Brewing

Lemon-Lime Gose Brew Day

I’ve been enjoying various fruited goses (I blame Urban Artifact, Keypunch is awesome, and Pinwheel and Sliderule are pretty damn good!). So I decided to brew a lemon-lime gose.  The recipe is basically the Milk the Funk Gose with an added 0.25 oz lime zest and 0.25 oz lemon zest.  This was one of my almost-better brew days – I hit my mash temp (154F) and pH (5.3).  The only problem is that I forgot campden tablets.  Here’s hoping the souring rest and the fact that I used hot water from the water heater (as opposed to tap water) means that the chlorine will make it’s way out of the water.

Recipe and Brewing

I mashed normally, boiled for 10 minutes, chilled to 100, racked to fermenters and added an entire quart of GoodBelly Mango.  Since I had more wort than space in one fermenter, I put 5 gal (ish) into an old keg and 1.5 gal (ish) into a fermenting bucket. I used most of the GoodBelly in the keg, but I did save some for the bucket (of course).  After a day, I added some US-05 yeast. Basically a kettle sour, but I’m not reboiling because I’m lazy. The notes section in the BeerXML below has more of the nitty-gritty details.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
8 gal 10 min 0.0 IBUs 2.8 SRM 1.034 1.008 3.4 %
Actuals 1.038 1.01 3.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
gose 27 1.036 - 1.056 1.006 - 1.01 5 - 12 3 - 4 2.6 - 3.4 4.2 - 4.8 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewer's Malt, 2-Row, Premium (Great Western) 5 lbs 50
White Wheat Malt 5 lbs 50

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Goodbelly 72% 64°F - 95°F
Safale American (US-05) DCL/Fermentis 77% 59°F - 75°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 150°F 75 min

Notes

Brewed 6/3/2017. Used hot water, forgot campden tablets, initial mash pH 5.6, added 5 mL 88% lactic acid to bring to pH 5.3. PID was at 170 for several minutes, mash rested at around 154. Mashed out with 1.875g at 200, brought temp to 160. Took 3g of first runnings at 1.086. Added 4 gallons sparge at 200 with 3 mL 88% lactic acid. Batch sparge rest for ~10 minutes at 172. Took 3.8g second runnings at 1.027. Combined pre-boil wort was 1.038. Boiled for 10 minutes, KO and added 1.0 oz ground organic coriander, 0.5 oz sea salt, 0.25 oz lime zest (in hop bag) and 0.25 oz lemon zest (in hop bag). Stirred and drained through plate chiller to around 100 filling keg fermenter and ~2 gal into a small food-safe bucket. Added most of 1qt mango Goodbelly to the keg, the remainder to the bucket. pH of 5.05 into fermenter, measured after pulling a sample (because I forgot to check earlier). OG 1.038. Into fermenter around 4:30.

Pictures

Brew Log

2017-06-03: Brewed. OG 1.038, pH 5.05. Began souring rest at 100F at around 4:30 PM.
2017-06-04 12:00 PM: Checked pH = 3.62. Nice sourness after not even 24 hours!
2017-06-08 7:00 PM: Checked. 1.015 SG, pH = 3.22. Next time, I’m going to re-boil like a traditional kettle sour.
2017-06-10 2:45 PM: Checked. 1.010 SG, pH = 3.14. Mostly lemon flavor with some slight sweet-lime flavor on the finish.
2017-06-14 ?:?? PM: Checked. 1.008 SG, pH = 3.20. Dry hopped 1.5 gal batch with 1 oz Soriache Ace hops.
2017-06-16 6:00 PM: Checked, 1.008 SG. Moved to keezer for cold crashing.

Tasting Notes

First Drink

Appearance: Hazy yellow. Actually looks like a NEIPA, not like a gose. Maybe it just needs more time to clear.

Aroma: The lactic acid dominates. Slight lemon.

Taste: Very acidic initial, lots of lemon through the middle with a slight lime finish.

Mouthfeel: Dry and sour. As expected!

Overall: It’s not bad for my second kettle sour, and definitely not bad for my first successful kettle sour! However some changes should be made for the next batch:

  • Boil after souring to kill off the lactobacillus, and do this at a pH of around 3.4, not letting it hit 3.2. Right now, it’s just a little too acidic.
  • Forget the lemon. Just use lime zest, keep some of the juice (frozen, perhaps?) for at bottling. The lactobacillus has enough lemon flavor on it’s own. This might push the pendulum too far to the lime.

