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Irish Red Ale

I have about 10 AG batches under my belt and have had good results with all but one. I have settled on BIAB of late and my last four brews were NB’s Helles which I was VERY pleased with. I used distilled water from the G store and had help with the water from this forum. In my extract days my favorite was always NB’s Irish Red. I did an AG batch of it and got help with the water on this forum. I won’t post my water analysis but I diluted it 50% with distilled water and used 1/2# acid malt as I was advised by some very helpful guys on here. My water is very hard. I did not take a lot of good notes but the beer was not good. I drank it but it was one of those brews you drink one of once in a while just not to dump it. It was not very red and just seemed to lack flavor and had a sort of slight harshness. I have noticed this any time I have used acid malt. The water was really the only thing I did any different. I would like to make it again but I hate to go back to extract since my AG beers have been so much better than my extract ones. I know this is not a lot to go on but I thought I might just go with distilled water next time although I always have hell with Brunwater because I don’t use it often enough. Can anyone make a suggestion on a water build from distilled water or some other idea as to what I may have done wrong? I always squeeze the $hcrap out of the bag. Did I extract some tannin? There was really not enough flavor there at all to make me think so but I don’t know. Thanks for reading all this.

Ello,
I would go with all distilled water this time to reduce any varibles in your water supply. Below are the water additions I would use, I went with acidulated malt for PH correction, because you have that on hand. Personally, I would use 1ml lactic acid and forget the acid malt, but either way should get good results.

[attachment=0]Irish Red Ale.JPG[/attachment]

Use Brun water. Enter all ZEROS for your water. Pick your profile (prob amber malty). Add salts to meet the targeted profile. If its within reason the boxes will turn green. I think you are OVER thinking brun water.

Edit: use distilled water hence the “zeros” for yor water.

I see myself as a good brewer; despite the fact that I know very little about chemistry :frowning:

That being said, I am trying to read “Water,” and hope it educates me.

From what the last post said–a related question that I’ve always wondered- if the brewer adds appropriate “salts,” to the mash, does that alleviate the need to mess with adding “acids”? (ie if he adds gypsum, etc to distilled water to produce a certain water profile, may he successfully omit adding acidulated malt to the grist or adding lactic acid to the mashwater altogether?)

1Tun, I think you have to post your water numbers so we can see what we’re talking about here. All distilled water plus acid malt plus dark(er) grains could actually result in a pH that was too low, IMO. I have water that has low numbers (generally) across the board except bicarbonate which is 138ppm. I dilute amber and slightly darker than amber with 25% distilled water. I make red ales and lagers regularly and when you say that your beer was “lacking in flavor”, I wonder if it was due to low mineral levels. When I make a darker beer and the water ion levels are not where they should be, the beer ends up being bland and flavorless. It’s like food with no salt, for lack of a better comparison.

OK Ken, here is what Ward Labs sent me:
Sodium 63 ppm
Potassium 2
Calcium 71
Magnesium 21
Total Hardness CaCO3 265
Sulfate SO4S 15
Chloride 71
Carbonate <1
Bicarbonate 255
Total Alkalinity CaCO3 209

I made NB’s Red Ale AG kit and did a BIAB using 7.6 Gal. water and added 1/2 Lb. acid malt and 1.5g gypsum and diluted my water with 50% distilled water.
I was looking at Brunwater and if I did it right I could use all distilled water and add only .7g per gal. of gypsum and get a room temp mash ph of 5.5.
I guess I am really dense but I find Brunwater hard to understand, especially entering the L. of the grist.

[quote=“1tun”]OK Ken, here is what Ward Labs sent me:
Sodium 63 ppm
Potassium 2
Calcium 71
Magnesium 21
Total Hardness CaCO3 265
Sulfate SO4S 15
Chloride 71
Carbonate <1
Bicarbonate 255
Total Alkalinity CaCO3 209

