Splitting the Treatments

(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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Meatymc
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Splitting the Treatments

Post by Meatymc » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:28 pm

Some while ago Wallybrew analysed my water and various members (Aleman, Eric et al) kindly walked me through the rather complex subject of Water Treatment. Since then I've been using the calculator on here - splitting the treatment across the mash and sparge water on a percentage basis - basically 2:1.

Being a bit bored I've been on a couple of other forum calculators which, where possible to chose the same base 'style' (bitter in this case), come up with the same results with only minimal differences in terms of quantities but, seem to treat the mash and sparge waters entirely seperately with the exception of CRS which they split as I normally do. The calculated Table Salt and Calcium Chloride additions (on my water profile) are only going into the boil with none in the mash water whereas I'm treating both split as above.

Have I misunderstood and am doing it wrong?

guypettigrew
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by guypettigrew » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:39 am

If what you're doing is producing good beer, then you must be doing it right!

My technique is a bit different. Like you, I've happily taken advice from people on here, primarily Eric.

The alkalinity of my tap water is first lowered in the HLT using CRS to whatever is suitable, say about 20 for a pale bitter. This is used for mashing with no salts in the mash. The calcium level in my water is about 100. The alkalinity of the liquor in the HLT is then dropped by about 10 and this is used for sparging. Half the salt addition (whatever it may be) is sprinkled over the grain at the start of the sparge, the rest half way through.

Seems to work for me. Complicated though water treatment chemistry theory may be, I wonder if perhaps there's a huge window of acceptability in the brewing process.

Guy

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Kev888
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Kev888 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 9:39 am

The split of salts between mash, sparge, and boil is somewhat open to preference and specific circumstances. In some cases there might not even be a sparge, for example.

Probably the main thing (after getting both the mash and sparge alkalinity reasonable with your CRS) is to make sure there is plenty of calcium in the mash (these days I prefer around 150ppm or more, for British styles). You might then split any remainder as wished; it has some influence on pH as (of course) does the darkness of the grain bill so can be apportioned differently for different beers, as you feel is most helpful.

But AFAIK there is no right or wrong way to apportion the ratio(s), merely lots of often conflicting preferences. I shall be interested to hear what others think on it, I'm not the most expert with water treatment.
Kev

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dcq1974
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by dcq1974 » Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:06 pm

I was always under the impression that commercial breweries only added salts to the mash and adjusted the alkalinity of both mash and sparge liquor?
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Eric
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:35 pm

dcq1974 wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 2:06 pm
I was always under the impression that commercial breweries only added salts to the mash and adjusted the alkalinity of both mash and sparge liquor?
That is the standard advice of Murphy's and is what many breweries that rely on Murphy and Son for water treatment chemicals and advice do. That isn't necessarily best for all breweries and the products they make, but their results should at least be consistent.
Meatymc wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:28 pm

Have I misunderstood and am doing it wrong?
Possibly, I'm unsure what the particular piece of information you need is.

There is no unique water profile for the perfect bitter for a particular recipe. Much also depends upon the specific ingredients, the brewing method, the equipment, temperatures and durations chosen as well as base liquor and its ratio to grist and maybe another thousand variables that don't immediately come to mind. There are many facets to water treatment and you will need to make some basic decisions depending upon how you brew and the knowledge you have. From then you can make adjustments in search of your perfect pint.

Most of the information you are likely to find on the world wide web is, in my opinion, either good honest basic guidance given with the best of intentions, or too frequently, rigid red-lines by self-proclaimed experts who seemingly think they know everything essential for brewing, but quite obviously don't.

What is it you believe you don't know?
Last edited by Eric on Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Eric
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Eric » Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:36 pm

It is possible to brew a beer using water without calcium, but it's value has been known to brewers since soon after it was isolated in the early 19th century. Even so, some today think calcium adds only undesired taste and the be all and end all of brewing is a particular mash pH. Further, if the objective is highly-carbonated, heavily-hopped concoctions served ice-cold numbing taste buds and dulling the brain, then the influence of water treatment is unlikley to be worth the effort.

A typical pale malt mashed in water with no minerals will have a pH of around 4.8. All malts vary depending upon variety, maltster, field, weather, batch, age etc, and if you add some crystal malt as you will have in your bitter, it will lower that pH a little. Adding some calcium will reduce that pH and any alkalinity present will raise it significantly.

