Hard water, Kolsch and Koln. Brewing for arrival of baby!

(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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norstar

Hard water, Kolsch and Koln. Brewing for arrival of baby!

Post by norstar » Sun Apr 03, 2011 9:18 pm

Hi guys,

I'm totally lost now on the water front and as my wife is from Koln and just gave birth to our first child, I'm trying to brew a nice authentic Kolsch.

My water profile is a hard one as we're on chalk, so is high in Calcium and Hardness. The profile is:

Calcium 92.3
Potassium 2.1
Sodium 14.7
Sulphate 36.7
Alkalinity 189
Nitrate 33.27
Chloride 28.7
Hardness as CaCO3 232.5

What confused the hell out of me is that the Cologne profile is:

Calcium 104
Magnesium 15
Sodium 52
Sulphate 86
Nitrate 33.27
Chloride 109
Carbonate 152
HCO3 273

I understood hard water to be hard due to the presence of Magnesium and Calcium in quantity, but on the face of it, there's more of each in Cologne's water than mine, in Surrey, so how is their water "soft"?!

I'm desperate to get a good Kolsch brewed this week, so am lost. My local brew shop recommends a default treatment of gypsum, Lactic acid and Magnesium Sulphate, which I've done in the past, but I wonder if it's actually doing the job, as my early beers have a slightly dubious mouthfeel to them.

It looks to me from Jim's calculator that if I boil the water and let it cool, then add a camden tablet, 4g of Gypsum, 4g Salt and 2g of Magnesium sulphate, then I should get:

Calcium 40
Magnesium 9
Sodium 68
Chloride 105
Sulfate 131
Hardness as CACO3 34

Am I on the right track? Have I misunderstood the concept of hardness? But most importantly, has anyone brewed a really good Kolsch to say the figures above look right?

Thanks so much for any help!

R

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Aleman
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Re: Hard water, Kolsch and Koln. Brewing for arrival of baby

Post by Aleman » Mon Apr 04, 2011 8:02 am

It could be that the Koln profile is wrong :shock: . . .and what is to say that the brewers actually brew with the liquor that has been quoted in the profile. The German Braumeisters are true masters of water treatment

Personally for a Kolsch I would want a liquor with about 100 ppm Calcium, and a higher Chloride level than Sulphate (about twice as high) . . . certainly I would not want to be adding CRS or gypsum to it. If you go with boiling I would suggest that you drop the gypsum addition (and the table salt) and just use 8g of Calcium Chloride this will add those all important calcium ions, and boost the chloride levels. There should be sufficient magnesium derived from the malt, but adding 2g of magnesium sulphate should not do any harm to the sulphate levels

norstar

Re: Hard water, Kolsch and Koln. Brewing for arrival of baby

Post by norstar » Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:11 pm

Thanks Aleman,

I've not tried softening the water by boiling it before - perhaps an oversight, as I've only ever added Gypsum, Epsom salts, Table salt and Lactic Acid. How long do I need to boil it for to achieve the softening? Does the Carbonate just drop out in the bottom of the boiler?

I haven't got any Calcium Chloride at the mo. Is 40 ppm too low for Calcium or is it a must have?

And what effect does having the Chloride higher than sulphate have on the beer?

Thanks for taking the time to respond. This is uncharted territory for me!

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Re: Hard water, Kolsch and Koln. Brewing for arrival of baby

Post by Aleman » Mon Apr 04, 2011 5:22 pm

Calcium is a required element not just for the mash but all sorts of processes (break formation in the copper) through to yeast flocculation in the FV. The 'recommended' minimum level of Calcium I have seen is 60ppm . . . although I have in the past brewed without adjusting my calcium levels (16!) with very little issues, beyond a bit of haze.

However unless you boost you calcium levels during the 'alkalinity reduction boil' (By adding gypsum/calcium sulphate) you won't get anywhere near 40ppm . . . The carbonate does eventually settle out and you then rack your treated water off the sediment.

Why chloride > sulphate, simply that chloride emphasises the malt profile and sulphate emphasises the hop bitterness . . .although it's not just a simple relationship depending on the absolute levels of the two ions but also the relative levels of the two as well.

As you have no calcium sulphate you might be better keeping the gypsum addition and increasing the table salt to say 6g which will increase the chloride levels . . leave out the magnesium sulphate to try and reduce the sulphate levels a bit. The additional sodium will also increase mouthfeel according to Murphy's, but try not to allow it to go too high as it can impart a metallic harshness (probably at much higher levels than you are adding)

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