Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

While Beer is 90-97% water, it is a very tricky subject.

Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby NickW » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:48

Hi all

Next month I'm doing a simple talk at a brew meeting on the most basic water treatment. Purely on CRS/AMS.

Personally I use bru'n water and find it quite accurate and very useful. But. I will be talking to people at different levels of experience, some who have never done water treatment, and some who may find the bru'n water spreadsheet very daunting!

Is there a super simple calculator out there, or some simple maths I can do to make one, to figure out how much CRS a brewer should at to a beer depending on the EBC? I know that this isn't entirely accurate due to the way different grains interact with the mash, but it's a ball park figure and I feel I can improve their beers with just a simple CRS addition.

Any thoughts or ideas most welcome!



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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Mr. Dripping » Tue Apr 26, 2016 10:57

You may be better using beer style rather than colour. I think this would be easier for a beginner to understand.
Lager - reduce alkalinity to <20ppm
Pale Ale / Bitter (no or relatively small additions of crystal malt) - reduce alkalinity to <30ppm
Mild & Porter (more crystal and roast) - alkalinity 100ppm
Stout (high percentage of roast) - alkalinity 150ppm

Are you going to include calcium levels and sulphate : chloride ratios??
I think you should highlight the importance of calcium in terms of mash pH and yeast performance and touch on how the ratio of sulphate and chloride will tilt the flavour profile towards malt or hops.

Hope it goes well for you.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby NickW » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:07

Perfect. That's what I was after!

I will definitely touch on that for further reading. But for people not treating their water at all, I think the most important first step is proper mash ph.

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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:46

Try looking at my pinned posts on water treatment, it will give you a place to start. I've been banging on about simplified water treatment for years, but everyone wants to complicate it.

Measure the alkalinity,

Adjust the alkalinity depending on the style/grist (Pale beers <30 Dark beers Up to 125) using acids / Slaked Lime / 'carbonates'.

Ensure that you have enough calcium > 60ppm, but up to 250ppm is fine for a lot (the vast majority) of styles.

Most styles are happy with a sulphate to chloride ratio between 1:2 to 2:1, but with low mineral content the ratio is less useful . . . once you get to a sulphate level of 200 then again it becomes less critical.

Don't listen to anyone who tells you that chloride should be below 50, the flavours that develop when the chloride level is 'high' are quite remarkable.

Don't worry to much about mash pH, the mash is a self buffering system and will tend to fall in the 'ideal' range of 5.3 to 5.8 even if you do nothing . . .unless you are brewing a beer at one extreme of the style and a water profile at the other extreme (stout with low mineral content for example.)

As long as your water has a low to moderate mineral content CRS is 'OK', but it is not a universal panacea and with high mineral content water it's use is contra indicated.

Remember 65-70% of the flavour compounds in beer come from the yeast, the remaining 30-35% comes from Malt, Hops and Water, at most 1% is contributed by water . . . it's all about changing the perception of flavours NOT introducing a flavour in it's own right, and that is where using RO water falls down flat.

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby NickW » Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:51

Thanks for the indepth reply aleman. I think CRS is the way to go for the "non treaters" as a basic introduction. It's readily available and they don't have to dilute it or mess about with anything else. I found an immediate difference in my beers when aiming for a mash ph of 5.4. With ph readings confirming this. So I'll start them off with CRS and introduce a little bit about calcium and the rest.

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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:11

As I said in a lot of cases CRS works fine . . . BUT . . . there are cases when it doesn't work particularly well, and that point does need to be made. The other point that also needs to be made is that without actually knowing what the alkalinity is at the point in time you are adjusting it, then trying to add 'acid' to adjust it is pointless.

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby NickW » Tue Apr 26, 2016 12:13

I will be recommending them a salifert kit and doing a demonstration on how to use it, so they can test the water before each brew.

Obviously CRS isn't useful if you need to increase mash PH, and where sulphate and chloride levels are already very high - but at what other point would you not recommend using it?

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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby john luc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 13:12

A few years back I wrote this for our forum wiki. Technical water people did not like it but my attempt was to put an easy to understand way out there and when a person, gets it, they can move on to learn more when they are ready.
wordpress/water
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby john luc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 13:14

Water for Brewing
A Layman’s view

When it comes to all grain brewing, many confusions abound about what to do with the water for brewing.
The simple fact is, you can make good beer by just using the tap water, however If you adjust the water’s chemistry, you can make even better beer.

