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Old 11-29-2012, 04:03 PM   #1
nickmv
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Default Analyzing a water report?

So I just got my local water report (Memphis), and I'm trying to read into it to figure out how it affects my brewing, and what styles are best.

I have a feeling with the quality of our water, pretty much anything is a good beer to brew, but I wanted to get some confirmation or further info from someone who actually knows this stuff.

Ca - 4.4
Mg - 1.87
Na - 5.2
S04 - 3.8
Cl - 3.6
CaC03 - 35
HCO3 - ????? (what is this? both hardness and alkalinity CaCO3 were 35--not sure if this is related)
pH - 7.2

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Last edited by nickmv; 11-29-2012 at 04:04 PM. Reason: title change
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Old 11-29-2012, 06:04 PM   #2
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If you move this thread to the Brew Science forum there are folks there that can help you understand your water report and suggest how to best use your water...

Cheers!

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Old 11-29-2012, 08:25 PM   #3
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Yeah, that looks pretty good as far as water goes. Your CaCO3 is low enough that you can brew really light beers, so you don't need to worry about that. If you go to brew a stout you might have to even add some CO3 to make sure your pH doesn't drop too low, but I think generally too low is better than too high.

As far as the rest, you'll probably want to add some Ca in some form to make sure you get it up to around 50. It will help to buffer your beer a little more, and also give your yeast plenty of Ca during fermentation and flocculation. I've got pretty low Ca levels as well, and whether I add it as CaCl2 or CaSO4 depends on what kind of beer I'm making. Malty beers I add a little more CaCl2 (or all CaCl2) and hoppier beers I use CaSO4 instead. If its balanced between the two, I might split it so my SO4 and Cl levels are about the same. I don't tend to worry about Mg and haven't played around with adding Na yet, so hopefully someone else can give you some advice on those.

For salt additions, the How-to-Brew section really helped me out. The whole chapter, in fact, is handy for reading a water report. Then, Beersmith or one of the online calculators will really help converting what your target is into what salts you should add. Good luck!

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Old 11-29-2012, 08:38 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info.

I'm gonna play around with BeerSmith's water section when I get home later to see what it says. Water composition is one of the few areas I have no education in when it comes to brewing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by erikpete18 View Post
Yeah, that looks pretty good as far as water goes. Your CaCO3 is low enough that you can brew really light beers, so you don't need to worry about that. If you go to brew a stout you might have to even add some CO3 to make sure your pH doesn't drop too low, but I think generally too low is better than too high.

As far as the rest, you'll probably want to add some Ca in some form to make sure you get it up to around 50. It will help to buffer your beer a little more, and also give your yeast plenty of Ca during fermentation and flocculation. I've got pretty low Ca levels as well, and whether I add it as CaCl2 or CaSO4 depends on what kind of beer I'm making. Malty beers I add a little more CaCl2 (or all CaCl2) and hoppier beers I use CaSO4 instead. If its balanced between the two, I might split it so my SO4 and Cl levels are about the same. I don't tend to worry about Mg and haven't played around with adding Na yet, so hopefully someone else can give you some advice on those.

For salt additions, the How-to-Brew section really helped me out. The whole chapter, in fact, is handy for reading a water report. Then, Beersmith or one of the online calculators will really help converting what your target is into what salts you should add. Good luck!
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Old 11-29-2012, 08:42 PM   #5
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Yeah, I moved and switched to AG about 6 months ago and decided it was probably time to take the plunge into water reports. I can't say one way or the other that its changing anything, but it gives me a little peace of mind! Beersmith makes it pretty easy. My water's about like yours (Seattle), so I just saved my levels and can now go back and add grams of CaCl2 or CaSO4 until my Ca, Cl, and SO4 numbers look how I want. Haven't brewed anything dark yet, but did get a pH meter to see if I'll have to up the pH in that mash. Otherwise its fairly easy once you get the hang of it.

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Old 11-29-2012, 08:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikpete18 View Post
Yeah, I moved and switched to AG about 6 months ago and decided it was probably time to take the plunge into water reports. I can't say one way or the other that its changing anything, but it gives me a little peace of mind! Beersmith makes it pretty easy. My water's about like yours (Seattle), so I just saved my levels and can now go back and add grams of CaCl2 or CaSO4 until my Ca, Cl, and SO4 numbers look how I want. Haven't brewed anything dark yet, but did get a pH meter to see if I'll have to up the pH in that mash. Otherwise its fairly easy once you get the hang of it.
I've got a buddy up in Poulsbo who I believe just uses tap water and doesn't change anything, and his beers are pretty good most of the time. Sounds like I may not need to really do anything to my water except for the occasional stout (if even then). Something tells me that I'll just brew the beer with my tap water as-is. And I'm gonna stop using pH 5.2, as it appears it's a waste of money.
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Kegged & Waiting: Citra Black IPA
ON TAP: n/a
2014 Beers So Far:
Belgian Wit | Burton IPA | Belgian Wit | Black IPA | Rye Saison | Hefeweizen

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