I made NB’s Red Ale AG kit and did a BIAB using 7.6 Gal. water and added 1/2 Lb. acid malt and 1.5g gypsum and diluted my water with 50% distilled water.[/quote]
Okay, so the biggest hurdle is the bicarb, I think and your sodium number is a little high but probably not too much of a concern if you’re diluting. I just punched in your numbers and it does appear that diluting 50% with distilled is a good idea. This brings your levels down to a manageable level. Your numbers would be Ca: 36, Mg: 11, Na: 32, Cl: 36, SO4: 23 and alkalinity/CaCO3: 105. By the way, your sulfate number of “15” is actually 45 because it’s expressed as SO4-S so you multiply it by 3. If you did this and added 1.5g of SO4, your water would favor “bitter” beers and I wonder if you did something like 1g of gypsum plus 1g of calcium chloride, you would get more calcium but you would also round out the water profile with some chlorides. Chlorides add smoothness, fullness and roundness (tough to describe this with words) to a beer and might add something more to your red ale. Also, your pH should be in a good spot with that water as well but “harshness” is something that can happen when your mash and/or preboil wort pH is not correct so you have to take that onto consideration as well. A mash pH of 5.2 to 5.4, not allowing the sparge pH to go over 6 (I know you said you’re BIAB so I’m not sure how that applies) and keeping the wort before you boil it in the mid 5s should line you up nicely for pH and a smooth beer and the chlorides should add some fullness and depth to the beer which might give the perception of more flavor and less “bland” overall.

EDIT: I know how you feel about Bru’N’Water. I felt the same way about it when I first started using it. I believe I understand it now but I admit that I still use EZ_Water and combine that with water knowledge, the grist, lactic acid and my pH meter. This is a deep subject and you’ll notice that when brewers exchange recipes they RARELY swap water information, which is a shame because the water composition can make a HUGE difference in the final beer. Also, your water is kind of like my water on steroids. All of my numbers are lower but the balance is similar and as a result, I keep gallons and gallons of distilled water on hand. For gold beers I use as much as 7 (out of eight) gallons of distilled water to lower the sulfate and bicarb. Our approaches are similar.

[quote=“beermebeavis”]I see myself as a good brewer; despite the fact that I know very little about chemistry :frowning:

That being said, I am trying to read “Water,” and hope it educates me.

From what the last post said–a related question that I’ve always wondered- if the brewer adds appropriate “salts,” to the mash, does that alleviate the need to mess with adding “acids”? (ie if he adds gypsum, etc to distilled water to produce a certain water profile, may he successfully omit adding acidulated malt to the grist or adding lactic acid to the mashwater altogether?)[/quote]
I have NEVER used acidulated malt. I have used Brun Water since I started AG. EVERYTIME I checked my pH was within .1 of the targeted pH. I use RO water. Now, I still have to add lactic acid to sparge water but I fly-sparge which I believe requires more attention to pH and proper mineral content.

Ken,
Would you still add the 1/2# of sour malt to the mash?
Thanks

[quote=“1tun”]Ken,
Would you still add the 1/2# of sour malt to the mash?
Thanks[/quote]
For a Red Ale? No.

Thanks, Ken. I will give it another shot.

I spent a few hours this morning playing with Bru’nwater trying to apply it to NB’s Red Ale.
I tried using my above posted water and 50% dilution with distilled water. I came up with a needed addition of .4 grams per gal. of gypsum and .5# of acid malt OR 1ml. lactic acid per gallon. I also
tried it with straight distilled water and came up with an addition of .6 gm. per gal. of CACL and no acid needed. An addition of gypsum also turned the boxes green. In all cases the ph came out to 5.5.
There seems to be several ways to get the boxes green. Am I doing this right? If I am, the reason my last (and first) AG red ale was not good was that I added far less gypsum than was needed. I hope I am beginning to learn Bru’nwater. I am a retired machinist and had never seen a spread sheet before so you can imagine the challenge this has been.
Thanks

I understand your concern and I admit to having the same issues with Bru’N’Water when I first saw it. There is a lot of content there and for me it didn’t feel very natural because there was so much to do. I have also compared notes with other brewers and either ended up with different results (very possibly user error) or a situation where no matter how much acid was added to the batch, the pH would not drop below 5.6 or something. I’m not calling it a bug but I’m expressing my concern and possibly my inability to get it to work the way I want. I will defer to anyone here who is comfortable with Bru’N’Water to walk you through this. Let me ask… do you have calcium chloride, gypsum, lactic acid (or other acid) and a pH meter or at least ColorpHast strips? These will help. When I punched in all your numbers, I found that a 50% dilution with distilled plus 1g each of CaCl and gypsum in the mash got you to a good point. The pH may not be PERFECT but that’s where your acid comes in.

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