Can anyone tell me what 297 ppm bicarbonate can do to my American IPAs and Pale ales?

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Elysium

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I am fairly new to brewing and brewing water is something I am still learning about. I have learnt of a few facts such as the fact that 297 ppm bicarbonate put my water on the alkaline side and, according to John Palmer's chart, my water is at about 5.9 Ph.

I have 23.4 Mg ppm and 88.7 Ca in my water too. That's why I know that the mash pH is at about 5.9.

Can anyone tell me how so much bicarbonate can change my final brew? I mean I know what American IPAs and Pale Ales taste like but how will mine taste differently?

By the way...we do BIAB and use safale S0-5 and mainly American citrusy hops with MO and some crystal malts.

Thanks in advance for any information.
 

ajdelange

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I am fairly new to brewing and brewing water is something I am still learning about. I have learnt of a few facts such as the fact that 297 ppm bicarbonate put my water on the alkaline side
True, that's a lot of alkalinity.

.. and, according to John Palmer's chart, my water is at about 5.9 Ph.
Alkalinity is not entirely independent of pH but it is almost so. It is more likely that you will find alkalinity of near 297 than at lower pH.

I have 23.4 Mg ppm and 88.7 Ca in my water too. That's why I know that the mash pH is at about 5.9.
I've been doing this for over 25 yrs and cannot come up with that conclusion. Can you expand?

Can anyone tell me how so much bicarbonate can change my final brew? I mean I know what American IPAs and Pale Ales taste like but how will mine taste differently?
That's a big question. First, if you do not take action to combat that alkalinity your mash pH will be high and your beer will be insipid. Second, if you do take action, depending on what that is, you may wind up with a lot of sulfate, chloride or phosphate in your beer. This is fine for some styles and not fine for others.
 
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Elysium

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True, that's a lot of alkalinity.

Alkalinity is not entirely independent of pH but it is almost so. It is more likely that you will find alkalinity of near 297 than at lower pH.

I've been doing this for over 25 yrs and cannot come up with that conclusion. Can you expand?


That's a big question. First, if you do not take action to combat that alkalinity your mash pH will be high and your beer will be insipid. Second, if you do take action, depending on what that is, you may wind up with a lot of sulfate, chloride or phosphate in your beer. This is fine for some styles and not fine for others.
The Mg and Ca gave me that pH because I used John Palmer's website and the pdf I found here: http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

It is at the end....from Mg and Ca you get hardness....from that on you get the pH with the help of the value of your bicarbonates. Am I wrong?

Oh, and thanks for your reply. :) Appreciated. :)
 

ajdelange

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If the water contains nothing but carbonate, bicarbonate and carbonic on the anion side and calcium and magnesium on the cation side and you know the alkalinity, Mg++ and Ca++ you can calculate the pH. Otherwise, i.e. if there is sulfate, chloride, sodium, nitrate, potassium... you can't. Best thing is to send your water off to Ward Labs to be tested. Not too expensive.
 
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Elysium

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If the water contains nothing but carbonate, bicarbonate and carbonic on the anion side and calcium and magnesium on the cation side and you know the alkalinity, Mg++ and Ca++ you can calculate the pH. Otherwise, i.e. if there is sulfate, chloride, sodium, nitrate, potassium... you can't. Best thing is to send your water off to Ward Labs to be tested. Not too expensive.
This is bottled water.....well, these are.....there are 4 cheap ones Ii have found. I'll adjust the information I have found out about their waters.

The water in the 3rd column is the one I have been using...but I wanna change to the one in the 4th column. That's the water I have found today.

Do you think that pdf file from John Palmer is good for nothing then?

Screenshot from 2013-09-24 20:26:08.jpg
 

ajdelange

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If the other ions are present and you know what they are then you can estimate the pH. For the water in the 3rd column assuming the potassium, is 0, the pH would be 8.86. If the potassium were 3.2 mg/L as in the other sample the pH would be 8.89. At least these are the pH's that would result in net electrical balance of the water sample given that all the other numbers are exact or very close to correct. The message that this level of bicarbonate is normally found in water at higher pH is clearly here even if there is some inaccuracy introduced by uncertainties in the hardness, sulfate... measurements.

