Could do with a confidence check please!

(That's water to the rest of us!) Beer is about 95% water, so if you want to discuss water treatment, filtering etc this is the place to do it!
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yashicamat
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Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:13 pm

Hi All

I used to treat my water when I used to brew, but I've taken a bit of a break and now am preparing for my first all grain brew in over 5 years. Rather critically, I have moved house (not far, 10 miles in fact, but a completely different water source). I'm aiming for a dry pale ale, 5% ish, mostly pale grist with maybe 10% munich, lots of hops and clean fermenting yeast. I've managed to obtain the various bits of data and have plugged them into Graham Wheeler's excellent calculator, however the figures I'm getting suggest rather large quantities of salt additions! This is why I'm just after a check on my numbers please.

So, first of all the raw data; United Utilities have helpfully provided me with the alkalinity, 17.6 mg/L of HCO3. In addition to that, this is the water report for my postcode;

Image

So I then plug my figures into the calculator (this is the step I'm wondering if I've got right!);

Image

However note 3 suggests checking for a balance on the initial ion balance check, with 10% being acceptable . . . this is obviously way out! So the notes also suggest 'fiddling' the numbers in line 2 to get a better balance, so I do this and get the following data inputs;

Image

Which in turn gives me the following additions for 30L of water . . . but some of these figures seem awfully high, particularly the gypsum (something is nagging in the back of my head about adding too much gypsum causing an undesirable effect?)

Image

I'm a bit puzzled by this . . . maybe my new water supply is clear of mineral content it really does need this level of addition, but I thought I'd better check, so if anyone could give these figures the once over I'd be very appreciative!

Cheers
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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Eric
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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Eric » Mon Oct 10, 2016 10:50 pm

Not enough data to be exact, but as you assume there doesn't appear to be much in that water, so when I do my fudge and input 14.5 for Ca, 3.2 for Mg, 10.2 Na, 8.65 CO3, 33 SO4, and 16 for Cl, the additions are little different.

Section 5 of Graham's notes explains required calcium levels and the calculator ensures sufficient is present while providing the necessary sulphate:chloride ratio.

Note 9 explains the calcium carbonate addition is just to the mash, but if you reduce the gypsum and calcium chloride additions slightly leaving enough calcium you'll get a good mash pH without a chalk addition.

No reason not to be fully confident of your reasoning. Enjoy the brew.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:27 am

Thank you for the response.

So if I tweak to the following additions (still for 30L of water to keep things comparable), I reckon I'll still be hitting over 100mg/l of calcium, so what do you reckon to the following additions (to be used throughout, mash and sparge);

No CRS
No calcium carbonate
No sodium chloride
10g (3.33g/l) calcium sulphate
6g (2g/l) calcium chloride
3.5g (1.17g/l) magnesium sulphate

Thanks :)
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by scotsloon » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:01 am

Wouldn't it be worthwhile, for your first brew to just use the water you have rather than try to tweak it? This will give you a baseline and who knows you might like the end result without a load of faffing about.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Aleman » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:20 am

scotsloon wrote:Wouldn't it be worthwhile, for your first brew to just use the water you have rather than try to tweak it? This will give you a baseline and who knows you might like the end result without a load of faffing about.
On the other hand (and speaking as someone that brews with water like that on a regular basis :D ) it may just produce a beer that is Meh! with regards to flavour, and really slow to clear.

Faffing around (Like weighing out a few grams of salts is a HUGE faff) with water treatment, especially when you are at the extremes of ionic content, actually is worthwhile.

I'm not a great one for following application water profiles, With my water I tend to treat it as if it has nothing in it, and for a pale ale would add 150mg of calcium aiming for a 2:1 sulphate to chloride ratio. I find that with a typical pale ale grist I hit pH 5.3 to 5.4 and the hops really sing out, but there is enough malt to give it a good backbone.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Eric » Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:59 am

scotsloon wrote:Wouldn't it be worthwhile, for your first brew to just use the water you have rather than try to tweak it? This will give you a baseline and who knows you might like the end result without a load of faffing about.
If that water report is anywhere near right the water is vastly short of calcium to brew decent pale ale. It could be suitable to brew a lager although the pH would be higher than it should, so would still need some other intervention and the resulting would need lagering for several months to clear down the haze from oxalates, tanins, phenols and the like.

I would agree to brewing with the water as it comes to gain knowledge and experience of the process, but only until confident using the equipment. The importance of calcium in brewing ales was been demoted after an influx of American influence. This gives a brief guide to what calcium does in brewing.
yashicamat wrote:So if I tweak to the following additions (still for 30L of water to keep things comparable), I reckon I'll still be hitting over 100mg/l of calcium, so what do you reckon to the following additions (to be used throughout, mash and sparge);

No CRS
No calcium carbonate
No sodium chloride
10g (3.33g/l) calcium sulphate
6g (2g/l) calcium chloride
3.5g (1.17g/l) magnesium sulphate
I make that to give roughly 145mg/l calcium, 265 sulphate and 112 chloride with adequate magnesium if equally distributed into the liquor which should be fine. Depending upon your system and how you brew you might care to redistribute those additions, but that's a subject in itself.

