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You are here: Home --> Forum Home --> Brewing Forum --> Recipe Discussion --> Bru'n water recipe

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Houston, Tx
161 Posts

Thanks for the reply! after some of the responses I've got, I did consider that the Pale Ale profile might take a lot more work to achieve than other profiles.. the user who posted the recipe uses a "Yellow Bitter" profile and says its worked great for him.. 

I used the "Pale Ale" profile thinking that it would fit best for an "India Pale Ale", but perhaps a different profile would suit it better.. 

I guess just a question of your own process, do you just experiment with different profiles to see which you like best?  (setting aside that some grains produce more acid that needs to balanced out using salts) do you choose a profile to compliment whats on your recipe, or do you choose it because the end product will have a certain overall taste regardless of the recipe? 

If I did the exact same beer with two different water profiles, would the average Joe notice the difference? 

might be a good exBEERiment for brulosopher to add to the pile..

edit: I'm also in the process of reading your blog.. so I apologize if I'm asking questions you've already answered elsewhere..

Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by blur_yo_face

Bastrop, TX
485 Posts

I approach each recipe individually, but of course they usually fall into a style/color category. For some beers, I try to use a regional profile because I am looking to get a hint of what that beer would be like with the local water profile (always choose the boiled options for regional profiles). So I guess the answer is that it depends. I also tend to rebrew a recipe several times a year... which allows me to experiment a bit. I typically leave the water profile  last in designing a recipe.

Sulfate in particular seems to  polarize brewers. Some people simply cannot tolerate it and so-called Burton levels (450+ ppm) will give them a stomach ache. Others despise the flavor impact. It's a personal thing... 

All of this below assumes you have a good recipe, good fermentation hygiene and are prioritizing hitting your desired mash pH and temps... those are far more important!

Maybe some different ways to approach it.

Malty to Hoppy/Bitter spectrum. 

Chloride rounds out and enhances malt flavors. When you salt food - it's the chloride and not the sodium that has the biggest effect. If you like caramels - put some sea salt on it - you will get a good idea of the influence on malt flavors.

Sulfate sharpens and focuses bitterness. Some people think it 'roughens' up hop flavors and aromas - particularly the Noble hops. I look at sulfate to sharpen up bitterness in pale ales and IPA, but also use a bit in saisons. It also enhances dryness.

The difficulty is to not use too much of either, which is the source of the so-called Sulfate:Chloride ratio. The ratio is pointless without a starting point however. 

Minerality to Softness spectrum.

It's really the distance between distilled water's lack of flavor and really hard mineral water's tangy flavor. You can use that 'tang' at different levels to your advantage and this is where I shift out to magnesium and sodium, remembering that the minerals that provide these ions also contribute sulfate and chloride. Magnesium and sodium add a bit of sourness or tart flavors to water, which can also enhance malty or hoppy character.

I would encourage you to get some distilled water, and make solutions of each of the minerals and noting the levels at which you find the taste threshold, and the level at which you dislike the flavor. But sea salt, calcium chloride, Epsoms and gypsum all contribute something in play. And calculating the concentrations is good practice.

You can also dose finished beers to get an idea of the effects. Make sure to use strong solutions however so you don't water down the beer too much. The powders simply don't dissolve well in cold beer, and likely to make it foam out with all of the nucleation.

All of these also affect mouthfeel at different levels. Essentially the larger distance between levels of Chloride and Sulfate - the drier the mouthfeel.

Can someone tell the differences? I think they can, but they are often subtle. If you brewed a pale ale with the Yellow Bitter and again with the Yellow Balanced... hard to tell. But definitely different between the Pale Ale profile and the Yellow Malty!

Starting with the color profiles covers all of the beer styles that I can think of... The Pale Ale profile is really good for IPAs, DIPAs and possibly some British beers. I like the black/brown bitter profiles for porters. 

edit: My grammar sucks.

Posted 34 days ago.
Edited 34 days ago by mchrispen

314 Posts

|The ratio is pointless without a starting point however.

As the OP is coming from distilled water, 50 - 80 mg/l Ca2+ is a good starting point.

Posted 34 days ago.

Houston, Tx
161 Posts

wow, this is a lot to digest.. very good information, thank you so much for your input

Posted 34 days ago.

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