General consensus is (except for some geographical locations) that calcium in both mash and sparge liquors should be between 100 and 200ppm. Now calcium in my water is normally 100ppm, so like Guy, I mash in without extra salts. However, although it has enough calcium, it is very alkaline which would raise mash pH 3.5 times as much as calcium can lower it. So hydrochloric or sulphuric acid or CRS is used to convert alkalinity of all brewing liquor to chlorides/sulphates such that the combined effect of the two opposites reduce mash pH appropriately. My system allows wort to be recycled and after an appropriate period and on the lead up to sparging, pH will be measured. By this time a great proportion of the calcium present at the start will have deposited and can play no further part, so calcium salts are added to replace those lost and recycled or sparged into the grains depending to a degree on what the pH measurement was. Further, as pH will rise during the fly sparge, more acid will be added to the HLT to further reduce alkalinity to that initially chosen for the mash. The consequence of this is to achieve near 100% extraction without unwanted components from the mash tun reaching the boiler.

Of course, with water that doesn't have the same level of calcium, or when using a Braumeister of grainfather or no sparge BIAB and any different brewing setup, my method won't apply.
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Meatymc » Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:08 pm

Thanks for the replies gents.

Specifically relating to......
Eric wrote:
Wed Apr 10, 2019 4:35 pm
Meatymc wrote:
Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:28 pm

Have I misunderstood and am doing it wrong?
Possibly, I'm unsure what the particular piece of information you need is.
What is it you believe you don't know?
.............am I OK to continue treating both sets of water in the same way in proportion to their volume or should certain 'chemicals/treatments' be restricted to either the mash or the boil?

I've read quite a bit more since posting and there seems to be every variation of opinion under the sun so unless I'm seriously way-off seems sensible to continue as I am.

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Eric
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Eric » Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:53 pm

Meatymc wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 3:08 pm

.............am I OK to continue treating both sets of water in the same way in proportion to their volume or should certain 'chemicals/treatments' be restricted to either the mash or the boil?

I've read quite a bit more since posting and there seems to be every variation of opinion under the sun so unless I'm seriously way-off seems sensible to continue as I am.
Yes, carry on.

There are good reasons for different approaches, but some may not apply to your brewery, methods and water supply and others might be suitable to none.

For example, you should not add alkalinity to sparge liquor. From what I gather you, like me, have excess alkalinity and so never have to add any, but some do and they should add it only to the mash. It's this aspect that makes this subject difficult to explain in general terms. For the same reason it is usually beneficial for sparge liquor to have less alkalinity than mash liquor. This is because pH in the mash rises as sugars are rinsed out during sparging and their buffering therefore diminishes. However, as you BIAB (from what I read of a previous post) it is possible you don't extract the last drop of extract (as I can in my different system) and your pH might not be excessive with alkalinity the same for both.

These sort of things can only be confirmed by measurements and I presume you are not doing that. Many turn out good beers without going to the extremes of others, just that without knowing such as temperatures, gravities, volumes, flow rates and pH during mash and sparge, it is difficult to know what changes would provide benefits.
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Meatymc
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Re: Splitting the Treatments

Post by Meatymc » Thu Apr 11, 2019 9:59 pm

Thanks Eric
Eric wrote:
Thu Apr 11, 2019 8:53 pm
Yes, carry on.
I'll not pretend to be pedantic about checking everything - I'm happy to rely on the general advice of others on the forum such as your good self having found my water did need treating following analysis. As long as I'm not making glaring basic mistakes I'm happy.

At some point I may be able to join the bulk of you in how you brew. For now, I have to reply on BIAB, dunk sparging and no chill coupled with using my own home grown hops which are of course of a fairly onknown 'quality'.

I can't say I've been bowled over but what I've brewed thus far - although I've high hopes of recent attempts at a Baby Faced Assassin clone (with increasing levels of bought-in Citra dry hopped) - but generally each brew seems slightly better than the last and several, over the last couple of years have stood out and I'll do defo again (the Ecuadorian coffee/vanilla porter - particularly now Assange has been booted out at last (:wink:) is nailed on), so it's keep on trying I suppose.

This was going to be a 6 word thanks - funny how sitting whilst surrounded by (and indulging in) homebrew makes you wax lyrical!!

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