Basic water query

Physics, chemistry and biology of brewing. The causes and the effects.

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Basic water query

Postby mmmooretx » Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:15 pm

I am on the path of trying to understand water in brewing. My basic city water supply in Houston may be ok for heavy ales but sucks for lagers. So my concept is start with a good RO sytem then taylor the water to what is wanted. In looking at the BTP water profiles it struck me that the breweries are not directly using the city water so are doing some conditioning that is probably a "trade secret". I am also of the opinion that different styles of beer work better with different types of water so now does anyone know of a good reference that deals with the type (conditioning) of water needed for a style of beer? A Stout or Pale Ale would probably need something significantly different than Pilsner say.
Sorry about the long query I am searching for good references to continue down this research path, or if my assumption is bogus I would appreciate constructive input on that too. My intent is to start with RO then plug in some adjust to references in BTP specific to beer styles rather that potentially unused city waters that are not actually used.
Thanks in advance
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Water Chemistry

Postby slothrob » Sun Dec 14, 2008 11:01 pm

The best summary I've found on water chemistry and brewing is Chapter 15 in John Palmer's How to Brew.

The primary concern for most brewers is Calcium and Carbonate concentrations in order to control pH in the mash. The ideal concentrations of these is based on SRM of the beer.

Other minerals play other flavor roles. Some significant ones are Sulfate which is often elevated in Pale Ales to accentuate the hop bitterness and, to a lesser degree, Sodium and Chloride which can help round out the malt flavor in Stouts and Porters.
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Basic water query

Postby mmmooretx » Mon Dec 15, 2008 7:58 pm

I had looked at the online book before, but went ahead and ordered the hardback today as a good reference. I will read that for details. However I do think that I will continue looking for what the breweries are tayloring their water to.
Thanks for the input!
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Palmer

Postby slothrob » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:43 am

It's a good reference to have around.
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Postby jawbox » Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:27 am

i'd agree with that. I even gave a copy to my buddy.
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Postby jay182009 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 12:38 am

totally agree too,i will share it to my friends therefore they know it..thanks a lot..


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Postby mmmooretx » Wed Mar 25, 2009 9:54 pm

I ran accross a thread to a 1991 Zymergy article on water, 91-14?, that had recomended profiles for styles of beer and entered them into my BTP water profiles. I have been using them on the last three batches and we will see how that develops.
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water for style

Postby slothrob » Thu Mar 26, 2009 6:27 am

mmmooretx, could you post a link to that information?
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Postby jawbox » Thu Mar 26, 2009 8:42 am

Try This

Scroll to the bottom there's some water recipes. I've been using Mosher's Ideal Pale for my pale ales. I think Tasty McDole on the brewing networks profile is similar to moshers for his pale ale.
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Postby mmmooretx » Sat Mar 28, 2009 4:41 pm

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Link not available

Postby kevponce » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:59 pm

Sloth, Jaw or anyone.

The link here is broken. Anybody have this data?
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water for styles

Postby slothrob » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:51 pm

I believe this is the chart that was originally linked to:
Image
However, I wouldn't put a lot of faith in it as it leaves out bicarbonate concentration. This is a quote from John Palmer that I found about this chart:

"The short answer is that that water table you refer to is just dead wrong. Perhaps some of the numbers for Ca and Sulfate are appropriate, but it really falls down on the Carbonate. The authors obviously didn't know about alkalinity or residual alkalinity (and back in 1991, I didn't either). Carbonate IS frequently near zero in many waters of pH less than 8.5, but then the dominant alkalinity ion is Bicarbonate, which is probably between 100-200 in most cases, and THAT is the missing piece of information that is giving you trouble with the RA chart."

If you use this for Na, Cl, and SO4 recommendations, then set your HCO3 to correct the RA for your SRM, you probably will be around what they intended. I might boost the Ca up over 50 for some of those suggestions, as well.
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Chloride/Sulfate ratio

Postby kevponce » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:10 pm

I thought all those zeros seemed odd. The thing I noticed though was that in almost all of the beers the Chloride/Sulfate ratio was leading on the sulfate side. If I were to go by that then the only beer that would make sense for my water would be bock or doppelbock. I like bock but boy would that get tiresome in a hurry.
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Postby bobcat_brewer » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:41 am

Kevponce,

Don't sweat the "exact water" thing too much. A lot of my brewing friends live in rural areas and we all use our well water to produce our beer. The primary thing we do with our water, is bring the pH down. 5-Star makes this stuff called 5^2 Buffer or something like that, which does a good job of stabilizing my mashes at about 5^4pH down from somewhere over 8 like yours.

The minerals in the water make a difference, but not you can still brew good beers of any style without going nuts over the mineral profile.

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Cl:SO4

Postby slothrob » Wed Feb 17, 2010 12:16 pm

I don't really believe there is an ideal water for making a specific beer. Water is just another ingredient that allows you to dial in a flavor-profile, just like one brewer might like 1.5# of Crystal 20 in an APA and another might prefer 1/8# Crystal 80. I've made Pale Ales with most every water variation under the sun. Most were pretty darn good, I think, but they were different.

Looking at the beers on that list, I'd say that nice versions of Mild, Brown, Scottish, Porter, Stouts, Pilsner, Light and Dark Lagers, Dunkle, Maerzen, Bock, Alt, and Weizen could all be made with a balanced, or even Cl-heavy, Cl:SO4 ratio.

Most of those beers could also be made with a more SO4-leaning ratio. They would simply have a different character.

I prefer Pale Ale, Alt, Bitter and Dortmunder to have SO4-high ratios. Even then, a nice, more mellow hopped and malty Pale Ale, a less crisp, more malty Bitter or a softer Alt can be made with more balanced water. I'm not sure you can really make a proper Dortmunder without Sulfate-rich water, though.
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