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Old 10-21-2010, 12:47 PM   #11
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I have very hard, highly alkline, high iron content water. My first extract batch was undrinkable; my research indicated that I could brew extract with RO water, so I brewed 12 very good batches of beer. I had my water tested by Ward Labs in preparation for going AG; diluted my brew water with about 37% RO, used the E-Z water ss to get all my ions into the acceptable range & get the Cl/SO4 ration into the "Balanced" range. Usually adding Lactic Acid, Gypsum & Epsom Salt. This worked OK for pale beers; but browns, ambers, & porters were terrible (these didn't have any Lactic Acid added). Even though extract versions of these recipes were very good. Several months ago I started reading ajdelange's posts regarding pH, Sulfates etc. The harsh bitterness he describes, associated with high Sulfates was exactly what I was tasting. I purchased some ColorPhast strips, used the NEW version of the E-Z water sheet, added CaCl2 & Lactic Acid to get the predicted pH to 5.3 & SO4 level of 38. I proceeded to brew a Nothern Brown Ale. (My measured pH was 5.4). This brew has been in the bottle for 3 weeks now, it is the best beer I have brewed so far! I now have a Cream Ale fermenting that has a SO4 level of only 12, the hydro sample tasted great. So, I am a believer.

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Old 10-21-2010, 02:33 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by djt17 View Post
I have very hard, highly alkline, high iron content water. My first extract batch was undrinkable; my research indicated that I could brew extract with RO water, so I brewed 12 very good batches of beer. I had my water tested by Ward Labs in preparation for going AG; diluted my brew water with about 37% RO, used the E-Z water ss to get all my ions into the acceptable range & get the Cl/SO4 ration into the "Balanced" range. Usually adding Lactic Acid, Gypsum & Epsom Salt. This worked OK for pale beers; but browns, ambers, & porters were terrible (these didn't have any Lactic Acid added). Even though extract versions of these recipes were very good. Several months ago I started reading ajdelange's posts regarding pH, Sulfates etc. The harsh bitterness he describes, associated with high Sulfates was exactly what I was tasting. I purchased some ColorPhast strips, used the NEW version of the E-Z water sheet, added CaCl2 & Lactic Acid to get the predicted pH to 5.3 & SO4 level of 38. I proceeded to brew a Nothern Brown Ale. (My measured pH was 5.4). This brew has been in the bottle for 3 weeks now, it is the best beer I have brewed so far! I now have a Cream Ale fermenting that has a SO4 level of only 12, the hydro sample tasted great. So, I am a believer.
That is great to hear; your story is similar to mine in that I first tried to get all my ions into acceptible range using the EZ water spreadsheet. The beers were drinkable for the most part except for APA's, which were just way too harshly bitter (sadly...I had to literally dump a couple of batches down the drain; there's just no way I would have served them to anyone...and I wasn't gonna waste my time choking it down for the sake of what?). I also used the newest version of the EZ water spreadsheet and had the same problem with harsh bitterness. I watch the pH (using a meter) and make sure it is within acceptible range so I know it's not that. The only thing left that I can see is the Sulfates (after reading ajdelange's posts). I think the ranges that Palmer suggests (which are used in the EZ water spreadsheet) are just well...much different from my personal tastes. Read: way too high.

I won't know for sure until I brew my next batch using this approach...but your personal account is reassuring that I'm on the right track. Cheers.
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Old 10-24-2010, 11:41 PM   #13
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Can anyone recommend a good RO system or manufacturer?
wwwdotthefilterguysdotbiz

I've bought from them many times for my reef keeping hobby. They're systems are solid, customer support is great, and you can upgrade like crazy as you see fit.
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:44 PM   #14
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Or dark crystal malts (but you will obviously be adding color and flavor with those too)

Any salt/mineral that adds Ca will acidify the mash, because it forces H+ into solution (they come from the malts). But I have never measured the extent of acidification from CaCl, CaSO4, CaCO3, etc. Even though CaCO3 is typically used to raise pH, in the case of a mash, it actually lowers pH b/c the malt is buffering the carbonate (which raises the pH) and the Ca are going to bond with the phosphates in the malts, releasing the H+ into solution (the mash liquor).

ghpeel - do you have hard water? Water high in carbonates? Are you just curious? Do you get city water?

Most of the time you don't have to worry much about water chemistry, unless you water is hard and high in carbonates (has a naturally high buffering capacity = pH too high). Or if you have extremely soft water and are brewing dark beers. (pH too low).

ajdelange - I love the cynicism and completely agree. Damn Na, always messing things up.

