On water profiles

On water profiles

0 1 month ago

Water is a solution that contains salts in more or less measure due to the its natural cycle. The originally dry rainwater picks up salts (mainly calcium and magnesium) while leaking into the soil, the type and quality of these salts depend on the geologic and chemical attributes of it. A part of these salts after uniting with components of malt and hop transforms, and that affects the process of brewing and the taste of the finished product.

We all know that the chemical constitution of the brewingwater directly affects the beer. This factor is so determining that particular types of beer evolved due to the effect of the consistence of local water. For example, the forthcoming local waters have given unique characteristics of these specific types of beers: water from Dublin (stout), from Burton-upon-Trent (hoppy Pale Ale), from Pilsen (Pilsner), from Munchen (Munich). Basically, this is the main reason why specific types of beers had only been found in their given region because primarily the characteristics of the local water determined the beers that could be brewed with them.

Thanks to our current chemical knowledge all of these obstacles have been overcome for now. With sufficient treatment of the water, we can produce any kind of beer.

The most important affecting factor is the pH value of the water that is acidity-basicity. The term of pH was introduced by danish biochemist Soren Peter Lauritz Sorensen (1868-1939). The word pH is the sort form of "p(otenz) H(ydrogen)" that literally means the power of Hydrogen but opinions are splitted about the origin of the word. Solutions that contain cations and anions are rancid or alkaline based on the dominance of anions or cations. More anions mean acidity, more cations mean basicity. When there is the equal quantity of anions and cations we call it neutrality.

But what about pH (potential of hydrogen)? Ions are positively or negatively charged atoms, molecules or molecule parts. Positively charged ions called cations and negatively charged ions are anions. Cations are ions of metals such as natrium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) or iron (Fe) and hydrogen (H). On the contrary, anions are ions that weren't produced by metals like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), chlor (CL), coal (C) or sulphur (S).

From the scale of 1-14, 1 is the most rancid 7 is neutral and 14 is the most alkaline value. The simplest way to measure pH value is to use the pH measuring device, but in more scientific approach the pH = the logarithm of the reciprocal of hydrogen ion concentrate that can be found in one-liter solution.

Water hardness
Water hardness is the quantity of soluted minerals in water that is caused by the soluted hydrogen carbonate, calcium, and magnesium.

Carbonate hardness
For the fully learning of the water, we should know the carbonate hardness (temporary) and non-carbonate hardness (persistent) as well. The carbonates of calcium and magnesium, typically the calcium-hydrogen-carbonate is responsible for the carbonate hardness. Its value can be reduced by boiling or acid treatment. Non-carbonate hardness remains after boiling and it reduces the pH of water which is favorable from the aspect of starch dissociation. This process is triggered by the calcium and magnesium compounds of sulphuric acid, nitric acid and hydrochloric acid.

Setting the water profile
The simplest way of setting the water profile is if we firstly "zero" the water with a reverse osmosis device, namely subtract the complete mineral content of the water in order to create distilled water. Less effective but working solution is if we collect the "brewing water" in a stainless steel vessel before the day of brewing, leave it for one night and the day after we meticulously drain it above the assembled salt.

After it, we prepare the mineral content of our ideal water profile (that is propotional to the quantity of the water) and stir it into the water. Then we measure the pH level of the water and if it needed we can reduce (with lactic acid, edible phosphoric acid) or raise it (with cooking soda or pickling lime). Finally coming to the mashing process and while doing so we can also change the pH of the mash in the above-mentioned ways.

Water profiles
(mg/l)
Based on the knowledge above (pH, anions, cations, etc.) we can identify water profiles that we produce wary of certain proportions. PPM (Parts per million) is a measurement used today by many customers to measure quality performance.

Balanced Profile

This basic water profile is suitable for beers ranging from dark golden to deep amber in color. The gerally low ion content should not interfere with the taste of the beer.

Balanced Profile II

This water profile is similar to the Balanced Profile but with twice the minerals. It’s suitable for dark golden to deep amber beers, It’s higher ion content makes it better suited for stronger and more robust styles.

Light colored and malty

Low residual alkalinity and a sulfate to chloride ration balanced towards chloride make this an excellent choice for light colored (2-5 SRM) and malt forward beers. The mineral level is restraint and should not show through in the taste of the beer.

Light colored and hoppy

Low residual alkalinity and a sulfate to chloride ration balanced towards sulfate make this an excellent choice for light colored (2-5 SRM) and hop forward beers. The mineral level is restraint and should not show through in the taste of the beer.

Burton on Trent (historic)

Burton on Trent is known for water with very high sulfate content. This profile has been constructed from a water analysis of Burton well water published in “Burton-on-Trent, Its History, Its Waters and Its Breweries” from 1869. Suitable for hoppy pale ales.

Dortmund (historic)

The characteristic of the histroric Dortmunder brewing water profile is a chigh calcium and sulfate content which lend the Dortmunder Export additional bitterness. This water profile has been reconstructed from analysis data given in an 1953 article about residual alkalinty by Kolbach.

Dublin (Dry Stout)

With its high alkalinity Dublin water is well suited for stouts and other dark ales.

Edinburgh (Scottish Ale, Malty Ale)

One of the historic water profiles for Edinburgh, Scotland. Because of its geology scottish brewers have access to many different waters depending on where and how deep a well is drilled. This particular profile is well suited for darker scottish ales.

London (Porter, dark ales)

With its high termporary hardness the London water profile is well suited for dark beers like Porter. This profile has been taken from an average London water report and also matches the historic London profile found in various literature sources.

Munich (Dark Lager)

Munich water is high in temporary hardness and well suited for dark lagers such as Munich Dunkel, Schwarzbier or Doppelbock. Because of its high residual alkalinity, this water profile is not recommended for Munich Helles or Maibock. The mineral levels for this target are from the 2013 water quality report for Munich.

Pilsen (Light Lager)

This very low mineral water is the traditional water for Bohemian pilsner beers. Despite its low calcium content, great pilsner and Helles style beers can be brewed with it.

Düsseldorf (Altbier)

The water profile of the town of Düsseldorf (Germany) is well suited for Altbier and is very likely the water used by Altbier breweries in that town without any modification. The ion levels were taken from a 2013 water quality report.

Water hardness
Water hardness is the quantity of soluted minerals in water that is caused by the soluted hydrogen carbonate, calcium, and magnesium.