Prosody (Champlain Water District) - Brun Water 1.18a
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Bru'n WaterCopyright © 2016 Martin Brungard. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without the express written permission of Martin Brungard, is prohibited. Bru'n Water is not Freeware or Shareware and it is illegal to distribute or transfer this program in any form except by Martin Brungard.
Created by Martin Brungard, P.E. D.WRE (
Most water sources that have an acceptable taste can be used to brew beer. But to brew great beer across a wide variety of styles, adjustment of brewing water is probably needed. Bru'n Water is a brewing water analysis program that enables a brewer to successfully evaluate and modify their water supply to improve their beer. The program steps through the evaluation of a brewer's water supply, adjustment to a desired water profile, evaluation of potential mash pH, and adjustments to produce desirable mash pH.
Homebrewing and Craftbrewing are unique in their need to frequently assess and adjust their brewing water to better suit their upcoming beer. This differs from the needs of production breweries that brew thousands of barrels of the same beer every year. Consistency is the key for production brewers and they have little need to evaluate or change their brewing water. Through trial and error and advanced laboratory analyses, production breweries typically know exactly what adjustments they need for their brewing water. Homebrewers and Craftbrewers rarely have the tools at their disposal to perfect their water and since they often change what beer they brew, a capable tool is helpful. This brewing tool is intended to aid those who want to get great results out of every batch.
Getting Started
The first thing needed for brewing water analysis is to know your water supply characteristics and ion concentrations. Of course, you want a water supply that is safe to drink and tastes good. Water that leaves black, brown, or red water staining may be an indication that the water will need additional treatment to be suitable for brewing. Water that has been softened by typical salt-based water softeners (ion exchange) is not typically desirable for brewing due to several factors including: elevated sodium or potassium content, low calcium and magnesium content, while still containing excessive alkalinity. Brewers with softened water may find that obtaining their brewing water from a point upstream of their softener unit will produce better brewing results. An exception is if the raw water has iron or manganese at perceptible levels. Hard water is not typically an obstacle to brewing good beer. However, alkalinity is a problem typical to many brewers. Ion-exchange water softeners do not affect alkalinity significantly and the resulting water is often poorly suited to brewing.
A comprehensive instruction on brewing water knowledge is included in this program to assist the brewer in understanding brewing water chemistry. Select the Water Knowledge tab to view. A link to the on-line version of the Water Knowledge is provided below. The on-line version is more up to date and should be the preferred resource.
Bru'n Water Knowledge
Here are a few program setup recommendations to aid your use of Bru'n Water.
1. Go to Excel Options and its Formulas subdirectory and be sure that Automatic calculation is selected and Enable Iterative Calculation is also check-marked. These ensure that the changes to your inputs are instantly incorporated in the answers. The iterative calculation feature is necessary since the program uses the results of the calculations to refine its answers and this creates a circular reference warning in Excel. Enabling the iterative calculation gets rid of the warning and allows the program to function properly.
This program steps the brewer through a set of spreadsheets to complete the water analysis and adjustment. If a brewer's water source is relatively stable and its characteristics do not change, then it is likely that the brewer will only visit sheets 1 and 2 (Water Report Input and Sparge Acidification) once. Sheets 3 and 4 (Grain Bill Input and Water Adjustment) will be used for each new brewing session. The brewer should work sequentially through sheets 1 through 4 to define and assess their brewing water chemistry. If the mash acidification results indicate that the water adjustments will not produce a desirable result, the brewer may need to revisit the Water Adjustment page (Sheet 4) and adjust the dilution, mineral, or acid additions to achieve their desired mash pH. Be sure to input your water's Bicarbonate content on the Water Report Input sheet to get proper output on the Grain Bill Input and Adjustment Summary sheets. If the Sparging Water is diluted with RO or Distilled water, that information must be input on the Sparge Acidification sheet.
Set the units desired for the brewing calculations at the top of the Water Report Input sheet. Homebrewers may select either Gallons or Liters.The units for grain amounts switch to pounds when the water volume is set to either gallons or Barrels and to kilograms when the water volume is set to liters or hectoliters.
How to Use Bru'n Water
1. Knowing your Existing Water is a key requirement for assessing how to adjust it. Input the ion content of the existing water source on the Water Report Input sheet.
