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panicbuttonguy 05-25-2012 08:59 PM

A few questions about water
 
I'll keep is simple. I have hard water. In fact here is the report from 09

pH 7.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 403
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.67
Cations / Anions, me/L 7.7 / 7.2
ppm
Sodium (Na) -------------------------17
Potassium (K)-- ----------------------3
Calcium (Ca)-------------------------85
Magnesium (Mg) ---------------------32
Total Hardness (CaCO3) --------------346
Nitrate (NO3-N) ---------------------0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate (SO4-S) ---------------------11 (33)
Chloride (Cl) -------------------------32
Carbonate (CO3) -------------------- < 1
Bicarbonate (HCO3) ------------------342
Total Alkalinity (CaCO3) --------------280

I feel like I'm having a few issues and I'm wondering if it is the water. Currently I do not dilute and I just use 100% tap. I've only been brewing PAs and IPAs. I understand that adding Sulfate will increase the perceived bitterness and adding sodium or chloride will round it out. My questions relate to diluting.

I think I want to try diluting in my next batch of Pales since their lighter and I've read lighter beers (like pilsners) benefit from softer water. Does this same concept transfer over from lagers to ales? Do I want to use softer water for my pales? or doesn't it matter?

Secondly, if you dilute to get rid of some of the alkalinity are you getting rid of some of the sulfate, chloride and sodium? Will I have to add those back in?

Lastly, I know my pH should be 5.2 and I'm going to get a meter soon but from just looking at the profile what should I try and add or remove beside the alkalinity.

Please excuse all the questions but my head exploded about 4 threads back and I'm still picking up the pieces around the office.

PS - I got a D in chemistry in high school. I think I remember saying something like "Dude, I'm NEVER going to use any of this. What a waste" god I'm an idiot.

mabrungard 05-25-2012 09:39 PM

I suggest that the main problems are somewhat high magnesium and very high alkalinity. Diluting the tap water with an equal measure of RO or distilled water will reduce the Mg to a workable level for PA and IPA and some other styles. If looking to brew more delicate styles, a higher level of dilution will be required.

The alkalinity will be easier to address after the dilution. Then minor acid addition can reduce the alkalinity to fit the mash's needs. Lactic or phosphoric acid should work well.

Yes, after dilution, you may want to boost some ion concentrations to meet your taste goals for each beer. With hoppier beers, gypsum may be appropriate, while calcium chloride may be appropriate with maltier styles.

Since you have a tap water profile, inserting that into Bru'n Water will enable you to assess what the effect of dilutions and mineral additions will be. That should help reduce the 'chemistry' of brewing to more managable conditions.

panicbuttonguy 05-25-2012 09:42 PM

Thank you for you insight. This is what I was looking for. I feel like I'm in way over my head w/ Bru'n Water, but I'll give it another go. Thanks again.

Yooper 05-25-2012 10:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117120)
Thank you for you insight. This is what I was looking for. I feel like I'm in way over my head w/ Bru'n Water, but I'll give it another go. Thanks again.

I know what you mean! But it does get easier each time, and the folks here in the Brew Science forum are very helpful.

My water is not quite as alkaline as yours, but I found a few years ago that diluting about 40-50% for most IPAs and APAs worked great for me. For light lagers, I used 90-100% RO water, and for stouts I used tap water.

Adding back some calcium (in the forum of gypsum or calcium chloride) is easy and they are cheap salts.

As mabrungard mentioned, acidifying your sparge water with lactic acid (which may have a flavor impact) or phosphoric acid may be a good move.

A good mash pH is 5.3-5.5 or so at room temperature. My mash pH is right around 5.45 at room temperature and I'm happy with that.

panicbuttonguy 05-25-2012 10:19 PM

Wait. How am I supposed to know how much of a particular ion to add back? Is that what Bru'n Water is going to tell me?

Wouldn't you just be able to add a bunch of different stuff and get a totally made up water profile if that's the case?

This is getting extremely interesting.

Yooper 05-25-2012 10:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117218)
Wait. How am I supposed to know how much of a particular ion to add back? Is that what Bru'n Water is going to tell me?

Wouldn't you just be able to add a bunch of different stuff and get a totally made up water profile if that's the case?

This is getting extremely interesting.

