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Brighton Water Treatment spreadsheet tutorial

Getting started

For those getting started brewing in Brighton, as well as those experienced looking for a simple reference for brewday using local tapwater, I’ve created Brighton water spreadsheet. As this is a read only spreadsheet, the first thing to do is to make a copy or download it, go to File, Make a Copy, or Download – and choose your format. The download button is just below Make a Copy.

(Advanced) You can also download the Bru’n Water spreadsheets I based my salt additions on here.

Though water treatment may look complicated, it’s actually pretty simple. You need to do 2 things: adjust the pH (acidity/alkalinity) of your mash, and add salts to the brewing liquor/water.

Adjusting the pH will help you get better efficiency, is better for yeast health and reduces astringency that can happen in mashes where the water pH is too high. If you’re brewing blonde or amber beers in Brighton, you absolutely MUST do this. As well as providing nutrients for the yeast (calcium and magnesium), salts will help change the mouthfeel of your beer – the big 2 are chloride (Cl) and sulphate (SO4). As well as absolute quantities, more importantly, you’re looking at the ratio between them. If sulphates are high and chlorides are low you’ll have a drier, more hop bitterness forward beer, if chlorides high/sulphates low – you’ll have a maltier, creamier beer. If they’re balanced, then the beer will be somewhere in the middle.

Instead of looking at city brewing water profiles, we’re going to be working from the 3 different profile categories from Bru’n Water for a number of base beer colours:

Dry: higher SO4 levels: drier, crisper, more hop bitter forward. Think a West Coast IPA, bitter, Burton pale.
Balanced: similar SO4:Cl levels. Balance between malt and hop.
Full: higher Cl levels: malt forward, creamy. Stouts, porters, NEIPA.

Bear in mind, some of the above attributes can be achieved through mashing (dry/full body), malt bills (oats/wheat for creamy texture) and other techniques. Your water profile should be a tool in your arsenal used in combination with manipulation of mashing and yeast that contributes towards the overall flavour of your beer.

Water data (sheet 1)

If you’re in Brighton and aren’t interested in the data part, you can ignore this and move to sheet 2 section. Just know that the figures I’m using to adjust the salts are highlighted in the green row.

I’ve collected water report data from various Brighton (and surrounds) sources. The green row is a trimmed mean of the Brighton reports (not Lewes or Worthing). The trimmed mean is a best approximation of our water profile, ignoring outliers like the Hove chloride report from April 16 (110ppm), which as you can see are mostly around 40ppm. Apparently Brighton water is taken from only a few different sources, all of which come from limestone aquifers, so unlike some other places, our water profile is going to be quite consistent.

If you’re in Worthing or Lewes, you can change the reference cells in the trimmed mean to reflect the data in those cells.

For Worthing for example:
=TRIMMEAN(C2:C9,0.5) becomes =TRIMMEAN(C11:C13,0.5)

(Advanced) You could also just enter your water report figures into the trimmed mean cells. If you’re feeling fancy, play around with those 0.5 figures, the lower the figure (say 0.2), the less of the outliers it’ll ignore, meaning that chloride figure is going to get further away from the 40 mark. If you put a higher figure, it’ll be more strict about excluding the outliers.

Salt Additions (Sheet 2)

Now we come to the heart of the matter.

In the interest of trying to make what seems like a complex subject on first approach a little more simple, if you’re new to brewing and water treatment, just look at steps 1-4 and ignore the advanced sections if they’re harder to understand.

We’ll use a simple brew as an example. We’re going to do a full mash (with no sparge water) of 25 litres. We’re making a West Coast IPA, we want a crisp hop bite for this beer.

  1. Enter your brew volume in the Total Water (litres) cell down the bottom left of the sheet. I’ve entered 25 litres. If I wanted to treat sparge water, I’d just change it to e.g. 5 litres and use the levels shown for salts and acid.


