I'm after.
I really dont have much substance to add to this thread, only to say that my brewing at this point in time is more about what I am able to create.
Don't feel the need to re-create old school water profiles yet.
 

stevem01

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I inherited a spa when I moved house a few years ago. I spent years taking advice from pool shops trying to balance the water, they just use three adjustments, PH up, PH down and total alkalinity. Trying to adjust these I was just chasing my tail.

Then I started AG brewing and some research showed that Calcium is an important variable, I bought a calcium test kit from an aquarium shop and found Fremantle water has next to no Calcium. (maybe due to the desalination plant just down the road?)

I emptied the spa and started again, my first adjustment was Calcium Cloride up to 150PPM, lo and behold thats all it took, PH correct and stayed there


So to brewing, in Fremantle anyway, the water is almost mineral free and can always use some Calcium.
I am still experimenting with levels and currently only using CaCl
 

Truman42

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Ive only ever added Calcium Chloride for my malty darker beers and Calcium Sulphate for my drier hoppier beers. With a bit of both for say an IPA.

I only really add this to mash water not my sparge water or in the boil so would like to know if I should be adding to both and what others do?

I would however like to start adjusting for PH but havent learned that yet..
 

sim

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I have a perpetual struggle going on to brew an english bitter thats just right, and so far im still not getting quite what i want. So i did the burtonising salts historical-to-the-enth-degree type additions and found it did seem more "on the money" BJCP-perhaps-wise, and yet odd and not so balanced as a beer in its own right.

So generally i just adjust to hit mash pH, if possible using calcium to do this, sometimes lactic acid. Equal quantities of cal sulph and cal chlor seems nicest taste wise, where one-not-the-other sometimes ends up tasting weird or unbalanced. If its a pale beer i'll treat the sparge water to some lactic. In these and beers i want to be soft I've often cut the total water used with RO 50:50 to get the carbonate content down, and this seems to pay off.

I use a Milwakee pH/temp probe which im really happy with, would like it to go above 70c though.

Pocket beers should pipe up here because he did a brisbane vs RO vs Dublin water profile brewing side by side Dry Stout experiment which was very eye opening.
 

Jazzafish

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When I dove into the deep end of experimenting with this, I just added all salts to the mash and let 5.2 stabiliser sort pH out. Had a pH meter and it got to the point that I didn't bother using the pH meter any more, as the 5.2 did the job quite well. To be honest, the only beer that I attempted to match historic water reports on was a kolsch. I added all salts to the mash, along with 5.2 and was happy with the result, but I later re-brewed but added the sparge water additions directly to the kettle. I preferred this result.

I have done a few brews without the 5.2 recently, adding all salts to the mash and traditionally leaving my pH meter on the shelf collecting dust. Porters were great. However there was something going on with the pale ale so i'm going to put the sparge additions directly to the kettle and pull the pH meter off the shelf to check it out. Need some calibrating solution.

I think it is important to point out that most breweries modify their water, so the water report doesn't always represent what they brew with. The three important things to consider are the influence of salts on yeast behaviour, the taste of the salts and also the chloride to sulphate ratio.

The only way to get a grasp is brew a batch with additions and one without. I'm still playing and having fun with it. Also have some recipes that I prefer to have all additions in the mash (porter), and some split (kolsch).
 

drsmurto

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I use rainwater exclusively for brewing and tested it a few years ago so I knew what i was starting with.

I prepare my brewing water the day before so all the salts other than CaCO3 (if using) are dissolved. I then fill my HLT from this water which means no multiple measurements of salts (with an error in each measurement these add up) and there is no change in the water chemistry between mash and sparge.

CaCO3 normally goes into the kettle as I am adding it for flavour reasons, not pH.

pH is something i used to measure but rarely do these days as I am yet to see it outside the range (and that included the beer from beer experiment where beer (pH >4) was used as the mash in liquor and the mash pH was still within the desired range - the grain contains natural buffers and will happily adjust your pH up or down as required).

I adjust the water for flavour reasons. I do not adjust it to mimic a 'water profile'. I use a combination of CaCl2, CaSO4 and CaCO3 to adjust the balance of the malt/hop profile in the finished beer.

All of this works for me, it may not work for you.

Cheers
DrSmurto

p.s. CaCO3 can be a little contentious. I use it sparingly and for only a few beers. Too high a level and the chalky flavour comes through but don't automatically assume it is required in dark beers to adjust pH unless you have measured your mash pH and is out. I add it to some english bitters in very low levels to add that extra something. Some dark beers may get a little, some may not, it reallys depends on what i want the beer to taste like. I have a vienna lager lagering away at the moment that had a small CaCO3 addition and it is smooth and malty, no chalkiness to it at all.
 

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Am having a bitch of a time with water at the moment - supposed 'soft' Sydney water is out at pH 8 and hardness through the wazoo ... cant get the pH down below 6.4 without a truck load of acid.

