WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT WATER?
- It’s 90% of your Beer!
- Typical water sources contain chemicals that impact the brewing process and flavors
- Knowing how to handle water will improve your beer
ADJUSTING YOUR WATER WILL:
- Improve Mash effectiveness
- Make Yeast happy
- Protect again off flavors and tannin extraction
- Build water to match style
WHEN YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT YOUR WATER
Salt Lake Valley water will make good beer. Brewing great beer requires some additional management, especially when:
- Your water is not pleasant to drink (too much iron, salt, other off flavors, or too much chlorine)
- All grain brewing – pH and calcium deficiency impacts mash effectiveness.
- When water mineralization does not match style
WHEN NOT TO CARE
- Extract brewing – Just know what flavors your water might be adding.
- You brew what you brew, and it works
- Talk about ions brings back nightmares of high school chemistry class
WATER RULE #1:
Remove chlorine and chloramine from brewing water
- Chlorine and Chloramine are a result of public water treatment. To my knowledge SLC water contains only Chlorine.
- Chlorine react with phenols to produce Chlorophenols which can give your beer that medicinal or “band-aid” off flavor.
- Filtering with activated carbon, boiling, or just letting your brewing water sit overnight will remove chlorine.
- Chloramine can be more stubborn, but we will not go into that.
DON’T HAVE A CARBON FILTER OR DON’T WANT TO WAIT?
- Metabisulfite will easily and quickly remove both Chlorine and Chlorimine from brewing water.
- Both Potassium metabisulfite and Sodium metabisulfite (Campden) are equally effective and take only a few minutes.
- Use 1/4 gram or 1/2 campden tablet to treat 10 gallons of water
WATER AND PH
- pH measures a solutions acidic or basic nature
- pH scale ranges from (1 Acidic to 14 Basic)
- Beer pH is low 4’s and sometimes even lower
- RO/Distilled waters pH is
- 7.0 – Municipal water is normally in 7.9 – 8.9 range
WHEN YOU SHOULD CARE ABOUT PH
- When Mashing – Target pH range is 5.2 to 5.6
- 5.2 for crisp or tart beers
- 5.5 for darker beers
- When Sparging – Sparge water pH should be < 6.0 to prevent extracting tannins (treat sparge with lactic acid)
- pH in mash is impacted by the grain bill (acids) and the water alkalinity
- pH is typically adjusted by adjusting the grain bill , salt buffers, and/or acids
- It can also be important during and after boiling
WATER AND HARDNESS
Hardness is due to the concentration of calcium and magnesium in the water.
- Calcium or Magnesium paired with Sulfates of Chlorides
- Cannot be boiled off
- Calcium or Magnesium paired with Carbonate or Bicarbonate
- It can be boiled off. Bi/carbonate exits as CO2. Calcium stays behind and can sometimes be seen at the bottom of the kettle
A CLOSER LOOK AT CARBONATES AND BICARBONATES
- These ions prevent decrease of pH (act as a buffer)
- Contribute to alkalinity
- Manageable through pH adjustments
- Generally due to Carbonate and Bicarbonate in water
- Acts as a buffer to pH changes (Buffers absorb acids without changing pH much)
- Excessive Alkalinity can make your mash pH too high unless mashing with dark grains
- Too little Alkalinity will not work for mashing dark beers. (darker malts lower your pH)
- Residual Alkalinity – The measure of alkalinity left after the acidity of the malts react to the water’s hardness
WATER RULE #2
- Buy a pH meter!
- If you want to go head first into chemistry calculations, including residual alkalinity, be my guest.
- If you want to simplify things and take the guess work and theory out of the equation, measure your pH with a pH meter and use a water calculator.
- Water temp matters when reading pH. True readings need room temperature. At mash temps the range is 5.1- 5.3.
BREWING WATER IONS
Just the ones you should care about… I promise
- Protects enzymes from thermal degradation, extends activity in the mash
- Improves trub formation during boil which in turn promotes clarity, flavor, and stability
- Vital to yeast health
- Decreases pH during mashing and boil
- 100 ppm calcium addition decreases pH by 0.4 pH units
- However adding calcium is not the most effective way to lower mash pH General Rule:
- 40-60 ppm is needed in all finished beer. In order to get there, 80-120 ppm is needed when mashing
- Magnesium salts are much more soluble than those of calcium
- Less effect on wort pH
- Can provide slightly bitter or sour flavor to beer.
- Vital yeast nutrient General Rule:
- < 50 ppm
- At lower concentrations (<100 ppm), sodium gives a slightly sweet flavor to beer.
- Over 100 ppm will give a salty flavor General Rule:
- < 100 ppm
- < 50 ppm for dry, crisp beers
SULFATE (SO42−-) / CHLORIDE (CL−)
- Chloride increases palate fullness and gives a mellow flavor to beer
- Sulfate results in drier, more bitter flavors in beer
- Sulfate can be the source of SO2 and H2S formed during fermentation that can give beer a sulfury note (common in Burton style ales).
- Sulfate to Chloride ratio is generally used to target beer flavor profiles. A high ratio accentuates bitterness; a low ratio, sweetness
- 2:1 – Sulfate to Chloride = great for pales, IPAs
- 1:1 – Sulfate to Chloride = Balanced beer
- 1:2 – Sulfate to Chloride = Malty beer General Rule:
- Chloride below 100 ppm
- Sulfate below 100 ppm as a general rule, however higher can work up into the 400 ppm range for distinct pale ale character
WATER RULE #3 AND #4
Rule #3 – Know your water! Contact your municipal water supplier, or have your own water tested. Ward labs offers water tests for the home brewer.
Rule #4 – Use a water calculator! The are excel based and online versions.
A TYPICAL WATER REPORT FROM WARDS
APPLYING THE REPORT TO A WATER CALCULATOR