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HopSong 09-07-2012 10:47 PM

Another Water Noob Needing Help
First.. I'm old and having a difficult time with the scientific aspect of Martins water page.. sorry.. comes with old age.

My real only wants for beer are West Coast style Pale Ales, IPA's as well as Stouts.. Possibly Porters. I don't want the hassle at this stage of my brew learning to tackle lagers. So those are the three and possibly the fourth. I'd guess they fall into two categories as far as water is concerned??

So far I've been brewing with house water as an only source for some batches of ales.. and brewing with RO water for the same as only sources. At this point I haven't mixed or diluted either with the other.. sheesh, does that make sense?

Here is what I know about my city water. The numbers are yearly averages. Bear Republic is in town and I think I remember they don't modify the city water (other than possibly dechlorinating with ??.. but I don't know for sure.

EDIT: This is for my new venture into AG brewing. If it makes any difference.. maybe my water also needs help for my extract brewing... :) ??

So, if anyone will be kind enough to help me with either modification of my city water or dilution or ??? for the two styles.. I'd sure be appreciative.

Thanks..... HbgBill or Just Plain Bill

Sodium 08 ppm

CA 20ppm

Mg 18

Ka 0

Carbonate 05 Said they don't measure.. but thought this was correct

Bicarbonate 156

Chloride 08

Sulfate 18

Nitrates 2.5

Conductivity 306 umohs/cm

TotalDis Solids 163

pH 7.04

Total Hardness 130

Total Alkalinity 131

Total Phosphates ?? Don't measure

ajdelange 09-08-2012 01:13 PM

Water chemistry can be bewildering. I've been trying to figure out how to simply explain it for over 25 years and haven't had much success. The best I have been able to do is found in the Primer here. The idea is that you dilute your tap water with RO water to the point that the mineral content is low enough to be essentially 0 (in the case of your water that would be 4 parts RO to 1 part tap), then add amounts of salts that will give you a good, if not the best beer. IOW you build a decent water suitable for a class of beers. You then subsequently re-brew the beer with slightly different amounts of salts until you reach Nirvana.

The main target here is your alkalinity. 4:1 dilution will reduce it to 26 which is OK but 9:1 would get it down to 13 which is even better. At that level of dilution you may well ask 'Why not use all RO' and many do exactly that though others like to keep at least 10% tap water for 'trace minerals'.

Have a look at the Primer.

As for the old age bit - I wallow in the intricacies of brewing water chemistry every day in the hopes that it will, like Sudoku, stem off senility. Don't know if it's working or not.

PS:[Edit] For the specified level of alkalinity and pH the carbonate would be at about 0.1 ppm.

mabrungard 09-08-2012 07:56 PM

While dilution is effective in reducing the excessive alkalinity of this water, there is not a strong reason to use dilution to accomplish that task in this case. The only other ion that could benefit from the dilution is the magnesium content. If the OP is brewing a hoppier style, the dilution could be counter-productive for flavor. The degree of magnesium reduction would suggest that a 1:1 dilution would be about the level needed. Any more dilution for alkalinity reduction should be dependent upon the requirements of the mash. A high dilution to drop the alkalinity to near zero should only be needed for grists with very little crystal or roast malts.

I suggest that acidification could be an easier treatment for this water. Given the level of alkalinity reduction needed for this water, the use of phosphoric acid is recommended to reduce taste effects. Bru'n Water has the tools to calculate acid additions.

HopSong 09-08-2012 08:21 PM

Thanks guys.. I tried to send you an email, Martin.. I think my old brain needs a booster to be able to use Bru'n Water.. :(

On the ALE side, I like hoppier beers.. but, I think most of my "house" ales will not be in the higher end. But, the "special" ones will be.. and I'll only be doing them in 2.5 gal batches.

For the Stout/Porters, they don't use a lot of hops, in my mini experience... but, i love them.

BrewKnurd 09-08-2012 08:28 PM

One thing you can always try to really avoid having to think about anything too much is ask local breweries whose beers you like what they do for water. Might get some useful answers. :D

ajdelange 09-08-2012 09:05 PM


Originally Posted by mabrungard (Post 4397776)
While dilution is effective in reducing the excessive alkalinity of this water, there is not a strong reason to use dilution to accomplish that task in this case.

Martin and I go around on this one every few weeks whether we need to or not. It's really a matter of opinion. In my opinion it is much easier to add a tsp of CaCl2 to RO water and brew than it is to determine what one's alkalinity is at each brew day (in some water supplies it is quite variable), enter that number into a spread sheet which calculates the acid addition, measure out the acid, have the spreadsheet calculate the salts necessary to supplement the calcium to the nominal 50 ppm, weigh out those salts and add them and then brew. It is really up to the individual to decide for himself which is simpler and of course while the RO method is very simple it does require that one has a source of RO water. If you have to drive through the bad part of town to get some RO water the extra effort required to use the acid may indeed be simpler.

In this particular case OP said that use of a spreadsheet was beyond him. Seems the RO scheme is ideal for him.

I don't want people to get the idea I am against spreadsheets. I do reams of brewing water calculations with one (for example to calculate the carbonate content in OP's water as I did in #2) - just not when I'm brewing. There I use the RO method. To me it's far simpler. But you won't learn anything about water chemistry by following the RO scheme. Acid addition is much more instructive.

jmf143 09-09-2012 12:47 PM

Off topic - but I really like the fact the AJ and Martin can have different opinions on some topics and still have a civil discussion about it in a public forum. Very rare today on the internet.

ajdelange 09-09-2012 03:12 PM

I really think it important that people be exposed to more than one viewpoint because, especially in an art like brewing, there is no simple single answer to many questions. This is reflected in the diversity of the worlds beers. Of course I can try to cover all viewpoints but I'm not likely to be entirely successful given that, though I am aware of it and fight it, I too am subject to cognitive bias.

Onlooker 09-09-2012 03:52 PM

If you're looking for simple then I say go with aj's method. He's distilled it down to a "no brainer" method that is very helpful to those who don't want to (or feel they're able to) get into the chemistry very much.

It's what I've done, though I didn't have much choice either, given my very high total alkalinity (342), and most other elements/compounds as well.

Onlooker 09-09-2012 03:54 PM


Originally Posted by jmf143 (Post 4399042)
Off topic - but I really like the fact the AJ and Martin can have different opinions on some topics and still have a civil discussion about it in a public forum. Very rare today on the internet.

+1 I've learned a whole lot reading their discussions here on HBT too. Tip of the hat to them. :mug:

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