I'm not offering an opinion on the 'pdf from John Palmer' as I haven't seen it (that I'm aware of) but I will say that John has come a long way since he started publishing advice about treating brewing water.
 
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Elysium

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If the other ions are present and you know what they are then you can estimate the pH. For the water in the 3rd column assuming the potassium, is 0, the pH would be 8.86. If the potassium were 3.2 mg/L as in the other sample the pH would be 8.89. At least these are the pH's that would result in net electrical balance of the water sample given that all the other numbers are exact or very close to correct. The message that this level of bicarbonate is normally found in water at higher pH is clearly here even if there is some inaccuracy introduced by uncertainties in the hardness, sulfate... measurements.

I'm not offering an opinion on the 'pdf from John Palmer' as I haven't seen it (that I'm aware of) but I will say that John has come a long way since he started publishing advice about treating brewing water.
Here is the screenshot I simply cant send to you in a private message.

perfect water 3 - USE THIS ONE - epsom salt is sulfato de magnesio, gypsum is Sulfato de calcio .jpg
 

ajdelange

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In the 'perfect water' profile bicarbonate is lower than it is in the source. You have done nothing to effect a change in the bicarbonate levels. There are several alternatives which will reduce bicarbonate:
1. Boil the water thus removing some bicarbonate and some calcium with it. The exact result is unpredictable but generally the bicarbonate winds up at about 60 i.e. pretty close to what you want but that will have to be verified by test.
2. Treat the water with lime. The same comments apply as in 1.
3. Dilute the water with low ion water (RO or DI). This has the effect of reducing the the bicarbonate but the factor n+1 for an n:1 dilution but reduces all the other elements by the same amount
4. Add acid.

I really wish these spreadsheets/calculators would not work in bicarbonate because what is important is alkalinity. It is pretty useless to specify bicarbonate without specifying pH but if sufficient data is given pH can be calculated from it. Your current water would, if all the data are correct, have a pH of about 8.23. Based on that we can try to match your target profile by a combination of dilution and salt addition.

Just as a complete specification of your source minerals dictates that water's pH so is the case with the target. The math for the profile you list says the target exists at pH 10.16. IOW this is not a reasonable target profile. This is often the case with published target profiles. They can't exist physically. The problem here is basically that you need anions to balance all the calcium, magnesium and sodium. You have some chloride and sulfate to do this and the rest of the negative charge has to come from carbonate or bicarbonate. That's why the math takes us to pH 10.16 - it is converting bicarb with a single negative charge to carbonate with a double negative charge. The problem is that carbonate will precipitate with calcium so what the math tells us and the reality are not the same thing. Your target profile cannot exist in nature. So what do you do? You will have to decide which ions are most important to you. If you really want 68.4 mg/L bicarbonate you will have to add more sulfate or chloride. At pH 7 it would take 249 mg/L sulfate to balance 68.4 mg/L bicarb or, if you held the sulfate at 150, 122 mg/L Cl-. I would go that way but that's because I like chloride and don't like sulfate. Given that we do that then you can match the new profile (same as yours except 122 mg/L chloride) very, very closely (rms error 0.0003%) by adding to each liter of your water:
1.93 L DI water
512 mg CaCl2.H2O
106 mg NaCl
420 mg MgSO4.7H2O
You will need acid to get the pH to 7 from the high pH of your source water. In this synthesis I used CO2 for that.

As you can see all this is quite complicated and requires computational capabilities appreciably beyond what the popular spreadsheets and calculators offer. There is a good reason for that. It isn't worth it! When all is said and done here the summary is you dilute your water 2:1 with RO and add some gypsum and calcium chloride. The NaCl was added to match the sodium which you don't really need to do and the MgSO4 which you don't need to do either. It would be much simpler for you to dilute your water with RO sufficient to get the alkalinity (165) down under 50 (4:1 will do) and then follow the recommendations of the Primer.
 
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