Cheers! Sour is sometimes the new hoppy!

Berliner Weisse!

I’m starting to move away from the high-ABV beers for the summer, which seems to be starting early in Cincinnati. One thing I’ve liked in the summer has been a nice Berliner Weiss.  Since my first sour is souring, I want something quick.

Enter Home Brew All-Stars.  On page 156, there is a quick and simple recipe of a Berliner Weisse.  Since I want you to buy the book through that affiliate link, I’m not including it here 😛

The Plan

Mash, Pasteurize, Sour, Ferment, Funkify, Complete.

I’m going to do a normal mash and sparge at around 150ºF for 60 minutes to ultimately result in around 5.0 gal of wort.

I’m only going to bring this up to 210ºF to pasteurize. It’s not really required, but if there is anything on the malt, it won’t be there after that.  Post-boil, I am going to acidify down to pH 4.0 – 4.3 per recommendations on Milk The Funk Wiki, reduce the temp to 100, and drop into my new stainless fermenter.

Souring will be a through Lactobacillus Delbrueckii.  I’m going to keep this warm with a water bath with a piece of shit acquarium heater (it’s apparently a known fish boiler, so it should be perfect for lacto).

Fermentation will be S-04.  I’m not messing with liquid yeast for this, and my LHBS didn’t have S-05 that I could find.  And I’m hoping the English-style yeast might have some yeast character.  I’m going to give it 3-4 days to ferment.  Not sure if it will ferment out, but I don’t think that’s important.

Funkification will be with some Brettanomyces Lambicus.  I was hoping to find some Brettanomyces Claussenii, but neither my LHBS nor another LHBS had any. I’m going to let the brett ride until May.

Complete will be bottle conditioning utilizing that brett to hopefully add some funk.

Brew Day

Brew day was an accidental occurrence.  My wife wanted me to check the hot water heater, so I figured now’s as good a time as any to heat up water for mash.  I did miss my mash temp by a bit (I was about 148.7º, I was shooting for 154º).

Log

2017-03-05: Brew day

2017-03-07: Found that the hot water method of keeping the keg warm was not good enough, so I surrounded the keg with a heating pad and some insulation.

2018-03-08: Checked temperature in the morning, 83°. Checked again in the evening and found the same temperature but was going to taste until I opened the keg and found krausen, so I didn’t mess with it.

2018-03-08: Found this page.  Cussed lots. Skipped the S-04 addition since something is in there.  Taste is clean, though.

2018-03-09: Received a Milwaukee MW102 temperature and pH meter.

2018-03-10: Calibrated and checked pH. 3.85.  Not sour enough.  SG 1.002.  Kinda plain.

2018-03-11: Decided to pitch brett.  Let it ride a week or so prior to bottle conditioning because at this point there isn’t much left for the brett to eat.

Coming up

Adding Lactic Acid in 5 ml increments to make this a little more sour. Yes, I realize that makes it a little one-dimensional, and I’m “cheating”, but the end result is more important than the feeling of sacrosanctness among people that are unlikely to ever taste this beer.

Bottling!

Next Time

Obviously, I am going to try a better Lacto culture, specifically Lacto Plantarum, Omega Lacto Blend, or The Yeast Bay Lacto Blend, or Good Belly (h/t to PricelessBrew on Reddit for that). The funny thing is, I was going to use Good Belly Mango, but since my wife didn’t find it at the store and I was stopping by my LHBS and another LHBS, I decided to use WLP677 because that’s all I could find.

Also, I’m going to hit my mash temp.

Tasting Notes

<<This part is in progress – a picture will be here>>

Appearance: turbid, but not the right turbid.

Aroma: <<placeholder>>

Taste: <<placeholder>>

Mouthfeel: <<placeholder>>

Overall: I understand why people hate on adding acid. I think it works if you use a good acid BLEND as opposed to the LD Carlson Lactic Acid (MadTree Brewing does this in their Shade Blackberry Blackberry Gose). I can taste the fakeness, and it does not taste good at all. This batch was dumped, particularly because I brewed a gose that came out much better.

Cheers!

Water Part Drei

I brewed last weekend, and somehow my efficiency was way up.

According to BeerSmith, my mash efficiency is 87% and my overall brewhouse efficiency is 97%.  I don’t believe that second number at all, but the first is pretty damn important to me, and it is wildly better than what I’ve done in the past.