2. Water reports can be difficult to understand and they sometimes have errors. A warning will display on the Water Report Input sheet if the ion inputs are out of balance. If the warning is displayed, double check the reporting units from the water report and convert any quantities that are not reported in actual ppm or mg/L units for each ion. Sometimes, water reports provide information in units other than ppm or mg/L and those values need to be converted. For example: (not as ppm as CaCO3, or not as Sulfate as Sulfur (SO4-S), or not as Nitrate as Nitrogen (N03-N) ). There is a Conversion tool at the bottom of the Water Report Input sheet to aid the brewer in converting reported values to their actual ionic concentrations. For accurate results, the ionic content of your water must be known and entered properly. The ion balance warning will disappear when the input is reasonably balanced. Be sure to dechlorinate your brewing water if you get your water from a municipal supply!
3. All sparging Water must have low alkalinity. If your water source has moderate to high alkalinity, that water must be acidified to reduce its alkalinity. The alkalinity of the tap water is calculated from the information input on the Water Report Input sheet and it is copied to the Sparge Acidification sheet. It is used to calculate the amount of acid needed to bring the Sparging Water pH and Alkalinity down to a proper level.
4. The water profile used for brewing should be adjusted to produce a proper mash pH and produce desirable beer taste. Select a target brewing water profile on the Water Adjustment sheet and experiment with mineral and acid additions and/or water dilution to produce that desired water profile. An exact match is NOT required between your adjusted water and the suggested water profiles. Getting within +/-10 ppm of the target should be OK. DO NOT TARGET the bicarbonate value shown in water profiles. The bicarbonate content shown for the water profile is only a FIRST-GUESS. You don't need to achieve that exact value, but it is likely to be close. The bicarbonate content of your mashing water may be higher or lower than the value shown in the water profile. Adjust the bicarbonate value as needed to produce your desired mash pH. The final bicarbonate content of the mashing water may vary based on the acidity of your grain bill.
5. Bru'n Water assesses the acidity of the brewer's grain bill to predict mash pH. Input the mashing grain bill on the Grain Bill Input sheet.
6. Because the water profiles on the Water Adjustment sheet may not always produce a good mash pH, minor adjustment of the bicarbonate content of those water profiles may be needed. Check the resulting Estimated Mash pH on either the Grain Bill Input or Water Adjustment sheets. If the pH is lower than desired, increase the bicarbonate content of the mashing water on the Water Adjustment sheet. If the pH is higher than desired, reduce the bicarbonate content. Adjust the mashing water ion concentrations until the desired mash pH is predicted.
7. A listing of the recommended Water Adjustments for mashing and sparging water is presented on the Adjustment Summary sheet. That sheet is configured for printing and presents all the water adjustment information needed for that brew.
If Reverse Osmosis (RO) or Distilled Water is the brewer's primary water source, then you must input appropriate ion concentrations on the Water Report Input sheet so that the Sparge Acidification calculations are correct. The water adjustments can then be properly entered to create the desired water profile. In the Supporter's version of Bru'n Water, this task is easily accomplished by setting the Dilution Water setting to either RO or Distilled and setting the sparging and mashing Dilution values to 100%.
This program is unique in that it enables the evaluation of both brewing water alkalinity and mash acidity to more closely estimate and assess the mash water adjustments needed. The mash acidity is calculated from the actual grain bill used for each brewing session.
The program is set up with color-coded cells to aid and direct the brewer. Blue colored cells accept brewer input. Yellow colored cells present calculated data and results. Pink cells contain drop-down selection boxes. Many cells within each sheet contain informational comments that help the brewer understand the inputs and results. Cells with comments have a small red mark in their right upper corner. Hover the cursor over cells to see the informational comments. When using Excel to run Bru'n Water, some cells will change their color to Green when inputs are within recommended tolerance and some cells will turn Red if potentially incorrect or problematic input or result is provided. If the sheet does not show comments or red corner marks, select the REVIEW tab in the Excel program menu and click the SHOW ALL COMMENTS button twice.
This program should not require the use of Macros to operate effectively. If a security message from the spreadsheet software is displayed regarding macros, you should not have to enable macros to gain full use of this program's features. NOTE: Some software versions of Excel, OpenOffice, or LibreOffice may operate the Bru'n Water program successfully without enabling the Macros. Mac users report that saving the program in the .xlsm format does retain the program's capabilities.
When opening the program for the first time, the zoom on each of the sheets is set low (small) so that most users can see the full extent of the working area when they open the program. Increase the zoom setting on each sheet so that each sheet is enlarged and visible on your monitor. When the program is saved, your preferred zoom settings on each sheet will be saved. If text in some cells does not appear correctly, increasing the zoom may improve the appearance.