A brewer alters the brewing water because the normal pH of water is around 7.0 but the enzymes that are in the malt prefer the pH to be 5.2 – 5.6. The enzymes are needed to convert the starch in the malt to sugars. The brewer also wants to put more calcium into the mash. It’s a superhero.

The Brewer can do this in 2 steps:

Step 1 Change the alkalinity of your water to meet the amount your beer type needs.

Step 2 Add the right amount of calcium your beer type needs.

Beer style requirements
Style CaCO3 Calcium
Bitters & Pale Ales 30-50 ppm 180-220 ppm
Mild Ales 100-150 ppm 90-110 ppm
Porters & Stouts 100-150 ppm 100-120 ppm
Pale Lagers 25-30 ppm 100-120 ppm
Alkalinity CaCO3
A brewer first needs to know what the alkalinity of the water is, the figure required is the CaCO3 ppm (parts per million).
Your local Authority can provide you with a water report and while this is useful, it will have other numbers on it as well.
The information is only a guide and will show the alkalinity as a range because water levels rise and fall all year.
Buy an alkalinity test kit and test your own water and then you will have no excuse.

Taking the example of a Pale Ale, desired alkalinity is 40ppm of water. Tap water could read 200ppm per litre of water, so to get it down to 40pmm requires the removal of 160ppm. One method is to use CRS (carbonate reducing solution). 1 ml of CRS removes 183 ppm per litre of water, and all the water that is to be used in the brew needs to be treated. In this example divide 160 by 183 and multiply the answer by 30.

160/183=0.8743169*30=26.229507

So we need ~26 mls of CRS

Tá go bhfuil sé (that’s it).

All water should be treated with CRS in the HLT, at least 15 mins prior to use.

Calcium is the superhero


After the alkalinity of the water has been adjusted you the amount of calcium should be adjusted to match the beer style to be brewed. Calcium will do a lot of great things, it will,

Interact with carbonates: Carbonates increase PH, calcium lowers PH.
Bind with carbonates forming compounds that will precipitate out of the mash.
Protect the amylases from heat inactivation (falling asleep) when in the mash.
Help form trub in the boil, neutralising protein, so helps hot and cold break.
Aids yeast flocculation by interacting with protein on the yeast cell wall.
It even helps remove excess oxalate on your brewing equipment to help prevent the build up of beer stone!

Lets hear it for CALCIUM.

There are 2 types of calcium sources a brewer likes:

Calcium Chloride: the chloride brings out the malt flavour.

Calcium Sulphate: the sulphate brings out the hop flavour.

The amount of calcium in each of these sources varies from 23% in calcium sulphate to anywhere between 27% and 18% in calcium chloride. So by adding one of these you also add more sulphate or chloride, which is fine depending on the type of beer you want.

Adding back Calcium after CRS
By using DLS, aka Dry Water Treatment Salts, which are a blend of the various salts.
Carrying on the example of the Pale Ale, the tap water to start with contained calcium some of which was removed by CRS. To find out how much was left, take the original alkaline number of 200 ppm, and multiply by 0.4.

200*0.4 = 80ppm.

This is the amount of calcium left.

The range for Pale Ale is 180-220 ppm, so 200 ppm is target, and there is already 80 ppm still in the water, so it needs 120 ppm more added per litre of water.

1 gram of DLS will add 172 ppm per litre of water, so divide 120 by 172 and multiply the answer by the total volume of water to be treated, in our example 30 litres.

120/172 = 0.6976744*30 = 20.930232.

So 21 grams of DLS is required.

Tá go bhfuil sé (that’s it).



DLS is added in 2 stages:

Stage 1
Of the 30 litres to be used only 10 litres might be for mashing, so add a third (7g) to the cold grains before they go into the mash tun.

Stage 2
Add the balance of 2/3 (14g) to the boil kettle at the commencement of the boil.



By following this guide, you will be able to produce good water for brewing.

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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Aleman » Tue Apr 26, 2016 13:39

NickW wrote:I will be recommending them a salifert kit and doing a demonstration on how to use it, so they can test the water before each brew.

:thumb:
NickW wrote:Obviously CRS isn't useful if you need to increase mash PH, and where sulphate and chloride levels are already very high - but at what other point would you not recommend using it?

