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Old 05-09-2011, 07:33 PM   #1
Zeppman
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Default filtering water and pH adjustment really helps

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to post my experience with filtering my brew water and adjusting pH. I have been brewing all grain for a few years now, and with each batch there has always been a strange off flavor that I could not really put my finger on. Some people noticed it, others didn't, but I (being my own worse critic) could always taste it. So a few weeks ago I purchased a simple under the sink filter from lowes to remove chlorine. I also purchased lactic acid to add during the mash. I tasted the first beer I brewed with it yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised that I could not detect that flavor anymore. I now feel like I make really good beer.

I live in Chicago and all this time most people were telling me that Chicago water is fine to brew with straight out of the tap. Well I now how big of a difference it makes to get ride of the chlorine and adjust pH.

Anyway, I'm always asking for advice, so I figured I'd share something that helped me that could possibly help someone else.

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Old 05-09-2011, 08:12 PM   #2
HoboBrewery
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im in new york. never had a problem brewing with my chlorinated tap water but i'm also not an AG brewer. i hear that AG is very temperamental with the water used.

there's a brewery here in the same county as where i live- the brewer uses tap water as well, but he always filters the chlorine out with charcoal filters.

i think you're onto something.

could i ask about the lactic acid though? what's that about?

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Old 05-09-2011, 08:42 PM   #3
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From what I've heard, filtering water is not as important for extract because someone else has basically done the mash for you (and hopefully with corrected water). Water treatment benefits the mash more than the boil.

The lactic acid is used to lower the pH of the mash. Again, I am completely new to this, but the internet (this forum) has told me that optimal mash water pH should be below 5.6 (5.2-5.3 is best I guess). Since I was using test strips (not a meter) I just tried to get it below 6. I used the EZwatercalculator 2.0 to figure out how much lactic acid I needed to add to achieve this for my recipe. Google how pH affects the mash (way too much for me to write, plus I'll screw something up). I plan on figuring it all out, but for right now, I just now that lowering pH into the right levels is important for making good beer. I do know that elevated pH will extract more tannins.

Hope that helps.

edit: you can also lower pH a number of other ways, such as adding acidulated malt to the grain bill, and some brewing minerals lower pH too.... if you download ezwatercalculator 2.0 you can play with the numbers and see it for yourself. Please refer to the "Brew Science" sub-topic here... I learned a ton there.

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Old 05-12-2011, 12:25 AM   #4
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Palmers book has a very in depth section about brewing water, and correcting pH and mineral content. I think most of that book is available free online now. Try googling "how to brew" by john palmer. My water comes from a well but is very high in iron and very alkaline. It really does make a difference in finished beer

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Old 05-12-2011, 01:09 AM   #5
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Stripping chlorine and chloramine are critical to good brewing via extract or all grain. An activated carbon filter is one method to achieve this.

If your brewing water is alkaline, acidification or dilution with non-alkaline water is critical for brewing lighter colored beers.

If brewers really want to learn about brewing water chemistry, they need to download Bru'n Water. There is far more information on brewing water chemistry and why and when it needs to be adjusted than any other resource in print or on the web. Its a bit dense, but who said that water chemistry was EZ? And that knowledge is not just going to fall in the Palmer of your hand. ;-)

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