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The Brewing Forum • View topic - Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

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

Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby CraftyTim » Sun Jan 21, 2018 01:12


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy :D
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Eric » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:05

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Lanky94 » Sun Jan 21, 2018 19:31

To a degree I understand why some American aficicionados advise as they do having seen analyses of some appalling North American waters which are not found in UK, but it doesn't please me to see advice for using bottled or RO water to many with water perfectly suitable for brewing after simple treatment. Some seem hell-bent on pushing lager profiles for making any ale, possibly never having drank a hand pulled beer. only those served ice-cold and gassed to kingdom-come.[/quote]

Sorry for my lateness in this thread. Many thanks for all those who have contributed.

I live in the USA (I am a Brit). There are some horrors over here where British Ales are concerned. I have been here for 6 years and have never drank a beer that mimics UK style, characteristics or serving methods. I have given up trying and don't bother now when I see an 'ESB' on the menu. That said, to be fair, there are some beers out here that I do enjoy. I would much rather have a proper ale at home..........that's why I brew and am beginning to heed information on this forum.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby mabrungard » Mon Jan 22, 2018 23:40

London Porters were typically brewed using water from the Chalk wells that draw water from under the London clay. Pale ales in London were typically brewed with water from the Thames or Lea. Those waters are quite a bit different.

While I don't fully agree with the profile presented by Foster, it has quite a bit of truth in it with respect to the water quality from the Chalk aquifer. That water does have surprisingly low Ca and Mg content, but Na content approaches 200 ppm. The SO4 does fall in the 60 to 80 ppm range and Cl is also high at over 100 ppm. Of course, the water has pretty high alkalinity. The bottom line is that it is a fairly mineralized water that is well-suited for brewing a Porter.

Dark beers like Porter tend to clear easily, so the seeming lack of calcium isn't really a problem. In addition, calcium is supplied in sufficient quantity by the malt to support the yeast metabolism. But that isn't to say that adding a calcium salt is out of the question. Given the modest SO4 content, gypsum could be added if you prefer.

I continue to get a chuckle out of brewers that say that Americans don't understand British water and the effect it has on native ales. I can assure you that there are water sources across America that easily mirror the mineralization of some British sources. And I've tasted beers made with those mineralized waters. Even in styles like Bitters and Pale Ales that benefit from substantial mineralization, there is a limit. Throwing a ton of salts into your brewing liquor is not always going to make better beer. The only case that I can see benefitting from adding a bunch of calcium salts to your liquor is when you're using all that extra calcium to drive down the residual alkalinity and hopefully produce a better mash and wort pH. With proper acidification, that approach isn't the only way to brew authentic British beers.

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Eric » Tue Jan 23, 2018 01:38

I can't decide which is worse.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Brewzee » Tue Jan 23, 2018 07:57

Most American stout is an abomination of roasted malts anyway. I love an American pale but their stouts don't ring my bell at all. I prefer a modest roasted barley addition.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Tue Jan 23, 2018 07:58

With yeast supplying 65-70% of the active flavour compounds in beer, followed by Hops and malt the other 39.99%. I find it incredible that someone has such a highly refined palate that they can claim to detect the difference between 50ppm calcium and 150ppm calcium (plus associated anions), and perceive the beer made with the higher profile as having excessivce mineralisation and being a poorer beer!

I always have a chuckle at people who claim to be able to do that.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jan 23, 2018 11:18


Last edited by PeeBee on Tue Jan 23, 2018 15:23, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:58

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Tue Jan 23, 2018 13:22


Last edited by Aleman on Tue Jan 23, 2018 13:44, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Correcting The quoted post to reflect what was said
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jan 23, 2018 15:06

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Cautionary Tale

Postby PeeBee » Tue Jan 30, 2018 13:53

After a bit of thinking and grubbing around the Internet I have to swallow deeply and say: Be cautious how you use any advise I've been giving in this thread. I'm not a very good bigot, I do argue strongly when I think I'm right and even if my arguing has a conciliatory tone it's stuffed full of needles. But I then go away and check what I've been saying (Note to self: Be a bigot and save yourself bags of work).

In this case: I've always lived in areas supplied from moorland reservoirs, i.e. acid water with very little dissolved solids (in the 1980s I was in NE Scotland during the "acid rain" scare and the ground water was infamously pH3). I've experienced virtually no alkalinity apart from what the water companies added to help protect their iron pipes. I only started to get into alkalinity concerns 2-3 years ago after building my new brewery; before that I was stuck in the 70's way of boiling the water (which did nothing) and adding a teaspoon of gypsum, 1/2tsp of Epsom Salt and perhaps a few other bits and pieces (CaCl, salt, etc.). Much of the time I added zilch.

2-3 years ago I got to grips with Bru'n Water. Suddenly I was adding all sorts to my liquor and in relatively large amounts, and then there was all this "alkalinity" business which appeared to do nothing. Of course it did nothing, there was virtually no alkalinity in my water. It meant I could develop screwy back-to-front ways of tackling pH and question the current obsession with "alkalinity".

