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Chloramine effects?

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schoellhorn82

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So, I've been brewing for 7 or so years and i've made some excellent beers (that others have said). But....in all of those i dont think ive ever been blown away by my beers. My hoppy beers are hoppy, my malty beers are malty. But....i feel like something is not quite right with them. St. Louis water supply has added chloramine to its schedule for some time. Been voted best water in the country a few years ago. I use hops/grains just like everyone else but I feel like something os lacking. Stl homebrewers do you have this problem? Or is it just me? Do i really need to alter my water chemistry? Forgive my spelling, im drunk....
 

Gar

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Im no expert and i usually would never add anything to my beer chemical wise but ive been putting a .25 campden tablet to 5 gallons of brewing water for a few days to release the chloramine. im told our water is also very good for brewing but about a year or so ago they started putting chloramine in it and it doesent release on it own like chlorine.
 

Gameface

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Im no expert and i usually would never add anything to my beer chemical wise but ive been putting a .25 campden tablet to 5 gallons of brewing water for a few days to release the chloramine. im told our water is also very good for brewing but about a year or so ago they started putting chloramine in it and it doesent release on it own like chlorine.
Just a heads up, campden works pretty much immediately. No need to add it days ahead.

It's a great insurance policy against chlorine and chloramine.
 

Minbari

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Just a heads up, campden works pretty much immediately. No need to add it days ahead.

It's a great insurance policy against chlorine and chloramine.
x2, if you suspect chlorine or chloromine, then potassium bimetasulfate (camden) gets it out instantly.
 

SouthernYankee

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My camden tabs are sodium. Will this matter?
Camden tablets are sodium! Or should I say have sodium in them.

Campden tablets typically contain 0.44 g each of sodium metabisulfite (plus filler) and 10 of these are equivalent to one level teaspoon of sodium metabisulfite

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campden_tablet

It works right away. I add one to my water every time I brew.
 

Gameface

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I had one batch of beer ruined by chlorine. Since then I have spent about $11 on campden tablets and brewed nearly 100 batches and never had a problem or a worry about chlorine or chloramine again.

Before I started using campden I would boil my strike water and then let it cool, same with my sparge water. Probably spent about $11 a brew day wasting propane on that.
 

Minbari

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My camden tabs are sodium. Will this matter?
there are two types sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite. you want the potassium type.

not like the world will end, you just have to account for the additional sodium in the other kind.
 

myndflyte

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Potassium or sodium don't really matter I would assume. It's the metabisulfite that's doing the work. My guess is the potassium or sodium is just the neutralizing ion to help make it a stable solid.
 

ajdelange

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If your beers are being effected by chloramine you would have noticed a smokey odor/flavor that suggest hot plastic or bandaids. If you don't notice these then chloramine is not a problem for you though if you know your municipality is using it then you should probably use metabite in whatever form to clear it before brewing. If you use KMetabite you will have some potassium in your beer. If you use NaMetabite you will have some sodium in your beer. In either case the amounts are small and nothing you need to worry about. The amounts of residual ions left by chlorine/chloramine treatment are discussed at:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/campden-tablets-sulfites-brewing-water-361073/

Do you need to alter you water chemistry? That depends on what you are brewing and what your water is like. It is quite possible that you can brew excellent beers with the water you have if you pay attention to mash pH which is influenced by the water, the malts, and any acids, bases and/or salts you add to the water or grist. There are reams of material on this subject in the Brewing Science thread (which could more truthfully be called the 'Water' thread). Control of mash pH elicits comments like 'all the flavors become brighter'.
 

Wolfbrau

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I'm in St. Louis. Our water is world-class for brewing, except for all that chloramine some meat-based lifeforms decided to put in it.

It is critical to get that stuff out of the water to brew excellent beer here. I use an RV water filter plus a tiny pinch of campden tablet. I had the water tested after my process at Ward's lab and it had no detectable chlorine or chloramine.

I challenge you to get your mash pH out of whack with our water. It even has a good amount of calcium! And it's nearly free.
 

