We believe water is the most important aspect of any beer no matter what you’re brewing. Your 15% Double Dry Hopped Imperial Bourbon Barrel Aged Coffee Pastry Wheat Wine is still 85% Water!
Scroll to the bottom of the page to find a large chart of water profiles.
Brewstock uses the Brewer’s Friend Water Tool when making our beer, we think you should too! There are many great other tools out there as well, not limited to BeerSmith, BeerTools, and BrunWater, but we think the most intuitive and user friendly option is Brewer’s Friend.
When Brewstock brews any type of beer, we build all of our brewing water from scratch using deionized water and minerals purchased at Brewstock. Deionized water is great because it’s water in its purest form; two hydrogens and one oxygen. Below is a brief step by step showing how to use the invaluable Brewer’s Friend Water Tool.
- Enter your water amounts where prompted as Total Water Volume, Mash Water, and Sparge Water.
- Enter your Source Water profile. If using Deionized water, the numbers should all be 0 in this section. If using the very not recommended chlorine/chloramine ridden municipal Orleans Parish water profile, grab it from above and enter the minerals where prompted.
- Open Target Water Selection, choose a water profile from the chart at the bottom of this page, and enter the numbers where prompted.
- Scroll to Salt Additions. You have the option of adding all your salts to the mash water (click the checkbox) without adding anything to your sparge water, or treating your entire volume of water beforehand.
- The main 4 minerals you will be using is Calcium Sulfate (Gypsum), Calcium Chloride, Magnesium Sulfate (Epsom), and Sodium Chloride (table salt). Be sure that your table salt has NO IODINE in it! Iodine will kill yeast and inhibit fermentation. We like to use kosher salt, or flaked sea salt.
- Start by adding an amount in grams to the Table/Other Salt (NaCl) prompt until you hit the correct number for Na+ shown above. The delta should be a green (or red) number as close to 0, and the black number should be as close to the water profile number as possible.
- Next add an amount in grams to the Epsom Salt prompt until you hit the correct number for Mg+2 shown above. The delta should be a green number as close to 0, and the black number should be as close to the water profile number as possible.
- Next add an amount in grams to the Gypsum (Ca+2 SO4) prompt until you hit the correct number for SO4 shown above. Again, the delta should be a green number as close to 0, and the black number should be as close to the water profile number as possible.
- Last mineral (for now), add an amount in grams to the Calcium Chloride (CaCl) prompt until you hit the correct number for CaCl shown above. Get as close as you can to the target profile.
- Next scroll down and open the tab labeled Grist Info, and choose the checkbox for malt bill. Enter your grain names, weight, type of grain, and estimated lovibond numbers in the prompts. Without adding this data, your mash pH will not be calculated correctly.
- Next scroll back up and open the Acid Additions tab. Choose your Acid Type, the most popular choices are Lactic and Phosphoric. Add your acid amount in the prompt in grams or milliliters (they are the same), until you see your mash pH at the top of the page drop between 5.2 – 5.4.
- Done! Scroll back up and write down how much of each mineral and acid to add to your strike water. Then weigh out your minerals and start brewing!
Some other words on brewing water. This information can seem intimidating, but is fairly easy to understand after a few uses, and will immediately take your beer to the next level. We put together some notes to help you give you some foundation to grow on.
What do these minerals do?
- Calcium is found predominately in two minerals, Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) and Calcium Chloride. Calcium will lower pH, and when used in high enough proportions, it can drop the mash pH where no acid additions (such as Lactic or Phosphoric) are needed. Calcium also helps promotes enzymatic activity in the mash for conversion. It can help yeast metabolize, and help yeast flocculate. Most beer should target anywhere from 20-150ppm of Calcium. Beers that benefit from a soft water profile such as Wits, Hefeweizens, and some New England IPAs should target no higher than 40ppm Calcium.
- Magnesium is found in Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate). Magnesium also lowers mash pH, but only half as well as Calcium does. Magnesium can also be a nutrient for the yeast at around 5ppm. Most beer should target only up to 30ppm of Magnesium, any higher could result in a tangy-bitter, metallic flavor.
