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Trying to build an ideal water for fermenting a neutral using sugar and rainwater/RO.
More specifically rather than copying something like burton on Trent profile I kind need some sources with good science behind them for what a yeast needs to succeed without throwing really crazy effects into the spirit.
What kind of PPM do I need and of what?
You want a turbo recipe?
If by “turbo recipie” you mean “building a sugar wash specifically for your local water and raw materials using nutrients and minerals to Build an ideal fermentation environment for the chosen yeast and desired flavor profile” .... then still no.
I’m building water, not a wash recipe.
I found this page: Quickie Water Chemistry Primer @ The Brewery - Total Homebrewing Information
Seems to be about the kind of thing I’m looking for. Today I will use this info to make a mineral package. (Oooooh. Top secret proprietary stuff). Lol
To some extent, for distilling, it's more about what's NOT in it, than what is.
My personal preference is harder water, acid adjusted, to keep pH stable during fermentation.
Also keep in mind that going to zero and building back up might not be the best approach.
It might make more sense to put some portion of your water through RO/DI, and blend it back with carbon treated source water, to reduce the ions you don't want, while at the same time keeping some of what you do want.
For example, 50% RO/DI and 50% Source Water will reduce all ions by 50% - stupid obvious, but worth saying. When you realize how much additive you'll require to bring the levels to where you want them, you are going to realize it doesn't make sense to strip EVERYTHING out.
Not unless you have a system that is designed for it and doing a lot... Our entire city water supply is built from zero after RO. might explain why a town of 35,000 has 8 breweries and a distillery... Friends and breweries on the county water all do an RO blend with county water that has catalytic carbon to remove chloramines (except when they shock the system with chlorine, in which case they stop or use 100% RO) and build back the missing parts.....
Lots of calculators our there for decades for brewers ( search brewing water calc ) I used to get my water tested by ward labs, but we are so rock solid now, risk of having a bad batch is so low it does not make sense...
Similar here, we're on a solid water system. We used to test regularly, but it's so solid it's not worth it.
We only have two variabilities. Chlorine shocking - this is fairly noticeable by nose, in which case we just slow the flow rate through activated carbon.
Second one - hard to deal with - salt entering the water supply during the winter - due to salting the roads. This one is blatantly obvious on the TDS meter on the input water. We haven't noticed any difference as a result though. NJ has gone crazy with spraying brine on the roads over the past few years. It was like an epiphany when we realized this - the water company guys laughed that we didn't realize it earlier.
Well I use tap water from the municipality. But I am about 5kms from the water treatment plant, although the water is so pure where I am the filter it for solids and then put it straight in the system
I suppose I could try to get a water report on the rainwater but I imagine it would vary.
I did find many brewing calculators but they are partially dependent on mash bills. I’m using sugar. Which mash bill or beer flavor profile would be closest for a neutral spirit?
Maybe you are on to something where we blend city water and rain water and a dechlorination process.
My problem is that I’m not sure what ions I want and which I don’t. Do I want a really hard water with lots of calcium or do I just want to balance everything as best I can?
@Fiji_Spirits I guess it comes to desired outcome. In theory wouldn't one want some buffering for acid and then enough of the other nutrients for yeast health? So something like 50ppm Calcium and then some carbonate for the buffering?
Well the desired outcome is a neutral spirit right now.
As to buffering, I’ve dicked around with that over the years and the bottom line seems to be that sugar washes just crash the first day. Nothing I have done seems to avoid or stop it. Best I got was a delay until I needed to correct (achieved by hanging limestone in the fermenter). So, buffering... nah. Waste of time on sugar wash I think.
Things that will make a difference? Anything that reduces yeast stress and anything to minimize bacterial impact.
That's the real question we're answering here, not what's applicable in brewing.
This is exactly what a lot of the seltzer dudes are doing.
Buffering to avoid a pH crash is a massive part of the formula.
Best Practices - Hard Seltzer Fermentation (PDF)
Lol - 16 day fermentation.
One key standout here - pasteurizing the wash through boiling. This is key.
Second is the big nutrient additions - 150g/hl in addition to rehydration nutrient.
Recommended dosage of Fermaid O is 10-40g/hl in normal use. They are recommending 150g/hl in sugar. Nearly 4x the top end recco, again, on top of the rehydration nutrient. I think this is where people miss the mark on sugar. Nutrients way too low.
The recommended buffer, is really all not that massive though. 10-15g/hl of potassium bicarb to start. I feel like I've added way more than this in sodium bicarbonate with what I thought was fairly small impact.
I’ve never messed around with potassium bicarbonate before. Maybe it works different than sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydroxide or calcium carbonate.
I’m pretty dubious tho. Seems like that PH crash is due to a lot of stuff going on at once for a few grams of potassium to have much effect on a 4-5 day ferment
You could also reach out to this guy. He's an expert in the field.
Bru'n Water enables homebrewers and craftbrewers to accurately assess and modify their brewing water
I’ve been looking at his website and spreadsheet. It’s pretty good actually.
Yeah he has put it out for years. Pretty much the go to for brewers. He also consulted on the Water book.
If you aren't a spreadsheet guy, consider something like
Mash Chemistry and Brewing Water Calculator @ Brewer's Friend
Well my little package of minerals I put in the last ferment seems to be doing something. I am now .015 sg points ahead of the previous days ferment. So not only did I catch up but it passed it.
Looking at brunwater water profiles My test mineral load compares pretty well to a medium yellow water profile. Not sure how that effect spirit quality but at least the ferment is moving nicely.
Is there a specific profile I should be shooting for?
I'm quite the newb to distilling, but I've brewed a few batches of beer...
What you shoot for is typically determined in part by what you put in. A sugar wash is very different than grain and needs to be planned for.
Typically you need some Magnesium (maybe 5-10 ppm), Calcium (I usually shoot for about 50 PPM but there is leeway) and some hardness to buffer.
I assume that your yeast nutrient additions take care of the calcium, magnesium and zinc. The buffer is a tricky one. Some folks go the old fashioned route and throw in some oyster shells (largely calcium carbonate if I recall correctly) as they will dissolve as necessary. Of course this is somewhat of an inelegant solution. So that would bring us back to Chalk (CaCO3) as a better solution. Unfortunately that is a bit more of a guess without knowing the water going in, other water additions and yeast characteristics.