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The Brewing Forum • View topic - CSE Chemistry Grade 2

CSE Chemistry Grade 2

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

CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Sun May 22, 2016 11:08

You'll need to be 45+ to know what CSEs were but, in short, if you weren't fit to take an O-level (GCSE) you took a CSE. With only achieving a grade 2, it's fair to say Chemistry wasn't my strong suit. Now that's said, I've been looking at my water and am getting flashbacks to Mr Egan's Chemistry class.

I have a Salifert Kit and have tested my water's alkalinity (or hardness?), 165mg/L as CaCO3. I've also got the following from my water report;

Ca 59
Mg 9.6
Na 31
SO4 57
Cl 28

I have treated my water in the past using Jim's Liquor Treatment Calculator by GW to establish I needed c.30ml of CRS, c.8g of gypsum and a dash of calcium chloride in 35L of liquor for a bitter. I've been going through it again and have realised I'm way out of my depth. I had a look at Bru'n Water which is even more in depth and BeerSmith2 which seems a bit too simplistic.

I'm happy to give Murphy's water testing service a go (if it's any good and they're still doing it) or can someone give us a few pointers based on my water profile above? My default brew is a malty English bitter, fairly low on bitterness and not too hoppy.

Thanks.
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby mark1964 » Sun May 22, 2016 11:29

ive been using Jims treatment calc for years its not 100% but ive certainly made some good beers from using it. Now i dont add salts just treat with acids

ITS TIME 4 ANOTHER BEER
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby StevieDS » Sun May 22, 2016 12:57

I recommend you have another look at Bru'n water. While it can seem a little daunting at first it's fairly straightforward once you've played about with it. Have a look at the water knowledge page, it explains things fairly simply.

Your low mineral content water profile is a great starting point! Put very simply, I would increase the Ca to 100ppm or so using calcium chloride for malty beers or gypsum for hoppy beers. Remove chlorine with campden tab. Adjust the bicarbonate level to bring the mash ph into the right area (enter your grain bill in Bru'n water and it'll tell you the expected ph). Bingo, job done. It doesn't need to be complicated :thumb:

"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried."

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Dennis King » Sun May 22, 2016 14:08

Murphy's have gained a bad reputation in the last few years. I strongly recommend using service. I have also read that Bru'n water is too American orientated and not to good for British profiles.
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby StevieDS » Sun May 22, 2016 15:03


"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried."

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Dennis King » Sun May 22, 2016 15:13

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Sun May 22, 2016 20:01

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Good Ed » Sun May 22, 2016 22:36


Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
- Old English folk song
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby StevieDS » Mon May 23, 2016 00:14


"The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried."

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Mon May 23, 2016 13:09

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Aleman » Mon May 23, 2016 14:06

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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Mon May 23, 2016 14:22

Tony, you are the man. Thanks. It's interesting and encouraging that you have agreed with the additions GW's calculator gave me when I last tried it; CRS, gypsum and calcium chloride.

I'm currently reading through the water chemistry info on Bru'n Water (slow work day) and will go back to that spreadsheet with renewed vigor.

Thanks all again.
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Fri May 27, 2016 18:17

Brief update on my chemistry lesson for the record;

I've donated to Mr Bru'n Water and now have a more up-to-date version of the spreadsheet with CRS as an option and have also contacted wallybrew with a view to getting my water tested.

Playing around with Bru'n Water I can get my alkalinity down to c.40 with CRS but then my RA is low. I don't want any more sulphate so gypsum is out and if I add calcium chloride to reduce the sulphate/chrloride ratio (aiming to reduce from 1.7 to nearer 1.0 to reduce bitterness and bring out the malt) my calcium goes up (naturally) which then reduces RA even further. In short, whilst I have a much better idea of what's going on its bloody complicated!

I brewed today with just CRS to reduce the alkalinity - keeping it simple - and feel much better about having control over at least one* of the variables.

Mr Egan (chemistry teacher) would be impressed.

*make that three; bicarbonate, chloride and sulphate
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Aleman » Fri May 27, 2016 18:26

And this is when you need someone to say

"Ignore all that guff about Residual Alkalinity, and any warnings that come up"

Just a hint, a Burton profile treated to reduce alkalinity (bicarbonate) has a low residual alkalinity . . . Negative in fact, it's not a problem, if you treat your water properly it is actually desired. Another example the 'Pilsen Profile' has low residual alkalinity, in fact you have to lower it further with a calcium salt to help the mash pH fall in the 5.3-5.6 range ;) . . .Two massively different profiles but with a low residual alkalinity

Residual alkalinity is a calculated value from a theoretical concept, and never one I actually worry about, or look at. I worry about three things

Alkalinity
Calcium
sulphate : chloride ratio.

Get the first two right the mash pH falls where I want it, use the ratio to balance dry/hoppy : full/malty flavours.
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Good Ed » Fri May 27, 2016 21:48


Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
- Old English folk song
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby jonnymorris » Fri Jun 10, 2016 20:14

Regarding the sulphate : chloride ratio;

Would you have any concerns driving the chloride concentration up to 175ppm or even 200ppm with the aim of achieving a ratio of 1:2 (my sulphate concentration is 100ppm)?

Bru'n Water suggests a recommended chloride limit of 100ppm and that this should actually be reduced further with a high sulphate concentration. If this is true then I'd need to reduce sulphate rather than increase chloride to get anywhere near 1:2 and promote a malty profile which sounds like it might be tricky.

Last edited by jonnymorris on Sun Jun 12, 2016 10:50, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Good Ed » Fri Jun 10, 2016 23:48


Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
- Old English folk song
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Re: CSE Chemistry Grade 2

Postby Eric » Sat Jun 11, 2016 12:29

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