For all 4 reasons, (pH, enzymes, trub, floculation) is why I salt water. I hope this kicks off a more fluid awareness of water manipulation. Easiest correlation is cooking, what difference does the the right seasoning make?
 

Bada Bing Brewery

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I understand the problems with this question (different styles, different starting profiles etc etc) BUT water for dummies - what should I be aiming for as a general water profile? Gimme numbers brothers ....
Cheers
BBB
 

wessmith

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I have said this before (and so have others) - you cannot successfully adjust pH after mashin without putting everything out of balance. Get to understand the buffering effect of acids and alkalies. With brewing you need a bit of dead reckoning - you need to know the answer before you ask the question. The amount of acid or calcium you will need to add to the mash needs to be calculated before the event and added to the strike water. After mashin and the subsequent buffering effect, it is all too late.....

Wes
 

manticle

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Depends what you're brewing Bada.

Ask the same question about yeast, grain or hops and the reply would be similar.

Basically:

-You need drinkable water that tastes and smells OK.

-You need to know what ions your water contains - particularly calcium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium, zinc, sodium. You need to know the temporary and permanent water hardness and whether it's sanitised with chlorine or chloramine. If it's chloramine, you may need to filter with RO or treat with bisulphites/campden. If it's chlorine, boiling in preparation, allowing to sit overnight or even just bringing to strike temp should be adequate. Charcoal filter works too. Worry about means other than normal heat to strike IF you start tasting band-aids in your beer.

-You need to try and drop out anything excessive, with particular consideration being given to bicarbonates, magnesium and sodium. Palmer talks about ranges of ions and his ranges generally link up with brewing science texts I've read.

-Main things you need to make decent beer after this are - proper mash pH, sufficient calcium and a chloride:sulphate ratio that fits the style of beer you want to make.

Proper mash pH should be between 5.0 and 5.5 when measured at mash temp and between 5.3 and 5.8 when measured at room temperature.
Dark grains raise mash pH, paler grain mash will therefore have a lower pH.

Ionic calcium salts will drop pH with the exception of calcium carbonate as the carbonate will fight the calcium. You need to measure the mash pH at least once with a mid coloured beer to get an idea (I'd say most times you brew a recipe first time would be better if not always). Acid (phosphoric, lactic and citric) are all commonly used to drop pH when necessary. Acidulated malt and some technical process can also be used.

*Sulphate to push hops (in the form of calcium sulphate or gypsum)
*Chloride to push malt (in the form of calcium chloride)
*Zinc to help yeast and head retention (in the form of zinc sulphate, zinc chloride or decent yeast nutrient)
*Magnesium and phospate levels should be provided by the mash so while those ions are important in the right levels, you shouldn't need to add any.
*Play with carbonates in darker beers if you want - my experience hasn't been good but the DR above reports success whn judiciously used. Your experience only can tell but judicious use is key either way.

As you can see - a simplified summary (and I'm not sure if I've covered everything) covers a lot of ground BUT once you learn the principles, water adjustment can be as easy as:

Knowing your water profile and using a calculator like ez water calculator

For me it's usually:

2g of calcium sulphate and 2 g calcium chloride added to a mid coloured 20 L final volume batch that has a good malt and hop balance. Switch to all calcium chloride for malty, all calcium sulphate for hoppy. Add the same amount to the kettle to push extra flavour components

Paler beers: touch of acid, darker beers either add roast grains later or look at calcium carbonate (if pH is low - test first) (carbonate is a possiblity - I don't use it at all).

It also can be made as simple as trying a bit out - as mentioned above, it's like cooking. You cook with salt and a cooking nerd or chef might understand some of the chemical processes that occur as a result but you can easily chuck a bit in and learn 'too much' or not enough' fairly quickly if you are smart.

Wessmith: good point. Knowing your water, mash and recipe is a really good way to start. It's not something to really try and work out on the fly, at least not in regards to pH. Possibly in terms of kettle/flavour additions you can make more snap decisions but presumably (and this I'm not sure of) wort pH is important and may be changed by the wrong salt additions??
 

donburke

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has anyone used starsan to drop the ph of the mash ?

it contains phosphoric acid and other stuff

any reason to not use it ?

if it were ok to use, any idea what dosage to drop ph by 0.1 per litre ?
 

manticle

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I did for a bit before I bought some food grade phosphoric. Only worried for pale beers (all pils malt etc)

Star san is food grade and it does drop the pH but I guess it's a bit less accurate and you are adding tiny amounts of other stuff which may or may not bother you.

Didn't bother me or my beer I made using it.

I also used to squeeze a bit of lemon into paler beers for the same purpose - no negative effects but it is a bit of a hack job.
 

Bada Bing Brewery

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Depends what you're brewing Bada.

Ask the same question about yeast, grain or hops and the reply would be similar.

Basically:

-You need drinkable water that tastes and smells OK.