Can't think of any reason not to go ahead with your proposals, but you might consider getting a Salifert kit to measure alkalinity and a TDS meter to quickly determine if your water varies much. A water analysis could be a worthy investment if that brew doesn't turn out good.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Tue Oct 11, 2016 11:05 am

Thanks Eric. My system fly sparges but rather than 'sprinkle', I have a slightly different approach (which has always worked well for me, yielding very high efficiency and no obvious side effects). I recirculate the fresh runnings until I have built up my filter bed in the tun, then gently introduce fresh liquor using a manifold which sits just on top of the grains to form a layer over the mash once I am am ready to sparge. I then maintain this 1/2" or so of clear liquor on top of the mash as I sparge until I have the desired volume. It seems to work well, I get the impression that as the liquor is less dense it effectively allows the mash runnings to be washed out of the tun at full concentration, then the sparge liquor helps utilise any left over sugars in the grain.

I can believe the water report; I still have the same kettle (referring to the type for making tea that is) and despite regular use, it has no deposits in it whatsoever and has never been descaled or cleaned. The water is extremely soft (takes ages to rinse soap off hands). Not that this is any kind of scientific confirmation, but ad hoc observations which perhaps help ratify the water report!

I will see how this beer goes and will revisit if there are any issues.

I appreciate the help - thank you!
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Eric » Tue Oct 11, 2016 4:07 pm

Yes, I too fly sparge differently to concentric sprays from a rotating arm. Mine sprays radially from a central head, the liquid flow rate and travel distance is varied by step modulating the pump's power supply. A solenoid valve in the liquor supply alternates to balance the input with the runoff rate.

As you say efficiency can be very satisfactory, but carries the risk of excessive pH as the buffering power of the mash is diminished as sugars are rinsed out by the sparge liquor. My tapwater most times has 95mg of calcium present per litre, but even with that level pH of the mash rises as sparging progresses. With less calcium in water supply as you have, there is more danger of excessive pH extracting unwanteds, so your concern about water treatment is well warrented. Even so, if you still aren't confident, I would be.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Wed Oct 12, 2016 1:22 pm

Cheers - intending to brew Saturday morning (although realised I'm out of magnesium sulphate, fortunately Boots sell food grade 100% Epsom Salts so I'm sorted!). Incidentally, this is an old picture of my fly sparging system in action (all the holes in the ring point upwards so as not to disturb the grain bed . . . it's a bit crude but it works well so I see no need to change anything);

Image
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Sadfield » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:07 pm

Interesting idea Yashicamat, might knock up something similar as I only brew 10L batches most of the time and find the flow rate required turn a rotating sparge too fast.

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yashicamat
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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:55 am

I've used that setup with anything between 3kg and 7kg of grain for brews between 5g and 10g with no problem. It's fed using a ball valve on the HLT; I have to tweak the flow rate as the HLT empties but it isn't a chore. No reason why such a design wouldn't work for your 10L batches.
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by Eric » Thu Oct 13, 2016 10:52 am

yashicamat wrote:I've used that setup with anything between 3kg and 7kg of grain for brews between 5g and 10g with no problem. It's fed using a ball valve on the HLT; I have to tweak the flow rate as the HLT empties but it isn't a chore. No reason why such a design wouldn't work for your 10L batches.
I've fly sparged by several different ways and they all worked after a bit of fiddling and getting the flow rate right with input and run off balanced. There's always this urge to get the job done as quickly as possible while the object should be to extract the required volume containing the predetermined quantity of sugars. Once achieved I had no desire to return to batch sparging. I think your system looks ideal.
Without patience, life becomes difficult and the sooner it's finished, the better.

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Re: Could do with a confidence check please!

Post by yashicamat » Sat Oct 15, 2016 2:21 pm

Today's brew went well; didn't test the mash pH but I got 84% mash efficiency so I'm pretty pleased with that (used to get 83% reliably so this is actually an improvement). Should get a good idea in a week but I'm pretty confident.

Many thanks again for the advice
Rob

POTTER BREWERY

Fermenting: Chrimbale (1063, strong IPA with munich, a little crystal and over 150g of US hops!)
Conditioning: Fellside (1049, classic bitter recipe with Fuggles)
Conditioning: Festival Old Suffolk
Drinking: Saddleback (1041, pale ale with load of Mt Hood hops)

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