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Old 06-18-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
markley
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Default Beginner...with soft water question

So i am about to attempt my first home brew and had some questions regarding water chemistry. I have searched and searched this topic and became way more confused as a result...overwhelmed with calculators, etc. Anyway, I have well water that is naturally very soft. My total alkalinity (as CaCO3)and Calcium Hardness is less than 10 ppm. I am guessing that my pH is around 6 (based on what i know about the groundwater quality of the area).

So should I further test my water before beginning? Or should I just bump up the hardness to start?

Any help would be greatly appreciated

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Old 06-20-2013, 02:57 AM   #2
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There is tons of books and lots of people with tons of knowledge on Water profiles, even though your water is like 95% of a beer its not everything and there are far more things to worry about before you stress about your water profile; Your mash temperatures, Fermentation temperatures ETC. If your water is too hard add Gypsum if it is to soft add Calcium Carbonate.

But if the water profile is something you really want to push then I say go for it. I am not your man with a wealth of knowledge on Water, I just know the basics of how to get the water where I want it. I would suggest trolling through this part of the form for more water information (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/)

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:02 AM   #3
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If you are doing extract it's not as big of a deal, as the mashing has already been done.

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:10 AM   #4
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I'm 100% rainwater, so, very soft, no minerals at all. The beer turns out fine, but I think it is missing something, so a nearby well with very hard water can supply it for me.

Water is a 2nd order effect, though. Fermentation temp, yeast type, etc, etc are far more important.

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skemp45 View Post
If your water is too hard add Gypsum if it is to soft add Calcium Carbonate.
This doesn't really make sense and is not the right advice to follow.

OP, as was mentioned if you are brewing extract then this is much less of a concern, and low alkalinity/soft water like yours should be fine if you are not chlorinating it. You may want to make some minor adjustments for flavor (for example adding a little gypsum to bring out the bitterness in hoppy beers if your water is low in sulfate) but you likely won't need to worry much about this now.

If you are doing all grain it's a good idea to learn about water at some point. Palmer and Jamil have a good series of podcasts on water on the brewing network. Bru'n water has a good water knowledge page as well as software for download (Martin Brungard frequents this forum especially the brew science section). I actually use EZ water because it's what I started out with.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:11 PM   #6
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Our tap water comes from Lake Erie,so it's pretty soft most of the time. But the chlorine levels change with the seasons. Sometimes like flat Alkaseltzer. So I started going to artisan springs for local spring water from the source. I use it for AE to PM & it works quite well. So soft water seems to work quite well for most ales.

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Old 06-20-2013, 03:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chickypad

This doesn't really make sense and is not the right advice to follow.

OP, as was mentioned if you are brewing extract then this is much less of a concern, and low alkalinity/soft water like yours should be fine if you are not chlorinating it. You may want to make some minor adjustments for flavor (for example adding a little gypsum to bring out the bitterness in hoppy beers if your water is low in sulfate) but you likely won't need to worry much about this now.

If you are doing all grain it's a good idea to learn about water at some point. Palmer and Jamil have a good series of podcasts on water on the brewing network. Bru'n water has a good water knowledge page as well as software for download (Martin Brungard frequents this forum especially the brew science section). I actually use EZ water because it's what I started out with.
I don't want to be giving wrong info so I will check my source for that part when I get off work. Thanks
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Old 06-21-2013, 11:59 AM   #8
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Thanks for the replies!! I think I'll just roll with what I have for this first batch...looking forward to getting started this weekend! Have a feeling this is gonna turn out to be quite a hobby!

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Old 06-21-2013, 12:22 PM   #9
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Yeah,try that soft water as is this time. Soft water is generally better. Depending on the style,you can add things to it later. Burton ales are made with harder local water in Burton Upon Trent. Thus Burton salts being sold in small packets to simulate the water. And then there's Burton ale yeast,for example. So you can experiment with water chemistry & yeasts for particular styles. But that soft water will be fine for Americanized ales & such.

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Old 06-24-2013, 04:45 PM   #10
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Well..first batch is in the bucket! Had one minor hiccup when I realized after 15 hrs that I forgot to add water to the air lock Added a little vodka and instantly seeing a bubble every second or so...so I am guessing that everything is OK.

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