The minimum water information needed to properly use Bru'n Water includes the following: The most important data are the water's Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Alkalinity or Bicarbonate, Sulfate, and Chloride concentrations. These are sometimes known as Secondary Water Quality parameters or Inorganic parameters. If the water pH is not known, it can generally be estimated as 8.0 without much error. If you obtain water from a municipal water supply, you may be able to obtain this information from the water company's water quality testing report. If that information is not readily available or if the water is from a private source, you may need to have the water tested for those parameters. A suite of tests such as the Household Mineral Test from Ward Labs ( is suitable. ( Sodium, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Carbonate, Bicarbonate, Chloride, Sulfate, Nitrate, pH, Total Hardness, and Total Alkalinity). Ward Labs is easily accessible to US brewers. Brewers in other countries may find a suitable water quality testing laboratory locally. UK brewers may find Murphy ( useful excepting that they do not report the water's sodium content. If only the sodium content is missing from a report, it may be possible to assume that the sodium content is at a level that produces a balanced cation and anion total. Typically, only a small water sample 4 to 8 oz (100 to 200 ml) is required for the testing.
Mineral and acid additions must be measured and added accurately to achieve good brewing results. Homebrewers should obtain a scale with an accuracy of at least 0.1 grams to more accurately measure mineral and acid additions for typical homebrew sized batches. Craftbrewers brewing larger batches should have a scale with an accuracy of at least 1 gram to accurately measure their additions. Scales may be mechanical or digital, but their resolution should meet the recommendations above. An internet search for "digital scale 0.1" should reveal there are scales available for under $30US. A scale that can weigh at least 500 grams is recommended so the scale can be used for multiple uses including weighing hop additions. Higher scale capacity typically increases the cost of the scale, but the durability may also be improved.
Liquid acid additions should also be measured accurately. An inexpensive measurement option for typical homebrew sized batches is to obtain and use a graduated medicine dropper from a drug store. A craftbrewer could consider obtaining a graduated cylinder or pipette for larger acid additions.
Some municipal water supplies get their water from several sources and the ionic content of the water may vary over time. That may require additional testing or analysis to ascertain. Contact the water utility to find out the water source variability. Water test kits may be used to provide the brewer with a quick assessment of the primary water quality parameters and are discussed below. Water test kits are recommended if the source and/or quality of the water supply varies.
Aquarium test kits can provide reasonably accurate assessment of the primary brewing water quality parameters of calcium content (or hardness) and alkalinity (which is also termed 'carbonate hardness'). Aquarium test kits from manufacturers such as Aquarium Pharaceuticals, Elos, Salifert, and Red Sea are available and can determine the concentration of these components. If better accuracy is desired, water testing kits from suppliers such as Hach and Lamotte are suggested. The hardness and alkalinity concentrations are the primary components that influence mash pH. The calcium kits may have names such as Calcium Test or General Hardness. The Alkalinity kits may have names such as Alkalinity/pH Test or Carbonate Hardness. Search the web for 'Aquarium Test Kits'. Colorimetric kits that you add drops to are recommended since they are generally more sensitive than kits that use Test Strips.
Aquarium test kits may report their results in terms of German degrees of Hardness, American Grains per Gallon, milliequivalents per liter, milligrams per liter, or parts per million. Results must converted to milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm) for use in Bru'n Water. Note that ppm and mg/L are generally equivalent. Conversion factors are provided below and some are included in the Conversion Calculator on the Water Report Input sheet.
1 German degree Hardness = 17.85 ppm as CaCO3 = 7.14 ppm Ca
1 German degree Carbonate Hardness = 17.85 ppm Alkalinity as CaCO
3 = 21.8 ppm HCO3
1 American degree Hardness = 1 grain per gallon = 17.1 ppm as CaCO
3 = 6.86 ppm Ca
1 American degree Alkalinity = 1 grain per gallon = 17.1 ppm as CaCO
3 = 20.8 ppm HCO3
1 mEq/L Hardness = 50 ppm Hardness as CaCO
3 = 20 ppm Ca
1 mEq/L Alkalinity = 50 ppm Alkalinity as CaCO
3 = 61 ppm HCO3
Water Report Input
Water testing results are entered on the Water Report Input sheet. The concentrations for each ion are entered in the blue cells. Yellow cells display calculated results. Water reports typically present the ion concentrations as milligrams per liter (mg/L) or parts per million (ppm). These units are roughly equivalent and are used interchangeably. This program includes helpful pop-up informational comments in some cells. Cells with a red mark in the upper right cell corner will display the comment when the mouse cursor is hovered over that cell. If the sheet does not show comments or red corner marks, select the REVIEW tab in the Excel program menu and click the SHOW ALL COMMENTS button twice. This should coax the software to display the comments.
