All grain noob needing advice

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tmoney645

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I am preparing to do my first all-grain batch (going to be BIAB). I am wanting to use my tap water and I am pretty sure I need to treat it. I have read Palmers guide and input the values from my water report into his spreadsheet.....and I am a little lost.
What I want to know is; what is the easiest way to make sure my mash ph is at the right levels to make good beer. I am aware that different styles require different levels of different minerals, I am mainly concerned at this point with having mash water that will do what it needs to do.

Water Report (Relevant stuff in very bottom right)

Planned Recipe

Thanks for any and all help, I'm sure this topic has been covered before but I could not find the answer I was looking for, sorry If it is already out there.
 

BigB

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My thoughts are that if you are a new AG brewer, you should first get your process down before worrying about mineral additions. One thing I note by looking at your city's water report is that it is pretty neutral water, but the pH seems rather high (this is just my uneducated opinion, I am by no means a scientist). With the exception of your pH, your water is pretty close to mine and I make all styles of beer with great results. With that being said, your pH makes me a bit nervous, so I WOULD use 5.2 buffer to bring the pH down.

EDIT: This stuff is super easy to use: http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/buffer-5-2-1-lb.html
 

k47k

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https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

get this spreadsheet and spend a few days figuring out how to use it. it seems overwhelming at first but youll get it.

then buy some calcium chloride, gypsum and lactic or phosphoric acid. and a PH meter with calibration solutions.

ive found the spreadsheet to be pretty accurate with regards to acid additions, but you will still want to verify with a PH meter.

your water seems similar to mine. you will likely need to do something (add acid, acidulated malt, dark grains) to get the mash PH in line. youll also need to add acid to your sparge water.

I also use gypsum and or calcium chloride to get calcium up to over 50ppm and get the chloride to sulfate ratio right for the style i am brewing.
 

helibrewer

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I am preparing to do my first all-grain batch (going to be BIAB). I am wanting to use my tap water and I am pretty sure I need to treat it. I have read Palmers guide and input the values from my water report into his spreadsheet.....and I am a little lost.
What I want to know is; what is the easiest way to make sure my mash ph is at the right levels to make good beer. I am aware that different styles require different levels of different minerals, I am mainly concerned at this point with having mash water that will do what it needs to do.

Water Report (Relevant stuff in very bottom right)

Planned Recipe

Thanks for any and all help, I'm sure this topic has been covered before but I could not find the answer I was looking for, sorry If it is already out there.
With all your info go here: Bru'n Water. Carefully enter your data and the spreadsheet will indicate whether you need to worry about adding acid or not. It will also tell you what other things you may need to add based on your target water profile.

All things considered, I wouldn't worry about it. The grain bill does a very nice job of bringing the pH where it needs to be without doing anything. It's one less thing to fuss over when you're trying to get that first AG completed.

EDIT: k47k beat me to it!! Although I do see there is chloramine in your water so you might consider treating it with Campden tablets...you can find how to do that on the site or Google. Otherwise you have nice soft water with balanced chloride/sulfate
 

rjschroed

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That water report is from 2010! That alone is enough reason for me to forget it all together. Who knows how accurate it is now. There really isn't any reason you can't handle water adjustments as a new all grain brewer as long as your comfortable with what your doing either as adjusting the water or as an all grain brewer (maybe you've all grained with a friend before) but if you don't have a firm grasp on one or the other focus on the all grain process. You'll make far better beer by having a good process and leaving the water go than you will by having a cruddy process and messing with the water. I guess is what I'm trying to say is that you can deal with less than ideal water by being a good brewer but you can't fix being a poor brewer by using "better" water. Use some campden tabs to treat for chlorine and chloramine and brew with it.

recipe looks good to me. I don't know if it is yours or not but I noticed a couple of things you should be aware of:
1)The recipe is for 4 gallons
2)The recipe calls for Nottingham yeast, which is a little strange for the style but has been done before with success. I would keep it low to start and ramp it up slowly after 3 or 4 days to make sure it attenuates all the way out. Otherwise, I'd probably just go with S-05, 1056, or 001
 
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tmoney645

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Thanks for all the input. As far as the recipe goes, I put it at 4 gal on purpose, I am a super cheap-o and am using free buckets from walmarts bakery. If I filled them up to 5 gal I would only have like less than an inch of head space. Will it be worth my money to get some of the 5.2 buffer that was mentioned earlier?
 

kh54s10

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I have read a lot of post that say that 5.2 buffer does not do what it is supposed to do. Save your money on that point.