    (Advanced) If you’re diluting with RO or bottled water like Ashbeck, you can add a dilution water profile and volume. Keep the total volume the same, just add what extra water you’re using. You’ll see those figures on the bottle of water you’re using, or just enter 0 for RO.

  2. Choose your profile/style. Our West Coast IPA is a light blonde beer, and is going to need a hoppy kick, so yellow dry is the right profile. Don’t worry about a/b, I’ll come to that next, just choose a profile for the time being.


    (Advanced) There are a lot of town/city profiles (London, Dublin, Munich) knocking about, but they’re not super helpful when you’re getting started out in brewing, stick to the profiles here till you learn a bit more about water treatment.

    TIP: If you want to replicate a water profile from a geographical style, try and match the salt profile, and not the bicarbonates.

  3. Choose your acid/dose.



    The rows are interchangeable, just choose lactic OR phosphoric acid. Use the bold figure in the white cells for your total dosage. I’m going with the Murphy Total for lactic acid as I know it works well with blonde beers, so 15ml of lactic acid.

    I’ve included Murphy (higher) and Bru’n Water suggested dose for lactic acid as I’ve found my water responds better to higher lactic acid doses for blonde beers.

  4. Choose either gypsum/calcium chloride or epsom salt/table salt. I’ve used those somewhat abritrary pairings for simplicity’s sake and I wanted a quick reference with limited options.



    The top row (a) gives you gypsum/CaCl salt additions for 25 litres of liquor: 3.75g of epsom salt and 0.125g of calcium chloride. I’m going to use the next row (Epsom/table salt) and add 5.25g of Epsom salt and 0.25g of table salt, as it gives a little more magnesium and a little less calcium. Both of these would work absolutely fine, but would give slightly different salt profiles. If you’re using table salt, try to use something without anti-caking agent or iodine – like Kosher salt.

    YOUR TOTAL WATER TREATMENT ADDITIONS:

    – 15ml lactic acid
    – 5.3g of epsom salts
    – 0.3g of kosher salt

    That’s it! That’s all you need. All this, for that tiny 20g or so of stuff that goes into 25kg of water. Trust me, it’ll be worth it. You can buy me a beer later.

Advanced Info For Keen Students

If you want to mix and match the salts (i.e. use different pairs or more than 2 salts), it’s not a problem. Easiest way is to probably copy the row, that way you don’t lose any of the preset salt additions.

Just make sure that the result profile SO4/Cl cells are green (see the image above) when you’ve finished tweaking your salts, that way you’ve matched up the cells with the Target Profile SO4/Cl cells.

You could also add your own personal target salt profile here if you didn’t want to jump to another spreadsheet to do that. I’ve not included the HCO3 section as it’s not important for profile matching.



To give you a more visual display of the information, the ratio between the SO4 and Cl will change the colour of the Ratio column cells. Red is dry, amber balanced, yellow full. This may help give you some visual feedback if you’re adding your own custom profiles.


I’ve also included for reference, the total salt/acid additions for the profile. Generally waters suited to brewing a particular style without any treatment will have a lower figure in both of these columns. Amber and blonde dry beers have over 6g/ml additions, whereas black/full have under 1g/ml additions.

We can conclude from these different totals, that if you’re not treating your water in Brighton, you’ll be better off brewing a dark/full beer than a blonde/dry beer. This fits in with personal experience. If you choose not to treat your water, your dark beers will be MUCH better than your light beers. In fact, I’d go so far as to say: DON’T brew blonde beers here without water treatment, your friends will thank you for it, or will be very polite by not telling you the truth about them!

Gose Beer Sour Kettle Method

So this was my second attempt at a sour beer. The first I did in a Burco with an STC-1000 temp controller. It didn’t go so well as the probe was stuck in the mash and this meant that the boiler kept on overheating the wort. It would have been much better if I’d put the temp probe near to the bottom of the boiler as I’d have got a much more accurate reading and subsequently better control.

