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Old 11-29-2012, 10:09 PM   #1
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Default Water Chemistry Help - Very Confused

5.2 Stabilizer...


I have done a few All Grain batches to date, and really enjoy the process. As I continue to seek to "perfect" my brewing output, I am attempting to learn about how I can modify my water to improve overall flavor and adherence to style. I have to admit....I am confused. So let me ask for your advice or help.

After receiving my water report, here are the critical details:

CA - 60
Mg - 39
SO - 130
Na - 9
Cl - 12
HCO - 273
Total Alk. - 224
PH - 7.4

Can someone help me figure out the steps that they would take with my water profile to make:

A) Light Ale/Lager (Pilsner)
B) Holiday Ale - Winter Lager style

As I understand, my water profile is good as is for IPAs and stouts....correct me if I am wrong?


Since my water is so hard, and the majority of the minerals are on the high end, from what I can gather is I shouldn't be adding anything but rather diluting my tap water with Distilled water until I can dial back the minerals to meet the preferred style?

What about Mash Stablilizer.....based on my profile, should I use this and will I see a noticeable difference in flavor, efficiency, etc. From what I have read, reviews are very mixed on the stabilizer usage.

Lastly, Should I use Camden tabs in my water? I do not currently have a carbon filter in place so I am assuming the tabs would be the next best solution for removal of Chlorine. I don't have the time or desire to boil the water or set out for 24 hours before brew day....any suggestions.

I know this is a wide open question (s) here but I really need some advice. I have watched SEVERAL youtube vids including Palmers latest, but I am still struggling.

Thanks to anyone that can offer me some advice!

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Old 11-29-2012, 11:15 PM   #2
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In order to make a beer like pilsner, you'd be best off to use reverse osmosis water. Your bicarb and sulfate are far too high. You could dilute with distilled water, but even diluted you'd have to do something like 9 to 1, so you might as well go all RO or distilled.

For a stout, you look pretty good except the sulfate is still too high so you'd need to dilute a bit with distilled or RO water but not that much.

For a winter lager, I think you'd need to do something very similar to a pilsner, but you may have to dilute a bit less if you're using a lot of dark malts.

There are free spreadsheets available that can help predict the probable pH, and I'd recommend using one to see where you fall in the predicted pH for any beers you want to make.

About the 5.2 stabilizer- throw it out.

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Old 11-29-2012, 11:23 PM   #3
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ButcherBrew, I have been going through the same issue. I actually started a thread 3 weeks ago with the same questions. Even though I haven't implemented any of this yet, I was referred to this site. If you get a definitive solution, please share back. Thx.
http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/

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Old 11-29-2012, 11:25 PM   #4
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Oh, and yes, use RO water. You can get it from the supermarket for roughly 40 cents per gallon. Pilsner don't add anything. The question is the british brews, etc. For me, I want to do a 5 gallon batch of dogfish head and not sure what Delaware water has in it.

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Old 11-29-2012, 11:52 PM   #5
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Beersmith has a tool that will allow you to determine the effect of different water additions, so you could start with distilled water or RO water and add things like Gypsum, epsom salt, chalk, etc.....or you could dilute your tap water to get the high levels down to where they need to be and then make adjustments from there........to get profile for the type of water you need for the specific beer.

The Homebrewing Companion by Charlie Papazian has a good section on water and even has a table with water profiles for different beer types.

Of course you could probably just google "water profile pilzen" for example....and get the target profile.

You need to be careful because adding something to adjust(1) aspect of the water in many cases will change another aspect of the water...for example adding Gypsum to increase the calcium level of water will also increase the sulfate level

I highly recommend both of Charlie's books.....The Joy of Homebrewing and The Home Brewers Companion....put them on your Santa list!

Be careful though....because a few of the things I have read seem outdated....but that may just be because the versions of the books I have are old.....just check on the forum to confirm things ...happy brewing.

Here is an example why Yooper said to use RO water for pilsner: (and you can see your water values way above these levels)

Water Profile - Pilzen
Ca 7 ppm
Mg 2 ppm
Na 2ppm
Cl 5 ppm
SO4 5 ppm
HCO3 15
Hardness 30

You can see hardly any ionic concentrations....therefore use RO water.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:41 AM   #6
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Yep go 100% RO, no 5.2, no campden. Even then you may still need to add acidity to get your mash pH in range. Also acidifying your sparge water is a good idea, too. These steps really improved my beer.

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Old 11-30-2012, 02:50 PM   #7
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Thank you all for the great feedback....I love this site.

I have been filling up the 5 gallon jugs with water from the Ozarka dispenser outside of our grocery store. 1.50 per 5 Gallon fill. I am assuming this is RO water....it shows a ton of filtering and UV steps that are applied to the water however, I tend to question how true that is. LOL - Always wondered if I am paying for the same water I could get from my house since I am just down the road.

I will go 100% RO for the Pils route....makes total sense.

Yooper - I have been told to throw out 5.2 by lots of folks! I do like the idea of starting with 100% RO and then making additions as needed based on the style. I was just hoping there would be a way to avoid paying for water everytime I brew. Since my Sulfates are so high, sounds like I need to just stick with purchasing water and accounting for that in my brew cost.

Jgaepi - Thanks for the link and the tips.

mgortel - I do have Beersmith and have only been using it for recipe creation. I definitely need to explore the Water Chem section - thanks for the tip on that! Guess I need to revisit the Joy of homebrewing and ask for the Homebrewers companion for Xmas.

Tgmartin - Assuming RO removes chlorine which is why you said avoid Camden tabs?

Just when you think you are starting to get the hang of this stuff, you discover other complexities that require attention in order to improve your final product. Too bad I live in Central Texas and our source water is Hard as a ROCK!

Only thing I can do is keep studying and brewin. Cheers Ya'll.

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Old 12-01-2012, 12:34 AM   #8
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Hey BB

Where does your water come from? Austin (Lake Travis) should be way better than that. Those numbers look more like San Antonio, out of the Edwards Aquifer. Well water maybe?

If you are using municipal water, there is probably chlorine or chloramine in there, campden is a must.

Pilsner, definitely 100% RO with a teaspoon of calcium chloride. Let us know how it comes out.

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