MD hard water - what styles?
Hey All. I've been reading some tutorials and I just wanted to confirm a few assumptions I had about my water. Looks like my Ca and Mg levels are all in order, but it seems like my Total Hardness is pretty high.
It seems that I will best be suited to brewing styles with an SRM between 5.0-10.0. I also realize that my pH level is a bit high for mashing.
What styles are best for me to brew, and are there any changes I should be making to the water that would have a highly noticeable effect?
Ward Report -
Sodium, Na 16
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 53
Magnesium, Mg 8
Total Hardness, CaCO3 166
Nitrate, NO3-N 2
Sulfate, SO4-S 18
Chloride, Cl 36
Carbonate, CO3 <1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 105
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 86
Fluoride, F 0.79
Total Iron, Fe <0.01
I'd probably use phosphoric acid to knock down the bicarbonate. That should get your RA low enough to do most any paler beer. You might need to increase the RA if you brew something with a lot of roast malt, but with that water I'd say 9 times out of 10 you'll need to lower the mash pH, not raise it.
The hardness is not, in general, a problem - in fact it is beneficial from the mash pH point of view and it is the pH of the mash, not the water, which is significant. That is determined mostly by the grain bill and the alkalinity with the hardness having a secondary role. Many beers, notably Helles, and Bohemian Pilsner are brewed with very soft water and these beers are best if the home brewer follows suit. In the course of doing that many of us have concluded that low mineral water makes the best, if not the most "authentic" beers but this is a somewhat controversial position.
The water you have is fine for brewing beers from 4 SRM (the lowest a home brewer can expect to do) to as high as you want to go.
The sulfate will be high (54 mg/L as SO4--) for those beers that use noble hops but will need to be supplemented for those beers for which assertive hoppiness is desired.
The alkalinity is high enough to push mash pH into the undesirable range unless acid is added in some form to most beers or the alkalinity is reduced or both. It's easy to reduce alkalinity and sulfate at the same time by diluting the water with RO or DI. There are some guidelines in the Prime in the Stickies here.
This is very nominal water and should present few problems for you.
Thanks for the feedback...
The sulfate thing seems to be a personal preference thing. British pale ales were brewed with waters with hundreds of mg/L sulfate in them and so "genuine" British pale ales should have high levels of sulfate. Many prefer those same beers with appreciably less sulfate so what you do here depends on whether you like them genuine or like them tasting better (or think they do taste better with the high sulfate).
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