Select the volume units used in the brewery for Bru'n Water. The Pink drop-down box is used to select the volume units used throughout the program. Both U.S. and S.I. units are available in homebrewing sizes. (Gallons and Barrels, or Liters and Hectoliters). Note: Barrels and Hectoliters are available in the Supporter's version of Bru'n Water.
If the brewer's water report does not include information on minor ions such as potassium, fluoride, iron, nitrate, or nitrite, enter Zero for those concentrations. The concentration of these ions is typically low and should only produce a minor error in the cation/anion difference if they are entered as Zero. In the case of Murphy's water reports which don't report sodium, input all the other reported ions (be sure to convert the Alkalinity value to mg/L of HCO3) into the Water Report Input area and input increasing sodium concentrations until the cation and anions are balanced. That can serve as an estimate of the water's sodium content.
Metallic taste can be discerned in water by most people when the iron concentration exceeds 0.3 ppm or when manganese concentration exceeds 0.1 ppm. When metallic tastes are detected in beer or water, testing for these ions is recommended. Special water treatment may be required if these ions exceed the taste thresholds indicated above.
Water testing reports can contain testing and reporting errors. Therefore, a review of the ionic balance between the positively-charged ions (Cations) and negatively-charged ions (Anions) is helpful. The Water Report Input sheet includes an Ion Balance calculation that warns you when the cation and anion totals are more than 0.5 meq/L apart (they should be equal). There can be some difference in the totals if there were errors in the testing or reporting or if there are other ions in the water that were not reported. If no ion balance warning is displayed, the water report inputs should be close enough to operate the program.
The ion concentrations that were entered on the Water Report Input sheet are automatically entered in the Water Adjustment sheet. If the water source is fairly stable, the brewer may not need to adjust the Water Report Input page in the future. Saving the program with those values on the Water Report Input sheet will speed the future use of the program.
Some laboratory test reports provide information on Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). The Water Report Input sheet shows the TDS calculated from the input water parameters for comparison to the laboratory test report. This comparison may be useful in finding errors in the water report or inputs. In most cases, the TDS value calculated on the Water Report Input sheet will be a little lower than the value reported in a lab test report since the water report may include more ion species in their calculation. WARNING: TDS measurements from a TDS meter are not highly accurate and they may not agree closely with the calculated values. A TDS meter should only be used as a qualitative measurement to determine if the TDS is higher or lower than previous measurements.
Proceed to the Sparge Acidification sheet to calculate the quantity of acid needed to properly adjust water alkalinity for sparging.
**Things to Check when your Water Report does not balance**
When the reported water testing results do not indicate balanced ion concentrations, there are things the brewer can check to evaluate what the potential errors are.
The first thing to check is the units used to report the ion concentrations. All units are input into Bru'n Water in ppm or mg/L (milligrams per liter) units, but sometimes water reports present some concentrations in parts per billion (ppb) or µg/L (micrograms per liter) units. If a concentration is reported in the ppb or µg/L units, that value must be divided by 1000 to convert it to ppm or mg/L units. For instance, 200 ppb is equal to 0.2 ppm.
Some water reports may display ion concentrations in standard units such as (as CaCO3, as NO3-N, or as SO4-S). In these cases, the reported concentration must be adjusted to the true ion concentration in ppm or mg/L. Conversion factors for these ions are presented below. A Calculator with these Unit Conversions is provided at the bottom of the Water Report Input sheet.
Ion Conversion
Calcium as CaCO
3 (ppm): multiply by 0.401 to convert to (ppm) Calcium
Magnesium as CaCO
3 (ppm): multiply by 0.243 to convert to (ppm) Magnesium
Bicarbonate as CaCO
3(ppm): multiply by 1.22 to convert to (ppm) Bicarbonate
Carbonate as CaCO
3(ppm): multiply by 0.60 to convert to (ppm) Carbonate
Sulfate as Sulfur (ppm as SO
4-S): multiply by 3.0 to convert to (ppm) Sulfate
Nitrate as Nitrogen (ppm as NO
3-N): multiply by 4.43 to convert to (ppm) Nitrate
If the water report includes Total Alkalinity or Temporary Hardness but does not report the Bicarbonate or Carbonate concentrations, a calculator is included on the Water Report Input sheet to estimate those concentrations. Water pH does influence the relative amount of these ions, so the water pH must be entered. If the water report does not provide the pH, use a typical pH of 8.0 for the calculation.
