Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blueberry Wheat, Special Edition, February 10, 2011

Alas!  It has been way to long.  I've been spending a huge chunk of time focusing on my Brew Year's resolution to make brewing water adjustments and to use software for planning and process documentation.  In doing so, I've missed blogging two other brewing sessions besides this one.  Those two future blog entries, Burton Ale and Belgian Lager, will be posted very soon.  I've seemed to finally grasp the basics of using John Palmer's water RA spreadsheet and using BeerTools Pro for Mac.
As for making water adjustments, I've taken the recommendation from several homebrewers to use John Palmer's Mash Residual Alkalinity Spreadsheet.  Here's the download link to the Excel spreadsheet if you want to try it out: Palmers_Mash_RA_ver2.xls.  There's also a very recent update but I haven't checked it out yet: Palmers_Mash_RA_ver3ptO.xls.  If you do some reading about Palmer's spreadsheet and water calculations, you'll find that there's a great discussion happening about technical/chemical issues with his calculations, hence version 3.  Even with the new version, there still seems to be some unanswered questions and potential issues.

Using the spreadsheet takes some initial learning but I found no harm done playing with several scenarios before trying it out for actual planning purposes.  I found it very useful to listen to the Brew Strong Waterganza podcast series on The Brewing Network: Podcast 1 - Why Adjust Your Water - Podcast 2 - How to Adjust Your Water - Podcast 3 - Adjusting Water to Styles - Podcast 4 - The Final Answers  After picking up a small variety of brewing salts and starting to utilize a local purified drinking water source, it has been exciting to add water adjustments to my homebrewing repertoire. 
Here's the spreadsheet for this brew.  Simply dilutions.  No salts were needed.
This is a learning process and while this brew's water profile needs further adjustment (could have used calcium chloride), I'm excited to use water as the basis for future experimentation.  Notice that the chloride to sulfate ratio determines that hop perception will be "Bitter".  With a tad of calcium chloride, the ratio would be more "Malty" focused and better suited to the profile I'm looking for in my Blueberry Wheat.  As I said, it will be a process, and a fun one at that. 

As for using BeerTools Pro for Mac, I'm finding it easy to use and frustrating at the same time.  Time will tell if I can become acclimated and work around its' nuances.  I've found their documentation to be very useful and the calculations to be fairly accurate.  I particularly enjoyed running the experiments on my equipment to determine heat capacity and their coefficients.   Here's a quick snapshot of using BeerTools Pro with the Blueberry Wheat Ale:

BeerTools Pro snapshot showing Special Ingredients and Mashing Schedule.
One of the end products I truly desire is exporting the details for blogging purposes.  BeerTools can export straight to HTML and the results are copied below.  A couple of complaints I have are the inability to document fermentation details and that water adjustments and profiles used in their calculators can't be exported along with the other details seen below.  Perhaps these features are there!?  I haven't looked really far into these issues yet and so it seems the only way to make this happen is using the "Notes" feature.

On to the beer!  I've made a few small changes to this favorite homebrew of mine.  It's really not MY favorite, but many of my great friends absolutely love this homebrew.  I will admit that it is truly a great drinker and even an experienced beer judge has said that a previous edition was one of the best fruit beers he's ever had.  So why would I even consider changing it, you ask!?  For the fun of it, of course!  Why settle for good when great is within reach?  In this case, why settle for great when I hear water adjustments can send a beer to outstanding!?

One of my truly best friends and favorite peops, Andrew, just got engaged and this beer is for him.  The Blueberry Wheat has been his favorite homebrew and beer.  I'm plugging for an engagement party to feature this beer.  Andrew also has an amazing food blog, check it out: Eating Rules.  Cheers!
Here's the brewing details from BeerTools Pro.  I will update at a later date with finishing details. Two other blog posts for Burton Ale and Belgian Lager coming soon as well.  Oh, and I've making some Chianti from a kit and will also write about that process too!

Blueberry Wheat, Special Edition

BJCP Category 20-A Fruit Beer
Author: Chillindamos
Date: 2/10/11
BeerTools Pro Color Graphic
Size: 5.0 gal
Efficiency: 70.0%
Attenuation: 88.1%
Calories: 159.42 kcal per 12.0 fl oz

Original Gravity: 1.049 (1.026 - 1.120)

Terminal Gravity: 1.006 (0.995 - 1.035)

Color: 4.2 (1.0 - 50.0)

Alcohol: 5.65% (2.5% - 14.5%)

Bitterness: 16.4 (0.0 - 100.0)


6.08 lb Red Wheat Malt
2.93 lb 2-Row Brewers Malt
0.98 lb Belgian Pils
2.9 tsp 5.2 pH Stabilizer - added during mash
1.46 oz German Spalt (3.0%) - added during boil, boiled 60 min
1.0 tsp Whirlfloc Tablets (Irish moss) - added during boil, boiled 15.0 min
2. ea White Labs WLP001 California Ale
0.1 tsp Anti-Foam - added during boil, boiled 90.0 min
0.1 tsp Anti-Foam - added during boil, boiled 1.0 min
2.0 oz Blueberry Extract


Ambient Air: 65.0 °F
Source Water: 58.0 °F
00:11:31 Mashing-In - Liquor: 2.49 gal; Strike: 169.49 °F; Target: 148.0 °F
01:11:31 Saccharification Rest - Rest: 60 min; Final: 142.7 °F
01:14:31 Mash Out Infusion - Water: 1.54 gal; Temperature: 170.0 °F; Target: 151.7 °F
01:24:31 Vorlauf, bitches! - Rest: 10.0 min; Final: 151.0 °F
02:34:31 Sparge - Sparge Volume: 4.88 gal; Sparge Temperature: 170.0 °F; Runoff: 5.83 gal


OG: 1.050 @ 66°F Oxygen aeration for 60 seconds. Pitched two vials of WLP001 California Ale. Fermenting at 63-66°F for two weeks in the primary. After 48 hours, the Anti-Foam seems to be keeping the krausen under control. I typically have a fermentation blowout with this type of grain bill (using wheat). Water was diluted 72% using RO water. On 2/23: Racked over to secondary. Current gravity is 1.006 @ 58°F.
Results generated by BeerTools Pro 1.5.12


  1. Chill-
    Funny coincidence. I also just did my first water adjustment for my last batch. It was a Scottish 60/- and I always feel like it could have a much richer malt character. So I decided to play with water chemistry. I used this site's calculator
    I feel like it is a bit "ez"ier to understand than Palmer's.
    Curious to see if you can tell any difference by changing the water.

  2. I downloaded and played with EZ Water Calculator. The calculations are similar to Palmer's spreadsheet. BeerTools Pro also has a water chemistry calculator that matched well with Palmer's spreadsheet but wasn't focused on hitting residual alkalinity, that's what we really need these calcs for! I'll let you know how its going. This was the 3rd batch of adjusting water chem. This particular batch I should notice and my friends will as well.


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