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Old 03-28-2011, 01:10 AM   #1
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Default Importance of water profile

Hey all,

I'm doing my first all grain next weekend, just got my new kettle and finished my mash tun. I've got two recipes I'm choosing from, and probably won't really decide until later this week. Was going for BierMuncher's Litehaus Wheat (I owe both my interest in craft beer and my start in homebrewing to Boulevard Wheat), or EdWort's Haus Pale Ale. I've been looking at my water profile, and trying to figure out if these are going to turn out good or not. I've brewed about 8 extract batches, and most turned out with a similar off flavor, which I'm attributing to our tap water (believe me, I've spent plenty of time in other threads narrowing it down, the last couple have turned out pretty good). I know that my tap water has chloramines in it, so I'm planning on treating with a campden tablet, but other than that, I'm not really sure of the importance of messing with this. I downloaded Palmer's spreadsheet from the How to Brew website, but really not sure how to go about using it. Here are the minerals from my water report that he addresses, all in PPM:
Calcium-45
magnesium - 39
alkalinity as CaCO3 - 53
Sodium - 23
Chloride - 30
Sulfate - 241
Water pH - 8.36

Can I just use this and brew, or should I treat it with something? Is changing the water profile necessary, or is it something that will make my beer go from good to great?

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Old 03-28-2011, 01:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by dandw12786 View Post
Hey all,

I'm doing my first all grain next weekend, just got my new kettle and finished my mash tun. I've got two recipes I'm choosing from, and probably won't really decide until later this week. Was going for BierMuncher's Litehaus Wheat (I owe both my interest in craft beer and my start in homebrewing to Boulevard Wheat), or EdWort's Haus Pale Ale. I've been looking at my water profile, and trying to figure out if these are going to turn out good or not. I've brewed about 8 extract batches, and most turned out with a similar off flavor, which I'm attributing to our tap water (believe me, I've spent plenty of time in other threads narrowing it down, the last couple have turned out pretty good). I know that my tap water has chloramines in it, so I'm planning on treating with a campden tablet, but other than that, I'm not really sure of the importance of messing with this. I downloaded Palmer's spreadsheet from the How to Brew website, but really not sure how to go about using it. Here are the minerals from my water report that he addresses, all in PPM:
Calcium-45
magnesium - 39
alkalinity as CaCO3 - 53
Sodium - 23
Chloride - 30
Sulfate - 241
Water pH - 8.36

Can I just use this and brew, or should I treat it with something? Is changing the water profile necessary, or is it something that will make my beer go from good to great?
You have nice water! Except for the sulfate.....................Are you certain that is correct?
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:50 AM   #3
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Actually yeah, there aren't many brewers around here, but the ones that are around have said that that's a big problem... I double checked it a few times because when I saw it I was really surprised... The 2009 water report had it at 212, but the preliminary one for this year had it at 241... 306 for the highest measured level. What's the best way to counteract that?

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:19 AM   #4
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You could just make British ales!! Your sulfates pale in comparison to Burton on Trent water.

Look into diluting your water with RO/DI water. You could start with 50% dilution (or more) and see how that works for you. Then you can add back calcium via gypsum or calcium chloride, but of course I would go with calcium chloride (gypsum is calcium sulfate and will add back the sulfates you are trying to get rid of).

Sulfates will make the hop bitterness more pronounced. Meaning that a pale ale or ipa brewed with your water might make the hop bitterness a bit on the offensive side.

Regardless, I think you could start with a 50/50 dilution of your water and DI bought from the store. Add calcium chloride if you have it available to get your Ca concentration >50 ppm.

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:52 AM   #5
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Thats probably why our first APA was terrible... I did some dilution later with distilled water and it got better, but the sulfate content is really high! I'll try diluting and calcium chloride, thanks. If anyone else has any advice, please chime in!

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:03 AM   #6
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Wish I could help answer OP's question but I have the opposite going on. We have a whole house water filtration system with an RO tap as well. I use the regular water out of the kitchen sink (which is still pretty pure) instead of the RO faucet. How will my water affect the beer? Think I should consider adding anything since my water is going to be relatively "empty"? Thanks!

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:33 PM   #7
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Bump

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Old 03-28-2011, 02:55 PM   #8
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Yes, dilution is your solution to brewing fruition. The sulfates in that water are pretty high.

Be careful with Palmer's spreadsheet since it doesn't guide a brewer very well and there have been many a brew that have come out like soda water based on recommendations from that sheet.

Bru'n Water is another sheet that provides a little more hand holding to the brewer, but it requires that you take the time to read instructions and learn about brewing water chemistry. It includes a nice section on Water Knowledge. You can download it from the link in my signature.

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Old 03-28-2011, 06:48 PM   #9
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Kai has a spreadsheet and a nice write up on pH over at basic brewing. I have not used it yet, but if you can get through his technical talk, it should help out.

I don't know what you'd do to decrease sulfate. I usually cut my water due to alkalinity anyway, so maybe that's the best option for sulfates.

Bumping the Chloride can help balance the hop flavor thing, but you still have to be within reason...

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Old 03-28-2011, 07:52 PM   #10
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Kai has a spreadsheet and a nice write up on pH over at basic brewing. I have not used it yet, but if you can get through his technical talk, it should help out.

I don't know what you'd do to decrease sulfate. I usually cut my water due to alkalinity anyway, so maybe that's the best option for sulfates.

Bumping the Chloride can help balance the hop flavor thing, but you still have to be within reason...
Nope, not even close. You can't add chloride to balance the overloaded sulfate in this water. The SO4/Cl ratio is ONLY useful when the concentrations of these ions are low to moderate. Generally, keeping both below 100 ppm is a good idea, but there are hoppy styles that benefit from higher sulfate. The chloride concentration should never exceed 100 ppm. I'm not sure where Palmer came up with the idea that a chloride level of 250 ppm was allowable, but its not. There is a lot of bad advice and half advice on the web and even in print. Be careful.

The only historic brewing water profile with a chloride content above 100 ppm is Dortmund (@130 ppm).
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