If the calculated Alkalinity value does not agree with the Alkalinity presented in the Water Report, adjust the Bicarbonate content on the Water Report Input sheet to better match the reported value.
Potassium, iron, nitrate, nitrite, and fluoride are typically present in low concentration, so their values should be small (frequently less than 10 ppm). Verify if they were reported in parts per billion (ppb) units if their concentration values are significantly greater than 10. Use the conversion tool in Bru'n Water to convert from ppb to ppm.
If any of these corrections produce a better ion balance, then the brewer may elect to use these revised concentrations for their water profile instead of having another water test performed or asking for additional water testing information.
Sparge Water Acidification
WARNING! Acids can seriously injure persons. All acid usage should be made with great care and proper storage, dosing, and protective equipment must be used. Hydrochloric and Sulfuric Acids produce fumes that will attack eyes, skin, membranes, etc.
Acidification of brewing water to reduce alkalinity can be difficult to perform accurately without a good tool. The adjustment of sparging water alkalinity is important for producing good brewing results. Proper pH and temperature of sparging water will help reduce tannin extraction. The recommended maximums for pH and temperature of sparging water to reduce tannin and silicate extraction are 6.0 and 170F (76C), respectively.
Hot water added to the mash (Infusions) to raise the temperature of the mash should be considered to be a portion of the brewer's Sparging Water volume. Acidify and treat the Water Infusions as recommended for Sparging Water on the Sparge Acidification sheet.
If only RO or Distilled Water is used for brewing, it may not be necessary to acidify the sparge water since RO and Distilled water already have low alkalinity. Acidification of sparge water is only needed when water supply alkalinity is moderate or high. pH targets for acidification only serve as indicators of low alkalinity. Sparging water alkalinity reduction is the real goal of acidification, not pH adjustment. When the starting water alkalinity is less than about 25 ppm, then further acidification should not be necessary.
With the alkalinity information for the Existing Water entered in the Water Report Input sheet, the proper amount of acid can be calculated for that water without significant trial and error. The Sparge Acidification sheet is intended only for sparge water adjustments and should not be used for mashing water adjustment. A separate mashing acidification (alkalinity adjustment) tool is provided at the bottom of the Water Adjustment sheet for mashing water adjustment.
The Water Report Input sheet calculates and displays the Alkalinity of the existing water. That Alkalinity value is transferred to the Sparge Acidification sheet. Enter the Starting Water pH in the Sparge Acidification sheet. The Starting Water pH may be provided in the laboratory report.
If the Starting Water pH is not known, you can assume a relatively neutral pH between 7 and 8 without much impact to the acidification results. The Target Water pH is also entered here. Although the pH of sparging water is not the primary concern, it is the parameter used to adjust the sparging water acidification. The Target Water pH for sparge water generally ranges between 5.5 and 6.0.
If the brewer will be diluting the existing tap water with distilled or RO water, you will have to manually calculate the resulting alkalinity for your sparging water. That calculation is included in the Supporter's version of Bru'n Water.
If the Existing or Diluted Water Alkalinity is less than 25 ppm, then it may not be necessary to acidify the diluted sparging water.
The Final Water Alkalinity of the sparging water is the criteria used to guide the degree of acidification. Reduce sparging water alkalinity to 25 ppm or less (as CaCO3) for best results.
To adjust the Final Alkalinity, vary the Target Water pH value until a desirable low Final Alkalinity result is produced. The Set the Target Water pH value is the primary way to adjust the level of sparging water acidification.
Under most conditions, the brewer should leave the Water Volume to Treat set to 1.0. Setting the water volume to either One (1) Gallon or Liter and the program will automatically scale the acid addition to correspond to the sparging water volume that is entered on the Water Adjustment sheet. The Water Volume on the Sparge Acidificaton sheet can be reset to an actual volume (other than 1) if the brewer wants to perform a quick acid addition calculation instead of working through the rest of the program. For normal brewing usage, set the water volume to 1.