-You need to know what ions your water contains - particularly calcium, chloride, sulphate, magnesium, zinc, sodium. You need to know the temporary and permanent water hardness and whether it's sanitised with chlorine or chloramine. If it's chloramine, you may need to filter with RO or treat with bisulphites/campden. If it's chlorine, boiling in preparation, allowing to sit overnight or even just bringing to strike temp should be adequate. Charcoal filter works too. Worry about means other than normal heat to strike IF you start tasting band-aids in your beer.

-You need to try and drop out anything excessive, with particular consideration being given to bicarbonates, magnesium and sodium. Palmer talks about ranges of ions and his ranges generally link up with brewing science texts I've read.

-Main things you need to make decent beer after this are - proper mash pH, sufficient calcium and a chloride:sulphate ratio that fits the style of beer you want to make.

Proper mash pH should be between 5.0 and 5.5 when measured at mash temp and between 5.3 and 5.8 when measured at room temperature.
Dark grains raise mash pH, paler grain mash will therefore have a lower pH.

Ionic calcium salts will drop pH with the exception of calcium carbonate as the carbonate will fight the calcium. You need to measure the mash pH at least once with a mid coloured beer to get an idea (I'd say most times you brew a recipe first time would be better if not always). Acid (phosphoric, lactic and citric) are all commonly used to drop pH when necessary. Acidulated malt and some technical process can also be used.

*Sulphate to push hops (in the form of calcium sulphate or gypsum)
*Chloride to push malt (in the form of calcium chloride)
*Zinc to help yeast and head retention (in the form of zinc sulphate, zinc chloride or decent yeast nutrient)
*Magnesium and phospate levels should be provided by the mash so while those ions are important in the right levels, you shouldn't need to add any.
*Play with carbonates in darker beers if you want - my experience hasn't been good but the DR above reports success whn judiciously used. Your experience only can tell but judicious use is key either way.

As you can see - a simplified summary (and I'm not sure if I've covered everything) covers a lot of ground BUT once you learn the principles, water adjustment can be as easy as:

2g of calcium sulphate and 2 g calcium chloride added to a mid coloured 20 L final volume batch that has a good malt and hop balance. Switch to all calcium chloride for malty, all calcium sulphate for hoppy. Add the same amount to the kettle to push extra flavour components

Paler beers: touch of acid, darker beers either add roast grains later or look at calcium carbonate (if pH is low - test first).

It also can be made as simple as trying a bit out - as mentioned above, it's like cooking. You cook with salt and a cooking nerd or chef might understand some of the chemical processes that occur as a result but you can easily chuck a bit in and learn 'too much' or not enough' fairly quickly if you are smart.

Wessmith: good point. Knowing your water, mash and recipe is a really good way to start. It's not something to really try and work out on the fly, at least not in regards to pH. Possibly in terms of kettle/flavour additions you can make more snap decisions but presumably (and this I'm not sure of) wort pH is important and may be changed by the wrong salt additions??
Thanks Manticle.
Cheers
BBB
 

Muscovy_333

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Am having a bitch of a time with water at the moment - supposed 'soft' Sydney water is out at pH 8 and hardness through the wazoo ... cant get the pH down below 6.4 without a truck load of acid.

For all 4 reasons, (pH, enzymes, trub, floculation) is why I salt water. I hope this kicks off a more fluid awareness of water manipulation. Easiest correlation is cooking, what difference does the the right seasoning make?

In a previous life i used to get Melbourne water come and flush the pipes on a regular basis in an Industrial Estate to keep the water that was being used in a food factory within specification.
I 'd suggest that a pH of 8 is 'out of spec' and something you could potentially contact your water provider about.

The water was out of spec due to a combination of resonably new pipes leaching minerals and pooling of water as the Factory was located toward the end of the piping in a cul de sac.
 

wessmith

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Wessmith: good point. Knowing your water, mash and recipe is a really good way to start. It's not something to really try and work out on the fly, at least not in regards to pH. Possibly in terms of kettle/flavour additions you can make more snap decisions but presumably (and this I'm not sure of) wort pH is important and may be changed by the wrong salt additions??
[/quote]

Manticle, not so much by the "wrong" salt additions - simply that once buffering has occurred, you need a lot of anything to force a change. Remember that during the buffering phase at mashin, chemical changes occur in the mash as it "settles" based on the mineral salts already available, the malt phosphates etc and the original water pH. Trying to overcome that "settled" position will almost certainly skew the flavour of the finished beer.

What you can do on the fly is add some Calcium Chloride to the kettle if the mash pH was a little high. Around 2 to 3 gms for a 20l brew would be a good starting point. A good indicator is to watch for the formation of the hot break (not the foam head as the wort comes to the boil) which usually starts to occur about 30 minutes into the boil. A good break will be like snowflakes circulating in the wort. They should not be dusty, or in large clumps. While the break can be affected by the wort calcium, there are other minerals involved but at least you can "calibrate" your future mineral additions.

All a very simplistic explanation but hope it helps explain.

Wes
 

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