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Old 05-25-2009, 08:58 PM   #1
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Default Bicarbonate in water once again, Green Flash IPA

So, was listening to Can You Brew It and on the one I listened to, they went and interviewed the brewmaster at Green Flash Brewing about his West Coast IPA. He said they have hard water and they add even more gyspum to it, but that they don't approach Burton or anything.

Which lead me to wonder about their water as compared to mine. While I'm still awaiting the full water report for my area, the water is very hard with high bicarbonate. Which was leading me to thinking of adding a lot of distilled water. I like making fairly pale, though amber-ish, hoppy beers. Loved the Green Flash when I visited SoCal, for instance.

Looking at the water report for San Diego County as linked in the Vista website, where Green Flash is located, they also have pretty hard water.

The water report is here:

http://www.vid-h2o.org/pdf/publication/CCR_2007.pdf

As linked to here:

Vista Irrigation District - Pubications - Online Publications

Hardness is at 218, bicarbonate is at 115. Now, my water is even harder. But from what I had been reading about the high bicarbonate lending a harsh edge to hops and bitterness and not being desirable, I was sort of despairing with how much distilled water I might have to add. Like I said, still awaiting my full report, but am guessing I could approach their water with diluting by half, which isn't as bad as I thought at all. I don't really want that sulfate content of Burton. But I also don't want an overly harsh bitterness.

What are the thoughts on this stuff? Does Arrogant Bastard also use this hard water? I love that as well. When people are saying to shoot more for the lower bicarbonate, do they really mean for clean, pale lagers with noble hops? If you're going for a more West Coast IPA, what are the thoughts?

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Old 05-26-2009, 11:04 AM   #2
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Reading Palmer's spreadsheet seems quite helpful. But when the Vista water is input, the Chloride to Sulfate ratio is stated as "very bitter". For an IPA, guess that's just about right though.

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Old 05-26-2009, 11:40 AM   #3
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Looking at the "city of brewery" water can be misleading. Brewery can have its own well, and most probably they make some charges to the water: RO, salt additions etc.

For IPA you should have low bicarbonates; and sulfates much higher than chlorides. If I were you, I'd preboil the water with a spoon of chalk, and then I'd add a small spoon of gypsum to the mash.

And finally, don't bother so much about water adjustments. It should be last, polishing touch for the beer, if you focus too much on it, you can miss most important things: sanitation, yeast, fermentation.

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Old 05-26-2009, 12:20 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Piotr View Post
Looking at the "city of brewery" water can be misleading. Brewery can have its own well, and most probably they make some charges to the water: RO, salt additions etc.

For IPA you should have low bicarbonates; and sulfates much higher than chlorides. If I were you, I'd preboil the water with a spoon of chalk, and then I'd add a small spoon of gypsum to the mash.

And finally, don't bother so much about water adjustments. It should be last, polishing touch for the beer, if you focus too much on it, you can miss most important things: sanitation, yeast, fermentation.
I've brewed 90 batches of beer already. So I'm already pretty comfortable with the basic aspects of making beer. But the thing that's changed for me is I live in Zagreb now, with extremely hard water. I was in Portland, Oregon before, with extremely soft water. So, this means there's a lot there that I didn't have to deal with.

As for the source water, the guys interviewing him asked him what his water was like. And he said that they have very hard water from San Diego source and that he adds gyspum but not to Burton levels. He didn't say they use their own water source or do anything to lower their considerable bicarbonate level. That's why I bring this up.

From the looks of it, I will be adding distilled water but not at as high of a level as I had originally thought. We'll see when the full numbers come in. Thanks for the input. It's appreciated.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:05 PM   #5
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I set up my brewing water at least a day in advance and treat it with pickling lime. This causes the the carbonates to react with the calcium to form the pooly soluble calcium carbonate (chalk). This will settle out overnight and then I drain off the treated water. If your water is low in Ca, you may need to add some back. You should also check your pH. If you add too much of the lime, the pH will be too high and need adjusting whien mashing in.

Since I've been doing this the bitterness in my beers has smoothed out considerably. For my hoppy beers I've been adding a little gypsum when mashing in.

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Old 05-26-2009, 04:36 PM   #6
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I have high bicarbonates... just like Burton On Trent. I don't have the sulfate that they do though. The last IPA I did I added enough gypsum to balance out my RA for the grains I was using. This should give me a good IPA without dilution with distilled or boiling/adding lime. For malty lighter beers I'll have to either use distilled or lower my bicarbs some other way.

Next time I add gypsum it will be in 2 additions though. Last time I added it to the HLT which is not correct. I should calculate it for my strike water, add the gypsum to the mash, then put the rest in the boil after the sparge.

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Old 05-26-2009, 05:09 PM   #7
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Thanks for the input, guys. conpewter, I think you're the one who directed me to Palmer's spreadsheet. Pretty great too. I plugged in my guesses for my water and messed around with it. Pretty cool. Full water report should come in a couple of weeks. The one for me that is online is only a basic summary. When we called them, they said to send them a request and they'd mail it out. Still reading and thinking and all that. Like I said, the hard water thing is just something I never had to deal with in Portland. So, some of this stuff is new to me.

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Old 05-26-2009, 05:40 PM   #8
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+1 on the pickling (slaked) lime treatment.

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Old 05-26-2009, 07:41 PM   #9
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Here are links to some useful papers; all about removing bicarbonates from hard water:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/1278609-post14.html

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Old 05-26-2009, 07:55 PM   #10
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The links in the aforementioned post don't seem to be valid.

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