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Old 03-04-2013, 12:01 PM   #1
tater140
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Default Water report questions after reading water primer.

I need some help interpreting my water report. I ready through some of the water primer in the sticky, but wanted to make sure i was understanding things correctly. Long story short i've been brewing for about 3 years now and I have had the occasional really good beer but most have had a certain taste i can't seem to get rid of. I have evaluated most parts of my brew process and believe them to be good. I should also mention that i'm brewing all extract beers. I have tried ro water, distilled water, my well water, water out of my softner and combinations of those. I have mixed and matched so much that i finally decided to try to understand the water I was putting in my beers, so I sent off for a water report. Here is my water report.
pH 7.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 400
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.67
Cations / Anions, me/L 7.6 / 7.8
ppm
Sodium, Na 8
Potassium, K 1
Calcium, Ca 95
Magnesium, Mg 30
Total Hardness, CaCO3 363
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 18
Chloride, Cl 3
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 403
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 330
Total Phosphorus, P 0.55
Total Iron, Fe 1.85

Now me looking at it thinks that I have problems in the Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfate, and the Total Alkalinity. In fact reading this I think the Total Alkalinity is completely out of wack. I'm not looking to fine tune this water to any particular styles but just want something as a base that I can make a beer for once that is consistently decent. Should I even try to keep using my well water, or should I start with ro or distilled water and build some type of basic water.

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Old 03-04-2013, 12:10 PM   #2
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Yes, your water is very hard and alkaline to the point that it would probably even influence the outcome of extract brewing. You should decarbonate it by boiling before you use it but I think your problem is probably more from what we call 'extract tang'. Most extract beers have it unless they are brewed with extract that is really fresh. Experienced judges pick up extract tang right away but I remember one occasion where a guy took BOS with an extract Kölsch. I'm not kidding about this. What it proves is that with good extract one can make a beer free of this flavor. The fact that you get occasionally really good beers suggests that occasionally you are getting fresh extract but most of the time are not.

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Old 03-04-2013, 12:41 PM   #3
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Thanks for the feedback. Well, that's certainly food for thought. I have done a fair amount of reading this past year trying to find a consistent solution. I've always ordered my recipe's from Austin Homebrew and tried to brew my beer withing a week to two week of receiving my recipe. I don't have a problem buying ro water and treating it if necessary. Boiling my own water sounds like more work then buying ro or distilled water. The times I have had the best luck is when I mix about 4 gallons of ro or distilled water with 2 gallons of my own. That is a feeble attempt by me to get some minerals into the water without really knowing how much. I'm just trying to understand it a little better.
In regards to extract twang I have read some people saying it is very prominent and others say it doesn't matter that a beer is brewed with extract. Myself personally I have no idea. I will say that all grain for me is not an option. I tend to lead a busy lifestyle and just don't have the time or desire to go all grain. I enjoy brewing though, and have a couple of friends that do it as well. I'm just trying to get to where I can make a decent beer that I can enjoy consistently, and so lately i've been looking at my water to see if there is something there that can be improved.

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Old 03-04-2013, 04:50 PM   #4
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I've been doing a fair amount of research on water chemistry myself. If we exclude older extract as causing the off flavor you perceive then my suggestion is to bring up your chloride level a bit. Use a water calculator such as EZwatercalculator to do this.

Anyway, good luck.

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Old 03-06-2013, 08:00 PM   #5
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I may be late seeing this, But I agree that you could increase your chloride. I would definitely be boiling. But beyond that within extract brew there's not much point in adjusting too much of your chemistry. If you're using liquid malt extract the manufacturer takes care of most of that for you. So as long as your water chemistry is not too out of whack, If you can drink the water you can brew with the water.

Back when I was doing extracts, I always just used ro or distilled water... As long as the extract was fresh, I always got pretty consistently good beer.

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:27 PM   #6
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i guess that's my main question, is my water way out of whack? Should I not even consider using it in my brew. I'm ok with that, just need to know. Comparing to the numbers in the water primer as I understood them, the alkalinity is way out of wack?

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:38 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajdelange View Post
Yes, your water is very hard and alkaline to the point that it would probably even influence the outcome of extract brewing. You should decarbonate it by boiling before you use it..
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Old 03-07-2013, 05:41 PM   #8
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Does decarbonating by boiling get rid of the hardness? If so how long do you recommend boiling. If it takes a while I would probably rather just get some ro water from somewhere else, but I guess I could always boil my own water as a back up option if I don't have the time to run after some ro water.

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Old 03-07-2013, 05:55 PM   #9
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As you heat the water it will turn cloudy, then milky. It only needs to boil very briefly to let the steam sparge out CO2. Then let the water cool. The chalk (calcium carbonate i.e. yes, the hardness is reduced too) will settle to the bottom. The clear, decarbonated, softened water is drawn off the top. Buying, or otherwise obtaining, some RO water is definitely an option but if you choose it add some calcium chloride to give the yeast some Ca++ to work with.

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Old 03-07-2013, 06:05 PM   #10
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Is that why some of my beers when using ro water have taken 7 days to start fermentation? I will most likely choose to use some ro water next time I brew and add whatever is suggested to get a decent water to brew with.

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