Very high alkalinity/hardness using CRS on it's own leads very much to a 'fixed' sulphate to chloride ratio, that you can't alter to the way you prefer without pushing the levels even higher.

Low mineral levels as well as the added sulphate and chloride can go totally away from where you may want it. . . . In this case though you can always add more

please note:The use of punctuation, bold, underlining, italics, and different sized type, follows the convention used in writing, for many years, to place emphasis on the point being made, and to highlight the importance of that point in the opinion of the author. It is not the intention of the author to shout, if that was the case the author would adopt the, much more recent, convention of using all capital letters.
Albert Einstein wrote:Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Mr. Dripping » Tue Apr 26, 2016 14:32

john luc wrote:The simple fact is, you can make good beer by just using the tap water, however If you adjust the water’s chemistry, you can make even better beer.



I'm sorry to have to take issue with this john luc......maybe I'm being a bit pedantic here.
It is far from simple...... the fact is quite the opposite and it is terribly easy to make rank bad beer from tap water if you do not understand what is going on at a basic level. Sometimes you can make good beer with water from the tap if you happen to be lucky and pick a grist that is matched to the alkalinity of the liquor.
When I first started AG I spent a year (probably closer to 2 years) tipping away batch after batch of harsh, astringent pale beer and bitter.
Time after time I'd read.....'don't worry about your water, concentrate on your process and repeating your beers consistently'.
Well, I did this over and over and my results were consistent.....consistently crap.
I had no understanding of the concept of alkalinity and I was trying to make pale beers and bitters with water that was totally unsuitable for such.
I can't remember where I stumbled on the information that helped me overcome my issues, but in hindsight I feel that a new brewer must at a very early stage grasp the concept of liquor alkalinity and choosing the correct level in relation the their chosen grist. This is particularly important when brewing pale beers and bitters.

I am sorry if this appears to be a bit of a rant. I do not wish it to appear so.
I have strong feelings on the subject due to wasting a lot of time, effort and beer when my understanding of the subject was poor.
There were a few times when I almost gave up and I applaud anyone who takes the time to explain the subject to new brewers so they don't have to go through what I did.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Mr. Dripping » Tue Apr 26, 2016 14:35

Here is a copy of something I wrote for something else.......feel free to use as you wish :D

Water Treatments, Pale Beers and Bitters – a simplified approach (kind of….) for homebrewers.
By Mark Potts (Mr. Dripping)

I am invariably drawn to pale beers and if they happen also to contain a healthy dose of hops, then all the better in my opinion.
As a homebrewer I’ve tended to focus on this style of beer and for some time I struggled to brew anything that I felt was acceptable. Batch after batch was rejected by my palate, and it turns out that to succeed in making pale beers you do need a particular type of water, so this was something I needed to develop an understanding of….either that or spend the rest of my life brewing stout.

As a fledgling in my new hobby (or should that be obsession?) I started to do a bit of reading on water treatment on the tinterweb, and this is where it all started to get mightily confusing, with opinions ranging from “don’t worry about the water, just concentrate on brewing something consistently good”; to, “you will need to treat the liquor with acid” along with other chemicals and compounds that I had not encountered since my A-level chemistry days some 20-odd years ago.

Here is the result of what I’ve discovered over the years and the first thing I need to say is that you certainly do need to worry about what is in your water, particularly if you want to brew a good pale ale or traditional English bitter.

I mentioned earlier that I’d read in a few places the mantra…..“Don’t worry about the water, just concentrate on brewing something consistently good”.
Whilst that may be true in some cases, with respect to pale ales and bitters I believe that it is not true for the majority, and there is a risk that new brewers will become discouraged if they continually produce beers that are astringent and unpleasant to drink. Even at the most basic of levels it is important for brewers to grasp the fundamentals and therefore produce an acceptable beverage that can then be tweeked for improvements. So, how does the homebrewer go about achieving this?

Before I go any further I would point out that this is by no means a definitive text on the subject. My aim here is to provide some fairly basic information so that a brewer can hit an acceptable mash pH and produce a beer that is pleasant to drink.

