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Old 02-08-2010, 05:52 PM   #1
Graeme
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Default Water Treatment for first all grain

I'm moving closer to getting my first all grain beer done, to coincide with that I've been reading How to brew by John Palmer. I've enjoyed this book very much, but although the great man himself lets the reader delve in to the technical side of things as much as they want or don't want, I'm finding allot of the section on water is going over my head.

I've always used bottled water, but I will be using tap water from here on out. I've read about PH stablisers and the like. Do most of you guys use things like this? On top of that do you use any other aids to improve on your brewing?

I suppose in a nutshell, what in your opinion are the most important factors to worry about when it comes to water?

Thanks and cheers!
G

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Old 02-08-2010, 07:16 PM   #2
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I wouldn't concern yourself with water treatment until you get comfortable with the AG process. You will still make beer, good beer for that matter. Brewing salts is something to focus on when you are going for great beer and have everything else in your process dialed in, IMO.

If you use bottled water you do not know its mineral content unless its distilled. If its distilled you will have to add salts, so I would continue on your path of using tap water. If you are really worried about your PH, get a water analysis report then use those numbers to figure out your waters ideal color with the chart from How to Brew then brew a beer in that color range...you can then sleep easy about your PH. However, if you brew a mid color beer don't worry about it brewing salts on the first go around.

Your most important water factors for now are: filtering it, mash ratio, and water temp in the mash and sparge.

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Old 02-08-2010, 07:28 PM   #3
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Thanks for you response Bensiff. I came across the chart alright. I will do a water analysis report I think to be safe and try what you suggested. I was already pretty well up on mash ratios and temps so that's at least something. When you say filteration, do you mean filtering my tap water?

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Old 02-08-2010, 07:41 PM   #4
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I agree with the above advice, focus on the basics first then worry about water. However, it looks like Dublin has pretty hard water, well suited to dark, fairly bitter beers (ala dry stout...). If you brew a Munich Helles or even a pale ale with non-treated water, the resulting beer might not be what you'd expect due to the mash pH possibly being higher than optimal.

You could try some of the Five-Star 5.2 buffer, or you could get more complicated. I have just started adjusting water myself (at only 4 AG batches in), check out this thread:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/water-modification-videos-ths-spreadsheet-144461/

Note the spreadsheet for download at the bottom of BobbyM's signature.

Happy geeking out!

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Old 02-08-2010, 08:56 PM   #5
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Wow, thank you for that link. Those vidoes are awesome. This is exactly what I was looking for, something to 'ball park' the concept of water chemistry and brewing. This is really helpful and I'll be sure to put my water through that spreadsheet

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Old 02-08-2010, 11:13 PM   #6
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EZ Water is good stuff no doubt. Didn't pay that much attention so I didn't see you were from Dublin. As 2Blue said, that water is good for porters, stouts, etc. So, with that knowledge I would change my advice to brewing a dark beer to start if your water is like the traditionally reported Dublin water. However, I would still not worry about any adjusting, just a quick check at the numbers for peace of mind. I say this because when you start all grain you will have the process in your head, your notes ready, and think everything will be great. Then something happens that causes you to run to your computer to figure out how the hell you can save your butt, then you realize while you are doing that something is getting put on hold that might screw something else up etc. It is hectic the first go if you are learning by shear experience and don't have someone there to teach.

Water chemistry is extremely complicated and easy to get lost in without a ton of reading. I would highly recommend listening to water series on Brew Strong, it is four parts and really is an excellent primer to help better understand what is going on with the different salts, ph, chloride/sulfate ratio, residual alkalinity (RA) and such.

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Old 02-08-2010, 11:28 PM   #7
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Thanks for your advice Bensiff, it's much appreciated. I convinced myself long ago that the all grain process was going to need double the attention to detail from extract, and from that I've tried my best to get a handle on everything that I was having trouble understanding. This somewhat goes against the RDWHAHB motto which I try abide by, but I always believe in going in to something with a decent amount of knowledge. It's the good people here that aid me with that knowledge continuously! So I'm thankfully aware things can go wrong and it's not ideal running to your PC mid mash and what not!

I will check that out though, thanks for passing it on. I've done dark beers for my last few brews, so it's an IPA on the menu next. Maybe not an ideal starting point given my water's attributes, but I'm confident with this information and the EZ Water I can adjust what I need to. I sure hope so anyway!

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Old 02-09-2010, 11:20 AM   #8
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Well I have a slightly different take on this then the rest of the posters. I used my tap water for the first couple of brews before I realized that there was a lot of chlorine in it (and I didn't use any campden tablets in it . . uughh), needless to say these batches were not good at all. I switched to water from a local spring that is completely natural with no chlorine or chloramines in it. I figured my water problems were going to be completely resolved, however my Pale ales and IPA's were still 'off'. Not bad per se, but they did not have a good hop flavor at all and had a very strange bitterness to them. I finally got a water report and found out that my RA was off the charts on the 'Very Malty' end and that my chloride/sulfate ratio was way off.

I fixed those issues and my most recent pale ale was just bottled a couple of nights ago, but it is already showing more hop aroma and flavor than any of my previous brews.

So all this to say that so often the advice on water is 'if it tastes good it will make good beer', well in my experience this is not entirely true. My suggestion would be to either get your water tested and then make adjustments accordingly (or brew styles that your water is naturally suited for) or get distilled or RO water and 'build' it from there. Good luck and enjoy taking on this new challenge in the brewing adventure!!

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Old 02-09-2010, 11:48 AM   #9
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Thank you for that Paya, that was pretty much what I was hoping to hear. I would rather try an address and if needs be amend these issues sooner rather than later. I think with the EZ Water spread sheet being so comprehensive there is every reason to use it and first see where my water is at, and if needs be to change things. I know for a fact that my water has a high enough chlorine level.

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Old 02-09-2010, 11:55 AM   #10
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yes the EZ Water spreadsheet is great. That is what I have used so far and although I am just getting into the water chemistry thing it seems like it has been working very well for me.

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