Brewing Water Basics Society of Barley Engineers 4/4/2012 Guy Shobe Opening this summer! Must be the water! • San Diego has great water for brewing??? – Differs in every part of the county, but in general, it is relatively hard water (high mineral content), high ph, with high amount of sulfate – Disclaimer: SD water also varies by season (OMWD as high as 8.9 ph in the summer, 8.2 in the winter) – Most water districts in SD disinfect with chloramines, which is bad in any style – In general, it’s great for hoppy Ambers, and even Cascadian IPAs Historical View OMWD Water 58 22 127 93 99 192 Why should you care about your water chemistry? • You can make good beer with very little modifications • However, water adjustments can help fine tune your beers and make them even better • Understand how your mash works and how the ph of your water impacts mash and sparge water • Brewing beers at both ends of the color spectrum Extract Brewing • Water chemistry is not as important – extract already contains concentrated ions • Try to use RO (Reverse Osmosis) water, if possible • Trial and error, and using same extract brand, is your best way forward • At the very least, use a carbon filter or Campden tablets to get rid of chloramines All-Grain Brewers • First step is finding out your brewing water ion concentration – Water report from your MWD – Ward Labs ($17 or so) • Without knowing your water, it is hard to prescribe anything more than generic recommendations (i.e add 1 tsp of Gypsum for an IPA) • Also know that your tap water will likely change over the year Key Ions and Info in water report • • • • • • • Calcium Magnesium Sulfate Chloride Sodium Bicarbonate Ph (not an ion but a measure of your water’s acidity/alkalinity) ph • Ph of mash is more important than ph of the water – should be in the 5.2-5.6 range • Malted barley is a GREAT buffering source (BMB) • Darker malts are acidic, thus lower mash ph • However, ph of the sparge water is important – should be 7 or less • Higher ph sparge water could extract tannins and result in astringent beers • Can use acids to lower mash and/or sparge ph – (most commonly lactic, hydrochloric, phosphoric) Calcium • Principal ion that determines, and contributes, to water hardness • Instrumental to yeast health and growth • Promotes clarity, flavor, and stability in the finished beer • Brewing range is 50-150ppm Magnesium • • • • Ion behaves similar to calcium Important yeast nutrient Brewing range is 10-30ppm Amount greater than 50ppm tend to give sour-bitter taste • Levels higher than 125ppm have a laxative effect Sulfate • Combines with Ca and Mg ion to contribute to permanent hardness • Does not really contribute to overall alkalinity • Accentuates hop bitterness, making bitterness seem drier, more crisp • Brewing range is 50-150ppm for normal bitterness, 150-350ppm for very bitter, diarrhea over 750ppm (Burton water?) Chloride • Accentuates fullness and flavor of beer, particularly malt • Brewing range is from 0-250ppm • Concentrations above 300ppm can lead to mediciney flavors Sodium • Common ion in softened water • Water softeners use sodium to precipitate out calcium, so should never be used for brewing water (unless calcium salt added) • Rounds out beer flavor, accentuates sweetness of the malt • Brewing range is 70-150ppm • Above 300ppm makes beers too salty Brewing Salts • Adjust brewing water with brewing salts: – Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum) – good when water is low in calcium and want to accentuate hops – Calcium Chloride – good when water is low in calcium and want to accentuate malt – Calcium Carbonate (Chalk) – good for adding hardness to soft water in dark beers (not needed often) – Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom) – good when water is low on magnesium – Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda) – good for adding sodium and hardness (not needed often) Chloride to Sulfate Ratio • Ratio of chloride to sulfate is important in the creation of the flavor profile • Ratio of 1.5-2 promotes very malty profile • Ratio of 1.25-1.5 will favor maltiness • Ratio of .75-1.25 will be fairly balanced • Ratio of .5-.75 will be moderately bitter • Ratio of 0-.5 promotes drier, more bitter, hoppier character (SD water) • Examples: – 100ppm chloride, 300ppm sulfate would promote bitterness, hops – 100pp, chloride, 50ppm sulfate would promote maltiness Takeaways • Carbon filter or Campden tablets at the very minimum (get rid of chloramines) • Use RO or distilled water for extract, if possible • Keep mash ph in 5.2-5.6 range (malt buffer) • Acidify sparge water, if needed (probably) to keep in the 6.0-7.0 ph range • Pay attention to your chloride to sulfate ratio – more chloride = malty, more sulfate = bitter Additional Resources • Palmer’s How to Brew – Chapter 15 • Palmer’s water worksheet (and multiple other water worksheets) • Brew Strong’s series on understanding water • Experience!!!!! Water chemistry is not an absolute, most of this is rule of thumb, nothing replaces experience. Questions?