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Old 08-10-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
periwinkle1239
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Apr 2011
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I'm a serious AG brewer who is looking to improve the quality, so I finally got my water tested. I'd like to understand what exactly my results mean, can people advise? Where should I read to understand them and what sort of additives should I consider for various beer types? (At the very least I'd like to know how to make my IPAs taste even better!) Here's the report, thanks in advance!

pH 9.6
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 360
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.60
Cations / Anions, me/L 6.0 / 6.1

Sodium, Na 75
Potassium, K 6
Calcium, Ca 20
Magnesium, Mg 19
Total Hardness, CaCO3 129
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.5 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 61
Chloride, Cl 28
Carbonate, CO3 19
Bicarbonate, HCO3 53
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 75
Total Phosphorus, P 0.50
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01
"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 12:25 AM   #2
periwinkle1239
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So I just plugged in my water report and recipe for my next brew (which is an IPA) into EZ Water Calculator, and in order get a 'balanced' beer I should be adding approximately 5 grams of CaCl2 during the mash and then about another 5 grams during the sparge.

If I don't do anything it says 'may enhance bitterness'. I like bitterness, but also would like to make a so-called 'balanced' beer.

Interesting spreadsheet, I wonder how accurate it is...

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:02 AM   #3
TrainSafe
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I don't know much about water adjustments, but that pH jumps out as very high. You'll definately need to reduce that - most folks use either lactic acid or phosphoric acid.

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:18 AM   #4
pabloj13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TrainSafe View Post
I don't know much about water adjustments, but that pH jumps out as very high. You'll definately need to reduce that - most folks use either lactic acid or phosphoric acid.
The pH of the water really has almost no effect on the mash. Mash pH, driven by alkalinity of the water and acidity of the mash, is the key.
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Old 08-11-2012, 01:27 AM   #5
chumpsteak
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May 2011
Meridian, ID
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pabloj13 View Post
The pH of the water really has almost no effect on the mash. Mash pH, driven by alkalinity of the water and acidity of the mash, is the key.
This is true, you will most likely need to add some acid or acidulated malt to your mash in order to get it in the right pH range, but you will also want to add some acid to your sparge water because depending on whether or not you batch sparge you may be adding several gallons of very high pH water on top of mid 5 pH grains which will at the very least bring your pH up over 6 momentarily and may cause some astringency. If you are fly sparging you might be ok but you'll still want to monitor your runnings because you will most likely creep dangerously close to 6.

I'm currently fighting a slight astringency and sharp bitterness in my IPAs that I believe is due to my 7.8 pH sparge water.

Or just brew stouts and you'll probably be ok.

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 02:00 AM   #6
periwinkle1239
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chumpsteak View Post
This is true, you will most likely need to add some acid or acidulated malt to your mash in order to get it in the right pH range, but you will also want to add some acid to your sparge water because depending on whether or not you batch sparge you may be adding several gallons of very high pH water on top of mid 5 pH grains which will at the very least bring your pH up over 6 momentarily and may cause some astringency. If you are fly sparging you might be ok but you'll still want to monitor your runnings because you will most likely creep dangerously close to 6.

I'm currently fighting a slight astringency and sharp bitterness in my IPAs that I believe is due to my 7.8 pH sparge water.

Or just brew stouts and you'll probably be ok.
I batch sparge and definitely notice a bit of astringency and sharp bitterness...so can you help me out on what to add? When searching for acid, there appears to be a number of products I could add. How do I know which one to use and how much? The EZ water calculator spreadsheet doesn't ask me for pH? It says my estimated room temp mash pH is 5.6.

Should I still use other additives such as CaCl2 ?

Funny you say that about stouts, because those always come out really good.

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:34 AM   #7
ajdelange
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The pH of the water while high has little or no effect on either mash pH or sparge runoff pH because the alkalinity is fairly low. Not that we wouldn't like to have it lower. The real potential problem with this water is the high sulfate content (183 mg/L). If you like beers made with high sulfate then you are fine. If you don't or even if you do and want to brew something with noble hops then you are in trouble.

A dilution of 1:1 with RO water would get the sodium down to 38, and the alkalinity down to 36 but the sulfate would still be at 90. Better but much too high for delicate lagers, for example. To get the sulfate down to a manageable level you would need so much dilution that you might as well scrap the water you have and use straight RO.

Whatever you do you will need some acid. Less so for beers that contain dark malt (that's why your stout is working out) but for lighter colored beers it is more important. Again, from the simplicity POV, addition of 2% of the grist weight as sauermalz should take care of the acid requirement. You probably do not need to acidify sparge water especially if you do a dilution of the sparge water with RO but you are probably OK in that department even if you don't. Wise to check with a pH meter though as probably means probably.

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 11:24 AM   #8
mabrungard
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Sodium, sulfate, and possibly magnesium are a little high for any malty style. The water may be quite suitable for hoppy and bitter styles. Dilution is the solution.
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:21 PM   #9
periwinkle1239
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Interesting, I was hoping to not have to dilute, but am not completely opposed to it. I don't have an RO system, so if I were to use 50% or perhaps even 75% distilled water would that work? Should I still consider additives because dilution would lower my calcium and chlorides?

I'll need to stabilize my pH, even if I dilute, right? Just a little bit of acid malt should correct this right? But I should still check the pH during the mash/sparge as well?

Fyi, this is St. Louis County/City water, straight out of my kitchen faucet.

 
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Old 08-11-2012, 03:25 PM   #10
ajdelange
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Yes to all your questions.

 
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