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Old 04-08-2017, 12:08 PM   #301
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Originally Posted by private4587 View Post
Steve hope you can be of assistance, my water comes from Northumbrian water and have been told their water report unless for brewing. I have the two kits you mentioned for testing the alkalinity and calcium. but i keep reading about other people adding epsom salts and other minerals to their mash water. Am i missing some other test kits for obtaining these results. I have attached a copy of my report if that helps. Thanks
The most important aspect of water treatment is getting the correct mash pH through alkalinity adjustment. To do that you obviously need to know the alkalinity of your water which isn't on your report, hence the Salifert KH test kit.

Secondly, you want to make sure you have sufficient calcium. Again this isn't on your report so you need to test for it. Somewhere around 100ppm is a decent guideline for calcium.

As for additions of other minerals such as epsom salts, it's not really necessary. Even if you used distilled water, the malt adds sufficient magnesium to the wort to make epsom salt (magnesium sulphate) additions unnecessary.

It's easy to over complicate this subject, but if you stick to the 3 main points in the OP (chlorine removal, alkalinity adjustment, calcium salts) then you'll be on the right lines.
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Old 04-08-2017, 01:41 PM   #302
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I have historically used the BF calculator. But since I have been taking a more personal interest I have been comparing calculations from steves post Vs BF.

The results have varied quite a bit. Mostly on the allowable range and affect of gypsum additions. BF seems to indicate it thinks that if I add 0.15g/l of gypsum in a beer (which is what SS calcs would point towards) BF says it's too bitter and the SO4/CL ratio is too high.

Something similar on acid additions to achieve desired Ph targets too.

So I'm playing around to see who's right


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I've never used the BF calculator, but most of the figures used in the OP are from Bru'n Water, although obviously much simplified. But there are a few things to bear in mind.

Firstly, this guide isn't intended to be the be all and end all of water treatment, but rather a stepping off point. The method here works fine, I've used it successfully for quite a while, but more important than the method, is the reasons behind the method. I'm a firm believer that understanding why to do something is much better than simply understanding what to do.

Another thing is that even the experts in this field don't agree on the details. One example is the sulphate:chloride ratio which I purposefully left out of this guide. The reason I left it out is primarily for simplicity, but also because some people think it's bollocks or at least not as significant as is made out (that being said, I did do a thread on that subject here). Charlie Bamforth, AJ Delange and Martin Brungard have all suggested that too much emphasis is put on this ratio, and that if it is important at all then it's only under certain conditions (see here).

Linked to this concept is the fact that we all have different tastes. So while one person may love a dry, sulphate-heavy finish, another may prefer a softer, fuller, chloride finish. So individual preference should be the main concern when it comes to chloride/sulphate rather than going by what a calculator tells you it should be. There is a really interesting blog post on that subject here which I recommend reading.

Another point of disagreement is the disparity between British and American attitudes towards water mineralisation. Someone like Graham Wheeler might say that the American approach is overly cautious of what they call over-mineralisation. For example Bru'n Water recommends that if sulphate is high then chloride should be low and vice versa and that 40ppm calcium is an acceptable minimum, AJ Delange takes it further, using RO water with only a very small calcium chloride addition for many styles. Many brewers this side of the pond will tell you that that approach will give you a bland, flavourless beer and I've seen recommendations of 150 or even 200+ppm calcium as a target.

Another issue is that it is nearly impossible to accurately predict mash pH, and spreadsheets such as Bru'n Water or BF can only give an estimate (fwiw my last brew had a Bru'n Water predicted mash pH of 5.2, measured with a calibrated meter at 5.35). The correlation between beer colour and residual alkalinity is also not too well established. Even John Palmer who wrote extensively on the subject of RA said that it is "at best a hand wave".

I'm rambling now, but the point is that just like with most aspects of brewing, there are as many opinions on the correct method as there are brewers and so I have tried to take a happy middle ground with this thread, which certainty won't be a panacea, but should get you roughly where you want to be while keeping it relatively simple. Hopefully it will encourage people to look into the subject a little deeper so that they can then tailor their beers to their own taste.

Phew, sorry for the long post!
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Old 05-08-2017, 09:44 PM   #303
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Planning my brew on Monday using additions for the first time,so hoping for some good results especially with the stability of the PH.Really enjoyed reading this thread SS and the time and effort you have put in has been brilliant in explaining it in laymen terms.
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