Requisites of Water Hardening


ON FRIDAY, JUNE 3rd, 1904

Mr. A. Rogers in the Chair.

The following papers were read and discussed:—

Requisites of Water Hardening.

by A. W. Rogers, F.C.S.

The attention of the early brewing experts was gradually drawn to the quality of brewing water, and a controversy arose as to whether hard or soft waters were the better for ale brewing.  A writer at the end of the 18th century advised soft waters for stock ales on the ground that they gave greater fulness and body.  The high alcohol percentage in the strong beers of those days, no doubt, preserved the soft water beer which had not been robbed of body-forming nitrogenous matters by the presence in the brewing water of lime and magnesia salts and other mineral matter.  As the demand arose for less alcoholic beers, the brewer gradually learned that these same lime and magnesia compounds were essential to give a keeping property and render a brilliancy to his ales.  Burton waters seemed to have these salts ready dissolved by Nature, and as the resulting beers brewed therefrom were good, other brewers dissolved these minerals in their softer waters with remarkable results.

Taking the typical standard water for pale ales to be composed of dissolved minerals as follows:—

These constituents are added according to deficiency in the original well water as indicated by analysis.

Gypsum is difficult to dissolve, but if magnesium sulphate is previously added to the water, the lime salt is more readily taken up; both magnesium sulphate and magnesium chloride seem to have the property of assisting the solutions of calcium sulphate.  If magnesium sulphate already exists in too large a quantity, its proportion can be reduced by addition of calcium chloride.  When the magnesium salts are in too high proportion the resulting beers are liable to fret.

For mild ales, gypsum and kainite, which last is rich in chloride, can be added to the brewing water with benefit.  Of course, these salts should be added to sparging water as well as to the mashing liquor.

The salts should not be added to the grist case.

Waters containing troublesome nitrates are improved by boiling with sulphurous acid solution previous to use.

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