HOMEBREW Digest #4920 Mon 26 December 2005

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  Re: Adjusting Mineral Content ("William Frazier")
  Water profiles ("A.J deLange")
  Finishing Hops (Fred Johnson)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 08:41:18 -0600 From: "William Frazier" <billfrazier at worldnet.att.net> Subject: Re: Adjusting Mineral Content Fred - My Kansas City area water is loaded with minerals. I'm sure lots of brewers use this water straight out of the tap. But, I'm not fond of beers with that dry bitterness I associate with Bass Ale. So, I use one gallon tap water plus nine gallons of grocery store RO water. I treat this with 1/4 tsp K metabisulfite to assure no chlorine from the little tap water I use. Then I add 5 grams calcium chloride. This gives soft brewing water with the following mix of minerals; Ca 54, Mg 1, Na 5, SO4 15, Cl 89. I've brewed all my beers using this water for at least 10 years. It's perfect for pilsners and other lagers. It also makes good tasting ales. Once you get familiar with a certain brewing water you can adjust the amount of hops to get the bitterness you want. Bill Frazier Olathe, Kansas USA Date: Sat, 24 Dec 2005 08:29:20 -0500 From: Fred Johnson <FLJohnson at portbridge.com> Subject: Adjusting Mineral Content I have only played around with adjusting mineral content of my beers a little because I've seen such divergent recommendations for doing this. I'd like to ask a few questions of those of you in the community who feel you have a good bit of experience with different styles and adjusting your water accordingly. Return to table of contents
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 15:23:47 +0000 From: "A.J deLange" <ajdel at cox.net> Subject: Water profiles Fred asked a bunch of questions about tweaking one's own water to resemble that of the city whose beer you are trying to replicate in this case London. He right away hit on one of the problems in doing this: there are several published profiles which claim to represent London water and they vary appreciably. It turns out that many of them are also demonstrably bogus in that the charges do not balance (i.e. cations and anions) unless the pH is absurd. So how to approach brewing a London beer? Look at the general characteristics. There are two things to consider: mash tun pH and flavor. Mash tun pH is effected by residual alkalinity which is the amount of alkalinity not canceled by calcium and magnesium reactions with malt phosphate. It is calculated as alkalinity - (calcium hardness + magnesium hardness/2)/3.5. Using the numbers Fred posted the RA is 104/61 - (52/20 + 32/12.15/2)/3.5 = 0.92 milliequivalents per liter. The divisors are, in each case, the equivalent weights of the ions. Multiply the result by 50 to get 45.5 ppm as calcium carbonate. This isn't a whole lot of residual alkalinity but as we all know London ale brewers use some dark malts which will offset this somewhat. I wouldn't worry about increasing the bicarbonate content of the available water. I'd choose the dark malts for their flavor contributions and monitor mash pH. I'd be ready with some calcium carbonate in the event that the pH got too low but I doubt this will happen. I also woudn't concern myself about getting the magnesium up. It can contribute bitterness and if you want this go ahead and augment with magnesium sulfate or chloride or a combination keeping an eye on the sulfate and chloride levels. Sulfate is an important flavor ion which manifests itself through hop character. The levels in London beer and Burton beer are quite different and that in part explains the differences between London and Burton beers. There's no reason why Mg needs to be exactly at the 32 level. If you want to see if adding some Mg improves the beer do it incrementally and look for effects on hop flavor. Or use magnesium chloride in addition to magnesium sulfate. You are struggling with the fact that calcium chloride dihydrate is 27% calcium and 48% chloride (the rest being water) so that you must add both in the fixed ratio 9:16 whenever you use this salt and you can never get the salt amounts exactly right to precisely match the water profile. In some cases you can do better than others and the fact that you can do well is indicative that the water profile you are using is a good one (if Mother Nature can do it you can do it too). There are several ways to skin this cat involving optimization software. The simplest is probably to make up an Excel spreadsheet into which you put amounts of salts and in response to which it calculates the amount of each ion added. Add these to the ion contents of your water and subtract from the target. The differences are the errors in your synthesized profile. You then combine these (by taking the square root of the sum of the squares - weighting each if you want too) and adjust the salt additions to try to minimize this number. If you are familiar with Excel's "Solver" you can let it do this for you automatically. But the bottom line is that you ought to be able to brew good London Ale with the water you have. After you have brewed it if you decide it is lacking in crystal malt character add more next time and be aware that this may lower mash pH so be ready with calcium carbonate. If you miss the bitterness of magnesium (can't imagine why you would) try adding a little Epsom salts and so on. If the beer doesn't taste salty enough, add some salt. If you'd like it a little rounder and sweeter add some calcium chloride. It doesn't matter so much where the stylistic ions go into the process but the pH setting ions (bicarbonate, calcium, magnesium) must go into the liquor or into the mash tun latest because that is where the phosphate reaction takes place. It is important that there be sufficient trace elements in the cast out wort and that there is a bit of calcium as well which aids in clarification and ultimately precipitates oxalate from the beer reducing the liklihood of haze. The only salt which is really insoluble in water is calcium carbonate so mother nature dissolves it with carbonic acid. You can do the same if you want too by adding the salt and sparging the water with CO2 through a stone or just stirring and wainting for a long time (days). I think you are quite right that few breweries tweak their water to the extent that we home brewers do. A couple of bags of gypsum into the mash is usually the extent of the water treatment that small brewers give to their beers though those with very hard alkaline water may decarbonate with lime (e.g. Munich brewers doing Helles). I think that those who do more use the approach of brew and tweak and brew and tweak based on at least a general understanding of the chemistry. The biggest breweries have a staff of inroganic chemists who worry about this stuff. A.J. Return to table of contents
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 10:51:11 -0500 From: Fred Johnson <FLJohnson at portbridge.com> Subject: Finishing Hops I've had some trouble with my finishing hops additions since switching to a counterflow chiller. Inevitably with such a chiller, the wort that leaves the kettle early will have a different character than the wort that leaves the kettle late, because the early wort will have been exposed to the late addition hops at a high temperature for shorter lengths of time than the late wort. Accordingly, the wort leaving the kettle late will be more bitter, due to its having longer time to isomerize the alpha acids compared to the wort leaving early. Someone suggested that I add my last hop addition to the kettle using a bag which can be removed from the kettle after the desired length of time. At first blush, this sounds like a solution, but I wonder if the removing the bag actually has much of an effect. It is my understanding the the issue with bitterness is that it takes time to isomerize the alpha acids that have been extracted from the lupulin glands. If the lupulin glands dump their contents into the boil within a few minutes, then taking the bag out after that point wouldn't prevent bitterness being added at the late addition. Besides, the aroma of the late addition hops is still being dissipated. It sounds like a hop back is the only real solution to this problem. Comments anyone? Fred L Johnson Apex, North Carolina, USA Return to table of contents
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