Use drop-down box to select the type of acid used for sparging acidification. The Supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes the capability to use 2 acids for your sparging water and another 2 acids in your mashing water. Typical solid and liquid acids used in brewing and wine-making are provided in the selection boxes. If the acid is a liquid, enter the numerical strength reported for the acid and select the strength parameter (% = Percentage, N = Normality, M = Molarity). When entering acid percentage, enter as a whole number. For example: enter 88% as 88 and not 0.88. When using solid acids, the strength parameter setting is not used and has no effect on the calculations.
The following acids: Citric, Malic, and Tartaric can only be used in their SOLID form in Bru'n Water. The program is set up to employ those acids only in their solid form. Do not attempt to calculate additions for those acids in Bru'n Water if those acids are in their liquid forms since the result will not be accurate.
To increase the program's versatility, Bru'n Water allows brewers to use 2 different acids in both the sparging and mashing water treatment (up to 4 different acid additions). This feature may be useful for brewers with high alkalinity water that may incur excessive anion concentrations if only one type of acid is used. Using multiple acids may help keep those anions, such as lactate or sulfate, under their taste thresholds. The brewer must set the acid type and strength on both the Sparge Acidification and Water Adjustment sheets since each acid entry is separate.
The Outputs section on the Sparge Acidification sheet reports the quantity of the specified acid needed to bring the water to the desired pH and alkalinity. If the specified acid is in solid form, the acid amount is provided as a mass. If the specified acid is in liquid form, the acid amount is provided as a volume. A conversion from milliliters (mL) to teaspoons (tsp) is provided for user convenience. If the Water Volume setting is 1, the acid amounts shown on the Sparge Acidificaton sheet are for 1 unit (gallon or liter) of water. The total acid additions for the total sparging water volume are correctly adjusted on the Water Adjustment and Adjustment Summary sheets for the water volumes entered there.
The Sparge Acidification sheet also reports the concentrations of the anions from those acids. Chloride and sulfate concentrations from hydrochloric and sulfuric acids are reported. The Supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes CRS acid as a selection. In addition, the various anions from lactic, acetic, phosphoric, tartaric, malic, and citric acids are also reported. While concentrations of the ions are reported on the Sparge Acidification and Water Adjustment sheets, refer to the Adjustment Summary sheet to find what the averaged concentrations of those anions are in the kettle and if they may be over their taste threshold. Anions over their taste threshold may affect beer flavor.
An accurate scale should be used for measuring solid acid additions and an accurate volume measure such as a graduated cylinder, pipette, or graduated dropper should be used for liquid additions. Care and proper protective gear must be used when working with acid since it can cause serious physical harm. Measure carefully and use instruments such as graduated pipettes or droppers to transfer acid. If the brewer has a calibrated pH meter or test strips available, add about 3/4 of the calculated acid amount and mix the water thoroughly prior to checking the pH. Add the remainder of the acid incrementally while checking the water pH to make sure the pH isn't overshot. Once the performance of the Existing Water and the acid are confirmed to hit the Target pH, acid additions for future brewing sessions can typically be added all at once. Use caution when using pH strips since there is evidence that the typical strips used by homebrewers measure about 0.2 to 0.3 units LOWER than actually present in the mash. pH measurement with a calibrated meter is recommended. If using pH strips, a pH reading that is about 0.2 units BELOW your targeted pH should be considered good. Plastic (ColorpHast brand) pH strips are preferred since paper pH strips are known to be unsuitable for brewery use. Measurements from a properly calibrated pH meter will always be more accurate than strips.
Variation in the water source pH or alkalinity can cause the pH target to be missed. Heating or boiling water with moderate to high Temporary Hardness will Decarbonate the water. This reduces the hardness and alkalinity of that water which will result in the overdosing of acid additions. Since acid additions are calculated based on the unboiled alkalinity, Add acid before heating water to avoid decarbonation and dropping water pH too low. The brewer should be aware of this possibility and measure their actual pH's when possible.
When Sulfuric acid or CRS acid-blend is used, the concentration of added sulfate ions is provided in the Outputs. When Hydrochloric acid or CRS acid-blend is used, the concentration of added chloride ions is provided in the Outputs. These ion concentrations are averaged into the overall ionic profile of the finished water profile.
All acids used for acidification in the brewery should be sourced as Food-Grade chemicals. The brewer should use acids with the designation: Food Chemical Codex (FCC) or United States Pharmacopeia (USP). This is particularly important for the acids since they can easily dissolve and contaminated with heavy metals that are hazardous to health. Although the highest purity classification for chemicals in the U.S. is Reagent ACS grade as designated by the American Chemical Society (ACS), it does not guarantee that hazardous or deleterious substances have not been introduced into the acid. The FCC grade should be preferentially sourced for brewery use. Reagent ACS or Reagent grade acids might be considered if food-grade acids cannot be obtained.
