Soft Water Profile

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by hoptualBrew, Jun 23, 2018.

  1. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Have been doing a lot of reading up on ion content and mash chemistry for creating that soft moutfeel in pale beers. I am wondering what a water profile that is a bit higher in Na and Cl would do for brewing NEIPA. Things that I have read:

    - High Na with high SO4 can produce harsh bitterness.
    - Na over 150 ppm with with higher levels of Cl can be "salty".
    - Na concentrations around 100 ppm accentuates mouthfeel and fullness in pale beers.
    - Cl between 100-200 ppm accentuates mouthfeel and malt sweetness.
    - Ca recommended at 50-200 ppm. Ca & Mg are the ions that account for water hardness.
    - Higher pH extracts "harsher" bitterness

    The best soft pale ales I have had have been very rounded with no harshness from hops. The beers have been a bit sweet, round, non-minerally, not hard.

    My next water profile for my house IPA will use CaCl, NaCl, and some CaSO4 for:

    Ca 50 ppm, Cl 175 ppm, Na 90 ppm, SO4 72 ppm & will target mash pH of 5.2 with phosphoric acid addition

    This keeps hardness down, Na and Cl to help with the mouthfeel, a little bit of SO4 for balance, lower mash pH for rounder bitterness. Sorry I am a bit obsessed with nailing this style. Thoughts?
  2. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Disciple (367) May 2, 2006 Utah

    FWIW, I like your approach. Cheers!
  3. wasatchback

    wasatchback Aspirant (271) Jan 12, 2014 Utah

    Malt adds around 40ppm NA (depending on OG of course). I personally wouldn’t take it quite as high as you have it.

    If you want some more CL without CA use KCL but don’t add it to the mash, add it to the kettle. You should be able to get it at your local natural grocery store.
    hoptualBrew and GreenKrusty101 like this.
  4. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,470) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    150 ppm is oft quoted. (From Palmer?) I'm sure the thresholds are probably different for each person, but if you want to test this, try adding NaCl incrementally to a finished beer and see how much you have to add before it tastes salty. I did this with a couple folks a few years ago. C&P-ing the result here:

    Retrieved my notes. Again, this was with a chocolate stout (Young's Double Chocolate to be precise).

    Added NaCl to cold (about 45F) samples of stout to get Na at four concentrations...

    119 ppm Na: Slightly more intense chocolate/malt flavor as compared with control (estimated at 20 ppm IIRC), but not identifiably salty.

    237 ppm Na: Even more intense flavor, just slightly subjectively salty. But I'm not completely sure I would have said salty if I didn't know what the test was about.

    356 ppm Na: Clearly has a salty flavor component now, but not overwhelming by any stretch

    475 ppm NA: More salty, but still not overwhelming or unpleasant at all. Complements the chocolate nicely, but not as salty as an actual chocolate covered pretzel.

    Note that the above concentrations were in addition to anything that was already in the beer. And of course it was a chocolate stout, not a NEIPA. YMMV, etc.
    runbirddrinkbeer and hoptualBrew like this.
  5. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    Do you know what the equivalents are of K & Cl in KCl?
  6. Mabrungard

    Mabrungard Initiate (32) Jan 9, 2015 Indiana

    The EPA- and WHO-recommended limit for sodium in drinking water is based on aesthetics (salty taste) and that limit is 250 ppm. Mick's observations on the effects of varying sodium content are very much in line with those aesthetic limits. When I was assisting Palmer with writing the Water book, John did a similar dosing study and found similar results. Modest sodium levels are not really that detrimental to beer flavor. I have recommended that sodium levels be kept below 150 ppm in most brewing on Bru'n Water's Water Knowledge page, but I go on to recommend that the limit should be a little lower (100ppm) based on my own experiments. The OP's indication of using 90 ppm sodium should be OK, but I suggest that they could omit the elevated sodium level in the brewing step and then dose the beer in the glass with sodium to asssess the effects.

    If the OP will be dry hopping that beer extensively, the low targeted pH of 5.2 may be wise since dry hopping has been shown to raise beer pH with each dosing.
  7. VikeMan

    VikeMan Meyvn (1,470) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania

    Hmmm...Mabrungard…that sounds familiar somehow. Great to see you on the BA homebrewing forum, Sir!
    makisupapolice14 likes this.
  8. ECCS

    ECCS Initiate (168) Oct 28, 2015 Illinois

    Is the mash the only time the ph should be checked and adjusted to 5.2?

    I’m wondering if checking the ph after the boil would be wise and then adjust back down to 5.2 while whirlpooling hops? Or checking the ph once the beer hit FG and adjusting down to 5.2 while dry hopping?