- Sodium is found in Table Salt (Sodium Chloride) and in Baking Soda (NaHCO3, Sodium BiCarbonate). While the former is a more accepted way to add Sodium to your water, the latter can also be used when needing to raise the pH because of highly acidic dark grains. Sodium can “sweeten” and round out the malt character of your beer. Think about adding salt to your dinner if it’s too bland, sweet, or spicy. In dark colored beers this can be very beneficial to have a higher Sodium content to balance out the acidic and/or bitter dark malts. Target 5-75ppm depending on the type of beer you’re brewing.
- Chloride is found mostly in Calcium Chloride, but also Table Salt. Chloride will add a rounder and sweeter character to the malt, and can increase perceived mouthfeel softness. High chloride additions are popular in New England IPAs, typically targeting 100-200ppm, but sometimes as high as 300ppm. It is important to understand the relationship of Chloride to Sulfate. A higher Chloride:Sulfate ratio is acceptable for NEIPA beers, the opposite is true for West Coast IPAs.
- Sulfate is found mostly in Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate), but also found in Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate). Sulfate will make your beer seem more hoppy or more bitter. It can accentuate the dryness and sharpness of the hop character. Where some New England IPA water profiles might have a 200:50 Cl:SO4 ratio, the ratio can be exactly mirrored for West Coast IPAs. Sulfate levels are acceptable as high as 300ppm in American IPAs. British IPAs are another story, where Sulfate ratios can reach 600 or 700ppm in historic Burton beers. Sulfate can be detrimental to flavor of other beers that require a softer water profile, such as light German lagers or wheat beers.
How do I know what water profile to target?
It can be difficult choosing a water profile if you don’t know where to look. If you are creating a historic or traditional example of a beer, a good place to look is the city of origin of that beer. British cities such as Burton on Trent have a very high Sulfate and high Total Dissolved Solids content. British beers such as British IPAs can have much more aggressive sharp flavors. On the contrary, southern German cities have much softer water profiles with low TDS. This soft water won’t be a hinderance on the more delicate flavors of Hefeweizens, German Pilsners, Munich Lagers, and the like.
If your beer is more customized to your taste and not so historic or geographically targeted, it can help to focus on two main factors. 1) What amount of TDS (total dissolved solids) should be in the water profile? And 2) What should the relationship of Chloride to Sulfate be in the water profile? TDS plays a large role in the overall flavor profile of your beer. A higher TDS can be suitable for beers with an aggressive flavor profile such as Stouts and IPAs. A lower TDS is much more acceptable for beers with a delicate flavor profile like Hefeweizens and Trappist Ales. Chloride to Sulfate ratio is important to keep in mind in both high and low TDS water profiles. High chloride and low sulfate can help accentuate the maltier and rounder flavors of beer, while high sulfate and low chloride can help accentuate the hoppy and sharper flavors of the beer. Contrary to a skewed Chloride:Sulfate ratio, a balanced Chloride:Sulfate ratio can be acceptable in most beer styles.
What minerals and acids can I use to adjust pH?
The ideal mash pH for converting grains from starch to sugars in all grain brewing is between 5.2 – 5.5, and very much depends on the style of beer you are brewing. For beers like pale lagers, a mash pH of 5.2 can be beneficial, while much darker beers can benefit from a mash pH of 5.5. Because darker malts are more acidic, the mash pH can sometimes drop too low. The opposite is true of some pale colored beers where there isn’t enough dark malts to drop the pH into ideal conversion range.
As talked about before, Calcium Chloride and Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) both contain calcium, and will lower the pH of the mash. Many IPA water profiles require a significant amount of Calcium Chloride and Gypsum which will drop the pH into range without any other acid additions. Magnesium Sulfate will also help drop the pH of beer, but is not a reliable pH buffer for two reasons. 1) It is not advised to have high levels of the Magnesium ion for flavor reasons, and 2) it can only lower pH half as well as calcium can.
The other way to drop the pH of the mash is to use an acid. The two most popular choices are Lactic Acid and Phosphoric Acid. These are both liquids and can be measured in either grams or milliliters (1g=1mL). Contrary to the liquid option, Citric Acid looks and feels like salt, is easier to weigh out with the rest of your minerals, and is an equally good choice to adjust the mash pH.
