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-   -   Water questions (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/water-questions-329092/)

Bamsdealer 05-16-2012 10:26 PM

Water questions
So, I intend to start all grain brewing and know water quality can play a part in extraction, flavors, etc. My last few batches I've used half distilled water and half spring water from the store in my steeped grain/extract recipes. Without getting too technical and having anything tested, can I do the same and expect good results moving onto all grain? Do different styles require different water chemistry? Would I do just as well treating my public water with campden tablets? I know there's a lot out there to research and read through, but I'm hoping to brew good beer without going overboard adding minerals, chemicals, etc.

duboman 05-16-2012 10:30 PM

Before you do anything you should get a water report to see what you get and then base any adjustments on that. Any Willy Nilly adjustments you make without basis may actually work against you.

The first thing to look at is PH, I'm in Chicago and my tap water is great so all I do is adjust my PH to lower it.

Bamsdealer 05-16-2012 11:55 PM

Yeah... that's the kind of stuff I'd like to avoid for now. Just got married and in the middle of buying a home so I'd like to avoid getting ph meters and lab reports till things settle down. At some point I'd like to get into the scientific aspect but would like to do a few brews between now and then. I saw there's a PH stabilizer out there for brewers. I was thinking that and come campden tablets for tap water or go the other route and split some di water/spring water if you think that'd be better going into it blind...

bigdongsr94 05-17-2012 02:06 PM

I am just getting over pH problems. The style plays a huge part. I brew pales so the pH often remained too high. The darker the malt the more acids that are released bringing the pH down. It was very important for me to keep my mash very thick. I would use about 1-1.3 qt of water per pound of grain. This helps the grains bring down the pH of water since there is less water to grain. I did BIAB and thought I could just mash full volume. You can but the pale malt didn't bring down the pH enough with such a large amount of water. For me, I could use any water but the fact still remained that if brewing a pale, I would get a very bitter dump out beer unless I kept a thick mash. It is also important that you don't have any possible rust as this will change the water and make it harder to reduce pH. Seems stupid to say but I did it.

maida7 05-17-2012 02:32 PM

What's wrong with your tap water?

I'm sure you can make beer with the 50/50 distilled/spring water mix but why not just use the stuff straight from the tap?

Ideally you have your water tested then plug the results into a spreadsheet and adjust for each batch. I really like the EZ water spreadsheet. It's super EZ to use. http://www.ezwatercalculator.com/

DSmith 05-17-2012 02:45 PM

You can buy >50 gallons of RO water from a grocery store machine for the cost of the Wards test & shipping. I think downloading the EZ Water 3.0.1 spreadsheet, using 100% RO, adding only CaCl2 & CaSO4, and determining the amount of acid malt to the mash will eliminate water concerns. If you go this route, post your plan in this thread.

The up front cost to treating water is:

<$15 gram scale (also handy for hops and acid malt weighing)

<$2 2oz jar of CaS04 (gypsum)
<$2 2oz jar of CaCl2
<$3 50 tablet jar of campden tablets (1 tablet = about 0.65 g and can treat 20 gallons, ratio as much as you need for your water)

You'll still want this stuff if you go through with the Ward testing and end up mixing your tap water. I think it's cheaper and easier to buy some RO water from the beginning and think about tap water later.

maida7 05-17-2012 02:52 PM

I go thru 19 gallons of brewing water per batch so I really like to use my tap water. Not only does it cost less but it's always there when I need it. Plus up here in Asheville we have some of the most amazing water for brewing beer. Just one of the reasons Sierra Nevada and New Belgium are currently building breweries in my backyard.

DSmith 05-17-2012 03:12 PM

There's always potential to tap water, just want to point out that you may get the Ward report and still be in the same position of diluting water & adding salts if it comes back with high alkalinity or an ion unusually high for brewing. Or not like the previous poster. I wish my tap water had an alkalinity <350ppm CaCO3.

Buying RO water will add about 10% extra cost to the beer, but doing it vs brewing blindly with tap water could jeaprodize the other 90% of the cost invested in ingredients. I also agree that brewing larger volumes makes buying RO water at a store harder but probably not the case for a first-time all-grain brew.

I also buy distilled water only for Starsan and reuse it for months, and spring water for yeast starters without any additions other than yeast nutrient. Those purchases last a long time.

bribo179 05-17-2012 03:24 PM

My water is good drinking water. I use it as is for mashing and make great beer. I don't worry about water adjustments. Palmer said if it tastes good you can make good beer with it.

grssmnperez 05-17-2012 03:34 PM

I have really hard water here in san antonio and it seems to make for decent homebrew.

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