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Old 11-02-2010, 06:03 PM   #15
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Any salt/mineral that adds Ca will acidify the mash, because it forces H+ into solution (they come from the malts)... Even though CaCO3 is typically used to raise pH, in the case of a mash, it actually lowers pH b/c the malt is buffering the carbonate (which raises the pH) and the Ca are going to bond with the phosphates in the malts, releasing the H+ into solution (the mash liquor).
Careful here. Remember the formula for Residual Alkalinity:

RA = alk - ([Ca]/3.5 +[Mg]/7)

where alk is the alkalinity and [Ca]and [Mg] the calcium and magnesium hardnesses. All three of these are in the same units, typically ppm as CaCO3. In those units decreasing the RA by 100 ppm as CaCO3 reduces (approximately) mash pH by 0.17. Now if you add 100 mg CaCO3 to 1L of water you have increased its alkalinity by 100 mg/L as CaCO3 (should be no surprise there) but you have also increased the calcium hardness by 100 mg/L Thus the RA is 100 - 100/3.5 = 71.4 mg/L greater than it was before and the mash pH would be expected to be 0.714*0.17 = 0.12 units higher than it was before. In words, the carbonate part of calcium carbonate raises mash pH lots more (3.5 time more) than the calcium lowers it.

Another thing to keep in mind is that it takes a lot of calcium to achieve an appreciable pH reduction. Suppose a soft water mash give a (typical) pH of 5.7 or so and it is desired to reduce this to 5.3. That's a pH drop of 0.4 and would require calcium hardness of 100*0.4/.17 = 235 ppm as CaCO3 equivalent to 20*235/50 = 94 mg/L calcium. That would be way too much for a Bohemian Pils (though perhaps not too much for a German one or an Export).
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Old 11-02-2010, 07:55 PM   #16
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ghpeel - do you have hard water? Water high in carbonates? Are you just curious? Do you get city water? Most of the time you don't have to worry much about water chemistry, unless you water is hard and high in carbonates (has a naturally high buffering capacity = pH too high). Or if you have extremely soft water and are brewing dark beers. (pH too low).
My purpose out of this is that I want to use 100% RO water for cost reasons. My city water is full of chorlamines and nasty stuff.

Ideally I want to have 3-4 mineral profiles to add to the beer depending of if the beer is light/dark, hoppy/not-hoppy, malty/not-malty.

I want an Idiots Guide to Water Chemistry really. I want Ikea-style directions for additions to RO water to make a few styles of beer. I don't want to have to understand chemistry to make beer.

So if someone could make a recipe list so to speak, that would look like this it would be AWESOME:

"Start with 100% RO water"
"Hoppy Light beer: 1 tsp foobar, 1 tsp lactic acid (88%)"
"Dark Malty Beer: 2 tsp gypsumite sulfate, 1/2 tsp calcium something-or-other"
"Dark Hoppy Beer: eye of newt, 1 tsp calcium chloride"
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:36 PM   #17
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ajdelange - your alkalinity eq. doesn't take the ions from the grist into consideration. But it works awesome for a beaker of water and some salts.

I can't give you eq. to back up my claims. Its empirical data. 3 g CaCO3 in 5 gal mash isn't going to raise the pH with my (soft, city) water. Those grains have buffering capacity, that's why your pH drops when you mix it with the water.

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Old 11-02-2010, 09:15 PM   #18
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See the first post of this thread.
Ok I've re-read that, still not groking it 100%, but here's a stab at another way of listing itL:

Pilsner or soft water styles: 1/2 tsp calcium chloride, 3% sauermalt
American Pale Ale: 1 tsp calcium chloride, 1 tsp gypsum, 2% sauermalt
British Pale Ale: 2 tsp calcium chloride, 1 tsp gypsum, 2% sauermalt
Hoppy/Strong British Ale: 4 tsp calcium chloride, 2 tsp gypsum, 2% sauermalt
Porter or Stout: 1 tsp calcium chloride (no sauermalt)
Cascadian Dark Ale (hoppy): 1 tsp calcium chloride, 1 tsp gypsum (no sauermalt)

Are these right? What about Hefe's, do they fall into the soft water style?

What about: Wits, Belgians, or Irish Red's where do they fall?

A listing of all the BJCP styles and the adjustments needed to RO water to get a proper baseline would really be helpful to a lot of folks. Water chemistry is (to me anyway) by far the most complex part of brewing I've had to deal with.
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Old 11-02-2010, 09:52 PM   #19
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ajdelange - that SN presentation you have must be pretty cool. Could you post it so we can download/view it?

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Old 11-02-2010, 10:02 PM   #20
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Ok I've re-read that, still not groking it 100%, <duly circumcised>
Please note. The guidelines are just a starting point for those of us trying to figure out the water chemistry issue. In the end it is a 'to taste' or, if you prefer, a 'to guidelines' issue. This sticky was not meant to be a 'cover all'. My first brew using this info is a Scottish 70 that won't even go into the bottle for another week. I know, this is HBT and I should be raving about the expected results already, but I'm a patient man. The little that didn't go into the secondary went into the hydrometer tube and then me. So far so good.
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