Proceed to the Grain Bill Input sheet to enter the grains in the mash.
Grain Bill Input
The Grain Bill Input sheet is where the brewer enters the actual types and quantities of grains used in the mash.
In the past, rough correlations between beer color and appropriate Residual Alkalinity (RA) had been proposed. Due to the non-linear relationships between grain color and its acidity, a good correlation cannot definitively be made between RA and beer color. This Grain Bill Input sheet was developed to provide brewers with a more accurate assessment of beer color, alkalinity, and the resulting Net Acidity that drives the mash pH.
Grain Color Setting: Enter the Color System used for the malts at the bottom of the Grain Bill Input sheet. Click the cell and a drop-down box will display Lovibond or EBC selections for grain color systems.
Enter each grain used in the mash grist in the spreadsheet. The grain names can be entered to help identify each component, but the grain names are not necessary. Enter the Mass of each grain in either pounds and ounces or kilograms and grams. Enter the Color of each grain in the proper units.
Grain Type: For each grain, use the Pink drop-down boxes to signify what type of grain is on that line (Base Malt, Crystal Malt, Roast Malt, or Acid Malt). This selection is important since each category of malt has differing acidity versus grain color characteristics. Grains with color greater than about 180 Lovibond should be entered as Roast Malts. Be aware that these rules are not always true and some grains may be better represented with another grain-type setting. Grains with color lower than 478 EBC (180 Lovibond) should typically be entered as Base or Crystal Malts. Acid Malt is also referred to as Saurermalt.
The color of the cells in the Grain Color column change to help signal the brewer what grain type is selected and if a color rating greater than 478 EBC (180 Lovibond) is used for a non-roasted grain or if a low color rating is used for a roasted grain. When using Excel to run Bru'n Water, the cells are BLUE for Base Grains, LIGHT TAN for Crystal Malts, DARK TAN for Roast Malts, and GREEN for Acid Malt. The cells turn RED when the color rating and roast malt settings do not agree with each other.
Special Note: It appears that base malts from Rahr Malting may be pre-acidified by that company and they may provide more acidity than expected for similar base malts. Other maltsters may also produce base malts that can be more acidic than typical. This may produce a mash pH lower than expected or calculated by this program. A work-around for this problem is to set the color rating of the malt about 3 Lovibond higher than reported by the maltster to allow the program to calculate the correct acidity.
After the grain information is entered, the Total Weight of the grist and its Water to Grist Ratio are provided at the bottom of the sheet. Compare the calculated total weight to your recipe total to verify the grain entries are correct. A listing of the relative percentage of each grain in the grist is provided for confirmation with any other brewing recipe software the brewer uses.
Water to Grist Ratio is an indication of how thick the mash is. A thick grist may have a water to grist ratio of around 1 quarts per pound of grain while a thin grist may be up to 2 quarts per pound (2 to 4 L/kg). The typical range is 1.25 to 1.5 quarts per pound (2.5 to 3 L/kg) although thinner grists may have advantages. Since the water used for mashing typically contains alkalinity, a thinner grist will have more milliequivalents (mEq) of alkalinity than a thick grist. More alkalinity consumes more of the grain acidity and the mash pH will likely be higher with a thin mash than a thick mash. Therefore, it may be necessary to further reduce the water alkalinity to provide appropriate mash pH when the mash is thinned. Adjusting the Water to Grist Ratio can be used to adjust the mash pH.
The Estimated Color of the beer (in EBC and SRM units) is provided at the bottom of the sheet for comparison with the brewer's brewing calculations or software results (Promash, Beersmith, etc.). Note that the batch volume (entered on the Water Adjustment sheet) affects this calculation and must be the same as the brewing calculation's or software's input in order to see agreement. The Morey equation is used for the color calculation.
Water Source Setting: At the bottom of the Grain Bill Input sheet, a drop-down box allows the brewer to toggle between the brewer's Existing Water (unadjusted) and the Adjusted Water (Finished) calculated on the Water Adjustment sheet. Typically, the box should be left on the Adjusted Water setting, but the brewer can use the other setting to see what the mash pH would be without water adjustment. Select the cell and the drop-down selection box will appear.
