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Bru'n Water and Batch Sparging

I’m starting to play around with Bru’n Water and I’m wondering if Martin had fly sparging in mind when he created the spreadsheet. I’m thinking based on things I’ve read elsewhere that you don’t have to worry about sparge water acidification if you’re batch sparging. Is that right?

If that’s the case, wouldn’t you want to treat sparge water with the same mineral additions as the mash water?

Your line of thinking is sound. You would want to adjust the content in the sparge water and/ or add these minerals to the boil kettle to hit the profile you were after and boost calcium. I do the earlier and add these minerals to the sparge water along with acidifaction because I fly sparge. Within Bru n water on the water adjustment tab is a check box next to the sparge column. If checked it will add Cacl2 and CaSO4 amounts to maintain calcium and SO4/ CL ratio. I leave the box unchecked as I have plenty of Calcium but will need some gypsum in the sparge so it shows that number also.

Thanks. Good to know I’m on the right track! I just wish I knew two batches ago what I know now. My first two all-grain batches have been a disappointment, because of my ignorant approach to brewing water. I have not been able to test it yet, but I strongly suspect my third one is going to be much better. Going to give it a go this weekend.

Sounds great KC. I was going to make a remark regarding acidifying sparge water for batch sparging but did not want to mess around with an edit.

What I was going to mention and reinforce to your question is most batch sparger’s do not lower their sparge PH due to a reoccurring “common” knowledge that the mash should buffer the large water addition whereas a slow water addition like in fly sparge will not be buffered enough towards the mid-last runnings as the buffers are lowered-removed gradually through the sparge mechanism itself. But I have heard some long time batch sparge people mention that they have observed the final runnings of the mash above 6.0 PH.

So in those cases they do adjust the PH under 6 for the sparge water. It really depends on your exact water composition. Now in the future if you find the mash is not buffering the sparge as “common” knowledge has stated then start lowering to under 6.0

Yep, as usual it depends on your water…

I have personally seen pH creep past 6 in batch sparging. Tap is 100ppm bicarb. Also, sparge pH “under 6” is far from ideal… I aim for 5.2-5.4.

Over they years I’ve tried adding salts in every way and have concluded they are best added to boil. I strive to get postboil to around pH of 5.0 and the only way that happens is if there is 50-100ppm Ca in preboil. Adding ca salts earlier and the ca is converted to acid and lost…

My goal is to make the best beer with the simplest method. Some guys can’t sleep at night unless there is 50-100 ca in their mash, but I digress… I am really digging my new method which is very similar to Strong’s is acidifying all brewing water to 5.5 and add salts to boil.

If you haven’t already read Kai’s work on pH. Very enlightening.

[quote=“zwiller”]I am really digging my new method which is very similar to Strong’s is acidifying all brewing water to 5.5 and add salts to boil.[/quote]What do you do for a really dark beer?

Good point Shadetree! I should have clarified that I was talking light styles.

I have not brewed a dark style since adopting the new method. Not into them as of late. Don’t think I would do this for them.

I will take a look at Strong’s recipes and see if he is doing this on darks. I doubt it.

If you ever have any questions about Bru’nwater, email Martin directly. He’s a great guy and very responsive.

I treat my batch sparge water to get it to a pH of 6. That’s the only addition from Bru’n water and Palmer’s spreadsheet that match.

Interesting. With this technique, what’s the risk of creating a situation where the water (strike and/or sparge) become too acidic?

To my surprise Strong’s recipe for sweet stout asks for acidification of sparge water to 5.5. That said, all dark specialty grains are cold steeped overnight seperately from main mash and later added 5 from KO. It is interesting he calls for adding CaCo3 (as well as CaCl) to RO water in a mash that does not contain dark grains… I cannot imagine hitting proper pH with this mash.

I think the risk using the method of acidifying all water was pointed out and is with darker beers. When mashes contain a substantial amount of roasted grains I think it is not necessary to acidify the water used if you mash the dark grains as normal. It is probable that the mash would have have a stronger buffering power than a light beer so acidifying sparge whether fly or batch might not be necessary. That said, I believe the same buffering power would also keep a sparge with water adjusted to 5.5 from becoming overly acidic. Wish I could cite a source for this. I can tell you that when I did make dark beers I acidified sparge water to 5.7 and there was not an issue with the beer being overly acidic. I did however, add baking soda to raise mash pH.

So, to clarify, the technique of adjusting all water to a pH of 5.5 is not for darker beer styles.

Thanks zwiller. I brewed an IPA yesterday. I went ahead and acidified the sparge water. Maybe I’m missing something, but I do not see the purpose of acidifying the strike water too in this case, since Bru’n Water calculated a mash pH of 5.3 without adding an acid.

[quote=“zwiller”]To my surprise Strong’s recipe for sweet stout asks for acidification of sparge water to 5.5. That said, all dark specialty grains are cold steeped overnight seperately from main mash and later added 5 from KO. It is interesting he calls for adding CaCo3 (as well as CaCl) to RO water in a mash that does not contain dark grains… I cannot imagine hitting proper pH with this mash.[/quote]What’s the ratio of chalk:chloride? And I wonder why he doesn’t mash the dark grains at least a little - when I leave some or all of the dark grains out of the mash in order to keep pH under control, I still want to mash them to get the full benefit.

