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Old 01-11-2008, 03:00 AM   #1
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Default building brewing water from reverse osmosis (RO) water

Many brewers use reverse osmosis water and salts to build their breweing water. While that gives them the flexibility to come up with the ideal water for a particular beer, it also adds new variables that can be messed up.

I have been doing this for the last 25 batches (since we moved into our new house) and in the beginning I didn't know what to aim for. Sure, there are the waters of the classic brewing centers, but they are difficult to capture exactly with the use of the commonly used salts (Gypsum, table salt, epsom salt, calcium chloride, baking soda and chalk) since the addition of one ion requires you to also add another ion. So I was more faced with the decisions of what ions matter for the beer.

In another thread is was asked to post a few of my water recipes. when reading these recipes, keep in mind that reverse osmosis doesn't strip out all ions from the water. It only takes out about 90-95%. My RO water had a TSD (total dissolved solids, the meter came with the RO system) of about 33 and the tap water was about 450. Now the RO water is at about 65 TDS, which means that I should replace the membrane soon.

I use this water for my Alts: the sulphate and Mg levels are kept low though the also could be higher to bring out the hops. But I haven't played with that yet. I wanted the calcium to be above 50 ppm (Palmer indicates that this is good for the yeast) and the bicarbonates are chosen to get me a residual alkalinity of about 100 mg/l HCO3. For a dark amber beer, this gives me a mash pH of about 5.3 which is generally my target

30L (8 gal) reverse osmosis water +
0.4g NaCl
0.3g MgSO4
0.9g NaHCO3
2.0g CaCO3

(58mg/L Ca; 3mg/L Mg; 32mg/L Na; 10mg/L SO4; 21mg/L Cl; 150mg/L HCO3)



This I use for a light colored pale Ale. It mimics the water I had in NC:
The increased sulphates bring out the hops and a residual alkalinity of 20 gives me a pH of 5.3

30L (8 gal) RO water+
1.6 g CaSO4
1.2 g NaCl
0.6 g MgSO4
1.0 g CaCl2
0.4g NaHCO3
1.4g CaCO3

(44mg/L Ca; 5mg/L Mg; 24mg/L Na; 45mg/L SO4; 44mg/L Cl; 60mg/L HCO3)


When building water use a program and make sure all the ions stay within reasonable bounds. Palmer suggests these:

Ca: 50 -150
Mg: 10 - 30
HCO3: 0 -250
Na: 0 -150
Cl: 0 - 250
SO4: 50-150

Kai

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Old 01-11-2008, 03:31 AM   #2
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Gawd DAMN! <sigh>And here I am just trying to figure out my sparge water volumes.</sigh>

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Old 01-11-2008, 04:31 PM   #3
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Nice, Kai! Thanks!


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Old 01-12-2008, 12:17 AM   #4
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One question:

Did you try brewing with the straight RO water even if just as a control?


Reason:

Most commercial "drinking water" is just municipal sources, filtered and sold to us (me) in neat jugs.

I know you like to, er, "tinker" with things, so I'll let you be, but what would the straight RO do in your tried and true recipes?

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Old 01-12-2008, 12:36 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyk'd
I know you like to, er, "tinker" with things, so I'll let you be, but what would the straight RO do in your tried and true recipes?
It would work for a pilsner since my RO water profile is very similar. to Pilzen water. But I like to throw in some calcium since I think Pilzen water has to little Ca for good fermentation.

In darker beers, straight RO would result in to low of a mash pH since the residual alkalinity is fairly low.

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Old 01-12-2008, 12:57 AM   #6
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So, are you not going to try a couple of straight RO batches? You DO need a control, correct?




We can "would" all night, really...

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Old 01-12-2008, 01:47 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyk'd
So, are you not going to try a couple of straight RO batches? You DO need a control, correct?
At this point I don't need a control as I'm not trying to optimize my water. I simply trust the literature that suggests various levels of minerals for various styles of beer. The only thing I really target is the residual alkalinity and that I check through the mash pH that I get.

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Old 05-11-2014, 08:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kaiser View Post
In another thread is was asked to post a few of my water recipes. when reading these recipes, keep in mind that reverse osmosis doesn't strip out all ions from the water. It only takes out about 90-95%. My RO water had a TSD (total dissolved solids, the meter came with the RO system) of about 33 and the tap water was about 450. Now the RO water is at about 65 TDS, which means that I should replace the membrane soon. Kai
I Know this is an old thread, but I feel I need to add something to it.
I also use R.O. water, and I have a TDS meter I regularly keep calibrated with 342ppm solution, and 1,000ppm solution, I use containers to store my R.O. water. and the only liquids that touch the inside of the containers is a solution of starsan (to keep them nice and clean), and the R.O. water itself. When I measure the TDS of the R.O. water at the source it's always 0ppm and in the container it reads in between 001-003ppm and I assume that the 1-3ppm is due to the starsan. I guess what I'm trying to convey is that a well maintained R.O. system will remove ~100% of TDS. In fact R.O. water is so devoid of ions that it will pull ions from whatever non-polymer material it is in contact with, Sorry for the hijack, Cheers.
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