The Supporter's version of Bru'n Water includes the ability to reserve crystal malts or roasted grains from the mash to improve the mashing pH. That version also includes the ability to adjust the strength setting of Acid Malt so that it better reflects the pH adjustment it creates.
The results of the analyses are summarized as the Mash pH. If the mash pH falls well outside the preferred range, BE SURE THAT ALL THE CORRECT GRAIN TYPE SELECTIONS ARE MADE FOR EACH GRAIN LISTING. IT MAKES A BIG DIFFERENCE IN THE RESULTS! When using Excel to run Bru'n Water, the Estimated Mash pH cell color changes from RED to ORANGE to GREEN to indicate to the brewer the deviation in the result from the suggested range.
Mash pH may be checked about 5 minutes after combining the water and grist. But for more accurate results, the mash pH should be checked at around 10 to 15 minutes after combining the water and grist. Note: pH strips reportedly indicate the mash pH is about 0.2 to 0.3 units lower than actual. Therefore, accept a LOWER pH when measuring with strips. A calibrated pH meter is the recommended and preferred measurement device. Always check wort pH in room-temperature samples.
In a typical mash, the mash pH tends to trend toward a pH of about 5.4. If the pH is initially lower than 5.4, it tends to rise during the course of the mash. If the pH is initially above 5.4, it tends to fall during the mash. Bru'n Water pH prediction tends to present the pH during the early stage of mashing when most enzymatic activity and starch conversion occurs.
The Bru'n Water mash pH estimation should only be considered a good approximation. Variation in water, mineral, and grain quality can easily alter the actual mash pH. The brewer can expect that the estimated mash pH should typically be within 0.2 units from the room-temperature mash pH reading. The algorithm used to estimate the mash pH was produced through the evaluation of actual mashs and resulting pH. That algorithm will be modified based on the results of brewer's reports. A copy of this program that includes the brewer's input data along with their measured room-temperature mash pH can be sent to the program author for inclusion in this study and refinement.
Characteristics of wort from the mash can be altered slightly through adjustment of the mash pH. The Extract and Fermentability of the wort can be enhanced by adjusting the wort pH toward the low end of the range. Conversely, the Body and Mouthfeel of the wort can be enhanced by adjusting the wort pH toward the high end of the range (from Malting and Brewing Science, 1981). The brewer should consider these results when adjusting the mashing water alkalinity and the resulting mash pH.
Lower mash pH = higher fermentability and less body
Higher mash pH = lower fermentability and more body

Keep mash pH within the desired pH range to help produce your desired result.
The overall pH of the pre-boil wort can also alter the flavor perception of the beer. The pre-boil wort pH is a product of the mash pH and sparging water pH. Lower pre-boil wort pH can produce a sharper and tarter flavor perception. Lower pre-boil wort pH can also reduce hop and bittering expression in the finished beer. Higher pre-boil wort pH can produce a rounder and fuller flavor perception. In the mash, higher pH helps to extract flavor and color from roast malts, but recognize that excessive mash pH (>5.8) may lead to excessive tannin and silicate extraction.
To produce the mash pH effects mentioned above, the brewer should generally target a room-temperature pH range of between 5.3 and 5.5. Target a mash pH of 5.3 for the lower mash pH perceptions and target a mash pH of 5.5 for the higher mash pH perceptions.
Adjust the acid malt content of the grain bill or revisit the Water Adjustment sheet if the Predicted Mash pH does not fall within the brewer's target pH range. The Water Adjustment sheet provides tools to adjust the mash pH. The mash pH prediction from the Grain Bill Input sheet is also shown on the Water Adjustment sheet so that the brewer can fine-tune the mineral and acid additions without switching to the Grain Bill Input sheet. Be aware that the mash pH predictions are not valid until the mash grist and water volume are properly entered on the Grain Bill Input sheet.
If more acidity is needed, a recommended alternative is to decrease the water alkalinity by reducing the water's bicarbonate content by adding more acid or reducing any Baking Soda, Chalk, or Pickling Lime additions. If less acidity is needed, decrease any acid addition or increase the bicarbonate content to the mash water to consume more grain acidity. If dilution was used to produce the Adjusted Water, reducing the dilution percentage can typically increase the bicarbonate content since most drinking water has alkalinity.
The Mash Acidification analysis provides a better assessment of what mash pH will be produced. This enables the brewer to better adjust their water or mashing conditions to produce the beer characteristics they prefer or require.
Proceed to the Water Adjustment sheet to calculate the mineral and acid additions to create the desired mashing water profile.
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