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Old 10-05-2012, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default Cambridge MA water profile

Hi guys, here is my water report for Cambridge, Massachusetts. I'm just now beginning to turn my attention to water profiles after about 10 batches using straight tap water with camden tabs.

And pasted in here, some of the most relevant components:

20.8 – Ca

4.24 – Mg

25.7 – SO4

78.3 – Na

139 – Cl

47 – HCO3

8.98 – ph

I'm a novice, but this appears to be moderately soft, except that it has a high amount of Na and Cl ??

I made the switch to BIAB after the 4th batch and have had good results so far. I have not brewed anything wildly hoppy such as a West Coast IPA – but that is on my list as it's probably my favorite style. I did a Rye IPA (Bee Cave) that was very tasty, but I wouldn't have been disappointed by more of a hop profile. I've done an amber, brown, imperial stout still aging, a pumpkin ale ready to bottle, saison in bottles, dead guy clone, as well as some other experiments.

Most recently I added about .333 tsp gypsum to the boil kettle of an 8 gallon split batch of American Amber I brewed last week. I had not yet looked at the water report so I didn't want to ruin it by adding too much, but it seems as though I could have used a good bit more gypsum.

I'm just about to dive into some literature pertaining to water adjustments (as well as the discussions in this forum), but wanted to put this profile on the table for any comments – I would greatly appreciate them.

For what it's worth, a guy at the LHBS said he doesn't measure PH or treat the tap water. There are also several nanobreweries popping up in town but I don't know what they use for water, but I realize that you might need to adjust to do something more specific.

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Old 10-05-2012, 05:15 PM   #2
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That water is from surface runoff and it is relatively soft and has fairly low alkalinity. The high Na and Cl are from road salting within the tributary watershed. The ratio of Na and Cl are almost identical for when adding table salt to water. The modest sulfate content is probably from atmospheric contamination with sulfur oxides.

Those ions are a little high, so they can have a taste impact in the finished beer. More importantly, the beer can suffer a little more negative flavor effect due to those ion concentrations when the sulfate concentration is elevated. So if a good IPA water was desired, you may not want to boost the sulfate into the 200 + ppm range due to the potential for antagonistic flavor effects. I typically take sulfate to 300 ppm, but Na and Cl are fairly low.

For the most part, you should be able to ignore the high Na and Cl. But if you are going to bump the sulfate above 100 ppm, you might find that it is necessary to dilute the tap water with low ion water to cut the sodium and chloride concentrations. Its better than my tap water!

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Old 10-05-2012, 06:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for the interesting info. So it sounds like for darker beers or maltier beers I can just leave it alone, but if I want to brew a hoppier beer then diluting with 50% distilled and adding a 3–5 tsp of gypsum to the mash could work?

From what I've read on the forums, using this city water report and trying to build a profile based on it, distilled water, and salts can get me into trouble. But for the sake of an IPA perhaps diluting and adding only gypsum might be a pretty safe way to play ball?

Oh yeah – and the report says 8.98 for PH. Does that drop in to the 5 region when I add the grains?

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Old 10-05-2012, 07:22 PM   #4
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Water pH does not matter. Its the alkalinity that matters and this water has modest alkalinity. It will likely fall into range. That is what a program like Bru'n Water is for...helping you predict what that mash pH will do with your water and your grist.

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