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Long time lurker here and a brewer with about 10 partial / all grain (BIAB) brews under my belt.

To date, I've used water straight from the tap (Lower Hutt) without any treatments at all. The last few all grains I have done have been full boils thanks to the addition of a 50l pot to my equipment.

I am missing a major step by not doing anything to the water??

Are there some general rules that I could follow if I needed to something (as opposed to nothing). I have read a few things but end up awfully confused, chemistry was ever a strong subject of mine.

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My general rules:

-Only adjust your water once you know what is in it. You can find the report here: http://www.gw.govt.nz/assets/Our-Environment/Water-Supply/PDFs/Wate... . Work out which region you are supplied from, then check the mineral table.

-I always adjust my water to have at least 50ppm of Calcium, although I might go slightly lower (40ppm) for a bohemian pilsner and other beers that need softer water. Adjust your mash using Gypsum and Calcium Chloride, lactic acid or accidulated malt. I generally avoid using chalk except. Calcium is an essential nutrient for yeast. Low calcium may lead to issues with yeast not wanting to drop out of suspension. 

-I always target having a mash ph of between 5.3-5.6, usually around 5.5-5.5 . This is probably the most important thing other than calcium to think about is helps your mash convert  and also prevents problems like tannin extraction, harsh hop character, protein haze and final beer flavour.

-Avoid extreme water profiles and matching water to various cities (i.e Burton on Trent). You can pay attention to your chloride to sulfate ratio depending on the beer style, usually using a higher ratio of chloride to sulfate for maltier beers or beers where you want softer bitterness, or more sulfate to highlight and sharpen hop flavour. I usually like about 50ppm of chloride but will add more sulfate using gypsum if I want the hops to taste sharper. In hoppy beers you generally need more sulfate to avoid your hops tasting soapy. You don't need to go overboard though.

I have found the following resources useful: 

EZ water calculator: http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/ . An easy to use spreadsheet that will give you a fairly accurate idea of how to adjust your water to the profile and mash ph you want. Just enter your grain bill, data from the water report and look at what you need to do.

http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-chemistry-and-brewing-water-calcu... . Like the above, but perhaps slightly more accurate and technical. 

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Braukaiser.com . Check out what Kai has written here about mash ph and water chemistry. Its the best thing on water I have read online but it is quite technical 

So when Richard is talking about chloride and sufite ratio most people think of the 2 salts - gypsum which is Calcium Sulphate and Calcium Chloride. For more sulphate add gypsum (calcium sulphate). This is usually hoppier beers. Usually about a teaspoon for a 23L batch. For more Chloride add calcium chloride. This is usually for more malt focused beers.

OK thanks - starting to make some sense of it I think. That spreadsheet definitely helps.

The Greater Wellington water report (from the link above) shows no value for both Calcium and Magnesium - does it seem correct that these would be 0, or is it more likely a lack of data??

If they are 0, using the spreadsheet seems to suggest that adding 7g of Gypsum, 10g Calcium Chloride and 5g of epsom salt will bring the profile to within the recommended ranges - this is for a fairly simple grain bill of 5kg 2-row and 250g Crystal (60l) and a full volume (35l) BIAB.

I know it will differ, but do these additions seem reasonable?? I also assume that this stuff is readily available, probably from a brew store??

In terms of calcium and magnesium, what I have been told to do is look at the total hardness number on the report and assume that 80% is calcium, while the other 20% is magnesium. I generally don't add much magnesium unless I am brewing a Burton style bitter or IPA because the malt itself contains a reasonable level on top of what is in the water. On another old thread on this forum people have mentioned 17ppm as a good number for Te Marua. 

