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Brewing water and EZ Water Calculator
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Roadie




Joined: 13 Oct 2013
Posts: 131
Location: Charleston, SC


PostLink    Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:42 pm    Post subject: Brewing water and EZ Water Calculator Reply with quote


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We haven't been happy with some of the flavors we're getting in our beers which I believe can be traced back to our water chemistry and am seeking help with understanding the correct usage of the EZ Water Calculator. We start with 100% RO water and build up profiles from scratch.

What I do when calculating water profiles in EZ Calculator:

Leave Starting Water Profile all at 0 since again we've using RO water.
Calculate Mash Water based on 1.5 qts per pound as a thicker mash doesn't hit the temp probe in our MT.
Percent that is Distilled or RO is set to 100%.
Input grain bill.
Uncheck the Adjusting Sparge Water box. Input brewing salts at bottom to give me the mineral profile I'm looking for.
Look at Mash pH and adjust as necessary to get between 5.4 and 5.45 which usually call for adding lactic acid.
I ignore Effective Alkalinity and Residual Alkalinity.

When brewing I add all salts to the mash water prior to dough-in.

On a recent 5 gallon batch of IPA here is how the numbers worked out:

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 0
Mg: 0
Na: 0
Cl: 0
SO4: 0
HCO3: 0

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 5.5 / 7.5
RO or distilled %: 100% / 100%

Total Grain (lb): 14.3

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaSO4: 17.8 / 0
CaCl2: 5.1 / 0
MgSO4: 9.5 / 0
NaHCO3: 2.85 / 0
CaCO3: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid (ml): 2.5
Sauermalz (oz): 0

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 261 / 110
Mg: 42 / 18
Na: 37 / 16
Cl: 118 / 50
SO4: 655 / 277
Cl to SO4 Ratio: 0.18 / 0.18

Alkalinity (CaCO3): -60
RA: -271
Estimated pH: 5.42
(room temp)

In doing some reading over the weekend I noticed reference to adding just the pH salts in the mash and using the others in the boil kettle which is something that I've never done.

Which salts should I be adding to the MT and which to the BK?
Should I be more focused on Alkalinity/Residual Alkalinity?
What am I doing incorrectly with this program?
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10750
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Mon Aug 18, 2014 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What sort of off flavours exactly?

Add salts to the mash to get the mash pH right - I basically add what EZ tells me to add to the mash. The rest goes in the boil (EZ mentions this a well) - it splits the two up for you.

Calculating mash pH is a crapshoot with EZ. I don't trust it. Use a pH meter.

Kal

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Roadie




Joined: 13 Oct 2013
Posts: 131
Location: Charleston, SC


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't currently have a pH meter but that will be my next purchase. I have been shooting for 5.42ish on EZ Water and hoping for the best.

Sometimes we get a metallic taste though on the last IPA (PtY) we got a sort of banana off flavor. I made a 5 liter starter for 5 gallons of that beer and didn't have the capacity to make a larger one. We ferment IPA's at 65 and raise up at 67 when fermentation is winding down to finish up. We have precise control over fermentation temps.

Do you ignore the alkalinity numbers on the spreadsheet?
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10750
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 3:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roadie wrote:
Do you ignore the alkalinity numbers on the spreadsheet?

Yup! But that's because I know my water and use a pH meter. So I skip everything in EZ that has to do with pH.

My city water is very soft (has very little of anything in it) but the pH is very high - over 9. This doesn't matter because my alkalinity is very low (32 CaCO3 ppm) what this means is that my water has very little buffering capability (ie: isn't able to resist change very well). So the pH is easily adjusted by simply adding some grain. It drops like a stone to the right range. The only time it doesn't is when I brew a very light beer (all 2-row for example, no darker malts at all) like a blonde ale or an american lager. For these beers my mash pH is still slightly too high as the grain wasn't able to bring it down far enough. So I add some lactic acid after measuring with the meter. In my case (with my water,brewing 10 gallons) with most beers I need to add about a 1ml to bring the pH down 0.1. I usually only have to add 1 or 2 ml at most.

I do the same with my sparge water. Experience has shown that 2 ml in 10-12 gallons of sparge water (using my city water) brings the pH down to around 5.6 to 5.8 or so.

I find that using EZ to tell me how much lactic to add sort of works sometimes. Even EZ says that the calculations are complex so it's only really an estimate on their part based on your water and the grain you're adding. Always best to simply measure.

Kal

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skelley




Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 210
Location: brookfield, wisconsin


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have built all my water profiles with RO water using the EZ water calculator and have had no problems and for the most part its prediction of PH is nearly right on. The only salts I typically add is CaCl2, gypsum and MgSo4. Occasionally baking soda but not typically. I usually do add some lactic acid to shoot for ph in 5.35-5.4 range. I add the same salt ratios to my sparge water. My typical IPA water is .5 gr/gal of MgSO4 and gypsum and 1gr/gal of CaCl2
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kal
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Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skelley wrote:
I add the same salt ratios to my sparge water.

