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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 10:18 am 
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 9:12 am
Posts: 174
Location: Fort Smith, AR
I have tried to sit down and listen to the shows, with the water sheets from my town. I can just not get a grasp on this. Would any one be willing to take a look at the saved spread sheet, my water supply info and get me rolling on this?

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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Thu May 06, 2010 10:54 am 
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derfburg wrote:
I have tried to sit down and listen to the shows, with the water sheets from my town. I can just not get a grasp on this. Would any one be willing to take a look at the saved spread sheet, my water supply info and get me rolling on this?


I could help

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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 9:52 am 
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:18 am
Posts: 1385
derfburg wrote:
I have tried to sit down and listen to the shows, with the water sheets from my town. I can just not get a grasp on this. Would any one be willing to take a look at the saved spread sheet, my water supply info and get me rolling on this?


First off we'd need to know what it is you are trying to accomplish. Simply brew decent beer? Imitate a particular style by using water which resembles that of the source which lead to the creation of the style? Enhance hops character? Produce Export with the real Dusseldorf crispness?...

Lots of people get hung up on wanting to have "authentic" water without thinking the problem through. Many, if not most, of the styles were born as brewers figures out what they had to do to work with the water they had. This doesn't mean they got the best beer. Just that they got an acceptable beer given what they had to work with. Trying to match water usually results in confusion and frustration for the brewer because
1) The water report he tries to match is not valid. Mother nature cannot produce the water profiles in most of the books and articles you will find on the subject and neither can you.
2) You cant' go to the LHBS (or supermarket or drugstore or Fischer or Spectrum or ...) and buy calcium bicarbonate and you cannot approximate most waters (in which calcium bicarbonate is the most important constituent) with calcium carbonate unless you are willing to go to the trouble nature did and dissolve it with CO2. This is quite a bit of trouble but if authentic water is your goal it is what you have to do.
3) There is a common misconcetion that there is a strong correlation between beer color and the "required" alkalinity of the water used to brew the beer. Laboring under this misconception many home brewers dump inordinate amount of calcium carbonate into their beers which results in high mash pH and beers which are not nearly as good as they can be.
4) Any water treatment scheme represents a guess. Deteminination of the implications of a particular treatment requires measuring the pH of the mash produced by the water with the particular grain bill you have chosen. pH test strips are prettu useless (especially for the 5% of brewers who, most of us being male, are color blind). Most brewers are reluctant to invest in a pH meter and those who do must ascend a learning curve in their use.

Putting that aside your water is very nice. It is quite soft from either source but Lake Fort Smith water has appreciably more sulfate than Lee Creek water while Lee Creek has thrice the chloride of the lake. Both are a quite low levels but the Lake Fort Smith is pushing the limit on sulfate for continental lagers. You can brew many styles of beer with either of these waters without having to do anything at all. You should (but don't have to) use means other than water treatment to get mash pH as low as is desirable but as most don't do this there is no reason why you should either. Supplementation of the calcium with say a teaspoon of gypsum per 5 gallons would be a good idea for ales and a teaspoonful of calcium chloride for beers where you don't want the hops too assertive is the way to go for those. Other than that, forget water treatment unless and until you are willing to make the substantial investment required to unerstand it better.


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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 11:16 am 
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Joined: Tue May 20, 2008 9:12 am
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Location: Fort Smith, AR
Thank you for the reply. BDogD has been in contact with me on this. He has taken my water report, my next brew and stepped me through the whole process, step by step. I really think I have it now, or can do it. He knows his shit, that's for sure.

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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Thu Jul 15, 2010 9:13 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:57 am
Posts: 5
Location: Newcastle, Australia
Hi guys,

I'm having a bit of a tinker with this spreadsheet in preparation for my next brew day and I've got a question. I've got a water report for my area and I can enter them into the spreadsheet - along with the target beer colour. I can enter the volume of my mash water and start to adjust salts and acid additions to get my RA in the range I want. So, all going good so far.

But then I get to thinking, and there is nowhere to enter the mash thickness.

I have read Kai's experiments/data on mash thickness and relation to mash pH, so it would apparently have an effect - yet the RA spreadsheet doesn't seem to take it into account.

Is there an assumption of a particular mash thickness when using this spreadsheet?

I'm sorry if this has been discussed earlier in the thread - I had a good read through a number of pages and couldn't see anything mentioned.

