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Old 09-04-2012, 03:57 PM   #1
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Default "Water with moderate to high carbonate hardness is typical."

This is from the BJCP Guidelines for a Robust porter (12B). I'm reading this as "Use hard water to brew this style". My water hardness is 108 ppm CaCO3. My alkalinity is also somewhat high at 89, and I add an ounce and half of acid malt to the grist when I brew my porter, aiming for a pH of 5.41 (calculated).

Is the acid malt reducing the hardness of my water, or is the hardness always going to be 108 ppm provided I'm not diluting with RO or distilled water?

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Old 09-04-2012, 05:03 PM   #2
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Unfortunately the term 'moderate to high carbonate hardness' was coined by BJCP style guideline committee members who apparently don't understand the difference between hardness and alkalinity. Hardness is not the primary concern in brewing, its alkalinity that is more important. Since a Porter is more likely to have a more acidic grist than a pale beer, the mashing water needs to have a little more alkalinity to avoid dropping the mash pH too low. The 89 ppm alkalinity shouldn't be too bad, but I'm not surprised that a touch of acid is needed to help out that Porter. I'm sure that even more acid malt is needed for pale beer brewing with that water.

Hardness has only to do with the total quantity of Ca and Mg ions in the water. Acidification only affects the alkalinity and not the hardness. The acid reacts with the bicarbonate and converts it to CO2 gas. The acid doesn't remove the Ca or Mg from the water and therefore the hardness is unchanged.

Given the hardness value quoted above, it does not appear that the water has a Ca content of 50 ppm or above. If that is the case, then adding Ca could be used to help offset the need for acid malt in the mash since hardening the water has the effect of increasing acid production from the malt. Just an idea for the future.

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Old 09-04-2012, 05:16 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by mabrungard View Post
Unfortunately the term 'moderate to high carbonate hardness' was coined by BJCP style guideline committee members who apparently don't understand the difference between hardness and alkalinity. Hardness is not the primary concern in brewing, its alkalinity that is more important. Since a Porter is more likely to have a more acidic grist than a pale beer, the mashing water needs to have a little more alkalinity to avoid dropping the mash pH too low. The 89 ppm alkalinity shouldn't be too bad, but I'm not surprised that a touch of acid is needed to help out that Porter. I'm sure that even more acid malt is needed for pale beer brewing with that water.

Hardness has only to do with the total quantity of Ca and Mg ions in the water. Acidification only affects the alkalinity and not the hardness. The acid reacts with the bicarbonate and converts it to CO2 gas. The acid doesn't remove the Ca or Mg from the water and therefore the hardness is unchanged.

Given the hardness value quoted above, it does not appear that the water has a Ca content of 50 ppm or above. If that is the case, then adding Ca could be used to help offset the need for acid malt in the mash since hardening the water has the effect of increasing acid production from the malt. Just an idea for the future.
I just "brew" as I have not been able to "figure out" how to read my local water report... Alexandria VA... We seem to be able to brew most styles with little problem; though I have not "stretched” it an tried Pilsners or Burton Ales…

But your explantion and link were helpfuls in my education....
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Old 09-04-2012, 09:34 PM   #4
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Alexandria water is actually pretty close to what OP posted for his. Thus either of you ought to be able to do a Porter with out doing anything to the water including adding the sauermalz. Mash pH may be a little high at perhaps 5.5 so the the sauermalz doesn't hurt in that regard. I just feel a little funny putting sauermalz in English beers.

Burton ales can be done by adding gypsum. Pils is a different matter. You can do a Pils with this water but you'll do a better Pils if you go with water softer, less alkaline and lower in sulfate.

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