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-   -   Using a water report for spring water. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/using-water-report-spring-water-63355/)

bearymore 04-20-2008 10:13 PM

Using a water report for spring water.
This is probably a NOOB worrying way too much, but anyway....

The other day, I got a water analysis report for Crystal Geyser Olancha spring water. I'm not sure how to use it in a brewing context. Compared to most water in the water table in Beersmith, it appears to have remarkably little in the way of minerals -- 12 mg/l Ca, 0.9 Mg, 2.7 Chloride and 36 mg/L alkalinity. I entered the alkalinity, Ca, and Mg into the nomograph on the back cover of John Palmer's book and get a mash PH of about 5.7 which I interpret as being good for a lightish beer. Am I correct about that? Since the analysis report states a PH of 7.02 which is pretty much the same as distilled water, I'm concerned that my calculation is inconsistently high.

Second, I'm brewing an American brown. According to the nomograph it looks like I'd want a PH of 5.8 or 5.9. Will it affect my efficiency if I stay at my 5.7 level?

Third, will the relatively low levels of minerals and salts (there is no sodium at all) affect the taste of my beer? Should I add salts? Which ones?.

Or should I just use West L.A. tap water or something else?

SenorWanderer 04-21-2008 03:33 PM

that spring water is pretty ideal for lighter beers. but you'll be fine using it for a brown. regarding your pH question, both of those numbers are correct. the spring water is 7.02, and when you mash with that water you'll get a mash pH of 5.7ish. acids in the malt lower the mash pH.

as far as taste, the minerals will always play a big part. traditionally, english beers, especially browns, porters, stouts, are brewed with water that is much higher in mineral content. if you'd like a reference for where you might want your minerals to be for a certain style take a look at this page. if you decide you want to match a water profile then use the ratios that certain salts add. keep in mind that mg/l is the same as ppm.

bearymore 04-21-2008 07:20 PM

Thanks for the reference on the minerals. It looks like this water is ok for brown ale - perhaps a touch of sodium. Unfortunately, the analysis sheet I got from the company doesn't include sulfates.

I am still confused about PH issues. Palmer's nomograph shows a range of desirable PH's from 5.6 to 6.2 depending on color, yet the reference you gave says desirable PH is 5.0 to 5.5 and 5 Star's 5.2 ph stabilizer guarantees an "ideal" PH of 5.2. Are they measuring PH at different points in the process or what?

BarleyWater 04-21-2008 08:14 PM

I think you need to re-check on how to read that graph, I have used it before and I'm pretty sure it doesn't say you want a mash PH that high, mash PH is what is important.

You said you are using BeerSmith, there is a calculation tool that lets you alter your water profile to match any other and lets you know how much of each additive you should add.

In any case, you are probably going to be fine using tap water. As a general rule, if it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to brew with, and tap water is hundreds of times cheaper than bottled spring water.

bearymore 04-21-2008 11:18 PM


Originally Posted by ilikestuff
I think you need to re-check on how to read that graph, I have used it before and I'm pretty sure it doesn't say you want a mash PH that high, mash PH is what is important..

I'm pretty sure I'm reading it correctly. In the text, he works out a couple of examples and comes up with a PH of 5.8 in one example which he says is good for amber, red, and brown beers. He then adds calcium to bring the PH down to 5.6 which he says is good for a Pilsener or Helles. So, the incosistency puzzles me.

In fact, the example he uses is for Los Angeles tap water. That's my local tap water and, if his figures are correct, yields a mash PH of 5.8. Presumably, if I used tap water I'd also need campden tablets to get rid of the chloramine. Am I right?

BarleyWater 04-21-2008 11:26 PM

You aren't reading closely enough...

From HowToBrew.com
"The amount of acidity in the specialty grains used in these styles should balance the residual alkalinity to achieve the proper mash pH (from 5.8 down to 5.2-5.6, depending on the darkness of the recipe)."

Your mash PH should always be between 5.0 and 5.6, your pre mash water determines what types of beers are best, depending on how they alter the mash PH to bring it in at around 5.2. You aren't looking at your mash PH.

bearymore 04-22-2008 05:51 PM

On careful reading, the nomograph shows the pH of a base malt only. So, if you get a 5.8 on the chart, that is the pH without the specialty grains. Choosing a style that brings the color to the right point on the color scale at the top of the chart will bring the mash pH with all grains at mash temperature to 5.2. Now I get it.

Assuming that you don't want to worry and use a product like 5-Star's 5.2 Ph, how does that affect adding mineral salts? Suppose I want to make an English style amber -- can I add a bunch of gypsum, throw in some 5-Star and not worry about the resulting pH?

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