Frankenstein Water

Hello Everyone,

I’m back with a few more questions regarding water additions, soon to become my Waterloo. My next beer will be an ESB, so I selected the Burton water profile in Bru’n Water and adjusted 100% RO water as follows (profile values in parenthesis):

Calcium 266 (275)
Magnesium 39 (40)
Sodium 18 (25)
Sulfate 589 (610)
Chloride 33 (35)
Bicarbonate 241 (270)

To do this, I would add:

Gypsum 3g/gal.
Epsom Salt 1.5g/gal.
Canning Salt .1g/gal.
Calcium Chloride .1g/gal.
Chalk .7g/gal.

I want to say upfront that I arrived at these additions by simply playing with the numbers (I’m shooting in the dark) until I got close – I have no idea if this is the best way to arrive at the desired profile, which I hope is the correct profile for the beer I’m brewing.

Would someone be able to give me some input? My concerns are that I’m choosing the wrong additions or that I’m flat out adding too many additions to the mix. FWIW, it’s a 5 gallon batch that I’m mashing at 1 qt./lb. with 3 gal. of water. I’d be glad to supply more info if necessary.

That seems like a lot of additions to me. Personally, I stay away from the water profiles of cities and go with the “color/flavor” profiles - like yellow/malty or similar. I think I usually go with the “pale ale” profile when I do ESB.

I don’t think I have ever added more than about 5-6 grams of gypsum total to a 5 gallon batch and don’t know that I have ever went over about 200-250 for sulfate and I think the one that I had the highest levels, I hated. Maybe others can speak to using that level of salts and minerals successfully.

I’m not a brunwater expert, but I regularly get the predicted pH for a given mash so I think I understand how to use it. Most important thing is - when you add all these salts, what’s the predicted mash pH? And second, unless your SRM is on the dark side, there is probably no need to add all the chalk and soda, so only add what you need to get the pH in the proper range and ignore the profile. Third item - there’s plenty of Mg in grain, so don’t worry about matching the profile on that, just use gypsum for the sulfate and make it simpler.

And, as braufessor says, that’s a lot of sulfate. I recently started boosting sulfate into the 300ppm range, with chloride around 50ppm, and in some beers I like it - big, hoppy IPAs with lots of malt to back up the IBUs - and in some it’s a bit too much - an APA with little crystal and only about 50 IBUs and lots of late hops. I think 600+ is going to make the beer way too minerally and very dry and scratchy on the palette, but I’ve never gone that high and maybe there’s some sweet spot where when you cross it the beer moves to a whole nother level.

Thanks, guys.

I selected the Burton profile because it was suggested in Ray Daniels’ design book, although the levels in the Bru’n Water Burton profile differ from those given by Daniels, especially in bicarbonate (0 in Daniels and 270 in Bru’n Water). I am clearly out of my depth here (ha!). I think I’ll reconfigure using the color/flavor approach as Braufessor (and Denny in another post) suggested.

So after rethinking things and selecting the Pale Ale profile, I came up with the following to adjust 100% RO water (profile values in parenthesis):

Calcium 132 (140)
Magnesium 16 (18)
Sodium 22 (25)
Sulfate 281 (300)
Chloride 50 (55)
Bicarbonate 97 (110)

To do this, I would add:

Gypsum 1.9g/gal.
Baking Soda .2g/gal.
Pickling Lime .1g/gal.
Magnesium Chloride .5g/gal.

Mash pH comes to 5.4

Is this any better?

Also, since I batch sparge, would this profile need to be applied to my mash step water (to achieve 1/2 volume after first runnings) and sparge water?

Looks OK to me, but you’re still adding carbonate just to hit the profile. What happens if you leave out the carbonate salts and adjust the pH with gypsum/chloride only?

If I use gypsum and calcium chloride only, I get:

Calcium 139 (140)
Magnesium 0 (18)
Sodium 8 (25)
Sulfate 281 (300)
Chloride 42 (55)
Bicarbonate 16 (110)

To do this, I would add:

Gypsum 1.9g/gal.
Calcium Chloride .3g/gal.

Mash pH comes to 5.1

Am I understanding that the bicarbonate level is not as important as the others?

Sorry, wasn’t clear - use gypsum and chloride to adjust strictly for the pH, shoot for 5.4, forget about the profile for the first run.

Although I do not advocate using any Burton profile, I can attest that the profile presented in Bru’n Water is quite accurate and verified. The profile presented in Designing Great Beers is not chemically possible. Unfortunately, even with Ray’s expertise in many things ‘Beer’, he apparently has little understanding of water and chemistry. That’s OK since he does excel otherwise.

Another important factor to note with a seriously hard water profile like Burton, if it did not have the indicated level of alkalinity, it would never produce an appropriate mash pH. As noted above, without the water alkalinity, the mash pH will be too low.

An easy fix in the case of brewing with RO water that doesn’t have sufficient alkalinity is to reduce the amount of hardening minerals to avoid driving the water RA and mash pH too low. So instead of driving the Ca and Mg to produce a hardness of over 800 ppm, a more modest hardness may enable the use of low alkalinity water. The Pale Ale water profile in Bru’n Water is a less aggressive profile that has less need for alkalinity.

