Sunday, 27 March 2011

Water recommendations

Water, I couldn't live without it. Both physically and metaphorically. And you couldn't make beer without it. But different types of beer require different types of water. We all know that. I wonder what a 1950's brewing manual recommended?

I just happen to have a quote I prepared earlier. From a 1950's brewing manual. Let's see what Jefferey recommends:

"We have seen in Chapter 3 that during the process of mashing, calcium sulphate (or chloride) and bicarbonates have opposite effects upon the reaction of the mash; and that this in turn affects the character of the resultant wort and its suitability for the different types of beer. It has also been pointed out that the presence of calcium salts other than bicarbonates gives pH conditions suitable for pale ales, whereas a water containing smaller quantities of these salts (with perhaps some increase of the amount of bicarbonate) gives a wort pH more suitable for darker beers and stout. With regard to their influence on the pH of the wort, calcium sulphate or calcium chloride are equally effective, but it is evident from a consideration of the composition of the Burton waters given in Table I that a water of this type which has been found to be particularly suitable for pale ales contains a large amount of calcium sulphate, with only a relatively small proportion of chloride. On the

Table Ia.—Composition of Water Suitable for Different Types of Beer.
grains per gallon
Calcium sulphate Magnesium sulphate Calcium chloride Sodium chloride Calcium carbonate
Pale Ales O.G. 1035-45 14 - 24 4 - 8 2 2 - 4 Under 4
Pale Ales 1045-55 24 - 38 4 - 8 2 - 4 2 - 4 Under 4
Mild Ales 1035-50 5 - 10 4 4 - 8 4 - 8 Under 4
Stouts 1040-55 4 8 - 14 8 - 14 5 - 10
Grain Equivalents of the Ions Present*
Ca Mg Na Cl SO4
Pale Ales 1035-45 0.25-0.39 0-07-0-13 0.04-0.07 0.08-0.11 0.28-0.48
Pale Ales 1045-55 0.39-0.63 0.07-0.13 0.04-0.07 0.08-0.14 0.42-0.69
Mild Ales 1035-50 0.14-0.29 0.07 0.07-0.14 0.14-0.28 0.14-0.22
Stouts 1040-55 0.14-0.22 0.07 0.14-0.24 0.28-0.46 0.07
* Excluding Mg and Ca present as carbonates.

other hand, it has been found that best results for mild ales, and even more so in the case of stout, are obtained if the water contains relatively little sulphate but a larger proportion of chlorides; in stout brewing in particular sodium chloride is added if the water itself does not contain much chloride naturally. The reason for this is in the effect of the sulphate and chloride ions respectively upon the flavour of the beer. Sulphate tends to give a dry flavour suitable for pale ales, whereas chloride tends to bring out the fullness of flavour which is required for darker beers. The presence of high sulphate content at the same time as high sodium content can give a harsh flavour, so that care must be exercised in adding calcium sulphate to a water which naturally has a high sodium sulphate content. In such case it may be preferable to reduce the amount of calcium sulphate added in the treatment and to replace it partly by calcium chloride. The relative amounts of calcium sulphate, calcium chloride and sodium chloride to be added will be adjusted to give the most suitable values for the type of beer. Table Ia gives the generally accepted compositions of waters for different classes of beer, and water treatments will be directed towards bringing the composition of the brewing liquor into line with these values as closely as is practicable. (The figures in the latter part of the table will be explained later on.)"
"Brewing Theory and Practice" by E.J. Jeffery, 1956, pages 102 - 105

Let's go over that once again. Pale Ale needs lots of sulphates, Mild and Stout considerably less. Pale Ale needs a little calcium chloride and sodium chloride, Mild needs more and Stout needs loads. Sulphates for dryness, chlorides for fullness. I think even I can remember that.

Remember that table of water compositions I also lifted from Jeffery? Here it is again (well, part of it) transposed to make it easier to match with the other table. Being a generous chap, I've also included the analyses made in 1852 of Bass and Allsopp's brewing water.

Calcium sulphate Magnesium sulphate Calcium chloride Sodium chloride Calcium carbonate
Burton highest 99 26 5.3 16.5
Burton lowest 41 21 3.3 16.5
Old London well water 0 0 6.9 9.1
London Metropolitan Water Board supply. 1.9 1.3 2 14.4
Allsopp 18.96 9.95 10.12 15.51
Bass 54.4 0.83 13.28 9.93

You'll note that the one Burton source has calcium sulphate (gypsum) levels that are double the recommended ones for Pale Ales. Strange that Bass's water has rather more calcium sulphate than recommended, Allsopp's rather less. Though the gravity of Bass at the time was about 1065º, rather more than the top gravity of 1055º in the recommendation table. Allsopp's water has considerably more sodium chloride than recommended. I wonder what effect that had on the finished beer?

The old London well water, unsurprisingly, is a good match for the Stout recommendation. Except for a bit too little of sodium chloride. Which brings me nicely, as so often, to Barclay Perkins. In the 1930's they were still using what they described as the "company's liquor", or their own well water. And guess what they added to the water for all "Black Beers" (Porter and Stout)? Salt. two ounces per barrel in the mash tun and another 3 ounces per barrel in the copper. They also got an ounce of gypsum in the mash tun. Looks to me like they were aiming at something like the composition Jeffery suggested, except for the gypsum.

Barclay Perkins Milds got 2/3 of an ounce of salt and 7/12 of an ounce of gypsum in the hot liquor tank. Then 1/8 of a pint of bisulphate of lime half an hour before mashing. Plus another 3 ounces of salt in the copper. That looks very, very like Jefferey's Mild Ale suggestion.

The Pale Ales got a 1.5 ounces of salt and 4 of gypsum in the hot liquor tank. Then 2 ounces of salt in the copper. That looks like rather more salt than recommended.

Knowing that 1 ounce per barrel is the equivalent of 12 grains per gallon, I've been able to add in the effect of Barclay Perkins water treatment, assuming that they were using something like the London well water analysis.

Calcium sulphate Magnesium sulphate Calcium chloride Sodium chloride Calcium carbonate
Barclay Perkins Black beers 12 0 26
Barclay Perkins Milds 7 0 10
Barclay Perkins Pale Ales 48 0 18

Wasn't that fun? We must do it again sometime.

1 comment:

Thomas Barnes said...

Ron, have you ever found a water analysis for Newcastle-on-Tyne, or more generally, a preferred water profile for the various types of brown ale?

My guess is that the London water profile is perfect for the sweet/Southern/London brown ales, but that the dry/Northern/Newcastle types require more minerals in the water to give them a drier flavor profile.