I took one of my last recipes – an IIPA where I got 60% mash efficiency – and took a look in Bru’n Water.  Using my water report found on the Internet and what I added based on Palmer’s spreadsheet, my mash pH was likely close to 5.68 after the 4 grams of gypsum and 1 mL of lactic acid. What I should have done was 4 grams of gypsum and 4.5 mL of lactic acid. That would have put my mash pH around 5.34.

Of course this could be a fluke.  I did mash in high (the strike water started at 158ºF, I stirred it down to 155ºF), so there could be that.  So there will be a part 4 and a part 5. One will be with a past recipe with a revised water adjustment profile, and another will be about my Ward Labs report… once I run a Ward Labs report!

Cheers!

Flanders Red Brew Day

The Recipe

The recipe is fairly simple, I’ve posted it before but I’ve made a few changes.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 12.7 IBUs 13.5 SRM 1.053 1.012 5.4 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Flanders Red Ale 23 B 1.048 - 1.057 1.002 - 1.012 10 - 25 10 - 16 2 - 2.7 4.6 - 6.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsner (2 Row) Bel 8 lbs 71.11
Wheat - Red Malt (Briess) 1.5 lbs 13.33
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L 8 oz 4.44
Oats, Flaked 8 oz 4.44
Vienna Malt (Briess) 8 oz 4.44
Carafa II 4 oz 2.22

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Tettnang, U.S. 1 oz 60 min Boil Leaf 4.5

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Lactic Acid 1.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Irish Moss 1.00 tsp 15 min Boil Fining

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Roselare Belgian Blend (3763) Wyeast Labs 80% 55°F - 80°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 156°F 90 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Primary 4 days 67°F
Secondary 10 days 67°F
Aging 30 days 65°F

Note: in the above, ignore the aging part, this is going to take a while… Also, my hops may not be very strong. I’m using year+ old homegrown hops, and in the past I think their strength has been low.

Brew Day

Brew day went generally without a hitch.

Preparing mash tun preheat water

I mashed in with 3.5 gal of water at 174F, which settled to 156F.  I let it rest, stirring occasionally, for 80 minutes when I added about a gallon of water at 190F.  After 10 minutes, I vorlaufed and collected 3.5 (ish) gallons of wort, and batch sparged with around 3.25 gallons of water at 190F, which rested at 165F (about 5F below the target 170F).  After all that, the pre-boil gravity was 1.057.

Overview of brewing area while preparing for boil.

Boil was the standard one hour boil.  15 minutes prior to the end of the boil, I started the pump through the plate chiller, discarding the first little bit that pushed through and then recirculating through the boil kettle, creating a whirlpool.  At the end of the hour, I set the PID to a low temperature (50-ish F) and turned the cold water on to the plate chiller.  Chilling to about 70F took under 15 minutes.

Running boiling wort through the plate chiller

Running hot wort through the plate chiller

It’s fermenting away now…

It’s fermenting away!

Oak Aging

 

Somehow, I’m going to get some oak in this.  I don’t know how I’m going to do it, so maybe this will help…

Rescued from Half Price Books… And it was signed!

Log

12/28/2016: Brewed, SG 1.051. Forgot to get pH reading.

1/5/2017: 1.008, pH 4.15.  No acidity. Very bready.

1/14/2017: 1.008, pH 4.23. Light acidity. Still bready, but acid beginning to counter malt sweetness.

1/29/2017: 1.008, pH 4.34. More acid. pH meter is clearly fucked.  It needs more time, but bready-ness is generally gone.

2/26/17: pH = 4.26. Oakey.

3/12/17: pH = 4.12. Oakey still.

5/1/17: pH = 4.15. Still a little oakey, but better. Starting to become pleasing.

6/10/17: pH = 4.08. Pronounced oakiness, but a slightly fruity aroma and flavor.

(this will be updated as things change)

Imperial Hoptrooper Brew Day and Tasting Notes

On November 20, I brewed my biggest (and most successful in terms of numbers) beer – a double IPA.  Recipe inspiration came from MadTree’s High series, which is a series of IIPAs that are quite popular and very well rated (note: there are three “highs” that I know of, the Galaxy and Citra, which are linked in the text, and Azacca which is not… but it’s also f**king tasty! There may have also been a Mosaic High).

