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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Water Report- St Anthony MN- Thoughts?
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Old 05-15-2012, 08:41 PM   #1
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Default Water Report- St Anthony MN- Thoughts?

I just got my water report back from Ward Labs. Any thoughts/insight?

pH 7.5
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 334
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.56
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.6 / 5.9

ppm
Sodium, Na 6
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 76
Magnesium, Mg 30
Total Hardness, CaCO3 315
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 8
Chloride, Cl 16
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 303
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 248
Total Phosphorus, P 0.70
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01

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Old 05-15-2012, 08:59 PM   #2
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Dilute it heavily or look up lime softening. You're going to have a hard time getting your pH in range, even with very dark beers.

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Old 05-15-2012, 09:09 PM   #3
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Yes, you probably need to either dilute with less mineralized water or treat that water with an Excess Lime process to drop calcium, magnesium, and alkalinity. The rest of the ionic content is very reasonable.

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Old 05-15-2012, 09:13 PM   #4
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I punched the numbers from the water report into EZ_Water_calculator 3.01 and it shows that i can hit the acceptable pH range if i use about 6oz of acid malt and also 6 grams of CaSO4 and 6 grams of CaCl2. It also shows all my other Ions (Mg, Ca, Na, ect.) are in range. Is this an acceptable way to treat the water or should i consider diluting?

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Old 05-16-2012, 01:51 PM   #5
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What I'd suggest you do is add to a quart of water in the same proportion as 6 grams of gypsum and 6 grams CaCl2 to whatever volume you propose adding them to and taste the result. If you want that quality in your beer then go ahead. You probably will not.

Your problem is alkalinity (it is most people's). You can:
1. Get rid of much of it by boiling
2. Try to get rid of much of it by lime treatment
3. Neutralize most of it with acid
4. Dilute with low mineral water to the point (9:1 or more) where it is not problematic

Number 4 is conceptually and operationally the simplest if you have a source of low ion water (such as an RO system) and conveys other advantages such as repeatability and ultimate control but an RO system costs some $. You will certainly learn more about brewing by using 1, 2 or 3 (the traditional methods) but I don't think that's the best way to go for neophytes.

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Old 05-16-2012, 02:28 PM   #6
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I have high alkaline water too (also in TC, Mn). I buy RO water from the grocery store ($.39/gallon for refills at Cub) and dilute between 50%-90% depending on the type of beer. Instead of using acid malt, I just add 88% lactic acid from a pipette. Usually around 2mL, sometimes need a little more with very light beers. This minor amount of lactic acid is below my flavor threshold (you can taste it at higher levels). My water is okay for darker beers (with minor dilution). It's pretty unacceptable for most light beers, thus the 90% dilution.

My calcium is more than double yours, and my alkalinity is about 2/3 yours. I end up hitting my calcium and magnesium just fine with the dilutions. To get your alkalinity down to acceptable levels with RO dilution, you may need to add some Ca/Mg ions.

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Old 05-16-2012, 03:20 PM   #7
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Wow, thanks for the great responses. I'm thinking im going to start diluting with DI water. My one questions is, do i only need to dilute my mash water and not the sparge?

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Old 05-16-2012, 03:45 PM   #8
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With alkalinity at levels this high you definitely want to dilute the sparge water too.

Also note that 'lowering alkalinity' by adding calcium while valid is not a very effective means of doing so. It takes a lot of calcium to lower the pH a little (i.e. to cancel a small amount of alkalinity - 3.5 equivalents of calcium are required to 'neutralize' 1 equivalent of alkalinity). Low mineral water generally makes better beer but this is a matter of personal preference and some people like a mineral character in their beer (and drinking water). If you are among those then by all means use as much calcium as is necessary. If you prefer the softer water beers then control pH after dilution with acid (sauermalz, lactic, phosphoric ....)

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Old 05-16-2012, 03:58 PM   #9
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Thanks for the response ajdelage. I have a couple more questions, If I dilute by 90% my other ions (Ca, Mg, SO4) become really low. How should I correct this? Add CaSO4 and CaCl to bring them back to the correct levels? Using EZ water calculator it looks like i would need to add almost 5 grams of CaSO4 and 5 grams of CaCL2 to my mash/sparge waterto bring them back into the suggested range. Also do you suggest using acid malt or Lactic acid to bring the ph down?

Thanks again

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Old 05-16-2012, 04:38 PM   #10
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The general idea behind using low mineral water is that the brewing liquor consistently carries the ion content you want without need for measurement of what is already in the source water which can vary quite a bit from season to season etc. Thus you must add salts unless you can hit what you want by dilution. E.g. if everything is double what you want you simply dilute 1:1 and you are there. If you dilute 9:1 then everything is cut by 10. This is great for alkalinity (which drops to 28) and sulfate which goes to 2.4 but not necessarily good for calcium which goes to 7.6 or chloride which goes to 1.6. Some will tell you that you need at least 50 for calcium but this really isn't true and some of the world's best beers have less than that by half. Chloride does have a beneficial effect and 1.6 is definitely too low to obtain that though very good beers are certainly brewed at chloride levels less than 10.

The Primer in the Stickies assumes that you dilute water to about the levels of ion content you would have if you diluted your water 9:1 i.e. it treats the water as essentially ion free. It recommends additions of about a tsp of calcium chloride (in 5 gal) to augment calcium but mainly to get chloride up. It does not recommend adding gypsum at the same time unless you are shooting for a British style ale in which strong hop character is wanted. The implied recommendation is that you try the beer without gypsum at first and then add some of that to a later batch in order to see what the flavor differences are with respect to sulfate in the liquor.

In my own brewing I prefer sauermalz as a means of pH control but this is influenced by the style of beer I brew most - lagers and German ales. It is easy to handle, it is easy to calculate the amount needed (1 % of grist per 0.1 pH unit drop), it is easy to measure but perhaps most importantly it imparts subtle flavor enhancement to the beer. This does not mean one can't handle pH control equally well with liquid lactic acid or indeed with other acids and many do.

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