NewJersey

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My town water report says we have .4 ppm chlorine.
Is that enough to worry about?
They make no mention of chloramine at all.
I started using campden tablets a few batches ago and have noticed less of an off flavor i just cant identify.
 

ajdelange

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My town water report says we have .4 ppm chlorine.
Is that enough to worry about?
They make no mention of chloramine at all.
I started using campden tablets a few batches ago and have noticed less of an off flavor i just cant identify.
This would suggest that you do have chloramine and there is enough of it to worry about. See https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f128/cam...-water-361073/ for instructions on how to tell whether you have chloramine or not.
 

Wolfbrau

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That should be pretty easy to do and I don't even know what's in the water. IOW if you are not attentive to grist composition you can and will screw up mash pH with any water.
Thanks for your reply. Can you define "attentive" regarding grist composition? Do you mean any reasonable brewing grist composition? I'm sure if you mash with 15 lbs of aciduated malt in 5 gallons that would mess up the pH, but who would brew with it? How are so many american breweries brewing classic examples without adjusting their water? How does Rogue, for example, do what they do?
 

rmyurick

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I just boil my water, since it's Cl2 and ClO2 that the city adds here.

Some people are more sensitive to the taste than others. If you've grown up drinking chlorinated water, you might not pick it up. Usually described as "band-aid", "phenolic" or "medicinal".
 

ajdelange

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Thanks for your reply. Can you define "attentive" regarding grist composition?
That means you need to pay attention to it.

Do you mean any reasonable brewing grist composition?
What it reasonable for one water composition will not be reasonable for another.
I'm sure if you mash with 15 lbs of aciduated malt in 5 gallons that would mess up the pH, but who would brew with it?
That would not be reasonable.
How are so many american breweries brewing classic examples without adjusting their water?
AFAIK they do adjust their water.

How does Rogue, for example, do what they do?
Can't speak to Rogue but I know, for example, that Sierra Nevada measures the characteristics of incoming water daily and makes adjustments accordingly adding enough phosphoric acid to overcome water proton deficit (alkalinity).

Looking at St. Louis water: it would probably make some pretty good ales without treatment though pH would be high unless one included quite a bit of colored malt (one would have to be attentive regarding his grist composition) and many would find that the sulfate needed supplementation. It would make terrible Bohemian Pilsner because the sulfate is way too high and a substantial external acid addition would be required or the pH would be appreciably high resulting in a dull tasting beer.

There may still be breweries out there that do not adjust their water (this is the 'terroir' philosophy advocated by Michael Lewis at UCD for many years) but few breweries adhere to that any more.
 

ajdelange

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If you've grown up drinking chlorinated water, you might not pick it up. Usually described as "band-aid", "phenolic" or "medicinal".
The flavors of chlorphenolics are not at all like the flavors of chlorine and chloramine. One's ability to taste/smell chlorphenolics should be quite independent of his ability to taste/smell chlorine or chloramine.
 

Wolfbrau

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this is the 'terroir' philosophy advocated by Michael Lewis at UCD for many years.
Well, you caught me regarding whose line of reasoning I've been following. Thanks again for your replies.

I used to have access to a pro QC lab, and great pH meter, and used to check my pH every batch. I stopped when none of them were seriously out of range. Can't say I tried brewing a BoPils during that time, though I did do many blonde ales and stouts.

I am very interested in seeing where we end up regarding water adjustment philosophy in brewing. I've seen too many radical turns in methodology over the years to completely buy that we have it right this time, when we thought we had it right last time, and the time before that. That's not to suggest I don't respect your work.

The combination of those two factors has led me to a somewhat skeptical approach to water adjustment.
 

ajdelange

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Well, you caught me regarding whose line of reasoning I've been following. Thanks again for your replies.
I don't know that Dr. Lewis invented it or named it as such but he might have done. I do know that he taught his students that their water would be what made their breweries distinct from others and that, therefore, they should brew with their water as is to make their beers really theirs.