The first treatment that all brewers should use on their brewing liquor is to add 1 crushed campden tablet per 20 gallons of liquor. This will remove any free chlorine and chloramine in the water - the presence of either will lead to the finished beer having an unpleasant medicinal taste often described by many as TCP like. This will liberate a small amount of chloride and sulphate in to the water that can effectively be ignored.

It is important that the Brewer (or Brewster) understands what he or she is initially dealing with. What is in the water that I’m using to make my beer with? This will determine how the water is treated, or indeed if it needs to be treated at all.
The 4 parameters I am most interested in are alkalinity, calcium, sulphate and chloride.
You may be able to get this information from the website of your water supplier. If it is not on their website, give them a call. I know many people who have done this, myself included and they are indeed very helpful.
There are regulations pertaining to potable water supplies and the supply companies test it fairly regularly; however the parameters that are of interest to the brewer are not always fully covered due to their being no formal requirement for the water companies to report them.
They do though offer a decent starting point from which adjustments to future brews can be made.

If you can’t get the information from the water company, then it is worth having your water tested using a professional service so you know exactly what you’re dealing with.
One thing that is worth pointing out is that water supplies can be variable depending on where you live and where the water is being drawn from. Dilution can also be an issue during times of heavy rain. Similarly, you may see an increase in mineral levels during times of drought or if water is ‘imported’ from another area to ease supply issues.
Also, the published data is often an average of values obtained throughout the year and I have seen some instances where the value for certain parameters is from one annual test.

It is for this reason that I would recommend that any brewer obtains a home test for alkalinity. I consider this the most important parameter when amending water for brewing.
Salifert test kits are popular among homebrewers. These are produced for the aquatics enthusiast and they offer a reliable way of measuring alkalinity before each brewing session and they are cheap with a kit that can perform 50 tests costing around £10.00.
Hanna Instruments also offer a small pocket meter. This is quicker than the Salifert and less fiddley, but will set you back in the region of £50.00 and you have to keep feeding it with the correct reagent at a cost of around £25.00 per 50 tests.

Calcium levels are also very important.
Sufficient calcium needs to be present to ensure a good mash pH is achieved and it is also an important co-factor in many chemical reactions that proceed during mashing and boiling.
It is also critical to good yeast performance, particularly flocculation once fermentation is complete.
It is recommended that brewing liquor should have at least 50ppm calcium and I usually prepare my liquor to have 150-200ppm.

The last two parameters I will cover in this article are sulphate and chloride. Here I am more interested in the ratio of the two ions rather than the concentration. For pale ales and bitters I am for a ratio of between 2 & 3:1 sulphate to chloride.

The pH level achieved during the mash is of great importance. It drives the pH level of the beer during boiling and fermentation and is also a critical factor in ensuring that no harsh tasting tannins are extracted during the mashing process.
I would recommend that any serious homebrewer purchase a pH meter or at the very least some narrow range pH papers so that they can test the pH of their mash.
The recommended range for mash pH is 5.2 – 5.8, measured 15 minutes after mashing in with a sample cooled to 25 degrees Celcius.

Darker grains help to lower the mash pH as does the presence of calcium.
Fighting against this is alkalinity; this raises the pH of the mash and can lead to the extraction of tannins from the grain husk. Add the tannins to the hop bitterness and you will end up with a very harsh tasting (almost astringent) beer that has a pronounced and unpleasant bitter bite.
A typical grist for a pale ale will contain very little (if any) darker malts and similarly in a traditional English bitter you will find only a small to moderate addition of darker grains.

When preparing liquor for brewing a pale ale I aim for an alkalinity level of 20ppm; for a bitter with a small amount of crystal malt I am happy with 30-40ppm alkalinity.
As previously mentioned I like to have calcium levels of 150-200ppm.
The water from my home tap generally has the following make up:
Alkalinity 108ppm
Calcium 86ppm
Chloride 26ppm
Sulphate 107ppm

So let’s now look at treating this water to make a brewing liquor suitable to make a good pale ale with.

AMS is a product that is readily available to the homebrewer. It is a blend of hydrochloric and sulphuric acids and its addition to the brewing liquor will reduce alkalinity and add sulphate and chloride ions to it.