I would also get a new water report. Working from a 2 year old one would be a shot in the dark.

I have no idea what my water is and have not been making adjustments. The beers are fine. I plan to get a filter setup, get the water tested then learn about water adjustments. 33 batches so far and minor if any problems. My beers might not be best because of my water but I don't know for sure.
 

BigB

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Advising someone to brew with water with that high of a pH seems irresponsible unless they were brewing a dark beer....but a blonde? 5.2 works fine if you use it according to directions.
 

k47k

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Advisiding someone to brew with water with that high of a pH seems irresponsible unless they were brewing a dark beer....but a blonde?
I have to agree, with a PH that high, the stated grain bill is not going to get you where you need to be. You will still make beer. You will probably find that your stouts come out better than your lighter beers.
 

rjschroed

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Advising someone to brew with water with that high of a pH seems irresponsible unless they were brewing a dark beer....but a blonde? 5.2 works fine if you use it according to directions.
My advice would be to completely ignore that water report, it's from 2010! Your just as likely to create unfavorable water by using an inaccurate water report as anything else.
 

BigB

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My advice would be to completely ignore that water report, it's from 2010! Your just as likely to create unfavorable water by using an inaccurate water report as anything else.
Yes, I suppose you are right... Most community water supplies change so drastically year-to-year that one should just assume that everything is fine... Get real. A water supply doesn't suddenly change without some outside influence. In the world of modern water treatment, consistency is the norm, not the boogie man suddenly changing everything to screw with your brewing. Yes, an updated report would be nice, but it would be down right ignorant to assume that the water changed drastically. The information the OP has is what it is, not what you want to assume it is.
 

pabloj13

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Advising someone to brew with water with that high of a pH seems irresponsible unless they were brewing a dark beer....but a blonde? 5.2 works fine if you use it according to directions.
You guys are way off. Water pH means almost nothing. It's about the residual alkalinity.
 

BigB

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You guys are way off. Water pH means almost nothing. It's about the residual alkalinity.
Please enlighten us oh wise one. Rather than just making a general statement, contribute to the discussion. If the acidity of the mash means nothing, then why would brewers ever care about it?
 

pabloj13

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Please enlighten us oh wise one. Rather than just making a general statement, contribute to the discussion. If the acidity of the mash means nothing, then why would brewers ever care about it?
I didn't say anything about acidity of the mash. That obviously matters. The pH of the water used has very little effect on the mash pH. This is well established. You can search for yourself if you like.

Here is a quote from Martin Brungard, creator of Bru'N Water:

My respects to Yooper and the Stickies, but they are not going to provide an understanding of brewing water chemistry. The 'primer' only directs brewers to use RO water and add salts. For anyone that wanted to learn something about brewing water chemistry, sites like How to Brew, Braukaiser.com, and Bru'n Water are good resources. The Water Knowledge page on the Bru'n Water site is especially informative ;-)

As mentioned above, tap water pH is almost totally meaningless in brewing. In addition, the fact that the OP's pH strips read to 6.2 doesn't provide any information if the strip is maxed out. Strips that read to at least 9 pH might help the OP decipher what the tap water pH is. Having a water test result for the tap water should be the first thing that a brewer should have in order to begin understanding if their water is usable and what they might do to make it better. That is the real beef I have with the Water Primer, it directs brewers to switch over to RO water without any regard to the utility of the brewer's existing water. That switch does make the recommendations of the Primer practical and accurate, but what if the brewer's water is already well suited for brewing? That would be a shame that they were inappropriately directed to abandon their water. Understanding the tap water should be the first thing that any brewer does when they are looking into advancing their brewing practice.

