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Water question

Finally got a water report and I am looking to make a hoppy amber beer. When I look at profile on Bru n water, the pale ale has lots of Ca and sulfate but also higher bicarb. Looking at the profile for amber bitter there is much less. Basically what I am trying to do is like an Arrogant Ba$tard with more hop flavor and aroma. I think I should work more towards the pale ale profile than the amber bitter. Am I wrong? Heres my water. Please give any input you may have.

Ca 24
Mg 4
S04 9
Cl 5
CaC03 90
Na 12

The beer will be dark amber 18-20 srm

You want the bi-carb a little higher for amber beers versus pale ales, so I would use the water as-is and try to mash with no additions. If adding all the grain is going to push the pH too low, I would add the dark crystal after mashing for ~45 minutes. Then add gypsum and chloride in a 3:1 ratio in the kettle, enough to get the sulfates in the 100-150 ppm range.

You have 2 issues. You need Ca to hit mash pH and need additional sulfate for hoppiness.

I agree with shadetree. You should be ok to not add anything for mash for an amber to hit ideal pH. Your water is similar to mine. You also might luck out and not need to acidify sparge unless the beer is a light amber.

For the boil, however, I like to add gypsum to around 300ppm sulfate a la Terry Foster for hoppy beers.

Does your report say SO4-S? If so, your Sulfates are 27 ppm as opposed to 9 ppm.

Yes it was 3 on the report.

While I like the modest sulfate level recommended by Foster, Mosher, and others for Pale Ale (thus the reason its in Bru’n Water), I’m not sure that the level of maltiness and caramel that is a hallmark of an American Amber Ale is going to meld well with that level. AJ Delange is a big proponent of keeping sulfate levels as low as possible when using Noble hops. I suggest that the level of maltiness in those Noble-hopped beers also plays a part. I suggest that the OP may find one of the Amber water profiles more modest and a little bit safer to start with. That will allow that brewer to decide if a higher or lower sulfate level suits their tastes better.

I suggest that minor addition of calcium chloride and gypsum to get the calcium level to at least 50 ppm is a good goal.

As always, the bicarbonate content of the mash water is dependent upon the grist. There is no ‘perfect’ bicarbonate level in water. It will vary with the brew.

When using gypsum to increase Sulfate to the 300ppm range, the resulting Ca levels get pretty high. EZ Water has the suggested limit of Ca at 150. How high is too high, and what may be the consequences in that?? Thinking especially for hoppy beer in the 7-11 SRM range.

I’ve never gone higher than low 100’s for sulfate or CA, for that matter, but am thinking of kicking sulfates up significantly in the next batch…

[quote=“klyphman”]…but am thinking of kicking sulfates up significantly in the next batch…[/quote]Epsom salt.

Yeah, I was thinking about that. Need to be conscious of pushing the Mg limit though too. My brew water already has 12 ppm, and I’m wary of going much higher that 23-25. Just going to have to experiment I guess…

One of the coolest parts of Fosters Pale Ale book is the water requirements for each recipe, which incidently are 150-200ppm Ca and 200-400ppm sulfate on average. I have been adding gypsum to levels like this for IPAs for years and I like the results.

Remember however additions like these are for the most part made in the boil not mash. That said I recall the calcium phosphate reaction has limits and would keep the mash in the proper pH range even if excess Ca were present.

There is a second facet to this higher gypsum addition. When adding gypsum or other Ca salts to boil the pH is driven lower which further reduces the extraction of harsher hop constituents into the final beer. I really like Kai’s work on this matter.

So, for IPAs, rather than seeking a balance between chloride and sulfate, you go for boosted sulfate? Interesting. My water has 34 mg/L of chloride and 6.8 mg/L of SO4, and I just add an even 1 gram of gypsum to balance them out. This gets me to about 35 Chloride : 44 Gypsum (still balanced according to Palmer’s spreadsheet). Is it common to be (much) more aggressive for IPAs? Is the desired amount of sulfate based on ratio or is there a standalone target number for sulfate?

I add the gypsum during the boil, so I assume pH isn’t really an issue. Is there any potential negative side effect to gypsum kettle additions (e.g., along the lines of Mg from epsom salt apparently making the beer sour in larger amounts)? According to Palmer’s sheet, 5 grams of gypsum gets me to 191 ppm sulfate : 35 ppm chloride. Is this ratio too high, too low, or just right for an IPA?

I’ve been making good IPAs, but it sounds like gypsum brings some “crispness” that would definitely be an improvement.

<edit2 - heh>In the future, if I want to make a beer that is lighter than my water can handle (theoretically only good down to 8 SRM), are gypsum mash additions as effective as boil additions in terms of flavor profile?

I don’t subscribe to the sulfate chloride ratio logic. Not saying it’s BS, but it is completely overrated. I am not alone.

Sulfate is a targeted thing. Is an IPA an aggressive beer? Heck yeah. (CRASH, throws sulfate:chloride out window) Treat it accordingly. Going back to the OP, there’s probably even more than 300ppm sulfate in Stone’s brews…

So, you can hit your ideal mash pH with minimal gypsum. That’s great. You’re probably lucky enough not to need acidifying sparge either. Add enough gypsum in the boil to hit 300ppm sulfate and your golden. 30ppm magnesium is topend from memory. I don’t advocate epsom salts for beer unless your building from scratch.

If you are into IPA’s you need to own Foster’s book. Great stuff. My first copy is gotta be 20 years old. I have been brewing IPA’s before they were cool… … ry-foster/

Cool, thanks zwiller.

Re, Mg thresholds:

[quote]John Palmer says:

Magnesium is an important yeast nutrient in small amounts (10 -20 ppm), but amounts greater than 50 ppm tend to give a sour-bitter taste to the beer. Levels higher than 125 ppm have a laxative and diuretic affect.[/quote]

So, I wanted to revisit this and say that the first IPA I made after this discussion is FANTASTIC. I stayed slightly conservative and added 1 tsp of gypsum to it. I really, really like it. Hop schedule was pretty aggressive with Simcoe for bittering, Columbus and Simcoe for flavor/aroma, and Willamette for dry hop. It’s a 7.5% brew with a BU:GU of about 1.05.

I just bottled another IPA on Monday (Magnum for bittering, Glacier for flavor/aroma, and Amarillo dry hop) that also has 1 tsp of gypsum…preliminary taste test was exciting. Nice tropical/citrusy burst up front, wonderful, clean bitterness in the back. Should be perfect for the beach trip that I made it for.

I’m gonna brew a brown or two next, but when I get back to IPAs, I’ll kick up the gypsum some more and see how I like it.

I know its a little late now but…If I were to do a Stone like IPA I would shoot for lower pH levels in my wort. High pH can suck out bitters from the grains giving a harsh bitterness to the beer (which isnt always undesired). I would want to limit that bitterness and let the hopping be the prime bitter factor, thus allowing for a Stone like beer creation but more flavorful/aromatic.

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