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Diving into Water

Before reading this, understand that I know how open ended and brewer specific this question is. However, I have reached out on this forum several times and found excellent help!

My question is:

I am brewing a Witbier and am about to add MORE brewing salts than I have ever added before. I am planing to throw them directly into the boil because I figured that I really don’t want to leave my salts in the mast tun with spent grains. Good idea, or bad idea since salts impact PH?

I plan to pitch:

15g Calcium Chloride
10g Gypsum
8g Epsom Salt

According to beersmith, this will leave me with given my base water profile:

RA of (-)32
Sulfate/Chloride 1.2
Color 3-7 SRM

This is the range that I am looking for for the style of beer I’m making. I have just never added so many salts and am a little paranoid. For those who have added salts before. Does this seem “typical” for a 11 gallon batch (bottle volume)?

Hello and welcome! First question… trying to figure out the why part… Do you have a water report? I only add Calc. Chloride or Gypsum by the tablespoon amounts… Not really scientific… But I use that in conjunction with my water report… Sneezles61

Yes. My water report reads:

PH 7
Ca 40
Mg 10
Na 10
SO4 18
Cl 11
HCO3 138

Alright… you are aware of your water make up…
My process has me taking a pH reading, then adjusting for pH only, through acid additions… I pre treat for lighter brews down to 5.8 pH… Darker brew, which I don’t do many of, I will correct to 6.2 and there about…
Once the mash is complete, then I will add the “flavoring salts”… But that isn’t always done… Sneezles61

You should adjust your water for the mash. I generaly add acid and salts as my water is coming up to strike temperature. Your mash pH needs to be below 6 and preferably closer to 5.4 for a suitable mash and to avoid leeching tannins from the grain.

I haven’t used the water calculator in BS2 since I have my recipes in Brunwater and I trust it completely.

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How big of a batch is this? That seems like a lot of additions. I brew 10gal batches with RO water and have never even came close to adding even 8g of gypsum or calcium chloride.

I used about that much on 10 gal batches of IPA when I was pushing sulfates way up.

Need to look to his water profile … then the additions seem to work… Sneezles61

Do any of you use Camden tabs in your water?

Your water analysis is very similar to mine. I never use epsom salts. Generally just use lactic acid, gypsum and a bit of calcium chloride. Simpler is better.

That much gypsum will drive your sulfates very high. Is that what you’re going for? Or are you just trying to bring the pH down without using acid? If so I’d recommend getting some 88% lactic and use that to bring your pH into range then only use the satls to get other nutrients in line.

You sufate:chloride ratio is already about 1:2…

I don’t use campden because I’m on a well. If you’re on water treated with chorine or chloramines you’ll need to use campden or none of this will matter.

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Your Magnesium is fine. Mine is 8 and like @dannyboy58 I never add Epsom salts anymore as it was always such a miniscule amount anyway.

Campden tabs forever.

Thank you for this.

I am still in the process of learning water, and am heading down the rabbit hole quickly. I am now understanding that there are salts for flavor and salts that help manage your mash pH.

I am on city water and will start using Camden tabs to treat my brewing water. I typically send through a charcoal filter, but have my doubts that this is very effective.

Another question has come to mind, and I know there are opinions on both sides of the fence. But… treat ALL of your brewing water, or just strike water? I typically batch sparge, but have read that most of the conversion happens within the first part of the mash. Unless I am sparging a ton, the pH won’t really change enough to fuss over fretting over sparge water pH.

This is a 10 gallon batch. I was adding so many salts to get to a (-) RA. But I think this can be achieved by adding lactic acid…correct?

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You are correct, some treat both mash and sparge water with salts, some don’t. I treat mash only, but do add Lactic acid or citric acid to get sparge water acidified to ph 5.4(as well as a quarter campden tab in sparge water also)

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Yes.

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Same here. Treat sparge water with acid to lower pH.

Correct, lactic acid will lower RA. At some point you’ll get diminishing returns by simply adding salts. Use salts to meet the water profile and lactic to control the pH.

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Cool.

So, I also understand that, in most cases, the grist will lower my pH. Is there a tool that shows what impact my grains will have on the pH of my water?

The grain bill will always have an impact on pH. Darker grains have more buffering ability than lighter grains. If you brewed a stout with lots of roasted grains you may not have to use much if any acid to get your pH in line.

Any water tool should take the impact of the grain bill into account. Brunwater does and I’m sure BS2 is built to do so as well. With these tools you’re not adjusting “water pH” but mash pH which is the combination of your water and the buffering effect your grains.

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Thanks again. I will dive into that water tool on beersmith a little deeper.

Cheers

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