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Old 05-18-2009, 04:54 PM   #1
briewer2
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Default Brewing Water... Chem Geek Needed

Hey all
I am a reletively new brewer and had a quick question about water. I have been using straight tap water for all my beers, we have good tap water where I live but I want to be certain I am not compromising my beer. I dont want to get into water chemistry/ additives yet since I feel I should concentrate on getting other aspects of my process perfected first. I just want opinions on what is my best option right now (also, I use 5.2 ph stabilizer in all my mashes, wyeast beer nutrient/super moss 10min before end of boil, and I brew all-grain batches) . I can:

  • Continue to use tap water (I pull it cold and heat it slowly)
or
  • buy 5 gallon containers and fill it at the water bottle filling station at the grocery store

Basically, I want to know if it is worth it to spend the money on getting processed water from the store, and if so will my water be void of necessary minerals, salts, ect. Again I don't know much about brew chem yet. I know I dont want distilled water and I know the water at the store goes through RO, but I don't know what else.

The reason I am concerned is because of what papazian says in his book about if the water tastes alright from the tap it is alright to brew with. It tastes fine initially, but sometimes I fill up water bottles and leave them next to my bed at room temp for a few days and they start to taste stale. I figure since the beer water sits at room temp for a few weeks this might be of some concern.

Sorry about the length, happy brewing!
Ben

ps. who is stoked about outddor brewing without freezing your nuts off
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Old 05-18-2009, 05:39 PM   #2
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Just ask your utility for a water analysis. Without knowing what's in your water versus what's in the bottled water you are thinking of using, there is no way to tell which is better.

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Old 05-18-2009, 05:45 PM   #3
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Yes, your waters ionic profile is one of the most important aspects of how your beer ends up tasting, and how your mash performs. In order for us to tell you if you should start with tap water or go to distilled/RO/whatever you need to post the ionic profile of your tap water.

As long as all the other nasty chemical stuff is not in your water (chloramines, chlorine, cleaning agents, extra crap etc) there are 6 important ions that constitute your brewing water. Generally measured in parts per million or mg/L (which is the same as PPM)
Calcium, Sodium, Sulfate, BiCarbonate, Magnesium and Chloride.
This is a good quick primer on what each one of those 6 things do to the flavor of your beer.
http://www.brewery.org/library/wchmprimer.html

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by briewer2 View Post
I dont want to get into water chemistry/ additives yet since I feel I should concentrate on getting other aspects of my process perfected first.
That's a good attitude to have, but unfortunately i feel water chemistry is a polarizing subject - you either don't worry in the least about it, or you take the time to understand what's going on. And it sounds like you're starting to want to know what's going on.

It's a slippery slope, too. Once you decide you're going to learn about your water & how it potentially affects your brewing process, you'll feel the need (or you should) to figure out what to do with your water. Not that it's a bad thing; in my opinion i just don't think dealing with water chemistry is something to be half assed in brewing, once you decide you're going to sweat it.

More pointedly, you should start with figuring out what your tap water is doing for you (water analysis). you might even figure out (after an analysis) that something as simple as diluting your water with DI/RO 1:1 will get you into an ideal range. Gotta start at square one.
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:24 PM   #5
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This is all they could give me when I requested a report.

Finished Water Parameters
Parameter IAWC Range
pH
8.5 - 9.0 mg/L
Calcium
30 - 40 mg/L
Magnesium
40 - 50 mg/L
Total Hardness
75 - 85 mg/L
Iron
0.01 - 0.05 mg/L
Nitrate
<0.05 mg/L
Sodium
30 - 40 mg/L
Flouride
0.9 - 1.2 mg/L
Turbidity
0.01 - 0.1 mg/L
Phenolphthalein Alkalinity
10 - 20 mg/L
Total Alkalinity
135 - 160 mg/L
Ammonia
0 - 1.5 mg/L
Total Colioform
Absent (A)
Fecal Colioform
Absent (A)
HPC Colonies
0

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:25 PM   #6
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btw.... I think I am glad that Fecal Colioform is absent. My recipes call for little or no poo.

EDIT:Actually I think saq nailed it

Quote:
Originally Posted by saq View Post
As long as all the other nasty chemical stuff is not in your water (chloramines, chlorine, cleaning agents, extra crap etc) ]
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Old 05-18-2009, 06:34 PM   #7
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Also, just found a water report from my area that someone else posted.

Champaign, IL

pH: 9.1
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est: 204
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm: 0.34
Cations / Anions, me/L: 3.2 / 3.7

(ppm)
Sodium, Na: 39
Potassium, K: 2
Calcium, Ca: 10
Magnesium, Mg: 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3: 71
Nitrate, NO3 -N: < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4 -S: <1
Chloride, Cl: 9
Carbonate, CO3: 22
Bicarbonate, HCO3: 166
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3: 173

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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Doesn't look too bad, although the Magnesium level is way too high, to the point where it is going to significantly affect your beers flavor profile.
Unfortunately it doesn't say what your Chloride, Sulfate or BiCarbonate levels are. You could ask for it and see if they have it, or take some water samples and send it off to a lab for analysis.
If those turn out to be lowish you could do a dilution with pure RO water, but you'd need a chemistry sheet to see what the ionic profile of what you are diluting with is.
I prefer to buy pure RO water from a local place that publishes chemistry papers on their water that gets tested every 3 months. The only thing in the water is a 4ppm of sodium.

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:36 PM   #9
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Those are two completely different water profiles.

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Old 05-18-2009, 06:38 PM   #10
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I couldn't tell, cant convert mg/L to ppm that quick

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