For my water, which is Te Marua supply, I generally use a calcium value of 15-17ppm and Magnesium around 5-6ppm. Seems to have worked fine. The other water sources in Wellington like Waterloo have a bit more hardness but I think if you adjust using that ratio you should be able to ball park it. If you are just brewing a standard pale ale 

Here are the numbers I came up with from the Waterloo supply, which I assume is the main treatement plant for Lower Hutt Water

Ca: 36
Mg: 9
Na: 11.6
Cl: 14.6
SO4: 6.6
Alkalinity as CaCO3: 54.6

The waterloo water is fairly alkaline. Adding salts alone to drop the ph may mean you risk having a rather minerally tasting beer- your additions would get you up 160ppm of calcium, which is pretty high. A potentially better option might be to add some acidulated malt to your mash (100g would be fine) and then 4g of Calcium Chloride and Gypsum each. That would give you an estimated ph of 5.47, 90ppm of Ca, and 70ppm of both Cl and SO4, which would be a nice balanced water profile. If you wanted to highlight the hops a bit more you could add another gram or so of gypsum.  I use acid malt in most of my pale beers to avoid having to add too much salts.

What Richard said, and listen to the water shows on the brewing network, the latest one on brewstrong is excellent, really its just about having your mash ph in the right range, then adjusting for flavor from there

This is a complex topic so try not to make too many changes each brew.

I've been trying to do some research on this topic, now the christchurch water Ralph. the values are in g/m3 not ppm etc..

I'm still pretty confused about the water treatment thing and how the spreadsheets work. etc.

how do the salt additions change when doing darker beer ?

Rob I have looked at it quite a bit and did a few beers where I added all sorts of salts. The Chch water is pretty low in salts and so is a little bit like starting at zero.

While you can go quite overboard and add all sorts of things I like my beers to be a bit more simple and I think they come out just as well.

These days, for 23L I add a teaspoon of CaSO4 (gypsum - calcium sulphate) if I am doing a pale ale/slightly hoppy beer. If doing a big IPA I might add up to 2 x teaspoon CaSO4. If I was doing a darker more malty beer I may add a teaspoon of CaCl - Calcium Chloride or for a balanced beer more like 1/2 a teaspoon of CaSO4 and 1/2 a teaspoon of CaCl.

I add the salts to the water before mashing. I think there is something about Calcium ions stabilizing the mash and as mentioned above the calcium ions also help the yeast...

Thanks, I've done all sorts of reading, and it seems I should add all sorts of stuff, I've just finished up a couple of weeks ago a Belgian IPA, nice hoppy beer, with a belgian Component, used 12g of sulphate or 2.5 tsp  Premash, so it'll be interesting to see what the outcome once I taste it. 

So its just Salts for mash water, would there be any benefit in adding to the sparge water as well? e.g. one tsp in the mash then on in the sparge? this may balance it out?

The only other question IO had is, when doing porters/stout etc. with dark grains, I tend to add the darker grains at the end of the mash, or cold steep them. is there anything else salts wise that would keep things from tasting a tad too harsh? I'm not sure if you've tried the brown belgian from the case swap, but there was something in the beer, that was harsh tasting, I couldn't tell you what though.

2.5 teaspons of gypsum for an IPA style of beer sounds ok but is the most I would add to a beer.

As far as I am concerned add it before the mash, the sparge should wash most of it through into the wort. Some of the salts have interactions that change the pH. CaSO4 I think drops the pH a little, and from my experience I generally need to add a bit of food acid to drop the pH to get to the right range, so having some in the mash takes the mash in the right direction for pH... unless you have a whole bunch of dark grains in there, which can also drop the pH. If you are just steeping the dark grains near the end you should not have this problem.

I have not yet tried your belgian from the case swap. I must try it soon and I will see if I can suggest anything from the taste. Sparging can sometimes extract harsh flavours?

That'd be great Zane. I'll leave the judgement on what the cause is and what may fix it up to you. 2.5 tsp is a solid amount, I'll adjust if I think I need too.

Pretty sure 1 g/m3 = 1 ppm (assuming the density of water is 1000kg/m3)

IMO water treatment is one of the last things you need to worry about.  There is a product from 5star called PH5.2 (or 5.4 or whatever the right number is) that you can treat your mash and sparge water with that will keep the mash ph correct.  Then you can worry about getting every other part of your process perect before you need to worry about water treatment, and then only if you cant get where you want to be with recipe adjustments.



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