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Old 10-24-2012, 02:14 PM   #1
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Default Received my Ward Labs test results



Now time to interpret this. At least I can now put this data into my my BeerAlchemy app.



Not sure what these numbers mean but it's time to figure this out.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:17 PM   #2
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I usually suggest getting an RO system and using the guidance in the Primer. I won't make that suggestion here because you don't need an RO system.

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:34 PM   #3
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Agreed. Your water is top notch. It's practically RO compared to what most of us have coming out of our taps. Use calcium salts appropriate to the style you are brewing. Beer loves Calcium, especially in the mash. (don't be tempted to use table salt or Epsom salts although these are cheep and commonly available these are seldom appropriate for beer. )

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Old 10-24-2012, 02:34 PM   #4
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I usually suggest getting an RO system and using the guidance in the Primer. I won't make that suggestion here because you don't need an RO system.
Yeah, looks like water is pretty soft.

going to have to do some research because I put this all into my brewing software and not really sure what to do with this:



I guess my target being that? I don't know if I want Brussels' water profile. Based on those stats, I guess I just adjust the water based on the style of beer I'm brewing, right?
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:47 PM   #5
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Yep, you got it. Don't go to crazy with the salts. It's not so much about matching the profile of a paticular region, but getting the levels to compliment the beer. London makes great stouts. They have about 20ppm of Mg, and 80ppm of SO4. But I wouldn't add a touch of MgSO4 if I had your water. I would add CaSO4 to get near the Sulfate level and leave the Mg as low as I can.

Also, like everyone will tell you, start with a small amount of salt in your brew water. You can add it to the glass if you want more but can't take it out.

The starting point I use is:
1/2 tsp of CaCl for sweet beers.
2 tsp of CaCO3 for dark thick beers.
1 tsp of CaSO4 for highly hoped beers.

But I wouldn't do all of them in the same batch.

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Old 10-24-2012, 07:03 PM   #6
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I'd drop the calcium carbonate especially in large quantity like that (assuming it's for 5 gal). Depending on how tightly you pack the tsp, how 'level' it is, how fluffy the chalk is etc you have the potential to add 600 ppm as CaCO3 alkalinity by using that much chalk - far beyond what any water anyone ever brewed any beer with might have had to deal with. The 'good' news is that chalk dissolves slowly so that less damage to mash pH will be found than the 2 tsp suggests. The problem is that CaCO3 keeps dissolving after the mash is over and goes on to cause high pH damage in the kettle and even the fermenter if any makes it that far. This leads to the 'Alka Selzer' beers one often hears as a description of home brewed dark beers.

Adding chalk to the brew water a-priori violates the first rule of brewing water chemisty: never add alkali to water or mash unless a reading from a calibrated pH meter indicates that it is needed. Many dark beers need none - even when brewed with very low ion water. Those that do don't need anything like the amount suggested here and carbonate isn't the way to get alkalinity into water/beer/mash anyway unless you are willing to dissolve it the way nature does with CO2 gas. This is an elaborate and time consuming process. There is seldom if ever a need for bicarbonate ion in beer as at proper mash pH it is nearly all converted to CO2 gas and flies off.

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Old 10-24-2012, 07:34 PM   #7
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I agree. 600 ppm would be ridiculously high. 2 tsp is about 3.5 grams for me. In five gallons that brings the Ca up by 37 and the HCO3 up by 55. My pH doesn't change much at that level, especially with a lot of malt which i would be using in a dark thick beer like a stout. The OP has low calcium water, so I like to boost that to get closer to European water.

You are right about adding alkalinity without measuring pH. I shouldn't have put that number out there blindly. If you add CaCO3 and then have to add Lactic Acid to bring the pH back down then you will have minerals precipitating out of solution. Like you said, that's one of the sources of "alka seltzer" beer. The OP has such soft water and a low pH I think he's probably going to have to add CaCO3 for a stout, but better to follow Palmers method.

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-4.html

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Old 10-24-2012, 09:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodlandBrew View Post
I agree. 600 ppm would be ridiculously high. 2 tsp is about 3.5 grams for me. In five gallons that brings the Ca up by 37 and the HCO3 up by 55. My pH doesn't change much at that level, especially with a lot of malt which i would be using in a dark thick beer like a stout. The OP has low calcium water, so I like to boost that to get closer to European water.
Its no surprise that the water pH does not change much with that load of chalk. It doesn't dissolve or provide anything in terms of buffering or pH adjustment in all the cases I've been involved with. Its just sitting at the bottom of your mash tun.

With the OP's nearly RO-quality water, having an effective and sure way to add alkalinity is important when its necessary to avoid an excessive pH drop. I find that pickling lime is a better way to control mash pH drop.

I generally agree with AJ's advice not to add an alkali without a pH reading. But with good water data and a proven program that can predict mash pH, you can estimate the amount of alkali needed before the mash commences. In my opinion, if a program like Bru'n Water says that your mash pH is going to be too low and the data you've supplied the program is accurate: add at least 3/4 of the calculated amount of alkali to the mash and then check mash pH. 9 times out of 10, I've found that the program is accurate in its prediction. I do not agree with AJ that a brewer should wait and see if the pH falls into range when the water supply and malts are well known. I find that the low pH excursion can damage the beer body if allowed to exist too long in the mash. Don't chase your tail, know what the mash pH is 'likely' to be and be ready to add those pre-calculated additions to the mash to hit your target.

Woodland has good advice regarding minimizing mineral additions. A brewer is almost always going to be better off with a little less ionic content than too much. "Less is more" I agree that in most cases, added Mg is unnecessary in most brews. But in beers that need to present a bitter character, a modest Mg content in the water is OK.
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Old 10-24-2012, 09:23 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone. Short though is that if I did nothing to my batches when it came to water, the beer would still be pretty drinkable. Maybe no blue-ribbon winners but it's still drinkable homebrew, right?

That's the primary concern is there one thing I should be defaulting to each batch?

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Old 10-24-2012, 09:24 PM   #10
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Jealous!

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