A very important factor for anyone that thinks they need to add alkalinity to their water. Chalk does not work at all. Even when added directly to the mash. I’ve had numerous home and craft brewers report that when they add chalk to the mash and measure the resulting mash pH, the pH is not increased by the chalk addition. The bottom line is: DO NOT USE CHALK…EVER. It does not work. A more reliable alkalinity contributor is pickling lime.

Thanks to both Shadetree and Martin.

Martin - just for the record, my mention of the discrepancy between the Bru’n Water levels and those in the Daniels book was only an observation; in retrospect, I should have worded that more thoughtfully!

Here’s another question for anyone in the know: Aside from the addition of the various salts that have been mentioned, does use of 100% RO water require the addition of anything else? I typically toss in a teaspoon of yeast nutrient 15 minutes before flame out, but was wondering if that much RO water needed any additional nutrients of some kind.

[quote=“Dan S”]but was wondering if that much RO water needed any additional nutrients of some kind.[/quote]Shouldn’t make any difference in how much nutrient you add.

In Bru’n water, I use the general category options near the bottom of the drop down menu (color range, then bitter vs balanced vs malty). Past that, the most important factors are:

(1) Calcium of at least 50 ppm
(2) Sulfate to Chloride ratio close to that of the target profile, and
(3) Mash pH (based on grist composition, as entered in “mash acidification” section) is “in the zone” (not flagged as too high or too low).

My town water (based on Ward Labs report) already has 34 ppm of sodium and 3 ppm magnesium, so the only salts I have needed so far are gypsum, calcium chloride, and powdered chalk (which I dissolve under CO2 pressure, using Kai’s tecnique on his Braukaiser website). I also add lactic acid solution to the sparge water (about 0.8 mL per 8 gal) to reduce risk of tannin extraction during the sparge.

An ESB would likely fall into the low end of the amber color range (7-17 SRM), and obviously qualifies as a bitter (higher sulfate:chloride ratio).

Hope this helps!

Thanks, Brewdoc.

Yet another related question for anyone out there: How important are the Sparge Water Additions that Bru’n Water suggests when the brewer is batch sparging? I’m just wondering if the brevity of the batch sparging process would make a difference. Part of my motivation in asking this is that I don’t have any Lactic Acid on hand.

If the brewing water has modest to high alkalinity, it might work with some grists and not have too high a pH. But when you are adding sparge water, that additional dose of alkalinity will overwhelm the mash chemistry and push the pH higher. This is very likely to extract tannins from the grist and degrade beer flavor.

You can skip the mineral additions in your brewing water in many cases, but you can’t skip the acid addition for your sparging water if your water has much alkalinity. Get some acid!

Thanks again, Martin. Lactic Acid is on the way (my wife just loves it when another miscellaneous brewing-related package lands on our doorstep!). :slight_smile:

Since I am slow to learn, I have a few more questions:

  1. Concerning Mash Water Additions:

Should all additions be incorporated to the mash water prior to striking, except for pickling lime, which would be added directly to the mash?

  1. Concerning Sparge Water Additions:

Since I batch sparge, would the volume entered in the sparge box include the actual sparge water as well as any additional water added after the mash to help achieve equal runnings?

For example, if I planned to mash with 4 gal. but needed to add another gallon or so after the mash ended to achieve 3.5 gallons of first runnings, would I include this extra gallon with the mash water volume or sparge water volume?

Also, would all of these additions be mixed into the water before sparging?

Apologies if this information is included somewhere in the program and I just missed it…

[quote=“Dan S”]Since I batch sparge, would the volume entered in the sparge box include the actual sparge water as well as any additional water added after the mash to help achieve equal runnings?[/quote]Mash water volume only, not post-mash additions (which will not have any effect on the mash itself).

Oh crap! I just noticed that Dan mentioned that he uses a lot of RO water for his brewing. In that case, the alkalinity of water used in sparging is low and acidification is probably not needed. For other brewers with more alkaline water, acidifying the sparging water is a very good step for improving beer quality by reducing tannin extraction. The acidification also helps keep the pH of the wort in the kettle below 5.5. If the wort pH is too high, it can cause roughness in the flavor from the hops.

What ever the water volume is that spends the early part of the mashing with the grist, that is the volume that you should enter as the Mash Volume. All those later water additions to prepare or conduct batch sparging should be considered part of the Sparge Volume. The idea is to create the proper mash pH condition at the early part of the mash when most of the important enzymatic activity is going on.

Thanks again to both of you (and no worries about the acid).

So just to be clear:

  1. Calculate mash additions by using only the water volume necessary to achieve the target qt./lb. ratio.

  2. Add said additions to the strike water before mashing in, with the exception of pickling lime (when used), which should be added directly to the mash.

  3. Any water additions following the mash should be lumped together with the sparge water volume for purposes of calculating sparge water additions.

  4. Since I’m using all RO water, should I still adjust the sparge water per the program’s specs just to be safe?

Hope this isn’t getting too tedious!