While I appreciate the simplicity of the EZ Water program, I also recognize that it can get brewers into a lot of trouble unless they actually know quite a bit about water chemistry. It's unfortunate that brewing water chemistry can be difficult, but there are plenty of pitfalls that can occur. I wrote Bru'n Water to help brewers avoid those pitfalls and help guide them from the mistakes that many programs 'allow' or even guide their users to make.
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/water-ph-315917/
 

CityOChampBrew

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I would start simple and make sure you are filtering the water before using it. Get the chemicals out, learn to brew, and improve from there.
 

BigB

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I didn't say anything about acidity of the mash. That obviously matters. The pH of the water used has very little effect on the mash pH. This is well established. You can search for yourself if you like.

Here is a quote from Martin Brungard, creator of Bru'N Water:



https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/water-ph-315917/
You still don't provide anything meaningful. You just merely quoted some dicta from Martin. The question still remains... If one was not concerned with mash pH then why would the tap water pH matter? Look at it this way, if you start out with two separate mashes of the exact same grain bill. The only difference is in one you started with tap water that had a pH of 8.0 and one you had a pH of 3.0. Are you seriously saying that they would end up being the same beer all other things being equal? If so, provide some science to back it up. Because that is not what I read Martin saying at all.

What I would agree with is that if the mash ends up having a proper pH then adjustments would not be necessary... but one is unlikely to get a proper pH when starting out high and using light grains.
 

Frogmanx82

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I think the point is that initial pH doesn't mean much if you don't know the buffering capacity of the water. I use a pH 5.2 buffer and don't worry about it much. My water has a pretty high pH, about 8, but it doesn't have much carbonate so it easily changes. Water with a high carbonate would be tougher to acidify.

What I'm not clear on is what the pH of the mash is if distilled water were to be used and whether a small buffer addition makes any difference.
 

rjschroed

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Yes, I suppose you are right... Most community water supplies change so drastically year-to-year that one should just assume that everything is fine... Get real. A water supply doesn't suddenly change without some outside influence. In the world of modern water treatment, consistency is the norm, not the boogie man suddenly changing everything to screw with your brewing. Yes, an updated report would be nice, but it would be down right ignorant to assume that the water changed drastically. The information the OP has is what it is, not what you want to assume it is.
FWIW, I didn't say it was drastically different just that there is just as good as a chance that is wrong in one way or another than it is right. Your home prices don't change drastically from year to year normally either but your home certainly isn't worth the same amount today as it was 2 years ago. The significance of that changes depends on a lot of factors, maybe you had an addition put on, maybe there was a flood, or a fire, or maybe a roof leak, or tornado. . . So if I looked at a 2 year old appraisal of your home then I would have no way to know if or how it changed, therefore it is best for me to assume that the 2 year old information is mostly worthless. Water is mostly the same. It's entirely possible that the municipality is drawing water from a different location, has updated their treatment facility, or their treatment practices. I have no way to know this. An updated water report is cheap and easy, there is no reason to use the information off that 2 year old report. The OP already said he intends to get something up to date. BTW, don't go around here calling people ignorant, that isn't cool. Your sarcasm and negative attitude is unappreciated.
 

pabloj13

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You still don't provide anything meaningful. You just merely quoted some dicta from Martin. The question still remains... If one was not concerned with mash pH then why would the tap water pH matter? Look at it this way, if you start out with two separate mashes of the exact same grain bill. The only difference is in one you started with tap water that had a pH of 8.0 and one you had a pH of 3.0. Are you seriously saying that they would end up being the same beer all other things being equal? If so, provide some science to back it up. Because that is not what I read Martin saying at all.

What I would agree with is that if the mash ends up having a proper pH then adjustments would not be necessary... but one is unlikely to get a proper pH when starting out high and using light grains.
Those are really nice strawman arguments. My point, which can be found repeatedly on this forum, is that initial tap water pH tells you almost nothing about the pH. In fact, if you put his water into Bru'N water you get a mash pH of 5.3 with a typical IPA grain bill (10# 2 row, 0.5# crystal 60, 0.5#carapils). Weird, huh? Mash pH matters. Tap water pH tells you almost nothing about mash pH. Again.