I add my mash salts to the mash and my sparge salts to the boil kettle (once I'm at a boil).
(This is what EZ recommends given that many do not dissolve in water only).

I do add lactic to my HLT sparge water however.

Kal

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skelley




Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 210
Location: brookfield, wisconsin


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not use chalk and I add the salts to the mash and sparge water when they are at strike temperature. I never have problems getting them to dissolve.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 8:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yep - Chalk's the one that's hard to dissolve in water.

The one issue with adding the salts to your HLT is that you need to either (a) add more salts because you want to treat all the remaining water in the HLT, or (b) you need to calculate your sparge water very exactly and only have that amount in the HLT otherwise you're not adding enough salt.

I find it easier to add it to the boil because that way I don't have to be exact with my HLT. I fill it to the 20 gallon mark regardless of how much beer I'm making.

Kal

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skelley




Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 210
Location: brookfield, wisconsin


PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My process is a little different and I use more water and start in mlt with my calculated water for mash in and heat it up with my eventual sparge water and fly sparge for almost the entire process of gathering wort in blt. Given this I know my starting water both for mash in and eventual sparge and add accordingly. I gather you see how much sparge water you used and then add that amount to the blk?
I have never fully gotten your method of 20 gallons and go from there. You could not continually fly sparge and gather 15 gallons in the blk depending on your grain bill.
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kal
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Posts: 10750
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skelley wrote:
I gather you see how much sparge water you used and then add that amount to the blk?

No - I calculate how much sparge water I need and use that in the EZ water calculator to know how much salt is needed.

See my process here: http://www.theelectricbrewery.com/brew-day-step-by-step

Strike water = (Mash Thickness X Pounds of Grain / 4) + dead space under false bottom + liquid in hoses

Quote:
I have never fully gotten your method of 20 gallons and go from there. You could not continually fly sparge and gather 15 gallons in the blk depending on your grain bill.

Yes I can (and do). I sparge until I reach my pre-boil gravity. I don't need to calculate the sparge water at all for getting the right amount into the boil kettle.

I only need to calculate the sparge water amount for use in EZ water adjustments, which I do as follows:

Liquid lost to grain absorption = Pounds of grain X 12%
Sparge water = Pre-boil kettle volume + Liquid lost to grain absorption - Strike water

For complete details and a step by step example, see the link above.

Kal

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skelley




Joined: 24 Feb 2012
Posts: 210
Location: brookfield, wisconsin


PostLink    Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I unfortunately am a bit too precise. I think you mean you sparge with enough water to get the preboil volume you want. You can not sparge the entire time with equal in (sparge) to equal out and have enough sparge water if you begin sparging immediately apon beginning collection. Simple issue unless you start to deal with value or no value of continual sparge which would waste water and would not be possible with your method. It might affect efficiency to continually sparge from start to finish.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10750
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Fri Aug 22, 2014 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

skelley wrote:
I unfortunately am a bit too precise. I think you mean you sparge with enough water to get the preboil volume you want. You can not sparge the entire time with equal in (sparge) to equal out and have enough sparge water if you begin sparging immediately apon beginning collection. Simple issue unless you start to deal with value or no value of continual sparge which would waste water and would not be possible with your method. It might affect efficiency to continually sparge from start to finish.

I'm afraid I don't understand. I don't understand the issues/limitations you're talking about.

I'll try and explain what I do in a different way using a picture from my brew day step by step article:

I heat water in the HLT and then add it to the MLT as strike water. At this point there's more water left in the HLT than I need for sparging which is the intent.

I start sparging by slowing adding clean water from the HLT to the MLT to rinse sugars from grain. At the same time, at the same rate, wort is drained from the MLT into the boil kettle.

Like this:



I don't calculate the amount of sparge water I need because it doesn't matter. I just make sure I have enough water in the HLT to get me through. In my case with 20 gallon kettles I just fill the HLT all the way up and it's always enough other than for very high ABV beers (10-11% ABV). For these beers I put the strike water in the MLT first and then fill the HLT more or less all the way up without measuring.

Once I reach my pre-boil volume in the BK, I dump the rest of the wort that's left in the MLT (mostly water at this point) down the drain instead. Usually a few gallons.

I like this method because it doesn't require me to have exactly the right amount of sparge water and there's zero risk of running out. I just sparge until I have enough in the BK.

