Water Adjustments

by Hank Bienert

Based on personal communications with some nationally known brewers when Orleans water is acidified and approaches East Bank Jefferson Parish water, it turns out that one need minimal additional minerals to make pretty good porters and pale ales.

But what about those who wish to “fine tune” their brewing so they can combine their British hops/yeast/grain with the local water of London for a “real” London Ale? They need to modify the mineral content with the important values being 6-Ca, Cl, CO3, Mg, Na SO4. Local water analysis is interesting since we have so many different systems with Orleans and Jefferson Parishes, each having separate plants for each bank of the river.

Contact your local water treatment plant for the makeup asking for the 6 minerals cited
above… unless you can get East Bank JP H2O (TIP – Deutsches Haus faucet looks unguarded to me!!) and then you can simply read on.

A few years ago I introduced myself to Sal, lab tech at East Bank Jefferson Parish water plant and now Director of all JP water works. The lab then was in that singular structure on Jefferson highway near Central Ave (looks like the Mother Ship of the Taco Bell group). This distinguished remnant of Old Jefferson I believe to be the inspiration for that old song ”By the banks of the S and WB” also known as “I get sedimental over you”. Because the plant is fenced no hops have been added to the drinking water even though Hopzilla – our own Peter Cadoo – lives nearby and I suspect would love to “improve” JP water. Rumor has it he even adds hops to the reservoir tank of his toilet – talk about a refreshing bathroom experience!!

Sal, a sometimes brewer, was glad to provide the chemical makeup and some overall
knowledge. Although it varies slightly from season to season the figures I will give are close to reliable year round being numbers calculated by averaging 104 weeks. Knowing the mineral content, one can determine style appropriate mineral additions by 2 methods:

  1. Direct Calculation
    Step 1. Compute the mole fractions of carbonic (f1o), bicarbonate (f2o) and carbonate (f3o) at the water sample’s pH (example: pHo = 8.3)
    pHo = 8.3
    r1o = 10^(pHo – 6.38) = 83.17638
    r2o = 10^(pHo – 10.33) = 0.009332
    do = 1 + r1o + r1or2o = 84.95262 f1o = 1/do = 0.011771 f2o = r1o/do = 0.97909 f3o = r1or2o/do = 0.009137
    Step 2. Compute the mole fractions at pHb = 4.3 (the pH which defines alkalinity).
    I will stop now in mid-step 2… Hey,I didn’t make that stuff up!! Those who want the entire thesis need only to contact me.

2. Software One can use various Freebies. One can recalculate every time one makes a style of beer just as I can recalculate the distance from my house to the Lake each trip but it is the SAME every day no matter how I travel the distance. I preferred doing it ONCE for all common styles so here’s an early Easter gift and you can reciprocate and buy a beer for me/Monk at the next meeting.

Mineral adjustment in tsp for 5 gallons/H2O (I treat all water) Based on average East Bank JP mineral report which is:
Ca-41, Cl -27, CO3-90, Mg-12, Na-19, SO4-50
For LONDON Porters/Browns/Milds
Add 1/8 MgSO4; 1 NaHCO3
For Yorkshire pale
Add .9/10 Ca SO4 + 1/8 MgSO4
For Munich (malty) Lager
Dilute 1 to 9 JP/Reverse Osmosis H2O
For Pilsner
Dilute 1 to 9 JP/Reverse Osmosis H2O
For Vienna
Add 9/10 MgSO4
For hoppy Pales or Burton
Add 2 3/4 tsp CaSO4; 1 MgSO4; 3/4 NaHCO3
For Stouts
Add 2/3 NaHCO3; 1/8 NaCl
For Belgians
Add 2/3 CaSO4
For Dortmund
Add 1/5 MgSO4; 1/6 NaCl; 2/3 NaHCO3; 3 ½ CaSO4

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