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Old 09-19-2011, 05:20 PM   #1
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Default Preparing for my first all-grain, need some help with water

So I recently got the report from the tests run on my drinking water from my commune (Yes, the smallest administrative municipalities of Sweden are called "communes"). Therefore, I want to get a head start in preparation for my first all-grain brew.

I want to brew a dark lager. I haven't yet decided on a recipe, but it's going to be a classic dark lager.

So, here's the relevant info on my water:
as mg/l (practically equivalent to ppm)
pH: 8.4
Cl: 36
SO4: 5.8
Ca: 14
Mg: 1.9
Na: 30
Alkalinity as HCO3: 59 (Internet tells me this equals 48 CaCO3)

So as you can see, it's soft-ish, has a high pH (I think?) and is in general not too plastered with minerals. Water in Sweden is lightly chlorinated, but so lightly that you cannot taste it. I'm going to boil my water before brewing it, which is supposed to get rid of the chlorine, just to be sure.

What I'm not sure of is what I need to add. I get that I want a pH around 5.4, and I'm not quite ready to invest in a pH-meter yet, and pH strips are too hard to read to give any useful results. Minerals doesn't seem like anything I'll need to intervene with.

Help?

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:29 PM   #2
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I use this: http://morebeer.com/view_product/198...bilizer_-_1_lb

Seems like the best option if you don't want to measure and adjust pH.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:32 PM   #3
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A buffer, ey? Seems like the sleek and simple solution. And my favourite brewing store has it. Am I in luck or what.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:38 PM   #4
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Yeah there is some debate on here as to how well it works but I use it with success and know other who do as well. Make sure it is chlorine in your water and not chloramine. Chloramine does not evaporate or boil off, and needs to be filtered out.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:51 PM   #5
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It didn't say what it was in the report, unfortunately. But I found a forum for aquarium enthusiasts, who also hate chloramines, not listing my commune as one of the chloramine ones, but one of the communes using ozone to purge. I don't know if they use any residuals (but in that case presumably chlorine) - this island is pretty small and I don't know if there's much need for it.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:52 PM   #6
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5.2 will load up your water with sodium and will not adjust the pH to 5.2. It has been discussed here endlessly and both the theoretical reasons why it does not work and lab measurements showing that it does not work have been presented. As I have noted in a current thread (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/5-2...-salts-268822/) it is reported to work well by those who don't own a pH meter (e.g. previous poster in #4) but has never been reported to work by anyone who does. If the maker had any decency he'd take it off the market.

But a buffer is not the right way to set mash pH in any case. If you use a little sauermalz, which is the way lager is traditionally brewed, your pH should fall into the right range. Depending on how dark your beer is (i.e. how much dark malt you use and the type) 2% sauermalz should get your pH right about where it ought to be. Best to check with a pH meter though.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:55 PM   #7
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Skip the 5.2 pH Stabilizer (much ducumentation says its worthless), read the Primer at the top and use campden tablets for any chlorine/chloramine issues.

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Old 09-19-2011, 05:59 PM   #8
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WRT chlorine/chloramine: if you can't smell it when pouring a sample back and forth between two glasses it is at a low enough level that it won't hurt you and there is no need to treat by standing, boiling or metabite. If you can smell it right from the tap then try letting it stand first and then doing the pour test. Standing over night will get the chlorine but not chloramine. If it fails the sniff test after standing over night then use a fraction (1/4 or less) of a campden tablet per 20 L.

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Old 09-19-2011, 06:10 PM   #9
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Okay, so if I make a dark lager with a bit of roast malt, I should use maybe 1% of sour malt, and a teaspoon of calcium chloride?

Hm, there are some hand-held pH-meters around 100$, with an accuracy of 0.2 pH. That would be good enough. Not right now, though.

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Old 09-19-2011, 06:17 PM   #10
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Dare I suggest but what would happen if you tried brewing with just the water that you have and not adding anything?

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