1 tsp CaCO3: 2 tsp CaCl. I know what he is trying to accomplish by cold extraction is preserving as much roastiness as possible. Cold extraction is used to make iced coffee. It does work, but I wonder how well in a fermented beverage.

I have not tried brun water but I gave up on water calcs ever since I started measuring ph. I really wanted them to work but the predicted and actual results were far apart. I just have that kind of luck. I probably brewed for a couple of years using palmers or ez water and my beers were just kinda meh. I was hesitant at first to use a meter to check mash ph but I am happy I did. I found out that my ph was higher than the spreadsheet.

Kc, if you hit your number don’t worry about acidifying strike water. I know with my water that I can’t really count on ca to get me in the zone and my water is only 100 ppm bicarb. Convential wisdom is that it easy to achieve proper mash ph with ca salts but I’ve found thats not the case. Hope the ipa turns out great.

Thanks Zwiller. Had a stupid heat wave hit today and drove my fermentation temp up to 72ish, so hopefully all the effort I put into improving my brewing water isn’t ruined by the the primary temp.

I found Brun’ Water to be quite intimidating at first, but I think I understand it now. I only wish it had a macro that would automatically calculate the necessary additions to bring my water near the target profile (similar to the water tool in BeerSmith 2). Not a complaint…just a wish. It’s a great tool.

I have been looking for a decent pH meter, but haven’t found one that has inspired me enough to make the purchase. I tested my first and second runnings with ColorPhast strips (accepting the margin of error) and both came out somewhere in the 5’s.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]I only wish it had a macro that would automatically calculate the necessary additions to bring my water near the target profile (similar to the water tool in BeerSmith 2).[/quote]Do you know how to use the Goal Seek function in Excel?

Not familiar with that one. I’ll have to look into it. Any pointers?

Set up everthing in bru’nwater for the recipe, make sure there are no salt additions, then click on cell G27 (mash pH). Select “goal seek” from the Data → What-If Analysis menu, then put the pH you want in the middle cell (“To value”), then select the bottom cell and click the bottom to the right, then click on Sheet 3 to select a single salt to manipulate. If you’re trying to lower the pH and want to use gypsum, click in cell B17 and click “OK”. Goal seek will then attempt to find a value that works to make the pH correct. Assuming it does, you now know how much salt you need to add and can play with the ratio between gypsum and chloride by taking some from one for the other.

It’s not as elegant as a real program, but it’ll get you in the ballpark and then you can adjust rather than changing the amount a little at a time and going back and forth to see if it worked.

Definitely sounds better than the trial and error method I’ve been using. Will give it a try on my next batch. Thanks Shadetree!

An automatic calculation of mineral additions would be a nice feature, but that assumes that every brewer has every mineral salt on hand and RO or distilled water for dilution too. Then add in the intricacies of an individual’s tap water and the problem becomes even tougher. This is a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t work in practice. In addition, the need to achieve exact ion targets is overkill. Brewing water chemistry somewhat closer to hand grenade than bullet. If you get components like hardness and alkalinity in the right range, the rest of the ions in the water profile can be 10 or more ppm off and you probably would not notice a difference.

I’ve programmed Solver routines in Excel and they are amazing in that they handle many variables and they find A solution. The problem is that when the number of variables increases, the number of possible solutions increase. Those solutions may or may not fit your needs and supply on hand.

Its not that hard to figure out the proper mineral additions via trial and error. But I can see that a newbie may not recognize that if the finished water profile needs more of a particular ion, which mineral do they add? With a minimal study, they would know which minerals add which ions. Then its an intuitive cat and mouse effort to chase down the additions that meet your goals and materials on hand.

Regarding the temperature effect on pH readings via pH strips. The pH of the mash varies chemically with temperature due to the change in dissolution of the hydrogen protons associated with the various compounds in the mash and wort. That pH change is known to occur and is proven.

The Colorphast strips are probably the best strips we have available for brewing use. One consideration is that the strip is saturated with wort immediately after its pulled from the mash. That chemical reaction mentioned above is reversible and therefore as soon as that saturated strip cools, it displays a room temp pH. If you were standing in a 150F room, then you might actually see the difference between a 150F and 70F pH reading. In a 70F room, the strip is going to cool almost instantly and provide you a room temp pH reading.

Regarding sparging water. All sparging water should have relatively low alkalinity. If you brew with water that has little alkalinity like RO or distilled water, you probably don’t need to acidify the water to bring the alkalinity down. In that case, the alkalinity is low enough that it does not consume a significant amount of the mash acidity and the mash pH does not rise significantly. The pH of low alkalinity water is not really a concern.

But, if the sparging water does have significant alkalinity (say > 50 ppm as CaCO3), then acidification is a very good idea. We use pH to describe our water condition, but its really the water’s alkalinity that matters. pH is just a loose allegory for the water’s alkalinity. We use this allegory because its easier and quicker to measure than alkalinity.

When the water alkalinity is high, the pH target that we need to shoot for in order to bring the alkalinity below 50 ppm is lower than what that pH target would be if the alkalinity was only moderate. In other words, we might have to target a sparge water pH of 5.5 if the starting water alkalinity was high, but we might only have to target 5.8 if the starting alkalinity was moderate. Again, the starting pH of the water isn’t all that important.

There are a lot of nuances to brewing water chemistry and it does take a while to grasp all the information. To help in your quest for knowledge, I’ve set up a Water Knowledge site at the Bru’n Water website. Do take a look at it and you should start to understand where you need to take your water.

Enjoy!

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