The recipes are similar.  I did a fair bit of ‘back of the napkin’ analysis on the two beers, looking at the percentages of grain, the AAU at each addition, etc.  I ended up with the recipe below.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 123.7 IBUs 5.9 SRM 1.074 1.014 7.8 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Double IPA 22 A 1.065 - 1.085 1.008 - 1.018 60 - 120 6 - 14 2.4 - 2.9 7.5 - 10 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsner (Hoepfner) 10.5 lbs 72.41
Vienna Malt (Briess) 2.25 lbs 15.52
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 8 oz 3.45
Carapils (Briess) 4 oz 1.72
Corn Sugar (Dextrose) 1 lbs 6.9

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
El Dorado 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 15
Galena 1 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 12.5
Centennial 0.5 oz 30 min Boil Pellet 10
Mosaic (HBC 369) 0.5 oz 30 min Boil Pellet 12.3
Centennial 0.5 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 10
Mosaic (HBC 369) 0.5 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 12.3
Centennial 1 oz 15 min Aroma Pellet 10
Mosaic (HBC 369) 1 oz 15 min Aroma Pellet 12.3
Centennial 2 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 10
Mosaic (HBC 369) 2 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 12.3
Chinook 1.5 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 13
Citra 1 oz 0 min Dry Hop Pellet 12

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 152°F 60 min

I kept closer to the size of the Citra High recipe, mostly because I am still working through efficiency issues (it’s getting better, though).  I still didn’t get MadTree’s efficiency, but to be fair, I’m targeting 75%, not 82%!

Brew Day

I’m happy to say that the only issues during brew day was how long it took and higher than expected grain absorption.  I started later in the day (around 2:30 PM) and it didn’t end until maybe 6:30PM.  There were no stuck sparges, clogged lines or chillers, boil boiled.  I ended up with about 4.5 gallons into the fermenter, which is less than the 5.5 gallons I was targeting.  However, the lower volume works better with my 7.5 – 8 gallon kettle.

Heating initial mash tun preheat water

Lots of hops!

1.070! The most this hydrometer has ever floated!

Airlock Action Shot!

1.004 (ultimately final gravity)

Throughout fermentation, the temperature (as measured on the side of the fermenter) stayed at 68, which is a nice perfect temperature.

Tasting Notes

The Beer

Aroma: Grapefruit mostly

Appearance: Copper, opaque.  White head that starts thick and persists as a thin head.

Taste: Tongue lashing bitterness with citrus tones. Some alcohol flavor.

Mouthfeel: Moderately carbonated, slight citrusy tartness lingers past the dry finish.

Overall Impression: I’m biased, but I love this beer. I’ve been drinking the heck out of this!

OG: 1.071
SG: 1.005
ABV: 8.7%
IBU: 124
SRM: 6

What’s Next With This Recipe?

I want to try two things – one is maybe a little less bitterness.  The other is honey instead of sugar.  I’m wondering if some Orange Blossom honey would work well with the citrus based hops.

Cheers!

Made Dark Candi Syrup

I’ve been thinking about my next homebrew being a Belgian Strong Dark Beer.  In the research process, I found two Chop & Brew Episodes, and both use dark candi syrup.  Since I’m tight (a little) and since it’s basically sugar, I decided to make my own.

Off to the interwebs, I found a post by Mad Fermentationist that mentioned a Ryan Brews post in the comments.  Looking at the Ryan Brews page, I used pickling lime and DAP (yeast nutrient, I used LD Carlson, which I had on hand).

I only scaled the recipe up, so I used:

1 pound sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp pickling lime
1 tsp yeast nutrient

I brought it to a boil and held it to around 280º – 300ºF for 40 minutes.  After that, I removed it from the heat, let it cool for a few, and added 1/3 cup of water and stirred it in to make it a syrup.

The two things I will do differently next time:

  • Dissolve the lime and dap in the water before adding it to the sugar. I had a lot of large flakes that I think (operative word!) are from the lime.
  • Use a better thermometer setup.  My grill thermometer was reading 280º for a while including in boiling water, so I hope the thermocouple isn’t ruined.  I’m letting it dry and will test it later. Edit a few days later: the thermocouple is saying 129º while sitting next to the food thermocouple reading 73º. I’ve ordered a replacement!

Cleanup of this stuff isn’t too difficult, the best way is to boil everything, even if you don’t make it to a boil, very hot water can dissolve the sugar/caramel.

