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Old 02-07-2012, 02:27 PM   #1
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Default Confused about water profile

So I got the water profile from my town and it seems like I have decent brewing water to start with. My town for some reason doesn't test for Magnesium levels either, is that a major problem?



Calcium 18.6 mg/L

Alkalinity 44 mg/L as CaCO3

Hardness 46 mg/L as CaCO3

pH 7.71

Sulfate 5 mg/L

Sodium 37 mg/L

Chloride 79 mg/L



So after reading the sticky and the chapter in Palmer's book I'm thinking I need to raise my sulfate to around 80 mg/L which should be about 2 tsp per 5 gallon batch. I am really wondering how to lower the pH to the 5.2-5.4 range. It seems like my water isn't quite "soft" but isn't quite "hard" either. Can anyone help me out with what kinds of salt additions I should make to adjust my water for most beers. I don't think I'm advanced enough to start worrying about individual water profiles for each beer yet.

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Old 02-07-2012, 03:15 PM   #2
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Assuming the values in the water report are correct, it appears that the magnesium content is about 8 ppm. Still nice and low. The bicarbonate content is around 53 ppm based on the alkalinity and pH. This was an easy analysis via Bru'n Water.

The sodium and chloride are slightly high, but not enough to worry about. There is plenty of room to add sulfate via gypsum in order to boost calcium, but not a lot of room to boost chloride. I like to keep chloride less than 100 ppm. But with the sulfate so low in this water, you might be able to tolerate up to 150 ppm chloride. DO NOT listen to any source that suggests that chloride can be significantly higher than this.

If brewing a softer style, modest dilution with RO or distilled might be suggested to reduce the sodium and chloride. But I think the water (and resulting beer) could be fine without that step.

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Old 02-07-2012, 03:30 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imperialist View Post
So I got the water profile from my town and it seems like I have decent brewing water to start with. My town for some reason doesn't test for Magnesium levels either, is that a major problem?
No, because you don't have any to speak of.

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Originally Posted by imperialist View Post
Calcium 18.6 mg/L

Hardness 46 mg/L as CaCO3
As 18.6 mg/L calcium is 46 mg/L as CaCO3 hardness and the other source of hardness is magnesium it's pretty clear that the magnesium level in this water is very low. That's nothing to worry about as malt has a lot of magnesium.



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So after reading the sticky and the chapter in Palmer's book I'm thinking I need to raise my sulfate to around 80 mg/L which should be about 2 tsp per 5 gallon batch.
That would take about 2.5 grams of gypsum or half a teaspoonful. You would not want to do that for all styles of beers as sulfate leads to a roughening of hops bitterness and a drying of the beer. But for some styles you would want to add more sulfate than this.

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I am really wondering how to lower the pH to the 5.2-5.4 range.
I'm not sure what you mean when you say "after reading the sticky" but if it means you read the Primer in the stickies that is pretty clear on how to get mash pH into the 5.2 - 5.4 range. The problem with following the Primer's prescription is that you are doing it blind. Much better to obtain a pH meter and add as much sauermalz, lactic or other acid as is required to obtain an acceptable meter reading.

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Originally Posted by imperialist View Post
It seems like my water isn't quite "soft" but isn't quite "hard" either. Can anyone help me out with what kinds of salt additions I should make to adjust my water for most beers. I don't think I'm advanced enough to start worrying about individual water profiles for each beer yet.
The Primer will advise cutting this water with 1 or 2 parts RO in order to get it into the soft region and then building the calcium back up using the chloride or sulfate salts.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for your help. About lowering the pH I saw that the Primer sticky said to add some acid malt to the mash but I am wondering exactly how much to add in order to get it down .2-.4. I have read that the pH strips for testing pH are pretty unreliablwe, but it seems like my pH should be about 5.7 according to Palmer's chart so I was thinking of adding maybe 2% acid malt. Do you think that will be too much or too little? Thanks for correcting my calculations on the gypsum too!

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Old 02-07-2012, 04:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for your help. About lowering the pH I saw that the Primer sticky said to add some acid malt to the mash but I am wondering exactly how much to add in order to get it down .2-.4.
The rule of thumb is 1% of the grist for each 0.1 pH reduction. Thus you would need 2 - 4%. Other sources of acid can be used too but the Primer is trying to make things as simple as possible.

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I have read that the pH strips for testing pH are pretty unreliablwe, but it seems like my pH should be about 5.7 according to Palmer's chart so I was thinking of adding maybe 2% acid malt. Do you think that will be too much or too little? Thanks for correcting my calculations on the gypsum too!
5.7 is probably a good guess assuming there is a little crystal or cara malt in the grist to balance the modest alkalinity. Boosting the calcium will also lower the pH a bit. And 2%, IMO, is a good place to start with a sauermalz addition. It is not too much in terms of the flavor threshold nor would it be too much in terms of pH lowering unless things were pretty unusual but I always try to push people into buying a pH meter so they can be certain on this score.
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Old 02-07-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
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Awesome. Thanks so much ajdelange. You have been a huge help. I love how more experienced homebrewers are always willing to teach us newbies a thing or two.

cheers

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