Side note to the OP, your water report lists chloramine. Make sure you use Campden tablets (1/4 tablet per 5 gallon batch) to get rid of the chloramine so you don't get beer tasting like bandaids.
 

shoreman

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Don't worry about PH chuck some water at about 160 on the grains - let it sit for an hour and drain it - it's really simple.
 

BigB

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FWIW, I didn't say it was drastically different just that there is just as good as a chance that is wrong in one way or another than it is right. Your home prices don't change drastically from year to year normally either but your home certainly isn't worth the same amount today as it was 2 years ago. The significance of that changes depends on a lot of factors, maybe you had an addition put on, maybe there was a flood, or a fire, or maybe a roof leak, or tornado. . . So if I looked at a 2 year old appraisal of your home then I would have no way to know if or how it changed, therefore it is best for me to assume that the 2 year old information is mostly worthless. Water is mostly the same. It's entirely possible that the municipality is drawing water from a different location, has updated their treatment facility, or their treatment practices. I have no way to know this. An updated water report is cheap and easy, there is no reason to use the information off that 2 year old report. The OP already said he intends to get something up to date. BTW, don't go around here calling people ignorant, that isn't cool. Your sarcasm and negative attitude is unappreciated.
FWIW, I didn't call you ignorant, and I'm sorry you took it that way. I find your assumption that there is not a likely probability that the municilpality water remained fairly consistent ignorant. (Ig'no-rant, adj., lacking knowledge or experience.)
 

rjschroed

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FWIW, I didn't call you ignorant, and I'm sorry you took it that way. I find your assumption that there is not a likely probability that the municilpality water remained fairly consistent ignorant. (Ig'no-rant, adj., lacking knowledge or experience.)
How can you assume it hasn't changed? Your claim is that it is "fairly consistent" which means that you must admit there is some change. All I am saying is that the bottom line is that we have no idea how or if that water has changed and to assume it hasn't would be foolish. So I'm not ignorant but my assumption is? What is the difference? On top of that, the thing is that I'm trying to say don't assume anything. Again the bottom line is that we have no idea how or if that water has changed.
 

BigB

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How can you assume it hasn't changed? Your claim is that it is "fairly consistent" which means that you must admit there is some change. All I am saying is that the bottom line is that we have no idea how or if that water has changed and to assume it hasn't would be foolish. So I'm not ignorant but my assumption is? What is the difference? On top of that, the thing is that I'm trying to say don't assume anything. Again the bottom line is that we have no idea how or if that water has changed.
1. There might be change, but that is far less likely than consistency. Municipal water supplies don't suddenly change. They are managed by engineers and equipment that maintain strict tolerances. Unless the city suddenly decided to move where they get their water from, whether it be an aquifer or an open body source, the water supply remains consistent from year to year. In other words, the pH of the water source doesn't dramatically change without some outside influence or a new source. Very, very few municipalities change their water source or their equipment from year-to-year. To assume otherwise would be ignoring the probability that the source and facility remained the same and there would only be some minute variability from test to test. When presented with evidence of what the supply was within two years and no evidence of any change, it would be ignorant or unwise to assume that the water has somehow changed. Could it have changed? Absolutely. Is it likely that it has changed more than minutely? Not at all. What is foolish is assuming it has changed more than a minute amount. I encourage you to gather historical data from your own municipal source and compare them... Or if you are on well, then get samples every six months or so. I'm sure you will see what I mean.

2. Saying that an individual is ignorant is saying that the individual generally lacks intellegence. Saying that someone's argument is ignorant is saying that they are making an argument without any knowledge or experience in the subject matter. Big difference. If you can't see the distinction, then I can't help you.