What if you’re brewing a porter or stout? Sometimes, with a high TDS water profile, your mineral additions along with a dark grain bill can drop the mash pH too low. Using an addition of Baking Soda (NaHCO3, Sodium Bicarbonate) will raise the pH back into range. Keep in mind that Baking Soda will contribute Sodium to your water profile, which can be desirable for some stouts. Slaked Lime (CaOH2, Calcium Hydroxide) is another option to raise the pH of your beer with a couple caveats. Slaked Lime will contribute a significant amount of Calcium into the water profile, and will also cause a high level of haze and cloudiness in your brewing water and finished beer. Slaked Lime is not as recommended as Baking Soda because of its permanent haze. Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3) is another mineral that can raise the pH of the mash. However, Calcium Carbonate, unlike bicarbonate, does not fully dissolve into a solution without being under pressure of CO2. Calcium Carbonate is not recommended as an easy to use water agent.
It is important to NOT add ANY amount of bicarbonate to your brewing water unless it is totally necessary to raise the pH of the mash. People most often add bicarbonates to their water because of geographical/historical water profiles that show a bicarbonate level. That bicarbonate number refers to the source water of that particular region, not the target water. Unless brewing a very dark beer that needs to have its pH raised, it is not necessary to add any bicarbonate to your brewing water. You will only need to add an acid OR a bicarbonate to hit your desired mash pH. It does not make sense to add both because the two will cancel each other out. This is why bicarbonate levels have been left off the water profiles chart below, (except in the case of local Louisiana water. Louisiana water bicarbonate levels is purely geographic and should not be emulated).
Here are some water profiles that we use that might come in handy. All minerals here are shown in parts per million (ppm).
|Deionized Source Water||Ca: 0||Mg: 0||Na: 0||Cl: 0||SO4: 0||HCO3: 0|
|Orleans Parish |
(July, 2018) Source Water
|Ca: 48||Mg: 15||Na: 70||Cl: 65||SO4: 75||HCO3: 204|
|Jefferson Parish West Bank||Ca: 43||Mg: 14||Na: 23||Cl: 32||SO4: 53||HCO3: 139|
(March, 2019) Source Water
|Ca: 38||Mg: 11||Na: 18||Cl: 26||SO4: 18||HCO3: 82|
|Balanced 1||Ca: 32||Mg: 5||Na: 10||Cl: 50||SO4: 50|
|Balanced 2||Ca: 57||Mg: 5||Na: 10||Cl: 75||SO4: 75|
|Balanced 3||Ca: 82||Mg: 5||Na: 10||Cl: 100||SO4: 100|
|NEIPA Low Calcium||Ca: 20||Mg: 15||Na: 75||Cl: 150||SO4: 50|
|West Coast IPA|
|Ca: 100+||Mg: 5||Na: 10||Cl: 50||SO4: 200|
|West Coast IPA|
|Ca: 100+||Mg: 5||Na: 20||Cl: 50||SO4: 275|
|Burton||Ca: 275||Mg: 40||Na: 25||Cl: 35||SO4: 610|
|Dublin||Ca: 43||Mg: 4||Na: 12||Cl: 19||SO4: 55|
|Edinburgh||Ca: 100||Mg: 18||Na: 20||Cl: 45||SO4: 105|
|London||Ca: 42||Mg: 6||Na: 15||Cl: 38||SO4: 40|
|Pilsen||Ca: 7||Mg: 3||Na: 2||Cl: 5||SO4: 5|
|Munich||Ca: 12||Mg: 17||Na: 4||Cl: 8||SO4: 18|
|Vienna||Ca: 27||Mg: 15||Na: 10||Cl: 15||SO4: 60|
|Düsseldorf||Ca: 90||Mg: 12||Na: 45||Cl: 82||SO4: 65|
|Hoegaarden||Ca: 60||Mg: 11||Na: 16||Cl: 53||SO4: 82|
|Antwerp||Ca: 39||Mg: 7||Na: 16||Cl: 30||SO4: 48|
|Achouffe||Ca: 29||Mg: 4||Na: 12||Cl: 35||SO4: 12|
|Orval||Ca: 34||Mg: 4||Na: 5||Cl: 13||SO4: 25|
|Rochefort||Ca: 28||Mg: 10||Na: 6||Cl: 17||SO4: 32|
|Chimay||Ca: 30||Mg: 7||Na: 7||Cl: 21||SO4: 21|
|Ardennes||Ca: 20||Mg: 13||Na: 11||Cl: 24||SO4: 25|