Brew Days – Water

Welcome to Brew Days

Brew days is us sharing what we do, when and how, but more importantly why!

Today’s Brew Step is Water. Water makes up 98% of Ales, Beer and Larger, so let’s just agree it’s pretty fundamental to producing not only a good brew but its makeup can accentuate particular flavours and aromas you might be trying to highlight.

You can go one of two ways,

  1. Work with what you have.
  2. Learn water chemistry and become a tweaker.

The second not being as hard as it might sound.

The first step is common to both paths and that’s to know what you are working with. A quick google search will surface your water report, here is mine.

The most important thing to understand at the start is your residual alkalinity, mine is 288 ppm and my water is hard. With this information, a quick search of the internet will show I would be better off sticking to Porters, Stouts or Mild Ales. That said there are two things I think you should always do.

  1. Use Campden tablets
  2. Let your water stand overnight

Campden tables will break down the chlorine the water company puts in to serialize the water and is responsible for that funny taste in tap water. You can use a carbon filter and I do, after all, you filter your drinking water at home why not the water that makes up your beer. Just filtering your water and using a campden tablet will get you a long way down the road to improving your brew and embracing the water you have. Standing allows any other off smelling element to evaporate off.

Oh, you might be thinking why porters and stouts. Well, they both have a more acidic grain due to the roasting and therefore work better with hard water.

So if you did that internet search you will have found these water profiles for the common beer, ale and Stout types.

  • Bitter and Pale Ale. Alkalinity as CaC03 – up to 50 p.p.m. Calcium – 180 to 220 p.p.m.
  • Mild Ale. Alkalinity as CaC03 – 100 to 150 p.p.m. Calcium – 90 to 110 p.p.m.
  • Porter and Stout. Alkalinity as CaC03 – 100 to 150 p.p.m. Calcium – 100 to 120 p.p.m.
  • Pale Lager. Alkalinity as CaC03 – up to 30 p.p.m. Calcium – 100 to 120 p.p.m.

If you want to make other kinds of beer, ale or larger you are going to have to learn two things

  1. How to adjust your alkalinity levels (Alkalinity as CaC03)
  2. How to adjust your calcium levels

You can either use your water report as a starting point for the calculations or you can buy a saltwater alkalinity test intended for marine fish tanks and use that. Mine were pretty close, I tested CaC03 as 260 & my water report says 288. Given most banding above are 20 or better you can see water chemistry is quite forgiving within tolerances.

I’m not going to go into detail of how to adjust alkalinity and calcium levels as have a great guide here

Let me just say for 20% work you will get 80% of the way there and make some brews to rival the pros!

Why a Refractometer is a Must!

Here at Cold Passion we think the simple sustainable way of working are the best. Limit your waste, don’t recycle make and buy better things, things that last. Head over to Emeco for a great story about sustainability in furniture. To us the humble refractometer is a great addition to any brewers kit bag and with only the basic care will last a life time. Its far more robust and 1000x times less wasteful than its cheaper cousin the hydrometer.

So, lets talk cost the refractometer start around £15 on ebay ranging up to £100’s of pounds; lets assume you pay a few more quid and buy one that is made in the UK, say around £30. Your looking anywhere from around £8 for a well made (UK) hydrometer. Once you have dropped one as you will inevitable do you can see the refractometer makes a lot of sense. Its also much easier to read and the Brix scale has a simple decimal calibration much like a tape measure.

You will need to bounce numbers back and forth between Brix and Specific Gravity but, this is no great choir and there are plenty of great calculators online.

Let us know what you think?


Our First Club

Join our beer maker Club!

Were not a functioning business and as such we have no products to sell, that said we would like it if you would work on some Ale recipe with us and maybe try to replicate some of ours in your part of the world with your local ingredients; we believe that givers get lucky. Make sure to contact us and tell us how they came out?

Our first Black IPA receipt will be up here soon for you to try!

What is Cold Passion?

David Hieatt and the team at DO Lectures are the inspiration behind our Cold Passion moving from an idea to reality. Below is what David has to say about Cold and Hot Passion!

There are two types of passion: hot passion and cold passion.

Hot passion is young, it’s intense and it has a great energy. You want to change the world. Your energy is from anger, from a desire to change something, or just from wanting to prove something to yourself or others. Most of your decisions come from the heart. Your emotions have a free reign. The brain is playing second fiddle to passion. There’s an awful lot of doing, but not much in the way of thinking things through.

In football terms, this is the equivalent of running around like crazy, chasing the ball. You chase the game, because you have no experience to know where to position yourself so the ball comes to you. Hot passion cannot sustain this amount of energy. It tires. It fades. And in the end just fizzles out. Too much running for too little of the ball. The return on energy (roe) is poor. Hot passion is why lots of start-ups fail. They run on this: Late nights, early mornings, gut instincts. Passion is its fuel. But when the heart is making all the decisions, the brain is not being called upon to think. And so, things can go wrong.

Of course, there are lots of examples of start-ups that thrive on hot passion, but there are many more that sadly fail because of it. But the interesting thing is that the start-ups that do fail, they seem to adopt a more cold passion to business number 2. They learn to take the emotion out of decisions, they learn to sit still and think, and they learn to change when things work differently to the original plan. The love is still there, but this time passion doesn’t travel alone. The brain is there to help this time. Start-ups that have failed once are much more likely to succeed the next time around.

One last example, a friend of mine, wants to be a photographer. Except he had a day job that stopped him doing his hot passion – taking photos. But that wasn’t a bad thing. Over time, he just kept dreaming about it. He kept taking photos in his spare time. And slowly he got good at it. He did some courses, and he got even better. And soon he will take a leap of faith to pursue his passion (cold)

And the chances are he is going to pretty successful at it.


Our Site is up but, a work in Progress

Welcome to Cold Passion, we are a people with a Passion for brewing and making Ale. We do everything with sustainability top of mind. We want to work with nature not beat it into submission, we will always source local organic ingredients. We believe culture is going to a place to experience what it has to offer, immersing your self in the place, not buying it in a shop at the end of your road.