Water adjustments?

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Water adjustments?

Postby itsthehops » Fri Aug 28, 2015 3:17 pm

Yeah all,

First timer here.

About to brew a Witbeir and has some questions about adjusting the water.

I've just started to pay more attention to mash pH and have been using RO water from Wal-mart (dispenser) but figure that might be missing some essential minerals.

I've mostly brewed pales and IPA's in the past and they have been "good" but not great (at least to me) and think it might be due to the water.

I've been looking at Palmers spreadsheet and BruNwater but haven't quite got the hang of them yet. I also use BeerSmith and see that it has a water tool in that that you can try to mimic a water profile of a region of your choosing.

For BeerSmith I used the local Champaign water profile posted in this forum -
Ca - 12 Mg - 12 Na - 54 S04 - 0 Cl - 42 HC03 - 160

Target Profile Austin, TX (Research showed this was a good profile for Witbeir)
Ca -15 Mg - 17 Na - 26 S04 - 39 Cl - 42 HC03 - 62

Calculated Best Additions -
NaCL - 0.2 g
MgS04 - 1.3 g
CaCl - 0.5 g
NaHC03 - 0.1 g

Difference in profiles -

Ca - + 0.8
Mg - -1.5
Na - +30.5
S04 - -25.1
Cl - +9.5
HC03 - +100.1

So to me it seems there is still a big difference in the water profile (based on BeerSmith).

Recipe Grain -
4 lbs Wheat Malt 2.0 SRM
5.5 lbs Pilsen 1.6 SRM

I know I can cut the tap water with Distilled and adjust some of those numbers as well, but what would you all recommend to try at this point. This is my first adventure into water chemistry and trying to learn as much as I can but there is a lot of info out there and sometimes someone else experiences are priceless for this type of thing.

Hopefully I provided enough info to get some help on this, if not let me know what else would be helpful here.

Thanks in advance
itsthehops
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Re: Water adjustments?

Postby Anthony » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:28 pm

If you're happy with the Austin profile, the Champaign profile is so very similar, it would seem, at least in my opinion, you're not really going to gain much by adding the sulfate/acid just to mimic the profile. I mean, you're talking about such small amounts, a total of 2 grams?

If you haven't read it already, the Water book is a great resource for this stuff.

Ideally, I would work towards making sure your mash pH is correct and adjust the water to do that. Your recipe looks like it will end up with an SRM of less than 4, so if you're going to use Champaign water (or Austin water for that matter), you will need some acid to get your pH to the right range (Friar Tuck's usually has lactic acid), then I would slightly acidify my spare water to make sure my kettle pH stays where I expect. I might also add some calcium chloride or calcium sulfate to get my calcium above 40 ppm to help with break, flocculation, etc... though for a wheat beer, I might just skip it too. It comes down to what you're goal is I guess.
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Re: Water adjustments?

Postby Anthony » Fri Aug 28, 2015 8:30 pm

Also, in my experience, for most styles, some water tinkering will give you an improvement, but you likely won't improve from 'good' to 'great' with water changes alone.
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Re: Water adjustments?

Postby Phillip Wilson » Sat Aug 29, 2015 10:08 pm

Pretty much like everything Anthony stated there are a few simple things to work on as far as water is concerned rather than revamping a water profile. The most important things in my mind would be addressing any chlorine, correcting the pH, and providing enough calcium for a happy boil and fermentation. For most beer styles once those things are set, it will be easy to adjust the beer to your taste based on ingredients.

Most important above all these adjustments is to make sure you are enjoying a tasty homebrew!
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