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Old 05-24-2012, 10:41 PM   #1
mux
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Default Chicago water science.

I'm interested in what my Chicagoland brewers do to their water. Do you filter? Do you add salts? What's your water profile and does it change with different styles?


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Old 05-24-2012, 11:07 PM   #2
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Bump! I wanna see this too. I use to not do anything but then let it sit out to get rid of chlorine, but I'm not sure if that's effective for chloramine or what is actually in Chicago water. Never tasted a difference between any brews.


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Old 05-24-2012, 11:17 PM   #3
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I run my water through a drinking water safe hose to a GE whole house filter housing with active carbon filter. That's it. Tomorrow I'm brewing and I'm tossing in a ld Carlson button salts packet. I'm brewing an English IPA so we will see. I think any pale ale and IPA I brew in the future I will add gypsum.
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Old 05-24-2012, 11:20 PM   #4
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I have lived in the City proper, Park Ridge area, and now in Lake Bluff. Here is what I have learned about the water in the three different places.

City proper water: Best IPA's I have ever done with this water, Very good Pales, Ambers anything that you want that Hop flaver with a kick. Horriable for my outmeal stout and sweater beers.

Park Ridge: A good all around kinda water....everything comes out good nothing fantastic

Lake Bluff: only 3 beers in....IPA not bad, Cream ale...fantastic very crisp and clean, Wheat...failed (but I think that is more me than the water)

And the best water I have ever had to make sweater stouts and malty beers....like oatmeal, milk, bourbon barrel ect....North Minneapolis


Just my .02
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Old 05-25-2012, 12:58 AM   #5
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Beer smith suggests I add this to "Burtonize" my water.
20.24g Gypsum
8.34g Epsom Salt
.52g Calcium Chloride
4.20g Baking Soda
1.62g Chalk

What do you think? Oh its a 5.5 gallon batch of English IPA.
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Old 05-25-2012, 10:43 AM   #6
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In order to know what to add I need to know what you are starting with and what you are trying to get to. If the target is physically realizable (many aren't) it can be achieved by the addition of a few salts. However for Burton like water one of these is calcium carbonate which must be dissolved with carbonic acid (i.e. by sparging CO2). This is a time consuming process and as soon as the water is heated the calcium carbonate will just precipitate back out so you will have wasted your time and effort unless your object is to brew a beer starting with a water as close as possible to that with which the original Burton brewers were confronted i.e. authenticity is the goal.



In general, anyone who advises you to add bicarbonate (baking soda) and/or carbonate (chalk) to brewing water is giving you bad advice indeed. Those salts may be required but if they are it is because of very high dark malt content. IOW they wouldn't be required in an IPA. The determination that they are needed is made by measuring the pH of the mash.

The proposed gypsum addition would take the sulfate level to nearly 600 mg/L. According to the EPA if water contains more than 300 mg/L SO4 it is not 'aesthetically pleasing'. IOW it tastes bad. It hardly seems likely that a beer made with such a water could taste good but some brewers use sulfate up to the MCL (300 mg/L) and like the result. One of these is a professional. His customers don't like the result so I guess he doesn't do it much but he does. My local guy's best sellers are his really hoppy ales. He can squeeze lots of hops in because his water only runs 47 mg/L SO4. This is too much for Pils but OK for most other styles.

WRT sulfate the best ales are made with low sulfate but here 'best' is defined in terms of best tasting beer for most people. Some, as noted above, enjoy a higher sulfate level through its effects on the perception of hops. If you are one of those or if 'best' for you is defined in terms of authenticity, then have at the sulfate. The only way to find out where you fall is to brew the beer both ways (low and high sulfate levels) and pick the one you like best.

There is a Primer in the Stickies here which gives general advice on how to get started in water treatment.
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Old 05-25-2012, 11:05 AM   #7
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i just run brewing water through carbon filter for campers
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Mad_Scientist
I have lived in the City proper, Park Ridge area, and now in Lake Bluff. Here is what I have learned about the water in the three different places.

City proper water: Best IPA's I have ever done with this water, Very good Pales, Ambers anything that you want that Hop flaver with a kick. Horriable for my outmeal stout and sweater beers.

Park Ridge: A good all around kinda water....everything comes out good nothing fantastic

Lake Bluff: only 3 beers in....IPA not bad, Cream ale...fantastic very crisp and clean, Wheat...failed (but I think that is more me than the water)

And the best water I have ever had to make sweater stouts and malty beers....like oatmeal, milk, bourbon barrel ect....North Minneapolis

Just my .02
So you don't treat it with anything at all? I find it hard to imagine without acidifying your sparge that you get good tasting beer, for hoppier styles at least. It's all in the taste of each brewer though. Anything with low hops I have found to be ok.

Op, at minimum I would treat your sparge with a little acid...our ph is close to 8. Your mash should be ok with nothing changed.

My experience with Chicago water is different than mad scientist, my stouts and dark beers turn out great with no treatment, ipas are harsh and unpleasant.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:34 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMan

My experience with Chicago water is different than mad scientist, my stouts and dark beers turn out great with no treatment, ipas are harsh and unpleasant.
I agree...I don't treat unless I'm making hoppy beers...my dark beers always end up great...when I was brewing extract and pm, I would brew and top off with tap.
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:16 PM   #10
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For higher hopped beers what's being used to treat mash water? Are mash water and sparge water treated differently?


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