3. You say don't assume anything. Sometimes that is true. But when one has an understanding of how a particular thing responds or changes or performs, one can make assumptions (aka, educated guesses or hypothesis) as to the current state. Absent any new data, we can assume the earth will still rotate tomorrow; we can assume that yeast will ferment a sugary solution; we can assume that smoking cigarettes is harmful to one's health. It is all the same thing: Unless we are given evidence that the OP's water source has changed, or that the city engineers changed their sanitation/filtration process, it is only logical to hypothesize that the water is essentially the same.
 

pabloj13

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Your signature by TxBrew is true now more than ever. I am helping the OP with their water report and adjustments using Bru'N Water. You can move along.
 

pabloj13

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Oh, now that is mature discussion.
What would you like to discuss further? That you were recommending pH5.2 (which has horribly poor buffering capacity) even though the OP doesn't need it for their grain bill? I don't think arguing back and forth about whether or not thinking a municipal water supply has changed in the last two years adds anything to this thread.
 

Yooper

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Please enlighten us oh wise one. Rather than just making a general statement, contribute to the discussion. If the acidity of the mash means nothing, then why would brewers ever care about it?
What would you like to discuss further? That you were recommending pH5.2 (which has horribly poor buffering capacity) even though the OP doesn't need it for their grain bill? I don't think arguing back and forth about whether or not thinking a municipal water supply has changed in the last two years adds anything to this thread.
Settle down and go back to the discussion, please!

The pH of the mash means everything, but the pH of the water means nothing.

High pH water with low alkalinity may mean a low mash pH, while a lower pH water but with lots of bicarbonate may mean a too-high mash pH. So that's what was being said. The water pH information is useless.

5.2 "buffer" doesn't work, quite simply. It just simply can't. That, and it may make the flavor of the beer "off" so it really shouldn't be used except in very rare circumstances. I bought a couple of jars years ago, thinking it was a magic bullet. It was not, and I have now a 3/4 full jar after giving a full one away. I would never recommend using it.

If someone has a halfway meaningful water report, that would go a long way to help figure out how to handle the water.
 

Frogmanx82

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5.2 "buffer" doesn't work, quite simply. It just simply can't. That, and it may make the flavor of the beer "off" so it really shouldn't be used except in very rare circumstances. I bought a couple of jars years ago, thinking it was a magic bullet. It was not, and I have now a 3/4 full jar after giving a full one away. I would never recommend using it.
So I bought a tub of pH 5.2 buffer. Why doesn't it work?
 

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So I bought a tub of pH 5.2 buffer. Why doesn't it work?
It's a long explanation, one that I can not fully understand. But there are several discussions of the "hows" and "whys" in the brewing science forum. I just know it didn't work at all for me, but not why, and it gave an unpleasant taste to my beer. I found out much later the "how and why", on the forum in the brewing science area.
 

BigB

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Here's a pretty good explanation from Brad Smith on brewing water: http://beersmith.com/blog/2008/10/05/beer-ph-hard-water-treatment-for-brewing/ Although he just briefly mentions 5.2 Buffer. After all of the hub bub here, I did some research into 5.2. I'm not a chemist, but what I've learned is that it is primarily sodium phosphate salts. The problem some brewers may experience is the addition of too much sodium - particularly if you are using well water and have a water softener as it is. Also, it is a pretty mild buffer, so it's only for minor adjustments... which is the experience I have had. My water is pretty decent, but I've had 5.2 buffer bring down my mash pH a minor amount - which is all I needed. Nor have I had any off flavors, but my water is pretty devoid of sodium as it is. Kai, ajdelange, or Martin could provide a technical explanation. But what I gather, it may be good for some and bad for others.
 

Frogmanx82

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Now here is some real information that is more in line with my thinking.

http://byo.com/stories/article/indices/18-brewing-science/1707-advanced-brewing

The first point there is that phosphates are useful in making buffer solutions because they exist in multiple forms, phosphoric acid, monosodium phosphate, disodium phosphates that can be mixed to dial in a particular pH.

Second, not everyone starts with the same water and phosphate buffers won't do the same job on all water at the same dose.

Third and most important, amino acids in the wort often will overwhelm anything you do with buffers or your initial water or sparge water rendering the whole pH balancing rather useless for most water sources that aren't unusually hard. So the pH buffer technically works, but for most folks is practically useless. I tend to agree that it was a waste of money. I'm going to try a batch with and without and see if there is any difference in the wort pH.
 

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