MORAL: As far as I'm concerned there is no point worrying about "alkalinity", just get the pH right, but I can't apply this attitude to the majority of folk who do have a reason to be concerned about alkalinity. If you have water with very, very low alkalinity and an obsession with getting alkalinity just right, take note!

Last edited by PeeBee on Fri Feb 02, 2018 13:55, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Tue Jan 30, 2018 15:34

:whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle: :whistle:

One of the things I've found is that with low alkalinity, it appears you have great liquor for pale ales and lager. For pale ales you need to add gypsum and calcium chloride, and you can make great/good/passable pale ales ... Follow the guidance for lager though, and I've fallen flat on my face ... WTF!! The brewers in Plzen have softer water than we do, it's virtually distilled! How do they get away with it? It took a trip to Eastern Europe to resolve the issue, and assisting at some small 'craft' breweries over there, and the secret ... They add calcium!! Mostly calcium chloride, but I've seen gypsum tucked away as well. I've done a few test mashes, and pils malt and low calcium levels (low alkalinity obviously) pH stays stubbornly high ~5.7, add 60ppm calcium and the pH can drop as low as 5.4, up to 100ppm and the pH drops to 5.2. ... When you have 'crystal' malts in the mix then you can get away with lower levels of calcium to get the pH in the ball park, but personally I would never go below adding an additional 60ppm calcium.

Raising alkalinity for my malty dark beers is a whole 'nother story :lol:
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby mabrungard » Wed Jan 31, 2018 14:27


Martin B.
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby PeeBee » Fri Feb 02, 2018 13:44

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Fri Feb 02, 2018 15:40

No, but you can just ignore the warnings :D.

The whole thing is that there are some approaches that encourage people to think about what they want to achieve, and how to get there, and also to think bout their tastes, and how they like / expect their beer to taste. Then there is the other approach that tells people that unless they follow approach X their beer will taste/be bad ... when in reality that is merely a limited opinion, based on a few peoples taste preference.

I'd rather encourage people to engage their brains and experiment a few times themselves to discover what they actually prefer, than to say I've done all the work, and this is the only valid way of doing it. ;)
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Dennis King » Fri Feb 02, 2018 20:24

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby CraftyTim » Fri Feb 02, 2018 22:04


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy :D
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Kev888 » Sat Feb 03, 2018 15:57

Warnings are fine, even good, when dedicated to objective problems - such as insufficient/missing input data, for instance. Unfortunately the spreadsheet also uses them if one deviates from the creator's own preference for targets; I don't always concur (at all) but there seems no way of stopping that.

It can still be used as a tool for other brewing targets, if you don't wish to be policed by your own software. To do so, you may just need to identify which warnings are a matter of opinion and judiciously ignore them, along with various guidance on general approach and profiles etc.

Though the spreadsheet is very complex (unnecessarily so for most circumstances IMO) and that can get in the way sometimes, even without the somewhat subjective advisory elements. It does work, but I'd suggest getting to grips with the fundamentals of what you're doing or testing before turning to the spreadsheet, rather than visa versa. Such software can do all sorts of things if one wishes, and people have come away with some very strange ideas if they let it lead the way.

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Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby CraftyTim » Sat Feb 03, 2018 21:47

My observation as a relative newcomer to water theory. Is that this is generally classified as an advanced brewing subject and as such has been subjected to highly technical solutions. Whereas, IMO, this should be a foundation subject for brewers to be able to apply to their own brewing process in an efficient manner. It needs to be adapted from academia and into the homebrew kitchen for all to use.

I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy :D
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby PeeBee » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:49

Amid all this Bru'n Water knocking...

I was commenting about a Marsden's Pedigree clone I was messing with and the water was:

140ppm Calcium
18ppm Magnesium
25ppm Sodium
300ppm Sulphate
55ppm Chloride
110ppm Bicarbonate (mash only)

Pretty mineralised. But this was a profile out of Bru'n Water (Pale Ale) and didn't turn Bru'n Water "red". So the only issue seems to be having Chloride above 100ppm when Sulphate is. Why is that?


(EDIT: According to Bru'n Water, high chloride - 100ppm or more - plus high sulphate will result in harshness).
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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby mabrungard » Fri Feb 09, 2018 14:23

If it says harshness, I apologize. That is not the correct term. The combination of high chloride and high sulfate results in 'minerally'.

If that's what you prefer, its perfectly fine to ignore those warnings. However, since I deal with a worldwide clientele and worldwide beer styles, I find that most users appreciate a tool that helps avoid minerally notes in their beers.

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Aleman » Fri Feb 09, 2018 15:47

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby Dennis King » Fri Feb 09, 2018 20:52

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Re: Porter water profile. Terry Foster.

Postby HTH1975 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 11:06

On the subject of Timmy Taylor, there is a video on their website where the head brewer is discussing Landlord. He says that they use "well water boiled up with salts" and also that the water is naturally soft. They also mention that they source their brewing liquor from their own borehole. As such, it’s possible to be quite different to the typical water supply from the local taps.

2016: 330L brewed (72 gallons, over 8 firkins)
2017: 105L brewed (need to update this figure)
Drinking: Landlord clone
Conditioning: ciders from 2016, hedgerow barrolo, 1914 Courage RIS (10%).
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