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Old 04-09-2013, 11:06 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by CharlosCarlies View Post
I prob should have included the disclaimer that these are pilot batches for a micro start-up I'm part of, so some options (like boiling specifically) eventually won't be realistic from an efficiency stand point. Lime softening is definitely something we have been looking into, however...so really appreciate the comments there.



Right, and from my understanding our water will almost surely be alkaline and not very hard (~50 ppm Ca and ~10 ppm Mg). From a water analysis that should be similar to ours, I've been estimating that we'll be around 200-250 ppm CaCO3. Given this, is lime softening likely going to be our best option? We'll have no issue adding back Ca since our water is also very low in chloride/sulfate.



Our chloride and sulfate will likely both be very low (~20-30 ppm) based off water reports I've seen near us.

As far as adding acid, I was under the impression that the acid reacted w/ the bicarbonate to reduce alkalinity, but also would leave behind sulfate, choride, lactate, etc depending on the particular acid being used. To me this seemed like a potential benefit since our chloride/sulfate levels are so low. Couldn't we just add hydrochloric/sulfuric acid and bump our low sulfate/chloride levels as well?
There are really two easy methods of removing alkalinity- boiling and then racking off the precipitate, or lime softening and racking off the precipitate. I can't think of many other cost-effective and easy ways but of course there are probably ways that breweries do this.


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Old 04-10-2013, 01:15 AM   #12
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There are really two easy methods of removing alkalinity- boiling and then racking off the precipitate, or lime softening and racking off the precipitate. I can't think of many other cost-effective and easy ways but of course there are probably ways that breweries do this.
As I've started talking to more and more breweries, it's consistently amazed me how little thought goes into water chemistry. Of course some of these unnamed breweries are putting out very average beers, so I guess that's encouraging in a way.

We probably will end up using lime, but I got the acid idea from one of aj's posts a while back:

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It's fine to use acid to knock out alkalinity but there is a downside. Every milliequivalent of alkalinity you remove (this water has 122/50 = 2.4) is replaced by 1 milliequivalent of the anion of the acid you used. So if you knocked out all the alkalinity you'd replace the 2.4 mEq/L alkalinity with 2.4 mEq Lactate (same deal for sulfuric or hydrochloric). This should be kept in mind. Obviously everything is fine as long as you don't taste the lactate or dislike the effects of lots of chloride or sulfate.
Since our water is somewhat chloride/sulfate deficient anyways, the downside seems like a positive to me. Or am I totally wrong here?

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The lactic is somewhere in the range of 400-700 ppm.

Kai has done a lot of work in this area.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Mash_pH_control
and
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Lactate_Taste_Threshold_experiment
Awesome, thanks for the links!


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Old 04-10-2013, 01:34 AM   #13
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I have no idea of cost for this process but I know a large scale brewery that flash sterilizes their incoming water supply and then builds it back up to exactly what they want.

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Old 04-10-2013, 01:54 PM   #14
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Sounds like your water might be similar to mine. Here's a thread I started that has my pre and post lime treatment results.

pre and post lime results

I also added some sodium metabisulfite which accounts for the gain in Na and Sulfur.

I works great for all of the beers I brew from pale lagers to stouts. For the dark beers, I wait to add the roasted malts until the end of the mash (as I ramp to mash out temps) so they don't end up affecting the mash pH. For the dark beers, I've taken to adding the precipitate back to the mash when I add the roasted malts. I'm still deciding if that makes a difference or not.

The only beer I make that I dilute with distilled water is my Czech pils. I brewed a test batch recently with out adding any distilled and the bitterness was not as smooth - at least initially. I has smoothed out a bit now. I may try again, but back off on the bittering hops and see if I can make it work without having to buy distilled water

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Old 04-10-2013, 02:25 PM   #15
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Since our water is somewhat chloride/sulfate deficient anyways, the downside seems like a positive to me. Or am I totally wrong here?
No, you are absolutely right. Should your alkalinity reduction acid requirement happen to balance your chloride/sulfate augmentation requirement you are indeed fortunate!

I don't usually recommend this approach to home brewers because I don't think they should be fooling with concentrated hydrochloric or sulfuric acids but given that this is a commercial setting with, presumably, all the safety equipment, MSDS.... in place then it can be a good way to go.
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Old 04-11-2013, 01:00 PM   #16
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No, you are absolutely right. Should your alkalinity reduction acid requirement happen to balance your chloride/sulfate augmentation requirement you are indeed fortunate!
This is great, great news! My last question is even though the alkalinity is reduced, is there any negative effect on flavor vs just having low alkaline water to begin with? (assuming similar sulfate/chloride profiles)

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I don't usually recommend this approach to home brewers because I don't think they should be fooling with concentrated hydrochloric or sulfuric acids but given that this is a commercial setting with, presumably, all the safety equipment, MSDS.... in place then it can be a good way to go
Yep, yep. I still don't look forward to using them, but w/ the right safety measures in place it's starting to sound like a viable option.
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Old 04-11-2013, 02:35 PM   #17
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No, there shouldn't be. You have simply replaced the bicarbonate ions with sulfate and chloride ions. The calcium/magnesium/sodium are already there. Were you to start with RO/DI water you would have to add calcium/magnesium/sodium sulfate and chloride to get the anion profile you want. You would end up with the same water.

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Old 04-11-2013, 10:04 PM   #18
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We'd likely have to add some calcium back when using lime as well, right? Makes me like the acid option more and more. Only issue is, like you mentioned, keeping it safe.

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Old 04-12-2013, 01:29 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by CharlosCarlies View Post
We'd likely have to add some calcium back when using lime as well, right? Makes me like the acid option more and more. Only issue is, like you mentioned, keeping it safe.
It is not to difficult to be safe. I would recommend making a diluted stock, say to around 10-20% and use that. That way you don't handle the concentrated stuff as much. I might also suggest a rubber "boot" to carry the bottle of concentrated stuff around in case the bottle brakes (droppage, hit something, etc).

And ALWAYS add acid to water, NOT water to acid. Quite a bit of heat is generated when the two are mixed and if you add it backwards it can cause a vigorous enough reaction to splash - even if gently poured. No problems if you add them in the right order.

I was taught, "do as you aughta', add acid to wata'"
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Old 04-12-2013, 01:44 PM   #20
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"Acid to Base, to Save Your Face" is how I learned that one.

I'm learning lots in this thread, very interesting. On a homebrewer scale its much easier to just cut your water with RO and add some lactic to balance pH. But I suppose that would be a very expensive system if you are requiring large volumes of water.



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