Thursday, 26 January 2017

Brewing waters

I'm working away furiously at my new Scottish book. And I rec ently noted a huge gap in my knowledge of Scottish beer: the makeup of brewing water.

I'm pretty sure that I have searched for analyses of Edinburgh water in the past, but without much luck. I vaguely thought that it was similar to Burton water, but wasn't sure, not having any real numbers. Ed Wray helped me out with a scan from Lloyd Hind. Which prompted me to look in my own copy of the book. Where I found the handy table below.

It sems my assumption was well far off the mark. Edinburgh water is quite different to Burton's. More sodium, but less magnesium, calcium and way less sulphates and carbonates. Though you'll note that there are far fewer minerals in the third Burton sample. As I delight in pointing out - probably to everyone else's great annoyance - there's no such thing as Burton water, as every well produces water with a different set of minerals.

That said, the sulphate content of Edinburgh water is high compared to most others, Burton excepted, of course. Was it enough to help Pale Ale brewing? I don't really know, to be honest. I'm not that up on water chemistry, if I'm honest If you are, feel free to share your expertise.


Classification of Hard Brewing Waters (parts per 100,000)
Carbo- nate ratio Total solids Na Mg Ca NO3 CI S04 C03 Geological formation
GROUP A.
1, Burton-on-Trent 13 219.2 4.6 8.2 51.2 4.3 6.7 130.1 141 Keuper marl
2. Burton-on-Trent 25 122.6 3 6.2 26.8 3.1 3.6 65.8 141 Gravel beds
3. Burton-on-Trent 39 81.1 4.3 5.8 15.6 5 7.3 29.3 13.8     "        "
4. Bedfordshire 49 78.8 6 0.9 19 4.8 3.1 30 15 Lias
GROUP B.
5. Co. Durham 54 76.5 7.4 3.5 14.4 1.2 11.4 21.1 16.5 Magnesian Limestone
6. Dortmund 60 101.2 6.9 2.3 26 10.7 28.3 27
7. Gloucestershire 60 67.8 4.5 4 13.6 0.3 3.6 23.5 18.3 Magnesian Limestone
8. Bedfordshire 66 55.5 4.6 0.8 13.9 0.6 3 17.6 15 Oolites
GROUP C.
9. Lancashire 68 61.5 3.9 4.5 12.1 0.3 6.7 14 20 New Red Sandstone
10. Lincolnshire 69 45.8 3.4 0.4 12.2 4 3 9.6 12.2 Lower Oolite
11. Edinburgh 70 80 9.2 3.6 14 3.1 6 23.1 21 Old Red Sandstone
12. Yorkshire 77 41.2 2.3 1.7 10.5 1.8 3 6.6 15.3 New Red Sandstone
13. Lancashire 78 24.7 1.6 1.4 5.5 1.7 2.4 2.9 9.2     "              "
14. Berkshire 80 30.3 0.5 0.9 10 0.5 3.6 0.6 14.2 Chalk
GROUP D.
15. Gloucestershire 85 27.7 0.9 0.6 8.8 1 1.6 2.4 12.4 Lias
16. London M.W.B. 85 32 2.4 0.4 9 0.3 1.8 5.8 12.3
17. Nottinghamshire 85 24.6 1.2 3.2 3.6 0.2 1.6 3.4 11.4 New Red Sandstone
18. Surrey 86 29.7 1.6 0.2 9.3 2.6 2.3 1.4 12.3 Chalk
19. Hertfordshire 92 44.6 3.8 7 11.8 3.2 3.5 4.5 17.1   " 
GROUP E.
20. Munich, Dublin 97 27.5 0.1 1.9 8.1 0.3 0.1 0.5 16.5
21. Lancashire 100 23.9 2.7 1.4 4.4 0.9 1.7 2.7 10.1 New Red Sandstone
22. Lancashire 100 38.4 1.9 3.4 8.4 - 1.7 1.8 21.2     "              "
Source:
Brewing: Science and Practice 1: by Herbert Lloyd Hind, 1940, page 458.


12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't seem that dissimilar to the cities water supply really.

Chris said...

Assuming it is not a typo, this table is in parts per 100,000 NOT parts per million. You need to multiply by 10 to get to ppm

Mark Osborne said...

Martin Brungard is the man for water, historical and otherwise. Everybody treated their water is a somewhat true generalization. Looking forward to seeing you again sometime when you're stateside!
Mark

Ron Groves said...

The units are given in parts per 100,000. Shouldn't it be in parts per million (ppm)?

Anonymous said...

is this table in PPM? if so the mineral content of the waters seem much lower then I would have expected given normal stereotypes.

Anonymous said...

You may well already know this, but there are a couple of guys who really know their stuff about water you could contact at the homebrewtalk.com forum under Brew Science, AJ Delange and Martin Brungard.

Teemu Strengell said...

Plug http://whiskyscience.blogspot.fi/2014/04/fermentation-waters.html
Mostly about whisky, but might be useful to you, too.

Ed said...

The basics of brewing water chemistry aren't too complicated. Calcium (and to a lesser extent magnesium) lower the mash pH, carbonate acts as a buffer and will keep the pH high. Sulphate and chloride will have some effect on beer flavour, but not as much as many seem to think: http://edsbeer.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/how-water-affects-beer-flavour.html

J. Karanka said...

The calcium and sulphates match the ones I use for old ales and stronger pale ales. The thing that does surprise me is the very high sodium. Unsure how that would come across in beer.

Robert Pugh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Pugh said...

Scottish Water data for hardness across Scotland here, tap water but may be of some use...

http://www.scottishwater.co.uk/-/media/Domestic/Files/You-and-Your-Home/Water-Quality/ScottishWaterHardnessData2015.pdf?la=en

Second post, not sure if the first one worked!

Anonymous said...

As a geologist, a quick examination of the source aquifer rocks for any bores (the old fashioned way of gaining water for a brewery) and the modern alluvial sediment/basement rocks that streams and rivers are channeled over, leading to municipal water supplies, you reach the conclusion that:

Burton water is fairly unique because the area is laden with evaporitic rocks rich in gypsum, as well as the normal abundant limestone. (= Ca, CO3, SO4, Mg, Na)

Most English & Irish water is fed from, or over, limestone country. (= Ca, Mg, CO3)

Edinburgh water, like much of Scotland, is sourced from or over- very, very different rock. Namely granitic & metamorphic rocks. Like the East Coast of Australia's Great Dividing Range or the East Appalachians of the USA. you would expect water to have much higher levels of Na, K & the always overlooked, SiO2 in the form of silicic acid. SO4 levels should be negligible and Ca & CO3 much lower than limestone country.