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Old 06-14-2013, 10:38 PM   #1
DrewBlue
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Default Crazy level of Bicarbonates

I'm an extract brewer and I usually use municipal water (adjusted with gypsum and campden) and that works just fine. But a nearby town has several natural mineral water springs that produce waters that have flavor components (almost citrus-y) that I'm thinking might be a nice complement to some beer styles.

I was able to obtain the water profiles for all of the springs. The Calcium and Sulfate levels are pretty much in line with the Burton-on-Trent water profile, and one spring in particular actually has a high level of Lithium (!), but I noticed that the Bicarbonates are astronomical (ranging from 951ppm-2,180ppm!). Is this a total no-go? Or since I'm not mashing would I be okay?

There is one brewery several miles from there that uses water from one of the 7 springs to make an IPA (which I haven't had yet), but I'm not sure if they dilute it with water from another source first. I've read in some places that high alkalinity is okay in darker beers, but not so much in others. Any input would be appreciated.


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Old 06-15-2013, 02:35 AM   #2
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My water has bicarbonate around 220 and I dilute it about 50% with RO water on darker brews and on lighter brews I use 100% ro water. Based on my experience the bicarbonate levels you have are not good for brewing.


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Old 06-15-2013, 01:26 PM   #3
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Elevated bicarbonate is generally negative for all brewing and that includes extract brewing. With extract, the mashing is already completed. But the effect of high bicarbonate in an extract batch is that the wort pH in the kettle will be higher than desirable. That can produce harsh flavors in the beer.

I find that even in the blackest of beers, the bicarbonate content will not have to exceed 150 ppm. As the acidity of the mash decreases (roast and crystal malt content is reduced), the bicarbonate needs will drop.
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Old 06-15-2013, 02:13 PM   #4
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I'd be curious as to the pH of that water. If indeed the bicarbonate is 1 - 2 mg/L then the water would be a no go for brewing unless the bicarbonate were removed. Were this done with acid, there would be a whole lot of the cation of that acid present which might be tolerable for certain beers. The other question is "What is the bicarbonate paired with?" If you asked me to prepare water with 2 g/L bicarbonate content I would add 2.8 grams of sodium bicarbonate to RO water and wind up with 2000 mg/L bicarb but also 766 mg/L sodium. If you then asked me to reduce the alkalinity to a reasonable value with acid I'd add hydrochloric to pH 4.5 and that would take 33 mEq/L to do that. Most of the bicarbonate would be driven off but there would be 1.2 grams of chloride per L i.e. the solution would be the same as a solution made by adding 1.9 grams of sodium chloride to each liter of water.

I doubt there is much you can do with this water for brewing.
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Old 06-15-2013, 04:18 PM   #5
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Thanks for the input, everyone. Taking a closer look (I was specifically focusing on the Twin Spring), even the Magnesium level is about three times the high end of the optimal range for brewing. Maybe the guy who makes an IPA with it just uses a tiny amount so he can advertise it as being "made with Manitou spring water."

Here's a link to the water profiles in case anyone's interested (no mention of pH): http://manitoumineralsprings.org/pdf...tent_Chart.pdf
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Old 06-15-2013, 05:22 PM   #6
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No, none of those sources are acceptable for brewing without major dilution.
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Old 06-16-2013, 06:24 AM   #7
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Can you walk on this water?
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Old 06-17-2013, 02:41 PM   #8
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Ha! A few of them really taste good. But a couple of them are so high in iron that they taste like liquified metal...

The Native Americans considered these waters holy, and in the Victorian Era they were used to treat various maladies. In the early 20th Century it was bottled and sold here and outside of the state. I believe they still bottle some of it and export it to places that consume more mineral water than we do. To this day, a lot of residents (and even some of the local restaurants) use the tastier varieties to make iced tea and lemonade. The natural citrus qualities and effervescence are complementary to those beverages.

Colorado Springs (where I live) does not actually have any springs. It was named after these springs (Manitou Springs is adjacent and now incorporated).


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