Water Part Deux

So after the low mash efficiency last few beers AND my perception (note 1) of low mash efficiency in my last beer, I started looking at water more.

After looking at my options, I found a page on Braukaiser, and ended up purchasing an aquarium test kit that tests GH, KH, pH, NO2, and NO3.  The NO2 and NO3 are unnecessary for brewing, and I had 0 ppm for both of those anyway.  Using the spreadsheet and my 180ppm measurements for both GH and KH, I found Ca = 51 ppm and Mg = 13 ppm.

That’s not too different from my old measurements:

Ca: old 54, new 51

Mg: old 13, new 13

The two interesting differences are alkalinity and pH.

Alkalinity: old 123, new 180

pH:  Old 8.1, new 7.5.

The total alkalinity is a concern – that’s the ability of the water to buffer changes in acidity.  And my pH is lower than expected.  So I may not have had the wort in the proper pH range.  This could be why I’ve had efficiency problems.

2016-10-09-15-19-26

No nitrites or nitrates. 7.5 pH, 180 ppm of both Ca and Mg.

That being typed, I need a good pH meter.  That’s really the only point that I came to after all this.


Note 1: I initially thought that I had really poor efficiency, and there is a problem somewhere in my measurements… particularly not taking a pre-boil gravity.  I have the first running and the second running and the OG, and I determined a potential amount of sugar in the two runnings and it may be okay.  The real problem was that I had far too much strike water and didn’t make any adjustments.  I DID figure out that if I use Denny Conn’s method, I can safely assume his assumption that 10 pounds of grain absorbs 1 gallon of strike water, because mine is a hair over that.

On to the next beer!

Brew Day: Vampire Dust Pale Ale and a Mead

Yesterday (at the time of writing) was Mead Day.  Since I’m down to just a session wheat beer, I needed a pale ale, and I just wanted to make a mead.

Vampire Dust Pale Ale

Strike Water Additions

Strike Water Additions

Crushed malt

Crushed malt

Redneck RIMS setup

Redneck RIMS setup

Brewing went off with mostly few hitches except slowly hitting my strike temperature due to this redneck RIMS setup (to be documented further later).

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 44.9 IBUs 5.2 SRM 1.059 1.011 6.3 %
Actuals 1.054 1.01 5.8 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
American Pale Ale 18 B 1.045 - 1.06 1.01 - 1.015 30 - 50 5 - 10 2.3 - 3 4.5 - 6.2 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Brewer's Malt, 2-Row, Premium (Great Western) 11 lbs 90.72
Carapils (Briess) 12 oz 6.19
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L 6 oz 3.09

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Green Bullet 0.5 oz 60 min Boil Pellet 13.5
Citra 1 oz 15 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 1 oz 5 min Boil Pellet 12
Citra 3 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 12

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Irish Moss 1.00 tsp 15 min Boil Fining

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
London Ale Yeast (1028) Wyeast Labs 75% 60°F - 72°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 148°F 60 min

My First Mead

This is the fist time I’ve attempted mead, and I tried to keep it as simple as I can:

Ingredients: 4 lb Orange Blossom Honey, water to make 1g, yeast, LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient and LD Carlson Yeast Energizer

Yeast: Lavlin 71b, 5g

Process:

Rehydrate yeast with 125 ml water and 6.25g LD Carlson Yeast Nutrient

Add all honey to fermenter, water to 1 gallon, mix well.  Pitch yeast.  Forget to add first SNA (oops).

34 Brix!

34 Brix!

2 * 2lb Orange Blossom Honey... from Ohio?

2 * 2lb Orange Blossom Honey… from Ohio?

Supplies. Putting the Mr. Beer into use.

Supplies. Putting the Mr. Beer into use.

Following morning: add first two SNA’s, mostly because I don’t have a way to measure to tenths of grams.

The SNAs should be 0.4g Nutrient and 0.2g Energizer each addition, at pitch and at each of 24, 48, and 72 hours post-pitch.

Vampire Dust Pale should be ready in 10 days or so, the mead will be a while.

Cheers!

My First Sour: a Flanders Red?

I’ve been wanting to do a few sours for a while, and recently purchased two Better Bottles for the purpose of one being a sour-only fermenter.  I’m merging two recipes, one is the on the Milk The Funk Wiki, which is the malt bill for The Rare Barrel beers.  Since it is only part of a recipe, I took the other part from the Flanders Red Solera recipe from the Bloatarian Brewing League (a Cincinnati homebrew club) – specifically the hopping, mashing schedule, and yeast.

