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Old 03-20-2012, 02:21 AM   #1
MrSpiffy
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Default Hard water... too hard?

It seems that I made a mistake in my last brew, where I used softened water. (Normally, I've filled from the kitchen tap, which is not softened.) How hard is too hard for water? Do most people just cut with R/O water to reduce hardness? I have an R/O system I can use, if I replace the filters. And I can reuse the gray water for our garden or something. So, that might actually work pretty well. (brew day = watering day?)

Here's a link to my area's well stats:
Inorganics results

Any thoughts?

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:27 AM   #2
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RO water does indeed make a brewer's life easier. See the primer.

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Old 03-20-2012, 02:51 AM   #3
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Your water looks a lot like mine, so I got an RO unit and mostly follow the primer (though I like sulfate more than AJ). I direct the waste water ('concentrate') into the washing machine basket and do a load of cold laundry on brew days.

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Old 03-20-2012, 04:16 AM   #4
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Thanks, guys. I'll check out the water chemistry primer. I keep forgetting to check the stickies for stuff like this...

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Old 03-20-2012, 12:27 PM   #5
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Hardness is almost never a problem in brewing. The alkalinity is the primary problem with this water. If the OP tried to brew with this water after softening, it was probably not a good result since the hardness went down while the alkalinity stayed constant. Therefore, the RA sky-rocketed along with the mash pH.

In the case of this water, its almost ideal for lime softening. That treatment could knock the calcium content down below 15 ppm and the magnesium below 3 ppm when properly performed. The decision to do this type of water treatment depends on how much effort the brewer wants to contribute to their brewing. Time and effort is required. If the brewer is not into that sort of effort, then buying a RO unit is a lot easier.

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Old 03-20-2012, 08:59 PM   #6
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I'm thinking that, since I already have a R/O unit, I'll just go that route. I haven't run into lime softening before, so maybe that could be interesting. Any links on how that works with brewing?

Also, it looks like I linked the wrong PDF... should be fixed now.

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Old 03-20-2012, 09:10 PM   #7
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I noticed a nifty tool in the How to Brew site for determining an estimated mash pH:
http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

According to the instructions, I'm just under a pH of 6.1, using the unsoftened city water. Looks a bit high...

Could I just use some 5.2 to get down into the proper range? Or would you guys still recommend R/O water?

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Old 03-20-2012, 09:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MrSpiffy View Post
I noticed a nifty tool in the How to Brew site for determining an estimated mash pH:
http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

According to the instructions, I'm just under a pH of 6.1, using the unsoftened city water. Looks a bit high...

Could I just use some 5.2 to get down into the proper range? Or would you guys still recommend R/O water?
Yep, its nifty. Too bad its totally wrong. Don't go down that path if you are brewing dark beers. That is where that resource falls flat.

5.2 doesn't work. Don't waste your time there. You are better off with the RO water.
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Old 03-20-2012, 11:49 PM   #9
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Okay, so is there any point to "crafting" specific variations of minerals and salts? Or is there a happy medium that I can use most of the time? Or is it more like once I head down this path, I may as well just calculate what type of water I want for each and every brew I create?

Is there a resource that at least recommends how to set your water up for success with different styles of beer?

I will add that I really enjoy nice, thick, sweet and malty beers. I love porters and stouts (particularly sweet stouts or milk stouts). But, I also like something that's lighter, yet creamy. Nothing too bitter, though. I'm not a fan of IPAs, by any means. (yet...)

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Old 03-21-2012, 12:09 AM   #10
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Sort of. The Primer will get you started but it demands that you get down to low mineral water by dilution with RO which may be a problem for you if you don't have a source of RO. The Primer will get you a good beer (dark or light despite what you may be told) most of the time. You can do things that will screw up a beer made under its guidance. The alternative to it is to acquire a thorough understanding of water chemistry which I highly encourage but that is not something in my experience trying to push that over about 25 yrs that most people are willing to undertake.

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