Author Topic: Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question  (Read 4670 times)

Offline Wildrover

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Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question
« on: April 18, 2010, 05:35:49 PM »
It was recently suggested to me that if you use water that is too hard it will accentuate the harshness of hop bitterness.  I'm curious as to what kind of water it "too hard"  and what do you do about it if you have this issue?  Decrease use of hops, dilute your water etc.? 

For reference my local water looks like this

Ca Hardness = 125
Mg Hardness = 39
Total Hardness = 164 (Is this too hard?)

Thanks

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2010, 10:34:11 AM »
Do you also know the "Alkalinity as CaCO3?"  That's part of it, I believe.  By itself, the Ca is ok and the Mg a tad high, but something about the difference in Ca/Mg compared to Total Hardness is telling.  I'm not familiar with it since my water is very low mineral.   Something about the difference between total and permanent hardness. 

But yes, high Ca and Mg would acidify the mash/beer which would make flavors sharper/crisper.  If the sulfate is also high, that would further augment the perception of hops bittering. 

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2010, 12:48:46 PM »
I should clarify my previous post. 

what I put was Ca and Mg hardness.  Using the formula on pg 158 I converted them to Ca and Mg ppm. 

Ca = (125/50)=(2.5*20)=50 ppm (assuming Mg/L and ppm are roughly equivalent)
Mg = (39/50)=.78*12.1 = 9.43 ppm

so my Ca and Mg figures are 50 ppm and 9.43 ppm respectively. 

Alkalinity is a different issues.  My water treatment plant gave me a spreadsheet with the min-max and average figures for 2009 but they give me "P" alkalinity and "M" alkalinity.  I have no idea what these are or if I should just add them together to get my total alkalinity. 

Having said that, they also forwarded me a more complete spreadsheet, though a bit dated that had total alkalinity as CaCO3 as 72. 

Hope that helps you help me  ;)

thanks 

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2010, 02:28:12 PM »
Ca and Mg at 50 and 10 seems good; right at the recommended minimums.  CaCO3 at 72 yields a 'natural' zone for SRMs between 8 and 13, so to answer your original question, I don't see anything out of line with your water that would lead to harshness or demand diluting it. 

Looking at the major brewing cities, the ones with 'high' calcium and carbonate levels are usually triple digits for each:  Dublin, Dortmund, Burton. 

You might invest in a current water analysis of your own water.  $16.50 at WardLab.com gets you a detailed report of the important minerals for brewing.  So many have done so recently they created a form for home brewers.  (I snail-mailed the box Monday and got the letter back the next Monday, snail-mail.)

Offline Wildrover

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Re: Water Chemistry and Hop Bitterness Question
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2010, 04:11:48 PM »
MaltLicker

Thanks for the quick reply.  This is making me wonder a bit about total hardness and the Ca and Mg figures.  If total hardness uses Ca and Mg hardness, shouldn't I use those numbers when determining how much Ca and Mg I have?  How come we use ppm or MG/L  to determine the individual ions but use figures that use a completely different unit when determining hardness? 

Not sure if it even matters but my mind won't let me let it go

thanks

WR