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Old 11-20-2011, 01:21 AM   #1
May 2011
simi valley, ca
Posts: 23
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Hi All,

I'll be doing my first all grain within a week and couldnt resist jumping head first into water chemistry (for better or for worse). My Ward Labs Water Analysis was as follows :

pH 7.7
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 272
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.45
Cations / Anions, me/L 4.7 / 4.5

Sodium, Na 49
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 32
Magnesium, Mg 11
Total Hardness, CaCO3 126
Nitrate, NO3-N 1.2 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 22 (*3 = 66)
Chloride, Cl 49
Carbonate, CO3 < 1
Bicarbonate, HCO3 97
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 80
Total Phosphorus, P 0.41
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

In order to soften the water as part of AJ's water primer, a 3:1 dilution w/ RO would yield me the following :

Sodium, Na 12.25
Potassium, K 0.75
Calcium, Ca 8
Magnesium, Mg 2.75
Total Hardness, CaCO3 31.5
Nitrate, NO3-N (SAFE) 0.3
Sulfate, SO4-S 16.5 (66/4)
Chloride, Cl 12.25
Carbonate, CO3 0.25
Bicarbonate, HCO3 24.25
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 20
Total Phosphorus, P 0.1025
Total Iron, Fe 0.0025

Since I will be brewing a PA, I would deviate from the above as follows:
Baseline : Add 1 tsp (4.9 grams) of calcium chloride dihydrate (per 5 gallons)... (+ 2% sauermalz to the grist)
For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride...

This would result in the following profile :

Ca 209.4
Mg 2.8
Na 12.3
SO4 161
Cl 262
HC03 24.3

I will be using the following grain profile for the PA:

Base 2-row 7.7 #s
Crystal Malt (10L) 1.181 #s
Vienna Malt 1.93 #s
Acidulated Malt 3.5 oz.

Entering these numbers into EZ water calculator 3.0 would net the following:

Effective Alkalinity: -106
Residual Alkalinity: -257
Estimated Room-Temp Mash pH 5.25 (Ez water calculator recommends a range of 5.4 to 5.6)

And an ending water profile of :
ppm Palmers' recommended ranges
Ca 209 50-150
Mg 3 10-30
Na 12 0-150
Cl 262 0-250
SO4 161 50-350

Cloride / Sulfate Ratio 1.63 (Above 1.3 may enhance maltiness)

As you can see at least according to Palmers recommended ranges 3 out of 5 of the ions are out of range following the primer model. Also its interesting how drastic the ratio of Ca, Cl, & SO4 is in comparison to Na and Mg. Did I screw something up here ? Or are the recommended ranges to be ignored in this case?

The mash pH in Ez Water Calculator came out to 5.25. Pretty good i would guess, although according to Ez water calculator thats too low. Removing the acidulated malt would give me a mash pH of 5.43, which it seems to say is ok...

Anyway, anyone care to chime in? I usually dont care to learn things the hard way (aka less than stellar beer)

I appreciate the input and any help!


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Old 11-20-2011, 04:22 PM   #2
mabrungard's Avatar
Feb 2011
Carmel, IN
Posts: 4,306
Liked 680 Times on 527 Posts

First of all, the existing tap water looks good for brewing already. There is no need to dilute for a PA. In this case, the Primer is leading you down the wrong track. In addition, acid malt should only be added as needed to produce an acceptable mash pH. It does not appear that this pale ale grist demands acidification if the water is hardened.

From my calculations I show that for a good pale ale water properly hardened with only gypsum (1.5 g/gal), the mash pH will easily fall into a desirable range without the acid malt. EZ Water is properly telling you that the acid malt is unneeded. Delete it.

I note the calcium and chloride concentrations proposed are very high. Unfortunately, Palmer's advice on chloride is dead wrong. 250 ppm chloride is not allowable in an acceptable beer. Keep chloride at around 100 ppm max and even that level needs to be reduced if the sulfate is going to be high. The calcium concentration does not need to be taken as high either. Its not really a problem to go that high, its just not needed.

If you would like to learn more about brewing water, you'll need to download and read Bru'n Water. There is more comprehensive information there.
Martin B
Carmel, IN
BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

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Old 11-20-2011, 05:18 PM   #3
May 2011
simi valley, ca
Posts: 23
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Thanks mabrungard...I appreciate it. You confirmed my initial suspicisions on the resulting water profile. I had assumed that the primer was a fool proof method when starting out with soft water as it defined. I downloaded Bru'n Water and will read up some more .
THanks again for putting programs like together and for the help you provide to fellow homebrewers.


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Old 11-20-2011, 07:51 PM   #4
Aug 2010
McLean/Ogden, Virginia/Quebec
Posts: 9,413
Liked 1556 Times on 1184 Posts

You could very well make a passable pale ale with your water untreated but it is probable that you could make a better one by adding some acid. You can probably make a better beer with acid because your mash pH will probably be too high, depending on the vagaries of your malts, if you don't. To change probability to certainty obtain and use a pH meter. It's the only way to know for sure and it's easy enough to do. Just yesterday, for example, I got a bit of a surprise when my pH came in higher than it usually does (though, thank heavens, not too much so) using the same water, malts and procedures I always do.

It's also quite possible that you could make a better beer following the Primer rather than working with your own water as lower mineral content water tends to make more enjoyable beers. If you choose to go that route you should try working your way up with the minerals i.e. start with either the chloride or the sulfate or half of each and then adjust. No Primer, spreadsheet or advice is going to get you to the best beer. Only trial and error can do that.

BTW if I add 3 L DI water to each liter of your tap water and then add 4.9 grams of CaCl2.2H2O and an equal amoiunt of gyspsum I get only 169 mg/L of chloride. That's a lot but chloride definitely does good things for beer except when paired with sodium but of course that's only up to a point. Trouble should not start with low sodium until chloride gets up to 300 or so at which point the beer reportedly tastes "pasty" whatever that means. If it means like the paste we used to use when I was a kid in school that's not good.

The primer is not foolproof. It would be pretty hard to screw up using it but I'll be someone will one day. It is designed to simplify what can appear to be overwhelmingly complex. And I realized that despite my elaborate calculations, spreadsheets, computer programs ... that I was essentially following the advice of the primer - and getting noticeably better beer. That's why I encourage people to try its approach at least once or twice. Many who have like the results.

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Old 11-22-2011, 04:55 AM   #5
May 2011
simi valley, ca
Posts: 23
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

Thanks AJ. Ill double check my calculations but I think the point you make overall is a good one: Have a good starting point (i.e. correct mash pH) without overdoing it and make subtle adjustments accordingly from there. I guess there really is no substitute for brewing, brewing, and brewing Oh darn


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