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Old 08-24-2013, 03:48 AM   #1
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Default Where to start with water?

I know you guys must be beaten down with water newbs asking for advice, but I'm going to go ahead and swallow my pride and ask anyway.....

I got my water report back from Wards and started playing around with Bru'n Water. I've plugged in my numbers and selected a profile of "Amber Malty" (I'm brewing a Strong Irish Red that's real malt forward).

My question is where to start? What minerals should I start adding first?

Water Test Results:

pH 8.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 272
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.45
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.6 / 4.5

ppm

Sodium, Na 53
Potassium, K 6
Calcium, Ca 34
Magnesium, Mg 5
Total Hardness, CaCO3 106
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.4 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 21
Chloride, Cl 47
Carbonate, CO3 6
Bicarbonate, HCO3 98
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 90
Total Phosphorus, P 0.02
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

Grain Bill:

12 lb Pale 2-row
1 lb Carapils
1 lb Munich 10L
.44 lb Caramunich 56 SRM
.44 lb Special B 180 SRM
.02 lb Chocolate 450 SRM

Any help on where to start would be greatly appreciated! I've been reading the water info page on Bru'n Water, but I don't quite have my giant brain wrapped around it yet. I could certainly use a few pointers.

Thanks!

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Old 08-24-2013, 12:25 PM   #2
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Well, you don't really have to do much to appreciably affect brewing with that water. I suggest just starting out with acidifying the water to neutralize the excess alkalinity. That will make the largest improvement.

Dosing the mashing and sparging water with lactic or phosphoric acid to target a desirable mash pH and sparging water alkalinity will make a huge difference. The existing ion content of that tap water is good enough to brew with. When you are satisfied with that change, then you might consider mineral additions or dilution to enhance certain flavors or perceptions.

Brewing water chemistry can be as hard or easy as you would like.

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Old 08-24-2013, 12:45 PM   #3
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Well, you don't really have to do much to appreciably affect brewing with that water. I suggest just starting out with acidifying the water to neutralize the excess alkalinity. That will make the largest improvement.

Dosing the mashing and sparging water with lactic or phosphoric acid to target a desirable mash pH and sparging water alkalinity will make a huge difference. The existing ion content of that tap water is good enough to brew with. When you are satisfied with that change, then you might consider mineral additions or dilution to enhance certain flavors or perceptions.

Brewing water chemistry can be as hard or easy as you would like.
So if I understand everything correctly, I should add lactic acid to the mash water only and not the sparge, correct?
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Old 08-24-2013, 12:56 PM   #4
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So if I understand everything correctly, I should add lactic acid to the mash water only and not the sparge, correct?
Both actually, same amount usually.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:36 PM   #5
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Both actually, same amount usually.
Sorry, but no. The dosage may vary quite a bit depending upon several factors. You do need to calculate the acid additions for the mash and sparge independently.

For sparging water, I prefer to target an alkalinity level of about 25 ppm or less. An acceptable allegory is to acidify to a certain pH such as 5.7.

For mashing water, the level of acidification is dependent upon the tap water alkalinity, mash thickness, and acidity of the grist.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard-SSV

So if I understand everything correctly, I should add lactic acid to the mash water only and not the sparge, correct?
Most Water threads i see suggest adding the acid to the mash and measuring the pH and adjusting as needed.

-Interested in this answer.
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:46 PM   #7
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Most Water threads i see suggest adding the acid to the mash and measuring the pH and adjusting as needed.

-Interested in this answer.
That is a great way to chase your tail. Undershooting...overshooting...etc. It will drive you crazy. Using a tool that can estimate the proper dosage...and then checking pH is a far better way to produce an acceptable mash pH.
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Old 08-24-2013, 10:45 PM   #8
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Thanks to all of you for your help. The fog over my brain is starting to lift a little.

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Old 08-24-2013, 11:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Richard-SSV View Post
I know you guys must be beaten down with water newbs asking for advice, but I'm going to go ahead and swallow my pride and ask anyway.....
A couple of years back Yooper wrote to me something to the effect that given the frequency with which I answer the 'where do I start?' question that I should write a sticky and then refer people who ask it to that sticky. I did so and the result is the Primer in the Stickies part of Brew Science. Have a look there. Get going with that advice and then branch out into the more complex stuff if you want to.

I'll note that when given this assignment I didn't think it possible because brewing water chemistry is so complex. But after sitting down and doing it not only did I realize that I was possible but that I was brewing pretty good beer by using those KISS principles. The Primer doesn't simplify what I do. It describes what I do. Without realizing it I'd put aside all those complex spreadhseets, water analyses and mineral profile calculations.

You can do all that stuff if you want to (and it is very instructive) but you don't have to - at least initially.
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Old 08-25-2013, 12:48 AM   #10
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I didn't say so but I suppose that's what I meant. Thanks for clarifying.

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