Yes, you will see the amounts needed in a spreadsheet like Bru'n Water (unless you have the optimum amounts already memorized).

You could make up different water profiles- if you'd want to. And there are some things you probably aren't going to add, like table salt. Or pickling lime. But each salt does have a purpose. Instead of shooting for a certain profile, I'd suggest using a minimum amount of salts to get the desired results.

It's not hard at all, but it takes a bit of reading. It took me a while to grasp much of this, as it's been 30 years since I've been in school and NONE of it was anything I remembered! I'm still a long way from an expert, and I'll probably never get there, but I'm comfortable now with my water and its makeup, and that was my goal. Like many things in life, with adding salts "less is more".

ajdelange 05-26-2012 05:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117026)
I think I want to try diluting in my next batch of Pales since their lighter and I've read lighter beers (like pilsners) benefit from softer water. Does this same concept transfer over from lagers to ales? Do I want to use softer water for my pales? or doesn't it matter?

I think it does.

Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117026)
Secondly, if you dilute to get rid of some of the alkalinity are you getting rid of some of the sulfate, chloride and sodium?

Yes. Everything gets cut by the same ratio. If you dilute 1:1 everything is halved. If you dilute 9:1 everything is reduced to 10%.


Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117026)
Will I have to add those back in?

Depends on how much you dilute and how much of what you want. The two basic approaches are dilute down to the point where you are effectively throwing your water away and brewing with RO water and using a spreadsheet or calculator to adjust ion content to try to hit a particular target. Which you choose depends on your goals. As a general comment, RO water with some calcium chloride added makes good beer though you may want to add gypsum for some styles depending on your personal preference for the effects of sulfate on hops.

Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117026)
Lastly, I know my pH should be 5.2 and I'm going to get a meter soon but from just looking at the profile what should I try and add or remove beside the alkalinity.

The main target is the alkalinity. It would take a 9:1 dilution to knock that down to 28 which is a reasonable goal. But 9:1 is, as noted, effectively throwing the water away. Might as well use straight RO. In either case supplementation of calcium and chloride will be required.


Quote:

Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy (Post 4117026)
Please excuse all the questions but my head exploded about 4 threads back and I'm still picking up the pieces around the office.

Don't try to run before you know how to walk. See the Primer in the Stickies for a KISS approach to all this.

panicbuttonguy 05-27-2012 05:19 PM

So after doing some more research Bru'n Water makes more sense and I think I can figure out how to get a certain profile. The only thing I'm looking for now is a general profile to shoot for and adjust to my liking from there. I know there's the primer, and I can do that, but I'd rather get more specific right off the bat.

Should I just take a profile from a city (BOT) or a user on HBT and use that as the baseline. I'm able to find a bunch of different profiles but I don't know which one to use specifically for a pale ale and an IPA. Some people say BOT's is extreme but don't offer an exact profile. I mean I know I'm getting really specific here but that's the way I like my brewing process. I want to know exactly what is going on. I found this from a forum
Ca............84
Mg............17
Na.............36
Cl..............40
So4............233
Alkalinity.....60
RA.............-10
and it looks like it was confirmed that this would be a good IPA profile.

I really just wish there was a general IPA profile to shoot for and then adjust from there. Especially if I'm going to be diluting 9:1 or whatever. Am I not looking hard enough?

mabrungard 05-27-2012 07:20 PM

That profile should be OK for an APA or AIPA. The Pale Ale profile in Bru'n Water is a little more mineralized than that, but the proposed profile should be a good place to start for that beer style. I brew with the Pale Ale profile for all my American ales.

I strongly recommend against using a water profile from a historic brewing center unless you have an understanding on what those historic brewers might have done to improve their brewing results and understand the effect on your beer. Many of those profiles are fairly mineralized and might not produce the best beers without adjustment.

The recommendations of the Water Primer are fairly safe and its a good place to start. Once a brewer has a grasp of what these water adjustments affect, then its good to start experimenting with more extreme additions of which ever ion(s) interest you. Focusing on modest chloride and/or sulfate levels first is a good way to avoid screwing up batches of beer while training your palate.

panicbuttonguy 05-27-2012 10:28 PM

Awesome! You guys are extremely helpful. I greatly appreciate all the help. Thank you.


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