1ml of AMS will remove 183ppm of alkalinity in 1 litre of liquor, whilst adding 56ppm chloride and 89ppm of sulphate.
Aiming for a liquor of 20ppm alkalinity, I therefore need to remove 88ppm alkalinity per litre.
With some simple maths it is fairly easy to work out that I will need 0.48ml of AMS for every litre of liquor used.
This addition will add 27ppm chloride and 43ppm sulphate; bringing their levels up to 53ppm and 150ppm respectively.

To increase calcium levels a brewer will generally use calcium chloride or calcium sulphate or a mixture of the two.
1g of calcium chloride per litre of liquor will add 272ppm of calcium and 480ppm chloride.
1g of calcium sulphate (gypsum) per litre of liquor will add 233ppm of calcium and 558ppm of sulphate.

To my base liquor I need to add 64ppm to get the calcium up to 150ppm.
This can be done using 0.24g/l of calcium chloride whilst at the same time raising chloride levels by 115ppm.
Alternatively, I could use 0.27g/l of gypsum. This would raise sulphate levels by 150ppm.

If I use both gypsum and calcium chloride I can control the ratio of chloride and sulphate in the liquor.

In my case after treating with AMS at 0.48ml/l my profile is 20ppm alkalinity, sulphate 150ppm, chloride 53ppm and calcium of 86ppm.
Using 0.13g/l of calcium chloride gives 35ppm calcium and 62ppm chloride. The same addition of gypsum (0.13g/l) will add 29ppm calcium and 73ppm sulphate.
This gives a final profile of 20ppm alkalinity, 150ppm calcium, 223ppm sulphate and 115ppm chloride.

Before wrapping up this somewhat lengthier than anticipated article, a few things to bear in mind on how to add the AMS and salts.
Add the required amount of AMS to all liquor at the start of your brewday. It is important to keep the alkalinity of the sparge liquor low to stop the pH rising towards the end of the sparge. This is particularly important if you are fly-sparging.
Remember to mix well and re-test for alkalinity to ensure the acid has had the desired effect.
My usual practice for adding salts is to add them in proportion to the liquor being used at the time. I batch sparge, so will add the required amounts on mashing in, then again when adding the top up liquor for the first batch sparge with the remainder going in with the final liquor addition.

In closing I hope that you have found my article useful and not too complicated but most of all I hope that you can tailor this information to your own water and make better pale ales and bitters.

Notes.
Calculations have been rounded to the nearest whole number.
AMS is also known as CRS.
Values for alkalinity reduction by AMS and values for added ions from salt additions are taken from LIQUOR TREATMENT 3 by Murphy & Son Ltd, document ref TECH/LT3 Revision 1.0, February 2006
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby john luc » Tue Apr 26, 2016 16:11

No problem Mr. Dripping, your quite right about how tap water can also be bad for some people's brews :hat: . My example was only meant as a gateway to the subject. We have just had our second Brewcon conference and we had a speaker give a good delivery on the subject but alas I did see many people begin to lose the grasp of what he was saying after he spoke for awhile :?. It is one of those subjects that every brewer sets out to grasp and yet people still get bogged down with it :scratch: .
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby Mr. Dripping » Wed Apr 27, 2016 14:14

john luc wrote:No problem Mr. Dripping, your quite right about how tap water can also be bad for some people's brews :hat: . My example was only meant as a gateway to the subject. We have just had our second Brewcon conference and we had a speaker give a good delivery on the subject but alas I did see many people begin to lose the grasp of what he was saying after he spoke for awhile :?. It is one of those subjects that every brewer sets out to grasp and yet people still get bogged down with it :scratch: .


I understand.
I get quite emotive on the subject due to all the problems I had when I started brewing.
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Re: Doing a brief talk on simple water treatment

Postby jonnymorris » Sun Jun 12, 2016 11:16

Mr D,

Really interesting read, thanks for sharing. I'm new to water treatment but feel much more in control knowing just a few of the basics. I do have a couple of questions on your post if I may...
Mr. Dripping wrote:...test the pH of the mash... measured 15 minutes after mashing in with a sample cooled to 25 degrees Celcius.
By the time you've established that your pH is high/low won't it be too late to do anything about it? Do you recommend this, therefore, as a sanity check and to inform subsequent brews?
Mr. Dripping wrote:My usual practice for adding salts is to add them in proportion to the liquor being used at the time.
What's the value of treating each 'batch' of liquor vs treating all the liquor in the HLT in one go?

If you got this far, thanks for entertaining my ramblings.
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