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Old 10-28-2011, 04:56 AM   #1
AScott's Avatar
Aug 2009
Posts: 114
Liked 4 Times on 3 Posts

I've been using RO water treated as the Primer sticky directs for my beers. As such, my understanding of all of the chemistry is elementary at the very best.

I was recently made aware of a local spring that I thought I might use for brewing to save me a few bucks and maybe give my beers a "local" flavor. I grabbed a sample and sent it into Ward Labs. Here are the results:
pH 7.8
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est 386
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.64
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.4 / 6.6

Sodium, Na 25
Potassium, K < 1
Calcium, Ca 65
Magnesium, Mg 25
Total Hardness, CaCO3 267
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 6
Chloride, Cl 88
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 221
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 181
Total Phosphorus, P 0.36
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
I know I'll have to do some adjustments based on specific beers, but is there anything in this report that stands out for special attention? I've tried to understand water treatment, but I just get lost in all of the technical talk.

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Old 10-28-2011, 12:38 PM   #2
mabrungard's Avatar
Feb 2011
Carmel, IN
Posts: 4,306
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Nothing is out of line, but it is nice and hard and alkaline. It should be quite good in a stout or porter, as-is.

For other styles, you'll likely need to blend this water with RO to moderate the magnesium and alkalinity. The chloride and sodium are also a little high, but not excessive.

A water sheet with blending calculations will make you life easier. Bru'n Water has that.
Martin B
Carmel, IN
BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

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Old 10-28-2011, 05:22 PM   #3
Aug 2010
McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 9,413
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Most spring waters have the analysis somewhere on the label and it's sometimes easy to miss.

What does this water taste like. I've recently learned that water with that much bicarbonate tastes awful to me and am wondering if others feel the same way, if I am "spoiled" by drinking water with much lower bicarbonate etc.

This water has about 3-1/2 meq/L alkalinity. That's a lot and will drive the mash pH of many beers too high. If you are following the primer you know that acid is required for most beers for low mineral water which has very low alkalinity. This water has quite high alkalinity. Given that dry stouts go to pH around 5.5 with low alkalinity water with this water they will be higher. So even with them a pH check would be desirable (a pH check is desirable with all beers in fact).

Alkalinity is high, hardness is high which offsets the alkalinity somewhat in terms of mash pH but not taste. I would expect this water to taste quite minerally and I would expect beers made with it to taste quite minerally. Might be suitable for Export and some hefty stouts. Would not be suitable for a delicate lager. The sulfate is low so that if you wanted hop forward beers you would have to pick that up some. The relatively high chloride will make the beers mellow, full and sweetish. Don't see a problem with the magnesium. If it got much higher you might pick up some bitterness. Also don't see a problem with the sodium. It's pretty much a "don't care" at these levels. Yes, along with all the other stuff it will contribute to the minerally feel/tast but if you are brewing with this water you either want or have decided to accept that.

You mention saving $. Does this spring water cost less than RO water?

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Old 10-28-2011, 06:54 PM   #4
AScott's Avatar
Aug 2009
Posts: 114
Liked 4 Times on 3 Posts

Thank you, gentlemen. Just the type of analysis I was looking for.

This would save me money because the spring is free. It's a free flowing spigot that runs year round (unusual up here). It does taste fairly "minerally" but we're pretty used to that in this area. It actually tastes better than our well water, which tells you why I've been building water from scratch.

Having said that, I think I'll just stick to what I've been doing. It's only about $6 per batch that I would save and the hassle of making a special trip for the water vs. just picking up a couple of jugs while at the store getting other things just doesn't seem worth it.

If it was great water for brewing, I'd definitely go to the trouble, but it sounds like it's going to be more problematic than what I had in mind. I guess I'll use it for a couple of stouts in the future just to make up for the cost of the test.

Again, I thank you both and tip my hat to your willingness to help an ignoramus such as myself with this "water stuff."

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