HOMEBREW Digest #5664 Wed 24 February 2010

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  RO Water (Robert Tower)
  Vienna Water ("A.J deLange")
  Re: Vienna Water (mossview5)

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 01:55:24 -0800 From: Robert Tower <roberttower at sbcglobal.net> Subject: RO Water A few people have recently posted about RO water being "too pure". Sorry to be so blunt, but my BS detector is pegging hard to the right! Will one of our resident water chemistry members please chime in to clarify this issue? I brew EXCLUSIVELY with 100% RO water (all grain) and rarely have beers that don't ferment to dryness (the supposed problem of "too pure" RO water). If I do have a beer that finishes high I can always trace it to improper yeast handling or mash temperature issues, never water chemistry. I like most of my beers dry (1.012 is on the high side for me, 1.007-1.010 is more common assuming SGs below 1.055). In fact, right now I'm drinking a "Classic American Cream Ale (think a CAP with 1056 and a week of lagering at 33 F.) that had a SG of 1.058 and finished at 1.010. As usual it was brewed with 100% RO water with no salts added. This being said, I do use yeast nutrient. Previously I was using Yeastex but due to availability issues with my suppliers, I've switched to Wyeast yeast nutrient. To the best of my knowledge there is no calcium in either of these nutrients. Even if it did contain some calcium, the amount I would think to be low as I'm using it at the prescribed rate of 2 grams per 5 gallons/19 liters. The one type of beer that I do add salts to is pale ale (both English and American styles) in which I use Burton salts. I have not found that my pale ales exhibit any significantly higher apparent attenuation than any of my other beers, which would suggest that there are no chemical deficiencies in my RO water leading to poor fermentation performance. I began using all RO water in response to most of my beers turning out fine except for graininess/astringency. I could taste it, and every beer I entered into BJCP competitions came back with notes about graininess and/or astringency. After going after all the usual suspects with no improvement I was left with water as the problem. At first I began introducing RO water into my brewing water in increments starting at 50/50. I found the more RO water I used, the less astringency I had. Eventually, I went to 100% RO and the graininess/astringency completely went away. I haven't talked to any local homebrewers who've had my problem, even brewers getting their water from the same source (Los Angeles has 4 or 5 different water treatment plants each supplying a somewhat different water chemistry) so it may be the plumbing in the house I live in (built in 1912) that's the culprit. Regardless, using 100% RO water solved my astringency problem and hasn't created any new ones. Anyhow, I just wanted to offer my contrary experience regarding this matter. Bob Tower / Los Angeles, CA Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 12:40:52 -0500 From: "A.J deLange" <ajdel at cox.net> Subject: Vienna Water The Vienna water profile Martin posted certainly is out of whack (by about 10 mEq/L). Wherever it came from originally, it is published in New Brewing Lager Beer along with several other profiles (Table 7 p74). Here are the balance results at pH 7 for Vienna and the next three in the table. The first number is the imbalance (positive indicates too many cations and too few anions) when the calcium and magnesium numbers are interpreted as mg/L as the ion. This interpretation is necessary to obtain the numbers Noonan lists for Total Hardness for each water but as you can see the imbalances are as absurd as for Vienna. The second column is the imbalance that would be obtained if the Calcium and Magnesium numbers are interpreted as hardnesses i.e ppm "as CaCO3". The tabulated total hardness numbers no longer match but balance is much better. In both cases the HCO3 column in interpreted to mean the number of mg/L of bicarbonate ion present expresses as the ion. So perhaps the "bicarbonate" number isn't really the bicarbonate ion concentration. The only other reasonable candidate is that it is alkalinity but interpreting it as alkalinity does not improve imbalance much. Munich 2.6 -0.8 Vienna 10.3 -.6 Dortmund 10 0.8 London 2.1 -0.9 Dublin 3.2 -0.7 Clearly there is a problem here and Noonan's book isn't the only source of invalid water profiles. I would have to estimate that out of the