    I’ve taken a bit of a break from brewing NEIPAs... the last 3 I did had an unpleasant harshness (assuming from the hops + water chemistry). I want to try again, but IDK exactly what to change. I’ve always adjusted my mash ph down to 5.4. But then no adjustments after that.
    hoptualBrew likes this.
  9. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Zealot (586) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I think 5.2/5.3 mash+boil pH is ideal. Do you acidify your sparge water down under 6.0?

    Also, if you whirlpool under 180F I don’t think pH would matter much. Could be wrong but I don’t think it would matter.

    pH after fermentation should be down around 4.2-4.4 range.

    Any more info about your recipe/process? I had this when dry hopping too aggressively, 10 oz is too much hop matter for 5 gallons from what I’ve found. Trying 8 oz next, if that’s still too harsh/dry/sharp I will go down to 6 oz.
  10. wasatchback

    wasatchback Aspirant (271) Jan 12, 2014 Utah

    You can use a lower dose of finings like biofine to remove some of that harshness without damaging aroma, or consider lagering around 32 for a week. The best breweries brewing IPAs with huge hop additions are using centrifuges. Fining or lagering, while not exactly the same will produce a similar result.
  11. Mabrungard

    Mabrungard Initiate (32) Jan 9, 2015 Indiana

    Be aware that dry-hopping will raise beer pH. Since NEIPA employs a lot of dry-hopping, it is possible that additional acidification is needed to produce a 'balanced' beer.

    Also be aware that its common for German brewers to target a mashing and kettle pH of around 5.4 and add saurgut at the end of the boil to bring the wort pH down an additional tenth or two to enhance the beer's finishing crispness. Having a 5.4 pH in the boil helps rid the wort of DMS problems.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,718) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Martin, when is the proper time to check mash pH? Is it 10 minutes into the mash? Is it at the end of mash?

    At the recent HomebrewCon I attended John Palmer's presentation on Brewing Water and he stated:
    • You should measure the mash pH at 10 minutes
    • Mash pH will decrease throughout the mash - about 0.2 points
    So according to John Palmer if you are targeting a mash pH of 5.3 this should be achieved at the 10 minute mark and the mash pH at the completion of a 60 minute mash will be around 5.1.


    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  13. JohnConnorforealthistime

    JohnConnorforealthistime Initiate (51) Mar 10, 2016 Wisconsin

    I've been using NaCl a lot lately, not as high as you have here but more in the 30 to 40 range and feel like my beers are "softer." I did a control experiment, two of the same beers. One dosed with CaCl and CaSO4 only. The other with NaCl. My brother described the non-NaCl beer as drinking a sweatshirt. The NaCl beer as drinking a fluffy sweater. Take that for whatever it is.
  14. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Pure science...or maybe your brother prefers argyle :grimacing: ...NaCl ok in small doses...but I still prefer watermelon sans NaCl :slight_smile:
  15. Mabrungard

    Mabrungard Initiate (32) Jan 9, 2015 Indiana

    Hmm???? That is far from my experience and I've been very actively monitoring pH at multiple times during mashes for well over a decade. It's only been in the past year that I've come to the conclusion that 10 minutes is insufficient for the chemical reactions to proceed to a sufficient degree and its also in this past year that its become apparent that those chemical reactions can continue through the mash duration.

    Are you sure about John saying that MASH pH drops?? That sort of pH drop is typical of a boil.
  16. Mabrungard

    Mabrungard Initiate (32) Jan 9, 2015 Indiana

    Its so easy to overdose a spot on your watermelon with a shake of salt, so I caution you to consider that in your accessment of that analogy. A small dose of table salt in wort is always well-distributed. That salt can do the same thing as on the 'properly dosed' watermelon and a beer...make it seem sweeter.

    Just remember that salt can easily be overdone, so use a good brewing water calculator to determine an appropriate dose and get a good scale that has 0.1 gram resolution for measurement.
    GreenKrusty101 likes this.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,718) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    From the notes I took during the presentation:

    "Measure mash pH about 10 minutes into the mash:
    • Mash pH decreases throughout the mash - approximately by 0.2 via earlier chart"
    Did you attend John's presentation? Perhaps we should view the presentation (including the video) once that becomes available and further discuss this topic?

    Do you happen to know when the presentation/video will be available on the AHA website?

  18. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Crusader (730) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    ...and aggravate my newly diagnosed thanks :slight_smile:
  19. Mabrungard

    Mabrungard Initiate (32) Jan 9, 2015 Indiana

    Those presentations should be posted in the next few weeks. I was the MC for another conference speaker at that time slot, so I couldn't attend John's presentation.

    But the bottom line is that my extensive measurements suggest another approach is preferable to what John mentioned.
    JackHorzempa likes this.