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Old 02-22-2013, 10:58 AM   #1
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Default Advice on first-time water treatment

Never done this before, so was looking for some guidance from you wise sages.

Parameters are as follows (all ppm or mg/L):

Quote:
Calcium: 17.2 <-Quoted from another forum for my area but last taken 2003.
Magnesium: ? <-The water company no longer records this (as of 2003)
Sodium: 5.75
Sulphate: 15.078
Chloride: 11.778

Alkalinity: ~38 (Measured from my API GH hardness test kit for my aquarium)
Hardness: ~53 (API KH test kit) / 42.9 (again from the 2003 report)
Now I have stuck these into an online calculator and a few other spreadsheet calculators. my main questions are:

1. Given the parameters above, does anything stand out or is there some general advice you can give?

2. How do I decide how much of each salt to add? I know I should add enough to bring my pH down to about 5.2-5.4, but does it really matter which salt I add to achieve this? I suspect the answer is "yes" but I don't know why.

3. I'm not sure if the API test kits are measuring as CaCO3, HCO3 or CO3 - I would have thought GH (General Hardness) is CaCO3 (+ Mg) but then I'm not sure what the KH (Karbonate Hardness, ja?) is a measure of - just CO3?

Thanks guys
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Old 02-22-2013, 11:42 AM   #2
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I use Bru'n water to make my calculations (find it here). I've also used John Palmer's spreadhseet but didn't find it as intuitive for me.

I live in San Antonio, TX and we have an alkalinity of 212, but our Sulfide to Chloride ratio is pretty close to yours. My pH (from the faucet) runs 8.0 to 8.5. I personally do two adjustments at separate times. I adjust the pH of my mash and sparge according to the calculations on Bru'n water. I use Lactic Acid (88%) because it is easy to get and easy to work with. The spreadsheet lets me enter in the amount of grains I am using and what type along with what kind of beer I am looking for. It calculates the contributions of these and tells me my expected pH starting point to adjust from. It then allows me to enter the lactic at different amounts and tells me the expected outcome.

My next addition, if I am doing something that is supposed to be malt forward (which is 90% of my brews) I adjust my Sulfate to Chloride ration with Calcium Chloride in the kettle before the boil. The ratio recommended for malty beers is about 2 Chloride to 1 Sulfate. I have tried adding it to the mash, but that one batch went from my usual 82% efficiency to 65% so I no longer do this. Now I add it after the mash in the kettle. Bru'n water helps me to calculate that amount, but not as a kettle addition--that I have been able to discover. Because of this I figure the lactic needed first and then go back and calculate the amount of CChloride. The spreadsheet runs this as a mash addition, but I simply hold it off until the boil.

These are the only two things I do to my water. The old rule is "If your water tastes good it will make good beer." Well, my water doesn't taste good--at all--but my beer made with it does.

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Old 02-22-2013, 12:24 PM   #3
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Thanks cluckk. Could you please expand on the significance of the sulfide to chloride ratio?

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Old 02-22-2013, 12:42 PM   #4
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That is great brewing water! Plenty of room for additions to bring it up to whatever you need. You'll want to get the Calcium up to at least 50ppm. You can do that with Just CaCl if you want to make a sweet beer such as a most Belgium beers, or just CaSO4 if you want a hoppy beer like an IPA. Or use some of each for a more middle of the road beer.

The primer on HBT here is great, but here is some condensed information to get you started:
http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/201...chemistry.html

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Old 02-22-2013, 01:37 PM   #5
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The ratio of chloride to Sulfate effects the perception of bitterness and maltiness in the beer. Gordon Strong (Brewing Better Beer, pg 148) recommends starting with ratios of 2 Sulfate to 1 Chloride for hoppy beers; 1 sulfate to 2 chloride for malty milds and 1 sulfate to 3 chloride for stouts and porters.

For personal taste, I've noticed that before making these adjustments my beers were just lacking something--they had an insipid tone to them. They were good, but fairly indistinct. Since making these alterations in the kettle the maltiness stands out much more distinct. Perhaps others would experience it differently, but it works this way for me. Strong goes on to point out that such changes can be experimented with at any point in the process, including dissolving the salts in a finished beer (pg 262--though he points out dissolving can be hard at this point) to see if it would have the expected effect.

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Old 02-22-2013, 02:38 PM   #6
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It's easy to get carried away with water adjustments. The first time I added salts to a brew it came out terrible. I was trying to match a city water profile, and it looked perfect on paper, but when I tasted the finished product it was just way too much salt. For the first time around I would recommend just adding salts to get it up to about 50ppm of calcium, and only use the calcium salts. Once you are happy with that you might conciser the sodium and magnesium salts, but for me the calcium salts have always been enough.

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Old 02-22-2013, 04:13 PM   #7
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Your water report balances reasonably well and I think it makes sense. Whether or not the 2003 report is out of data depends on where the water is coming from. Given the low ion content and alkalinity I suspect that this is surface water from a reservoir.

The problem with the calculators is that they don't tell you how much to add or what to shoot for. That's where you 'll have to do some research and educate yourself. As I see it, there are 3 goals to water treatment:

- get out the stuff that makes your beer taste nasty (mostly chlorine/cloramine)
- adjust residual alkalinity to get you the desired mash pH when using the intended grist
- adjust minerals to desired levels.

It first the last 2 points are a bit daunting but once you figure out what to shoot for it will be fairly easy with any of those calculators.

Kai

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Old 02-22-2013, 04:35 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info.

The reason the water is such low content is because I live on the east coast of Scotland which is all grantite and other nice metamorphosed rocks so the water just runs down off the hills and into two big rivers.

I'm brewing my second sweet stout tonight, last time I didn't treat the water so I'm keen to try this time and see if there is any noticeable difference.

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Old 02-22-2013, 06:55 PM   #9
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The first question would be 'In what units do your test kits report to you?' and the second is
'Do you have those labels reversed?' GH is general hardness and is the amount of calcium plus magnesium plus whatever other polyvalent metals the test picks up. KH is karbonat Härte which is the part of the total paired with bicarbonate and carbonate i.e. the alkalinity. The alkalinity (carbonate hardness) should be less than the total hardness (38 < 53) but is measured with the KH test.

As noted at the beginning 38 and 53 are respectably low numbers if they are in ppm as CaCO3 but whopping numbers if they are dH.

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Old 02-22-2013, 08:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tudou View Post
I'm brewing my second sweet stout tonight, last time I didn't treat the water so I'm keen to try this time and see if there is any noticeable difference.
The mash for a dark beer can come out fairly acidic because of the dark malts. You might want to add chalk to compensate, but chalk doesn't disolve easily. This is a pretty deep subject. Several others here can explain it much better than I can. I would recommend doing some reading on the subject.
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