Water

My base water is pretty close for a Flanders Red, just a tad alkaline.

Base Ranges for a Flanders Red

Base Ranges for a Flanders Red

The only adjustments are basically pH, so once I add a milliliter of Lactic Acid, it puts the water right in line with where it needs to be.

Adjusted Water

Adjusted Water

Recipe

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.5 gal 60 min 17.1 IBUs 13.4 SRM 1.053 1.012 5.4 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Flanders Red Ale 23 B 1.048 - 1.057 1.002 - 1.012 10 - 25 10 - 16 2 - 2.7 4.6 - 6.5 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
Pilsner (2 Row) Bel 8 lbs 71.11
Wheat Malt (Barrett Burston) 1.5 lbs 13.33
Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L 8 oz 4.44
Oats, Flaked 8 oz 4.44
Vienna Malt (Briess) 8 oz 4.44
Carafa II 4 oz 2.22

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Mt. Hood 1 oz 45 min Boil Pellet 6

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Lactic Acid 1.00 ml 60 min Mash Water Agent
Oak Chips 4.40 oz 7 days Secondary Flavor

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Roselare Belgian Blend (3763) Wyeast Labs 80% 55°F - 80°F

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Mash In 156°F 90 min

This is still in progress, and the oak is questionable at this point.

Down The Rabbit Hole of Water Adjustments

Where I got started on this subject

This all started when I saw a blog post on Practical and Low Cost Water Adjustments. The author there is pretty convincing on the importance of this. Following links from that site, I found this.  “Rerun” claims to live “just inside of Clermont County, about a mile east of Beechmont Ford”.  I happen to live 5 miles east of Beechmont Ford.  Our water in Clermont County comes from three sources and goes into a common distribution system (in other words, they’re all connected).

Coming Brew Day

I eat a lot of Mexican food (well, perhaps “Mexican inspired and styled American food”), and I know that two styles seem to work best: Amber Ale and Vienna Lager.  I decided to go with a lager since my fermentation chamber is going to become a keezer.  I happen to also see a traditional Vienna Lager on Five Blades Brewing’s website.

Due to availability, I had to substitute Carafa II for the Blackprinz,and carapils for carafoam (there is a lengthy discussion on the difference here).  I also added and extra half of a pound of Vienna to compensate for the slightly lower efficiency of my system.

Looking at my source water compared to what John Palmer’s spreadsheet says to use, I’m in range for most of the minerals except for being low on chloride and high on hardness (both calcium carbonate and residual alkalinity).

Source water from report with Vienna Lager ranges.

Source water from report with Vienna Lager ranges.

Water Adjustments

I got John Palmer’s water spreadsheet from the BrewLab kit website.  It’s an older version, an updated one is on the How To Brew website.  The spreadsheet is fairly easy to use – select a style (from the 2008 styles, not a big deal, really), input my source water info (the boxes are YELLOW), input my RA (I used 0) and my strike water (3.53 gallons).  I skipped dilution (left the rate at 0%).  The next parts – mineral additions, acid, and results all work together – I looked at where I wasn’t in the range – which was only chloride, and added a gram of a mineral that provides chloride.  That mineral is canning salt (NaCl, sodium chloride), so after adding a gram I noticed I was near the middle of the chloride range without exceeding the sodium range (up to 100 ppm).  I also saw that total alkalinity was too high (by a measly 3 ppm), but that kept the residual alkalinity up high (76 compared to 0-60) which appears to cause the beer to be darker than expected (and this is expected, as I think all my beers have been darker than I planned).  I added a milliliter of 88% lactic acid which reduced the total alkalinity to the middle of the range and the color to 7 – 14 SRM (the target is 10-16, the beer as planned is 10.4 SRM).

Finally, I went down to step 8, which is sparge water treatment.  I’m sparging with 6 gallons, so I input the recommended 4 ml of lactic acid for my sparge water.

In the end, 1 gram of canning salt (pure sodium chloride) and 1 ml of lactic acid to the strike water, and 4 ml of lactic acid to the sparge water.

Adjusted water minerals

Adjusted water minerals

I’m typing this on Saturday night and I brew on Sunday.  We’ll see how this works out.

Cheers!