I used to have access to a pro QC lab, and great pH meter, and used to check my pH every batch. I stopped when none of them were seriously out of range. Can't say I tried brewing a BoPils during that time, though I did do many blonde ales and stouts.
It certainly isn't so important to check mash pH once you have your recipe (including water treatment, if any) and procedures dialed in. There shouldn't be much batch to batch variation in pH just as there shouldn't be much variation in temperature. If you change malt suppliers or start using a new lot of malt from the same supplier or if the maltster switches from winter to summer barley then there may be a change in pH and if you catch this you can then compenstate in the next and subsequent batches.

I can remember chatting not that many years back with brewers from three Gordon Biersch stores about this and one of them said you home brewers worry about that stuff a lot more than we do. Moving forward to last fall I asked, at the Mid Atlantic MBAA meeting, for a show of hands from everyone who regularly checked mash pH and was surprised to see that perhaps 2/3 indicated they did. And one of the local Gordon Biersch guys asked for a pH meter recommendation.

I am very interested in seeing where we end up regarding water adjustment philosophy in brewing. I've seen too many radical turns in methodology over the years to completely buy that we have it right this time, when we thought we had it right last time, and the time before that. That's not to suggest I don't respect your work.
Mash pH is clearly a very important parameter - at least as important as temperature. It is very clear that if we want good beer we need to be attentive to mash temperature and it should be equally clear that we need to be attentive to mash pH as well. Many of us have observed the 'brighter flavors' effect of 'correct' mash pH. We have to allow that just as the correct temperature varies from style to style so too may correct mash pH.

The idea that mash pH is important is not new. There are lots of references to this idea in the literature. The difference between the even recent past and the present is that today technology has given us 3 gifts:
1. An affordable means of checking mash pH (i.e. inexpensive but accurate pH meters).
2. An affordable source of low ion water - the modern inexpensive RO system which allows alkalinity to be removed down to close to 0 (as opposed to about 1 mEq/L by lime or heating treatment) and the ability to put stylistic ions more or less where we want them.
3. Powerful desktop (or palm top) computing which puts even fairly sophisticated (iterative) algorithms for estimating mash pH into the hands of any brewer.

The combination of those two factors has led me to a somewhat skeptical approach to water adjustment.
Since it seems we are discussing whether elaborate water treatment makes better beer or not we have to point out that one cannot quantify 'better' without defining 'good'. There are multiple optimality criteria which may apply when brewing is discussed. To some home brewers (and perhaps some pros) the only criterion is whether the brewer himself likes the beers. To others it is whether the people to whom he offers his beers like them. The extreme here is the brewery investor who really doesn't care whether the Pils is pleasing to himself or the brewer as long as the customers buy it. To some, authenticity is most important (these would be the guys that do the most elaborate water treatment - trying to duplicate the ion profile of Pilzen water, for example. To still others winning competitions might be the criterion and I suppose we should add adhering to terroir - i.e. only brewing beers that work well with the water you have.

Clearly one's ideas about the best thing to do with one's water will depend on which of these criteria apply to him.
 

Gar

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Just a heads up, campden works pretty much immediately. No need to add it days ahead.

It's a great insurance policy against chlorine and chloramine.
ive been told this by my local homebrew shop owner.
 

sloanfamilydsm

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I use .2g sulfite to treat my HLT. I can't remember if we have chlorine or chloramine, but I'm guaranteeing removal this way.
Gotta admit...I've never tasted either in my beer. Better safe than sorry?
 

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Gameface

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Will read, thanks for the advice.
I just throw a campden in while the strike water is heating up.
Is this correct practice?
Depending on batch size you're probably using too much.

One tablet will treat about 20 gallons of water.

I make 10G batches, so I split a tablet in two, add half to my strike water and then after I refill my HLT I add the other half. I crush the tablet up as best I can with my hand before adding it.
 

NewJersey

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Depending on batch size you're probably using too much.

One tablet will treat about 20 gallons of water.

I make 10G batches, so I split a tablet in two, add half to my strike water and then after I refill my HLT I add the other half. I crush the tablet up as best I can with my hand before adding it.
From what ive read too, too much isnt really a problem
Half in strike water and half in my sparge water
 
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