Thanks,
Benniee


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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 7:03 am 
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:18 am
Posts: 1385
The spreadheet is (mis)used by many based on the shaky premises that beers "require" a certain RA, that the required RA is dependent on the color of the beer and that adding chalk to brewing water at levels that will not dissolve or to the mash can be added into the RA equation. The actual calculations are based on the premise that it takes 3.5 mEq of calcium (or 7 mEq magnesium) ions to "neutralize" 1 mEq of alkalinity, that the malt is exclusively base malt and that this base malt has essentially the characteristics of the lager malts studies by Paul Kolbach prior to, during and just after WWII. You could certainly add to this list the assumption that mash thickness would have to be nominal for the numbers calculated by the spreadsheet to be meaningful. But as there are so many other assumptions underlying the spreadsheet I think you can safely omit trying to model thickness as the "error" incurred by not considering it would probably be inconsequential in comparison to some of the other things that the model ignores.

If you add acid or acid malts or calcium/magnesium salts to a mash obviously the more water you add the more you dilute these and the less their effects at lowering mash pH will be. But remember that the mash is a phosphate (at least - lots of organic ones too) buffering system which will tend to resists mash pH change to some extent.

Where the spreadsheet is really useful is in determining the RA of the water by itself both before and after you doctor is up with minerals. If water sample 1 has higher RA than water sample 2 you will need to add more acid (in the form of mineral, inorganic, dark malt or acidulated malt) or try to get more acid by addition of calcium and magnesium than you would if you brew the same beer with water 1. If you do not, then the pH of the mash with water 2 will be higher.

I advise using the spreadsheet to calculate the RA from the specs furnished to you by your supplier and then decide which styles of beer might be suited to water of this RA. You can use the chart on my website (http://www.wetnewf.org), which plots RA vs. effective hardness, to help you do this. Unless your water supply is strange in some way (e.g. very alkaline, very hard or very briny) it is probable that you can make most beers with it without tweaking it. If it is strange it's probable that it can be fixed by decarbonation or dilution with RO or other low ion content water. Salt adjustments, other than the most simple ones, are best left to experienced brewers. If your water is extremely soft then you should add some calcium chloride. If you want assertive hops, then add some calcium sulfate as well. But don't let the spreadheet, or anyone else, tell you to add tablespoons of calcium carbonate to your water because you want to brew a stout of 40 SRM (80 EBC).

As for mash pH, the best way to control it is to check it as you brew and adjust, with acid, calcium salts and/or chalk, in the mash tun, if it is out of range. It is unlikely that your pH will be too low.


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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Sun Jul 18, 2010 2:16 pm 
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Joined: Thu Jul 08, 2010 3:57 am
Posts: 5
Location: Newcastle, Australia
Thanks for the reply AJ - and to be fair to the use of the spreadsheet John P does mention in a number of places that this spreadsheet is "arm waving at it's finest" - so I don't expect it to have all the answers.

I was hoping to use it as a good starting point for some pH adjustments for my water (which is very soft in my area, and fairly low in calcium).

Knowing that the spreadsheet lists acid additions for the mash I figure is must have an inbuit assumption of thickness, and was just wondering if anyone knew what it was. I tend to mash thin - around 4L/kg (sorry don't have the imperial conversions at hand), so I'll obviously need to add a little more acid that the spreadsheet recommends. I can only guess that the spreadsheet uses John's recommended mash thickness from "How To Brew".

Thanks for the link to your website, but I can't seem to get it to work - just times out for me.

Benniee


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 Post subject: Re: Version 2.0 of Palmer's Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheets
PostPosted: Mon Jul 19, 2010 7:11 am 
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Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:18 am
Posts: 1385
I agree that John has always been straigtforward about what the spreadsheet can and cannot do. The problem is that a lot of people ignore what he has to say on this subject.

From looking at the spreadsheet it appears that the acid additions only effect the calculated RA (unless there is a later version of the spreadsheet than the one I am looking at). If I give it water with 50 ppm as CaCO3 alkalinity and 19.06 mg/L calcium at pH 7 it correctly calculates an RA of 36. If I tell it I'm adding 1 mL of 38% hydrochloric acid it reports a lower RA of 4. In fact the RA would go to -19 and the pH would shift to 5.78 but in either case we are talking about the water only. RA is a water parameter which really has little relevence once grains are added. The only tie in between mash pH and RA is Kolbach's observation that mash pH tends to shift up .00168pH per ppm (as CaCO3) of RA. This would be based on the malts, mash thicknesses and brewing practices of his day.

As for the website try it again. The daemon that passes my (dynamic) I.P. address to the DNS servers was not running (because I didn't kick it off after a reboot).


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