My latest experiments

denny's picture

A couple years ago I began using Martin Brungard's excellent Bru'nwater spreadsheet to calculate additions to my water for various types of beers. I immediately began noticing improvements so I decided to dig a little deeper. I decided I'd concentrate on improving my IPAs with water adjustments. The main area I concentrated on was increasing my sulfate levels a step at a time and see what kind of effect it had. I decided to experiment on my Rye IPA recipe since I've brewed it dozens of times and know it well. Since the time I developed the recipe years ago, I'd just thrown a teaspoon of gypsum into the kettle and called it good. With my base of about 57 ppm of sulfate, that (I think) was getting me into the (maybe) 150 ppm range. Over the course of the last several batches, I've gone to 200, 250, 300, and finally 350 ppm of sulfate. I've also been concentrating on keeping the chloride level under 100 ppm, since advice from Martin was that high chloride levels along with high sulfate levels can create harshness. Another advantage of increasing the gypsum has been that my calcium levels have also been increasing. This equates to healthier fermentations and clearer beer, both of which I've found in these recent batches. The most recent batch of Rye IPA may be the best one I've ever made. Crisp, clean, clear, with a very direct, in your face hop presence and a beautiful dry finish. Again according to Martin, the increased gypsum is responsible for that dry finish.

This is an example of the way I started experimenting years ago. Read as many ideas as you can find. See if past experience backs up what the person is saying. Maybe you've read other things by that person that may or may not lend credence to what you read. Think about how your own past experience plays into what the person said. Then, take ideas that make sense based on those criteria and start experimenting with them. Decide for yourself how those ideas affect your brewing. That's the best way to discover what could be a way for you to improve your beers.