So I went crazy and got myself a Braumeister for my birthday. The first beer was a simple pale, and the second was this.

The method is basically this:

  1. Make a starter (I used acidulated malt grains and cider – a lot of people use DME in water and crystal – I think I’ll try that next time)
  2. Grow the starter at 40-45C. I’d read that 45C was better as it inhibits the heterofermentive lacto and other nasties like Clostridium that produce “baby vomit” smells)
  3. When the starter is ready (3 days? Should smell nice and fruity and tart) mash the beer.
  4. Drop the finished mash down to 45C and remove the grains. I actually left mine in there for the lacto fermentation.
  5. Bring the pH down to about 4.4 with some lactic acid (I brought mine down too far due to me not reading the pH strip properly). This will make the mash a happier place for the lacto and less hospitable for other bacteria.
  6. Innoculate with the starter.
  7. Flush with CO2.
  8. Hold 45C for as long as it takes for the pH to drop to 3.4-3.6. Test daily. Mine took a week and I had to chuck in some extra crystal as I’d lost confidence that the starter was doing anything.
  9. Bring up to the boil and run the hopping schedule.
  10. Ferment as normal with yeast.

The advantage over traditional Berliner Weisse methods that just pitch in a mix of lacto/yeast is that you have complete control over the acidity of the beer. You are also able to increase the hop bitterness levels – which you can’t do on a regular Weisse/Gose due to the hop oils inhibiting the lacto.

The fermented beer came out not too remarkable to be honest. It was nicely tart but on the nose was lacking in complexity. It smelt a bit like a simple cider. So I ended up doing a couple of things that completely transformed the beer. Firstly I threw in some Orval dregs for that brett complexity. After a couple of days (see pic below) the typical brett pellicles started popping up, and after about two weeks, the brett funky smell came through. It was lovely and almost savoury. A few weeks later, I hit upon the idea of adding some grapefruit. I took three (for a 20 litre batch) and shaved the zest and juiced them, then heated the zest up in the juice to Pasteurize and also extract a bit more of those oils nice and quickly – making sure I didn’t heat it up too much and lose those lovely delicate aromas.

The grapefruit went in and immediately it transformed the beer. In the beginning it overwhelmed the brett smell a bit but now it has balanced out and this really is a great beer. I’m bloody happy with it – it’s one of my best so far.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
19 L 60 min 14.476408 3.242660 1.038 sg 1.038 sg 0.000000

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Gueuze 17 E 1.04 - 1.06 1.01 - 1.015 0 - 10 3 - 7 0 - 0 0 - 0 %

Fermentables

Name Amount %
UK Wheat Malt 2 kg 49.14
UK Pale Ale Malt 1 kg 24.57
German Pilsner Malt 1 kg 24.57
German Sauer(Acid) Malt 0.07 kg 1.72

Hops

Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
US Sterling 20 g 60 min Boil Leaf 7

Miscs

Name Amount Time Use Type
Salt 14 g 60 min Boil Other
Coriander Seed 14 g 60 min Boil Other

Mash

Step Temperature Time
Rest at 66°C 60 min
Raise to and Mash out at 0°C 0 min

Fermentation

Step Time Temperature
Aging 0 days 0°C

Notes

Want to do a 64.5C mash for 1hr then 74C mash out for 15 mins. Drop to 45C (add cold water to reduce/top up?) and pitch in the Lacto starter.

Lacto starter is 400ml of apple juice with small handful of acidulated malt thrown in held at 48.8C for 2 days. Will thrown in another small handful of the acid malt and some crystal to the sour kettle process to innoculate further. Will keep at 45-46 to inhibit nasty bugs and heterofermentative lacto. Will aim for the sour mash to bring pH down to 4.5 before kettle souring. 36 hours should be enough to bring it down to pH 3.6. May be better not to taste due to risky business going on.

Purge BM with CO2 and seal the lid with tape due to risk of clostridium bacteria.