YMMV of course. There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Kal

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captacl




Joined: 30 Sep 2014
Posts: 37
Location: Bethlehem, PA USA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Does anyone else find it odd that the EZ water calculator doesn't have a field to enter water adjustments made with NaCl (aka table salt)?
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kal
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Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

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PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

They got rid of NaCl a few years back as (generally speaking) people don't use it / should try to avoid using it.

Kal

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foomench




Joined: 21 Feb 2012
Posts: 710
Location: Longmont, CO

Drinking: Pinot barrel aged quad

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PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why should people not use it? I know a local commercial brewery that uses a bit of it.
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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Generally speaking you want to minimize the amount of sodium in most beers but it's certainly not something that's hard and fast "don't ever use it". I've never used it myself and I think leaving it out is a good thing as otherwise people may think it's ok to use all the time.

Comments from the author of EZ:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ez-water-calculator-3-0-a-261001/index3.html#post3169399
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/ez-water-calculator-3-0-a-261001/index3.html#post3169441

If you want it back, give him a shout or post in that thread.

You'll note that in the version information of the spreadsheet it says that it's been out now for 3 years now (since v3.0 as of August 2011):

Quote:
Added individual entries for grain types. Revised pH calculations. Rearranged spreadsheet. Removed NaCl, added Slaked Lime.


Kal

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captacl




Joined: 30 Sep 2014
Posts: 37
Location: Bethlehem, PA USA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If people don't use it anymore then how are you supposed to add sodium to your water profile. I was only using it to try and match your water profile for your recipes Kal. If it is not necessary that I match this number then I will be happy to not use NaCl. Otherwise I am open to suggestions on how to match your sodium content without using it. According to the City of Bethlehem, my water has 3.5ppm of Na.
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kal
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Oct 01, 2014 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know what your best solution is. You could use an older version of EZ, or ask the author to add it back in, or use a different tool.

I would brew with your Na the way it is and see what you think. If you like the result, don't increase Na.

Kal

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captacl




Joined: 30 Sep 2014
Posts: 37
Location: Bethlehem, PA USA


PostLink    Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kal, I will try my first brew without any NaCl addition as you suggested. Since you don't use it I assume your water has close to the 16ppm you list for your recipes naturally. Also, are those profile numbers the goal to have pre-boil or post-boil? Since you are boiling off a portion of the water doesn't it leave behind its mineral content causing the remainder of the water to have more ppm then it did before the boil.

Is it acceptable to add all the salts required for the total boil volume (7.4gal) to the mash to help get to the ideal mash ph. The profile of the mash would end up way over the target profile but then when mixed with the untreated sparge water it should theoretically be close to the target numbers. Why do I have a feeling I am putting way to much thought into this. I suppose its just my probably unrealistic attempt to brew a perfect beer on my first attempt.
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kal
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Wit, Janet's Brown, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Belgian Quad, Belgian IPA


PostLink    Posted: Thu Oct 02, 2014 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

captacl wrote:
Kal, I will try my first brew without any NaCl addition as you suggested. Since you don't use it I assume your water has close to the 16ppm you list for your recipes naturally.

Correct.

Quote:
Also, are those profile numbers the goal to have pre-boil or post-boil? Since you are boiling off a portion of the water doesn't it leave behind its mineral content causing the remainder of the water to have more ppm then it did before the boil.

It does leave things behind so ppm would increase. Someone else brought this up recently and I realized that myself. The targets I originally started to use for my IPAs and APAs are are somewhat like Randy Mosher's ideal pale ale but with lower sulphate (I go for around 270 instead of his 350). Since his targets are probably meant to be post boil, that means that my numbers come in bit higher for the others. I like the results so I haven't adjusted. Feel free to experiment.

Quote:
Is it acceptable to add all the salts required for the total boil volume (7.4gal) to the mash to help get to the ideal mash ph.

With EZ they say to add the mash salts to the mash and the sparge additions to the boil. That's what I do.

Quote:
Why do I have a feeling I am putting way to much thought into this. I suppose its just my probably unrealistic attempt to brew a perfect beer on my first attempt.

Wink Keep in mind too that there's no such thing as a perfect beer - there's quite the range of what you can do that you'll still really enjoy. You could brew the exact same beer and change (say) sulphate from 250 to 300 and I doubt you'd notice any difference in the finished result, and if you did, you probably wouldn't be able to say which is "better".

There's a lot a science in brewing (or there can be a lot of science based on what the brewer wants to put into it) but there's also a lot of art, and as such, there's often not a right or wrong answer. My targets are what I like, what works for me. I started with some numbers from people who seemed to know what they're talking about (after lots of reading). I can't say I've done extensive experimentation to see if I may enjoy one slightly higher or lower than what I do today. I like the results (as do others) so I keep doing the same thing.

Kal

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