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Old 09-25-2012, 03:47 AM   #1
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Default got a water report - help interpreting it?

Here is the report sent to me by the Tucson City Water folks (the guy sounded like he was familiar with homebrewers calling up with the same questions all the time!)


POINT DATE PARAMETER VALUE UNITS QUALIFIER
Water Quality Results

SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM CHLORINE RESIDUAL, FREE Chlorine, Free .84 mg/L

Inorganic
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM ALKALINITY, BICARBONATE Bicarbonate Alkalinity 102 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM CALCIUM Calcium, Total 76 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM HARDNESS, TOTAL Hardness, Total 229 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM MAGNESIUM Magnesium, Total 9.2 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM SODIUM Sodium, Total 63 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM CHLORIDE Chloride 72 mg/L
SP-565 12/27/2011 9:50:00AM SULFATE Sulfate 151 mg/L

I have hard water, which is what I expected. I was thinking of buying a water softener to improve wash performance and prolong the life of my appliances. How does this look for brewing purposes? I have noticed that I have trouble getting the hop bitterness I expect from a given recipe, which is not what I expected for hard water.



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Old 09-25-2012, 05:37 AM   #2
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I may be captain obvious but personally I'd add maybe a teaspoon or maybe slightly less of gypsum. That will give you extra calcium which will combine with the bicarbonates and precipitate out during the boil, lowering the alkalinity. It's also important for the yeast. This might be even better if you get a softener, because softeners replace the calcium with sodium from what I understand.

It also adds sulfate which should help accentuate the hop bitterness.

The other minerals seem to be in acceptable ranges from what I've read, but I'm no expert.



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Old 09-25-2012, 12:28 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Corey_SS View Post
I may be captain obvious but personally I'd add maybe a teaspoon or maybe slightly less of gypsum. That will give you extra calcium which will combine with the bicarbonates and precipitate out during the boil, lowering the alkalinity. It's also important for the yeast. This might be even better if you get a softener, because softeners replace the calcium with sodium from what I understand.

It also adds sulfate which should help accentuate the hop bitterness.

The other minerals seem to be in acceptable ranges from what I've read, but I'm no expert.
Good thing you're no expert.

The calcium is not a problem at all. But, the sodium, sulfate, and chloride are a bit high and could have a negative impact on flavor in beers that are more malt focused or have more delicate flavor.

An ion-exchange softener may be welcome to your appliances and plumbing, but it will add over 80 ppm of additional sodium to the water. That is definitely flavor negative for beer.

The other problem with this water is the somewhat excessive alkalinity. Given the excesses of this water, dilution with distilled or RO water is likely to be a better choice for brewing. As is, this water may be suited for brewing hoppier beers with strong flavors that won't be overwhelmed by the slightly high sodium, sulfate, and chloride.
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:30 PM   #4
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Your water already has a fair amount of Sodium, using a water softener may make sense for you overall, but I think the resulting water would have too much Sodium. It depends on your taste but you might want to keep your Sodium below 50. Its 63 now, and a water softener will boost it.


I wouldn't add Gypsum right away, your Sulfate : Chloride ratio is fine. Adding Gypsum may make it taste minerally. You should take a few ounces, add a pinch of Gypsum, and see if you like the new taste.


>>I have noticed that I have trouble getting the hop bitterness I expect from a given recipe, which is not what I expected for hard water.

Are there any other process changes you can make? For example - add your bittering hops during the lauter, before the boil. That can add several IBUs. How about leaving your hops bag (if you use one) in the wort while chilling. Maybe a few IBU there.

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Old 09-25-2012, 02:43 PM   #5
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Given that my sodium is already elevated, what about using a potassium-chloride-based water softener? Would this put it more in balance?

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Old 09-25-2012, 03:01 PM   #6
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Good thing you're no expert.
Indeed. I was just referencing the water chapter from Papazian's Homebrewer's Companion.
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Old 09-25-2012, 05:43 PM   #7
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Given that my sodium is already elevated, what about using a potassium-chloride-based water softener? Would this put it more in balance?
Potassium also presents a 'salty' flavor in beer when its in the water. Side-stepping the issue with KCl won't improve the situation. Dilution with a source like RO or distilled water is much better for beer quality.
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:05 AM   #8
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would a carbon filter post-softener get rid of any of these compounds?

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Old 09-26-2012, 12:23 PM   #9
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would a carbon filter post-softener get rid of any of these compounds?
No.
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Old 10-31-2012, 05:35 AM   #10
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so do I have chlorine or chloramine? should I use 1/2 a Campden tablet to dissipate it as suggested?



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