dozens of water profiles I've collected over the years most are appreciably out of balance and most of those to the cation side (i.e. bicarbonate seems to be understated). There are several possible reasons why profiles can be out of whack by a bit. If readers have used Ward Labs to analyze their waters they may have noticed numbers like 3.2/3.4 listed at the top of the page. These are the lab's cation and anion equivalences (in mEq/L) and it is unusual that the two numbers are within a few tenths of an mEq/L. Imbalance of this magnitude is expected from sample handling, measurement errors, not measuring all cations and anions etc. Those causes do not induce errors of the magnitude we are talking about here. So how do we proceed if we want to brew a Vienna style beer? At first blush, you might think of simply increasing the carbonate until the profile balances. I have data on Munich water from a sample I analyzed myself. Its ion profile is below with Noonan's below that. Munich Alk: 281 Ca 87 Mg 24.7 SO4 7.9, Cl 8.6 NO4 12 Na 3.1 pH 7.49 Imbal 0.3 (AJ) Alk: 127 Ca 75 Mg 18 SO4 10 Cl 2 Na 2 Imbal 2.5 (GN) In this case it does seem that taking Noonan's reported profile and adding bicarbonate until balanced would get us to something that resembles what you might expect to get in a hotel room near the Hauptbahnhoff in modern Munich. Trying that approach with the Noonan Vienna report results in a water with alkalinity of 613 and RA of 435 which is off my chart and so clearly the problem is not under-reporting of HCO3- alone. That suggests (as Martin mentioned) that perhaps the hardness is over reported. Vienna water is hard - they are quite proud of that - but perhaps not as hard as Noonan's table entry. I have in my collection a description of Vienna water which puts its Ca content at 163 its bicarb at 243, its Cl at 39, its Mg at 68 its sulfate at 216 and its nitrate as "trace". No sodium is specified but all other reports I have for Vienna (including Noonan's) list 8 mg/L so lets use that in this profile too. The resulting imbalance would be 4.4 at pH 8.3 (as compared to 4.5 at pH 7). This profile could be balanced by increasing bicarbonate to 504 mg/L for an alkalinity of 422 and RA of 266. These are still whopping so I think we have to accept that either carbo or hardness data or both are screwed up wrt to available data on Vienna or that we don't know how to interpret the numbers. I think that leads us to the conclusion that Vienna water is very hard with a good amount of that hardness being permanent and low chloride. To synthesize that water we could take the approach of building a hard, gypseous water in full knowledge that at soon as that water hits the HLT the carbonate which we will have to take considerable trouble to put in will fall right out and so skip that step. So let's take my artificially balanced profile and soften it down to about 1mEq/L alkalinity. The lineup would then be Alk: 53, Ca 58, Mg 41, SO4 216, Cl 39, Na 8 RA - 12 This could be synthesized by adding 2.85 g CaCl2.2H2O; 0.17 g NaCl, 3.68 g gypsum, 15.71 g epsom salts, 1.40 g chalk and 0.86 g NaHCO3 to 10 gal of water. Sparge with CO2 with stirring until chalk dissolves and pH 8.3 is reached. When I brew Vienna I blend mostly RO water with about 10% well water, add some CaCl2 and use 3% sauermalz for pH control. A.J. Return to table of contents
Date: Wed, 24 Feb 2010 15:26:54 -0500 From: mossview5 <mossview5 at gmail.com> Subject: Re: Vienna Water Interesting work that AJ presents. I'm concerned about the direction that AJ has taken in resolving the ionic balance. The Vienna water data does not point to a significant Mg and SO4 content. None of the City's water sources have that concentration of those ions. Additionally, those levels would likely lead to a stronger bittering perception than the Vienna style is known for. I find that Vienna lagers are softer and more malt focused. For the most mineralized City source, the Mg and SO4 concs are only 22 and 84 ppm, respectively. Additionally, the Vienna water data does indicate significant levels of alkalinity which suggests that the hardness is largely temporary. I'd still have to lean in the direction of the ionic concentrations that I originally posted for the Vienna profile. Ca = 75 (ppm) Mg = 15 Na = 10 Cl = 15 SO4 = 60 HCO3 = 225 Total Hardness = 249 ppm as CaCO3 Alkalinity = 186 ppm as CaCO3 Residual Alkalinity = 149 Martin Brungard Indianapolis, IN Return to table of contents
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