First Time AG - Hows my tap water?

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bduane

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http://www.cityofhowell.org/uploaded/files//2010WaterQualityReport.pdf

Is this water suitable for an English IPA? Any reccomended additions?

I was concerned they may have switched to chloramine since the report, so i called the treatment plant and they said they "use 100% pure chlorine gas". Should I pretreat this water with some campden tablets?

Recipe i am using:

Crisp Maris Otter (12 lbs, 4 oz)
Weyermann Pale Wheat (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Crisp Crystal Malt 45L (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Crisp Crystal Malt 120L (0 lbs, 6 oz)
Rice Hulls (1 lbs, 0 oz)
Biscuit (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Challenger,UK Pellets (2 oz @ 60 mins)
Fuggles Pellets, UK (2 oz @ 10 mins)
Kent Goldings, UK Pellets (1.5 oz @ 0 mins)
Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast
 

TyTanium

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I'd say go for it with the campden - it won't hurt. I've used 1/2 a tablet, crushed, with great success (into ~9g brewing water). I'd still be wary of chloramines in any treated water, personally. I'm not a chemist or anything, just figure it's not worth the risk when adding campden is so simple.

Not sure on your first question (English IPA)
 

PoppinCaps

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Hard to say, I don't see any minerals on that report, Ca, Mg, SO4, HCO3, etc. Can you get a more in depth report from them? If they're using chloramine, go with 1/4 Campden tab per 5 gal.
 
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bduane

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Thanks, ill ask them tomorrow for a more detailed report.

Just incase i can't get a more detailed report, from my research it sounds like bottled spring water is good for lighter beers. This beer will be around 12srm, so i think a typical spring water would be good, right?
 
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bduane

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Ok, I found some more information about my water, turns out the quality report i was reading before wasn't even my water. My water comes from the "MHOG" treatment plant, and details are as follows:

Total Alkalinity: 149ppm
Total Hardness: 100ppm
Calcium Ions: 23-24ppm
Magnesium: Unknown (His best guess was 25-50ppm)
Sulfates: Non-Detect (less than 10ppm)
Bicarbonates: 159ppm
Chloramine: None
Chlorine: I asked about Chlorine and they said they use "Sodium Hyperchlorite" which I guess is just bleach. Any concerns with this being in my water for brewing or is the end result just normal chlorine anyways?

Thoughts on this water for brewing?
 

sheeshomatic

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My water treatment plant also uses sodium hyperchlorite (chlorine) - My hardness is just a little less than yours, which is relatively soft. I just fill my HLT and MLT night before I brew to let the chlorine outgas. I brew a hefeweizen that is to die for. I think you'll be fine.
 
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You can download this and plug in those numbers: EZ Water Calculator

But really I wouldn't be overly worried about water. I filter mine to reduce water hardness and clean the water, and sometimes use 5.2 pH stabilizer (when I remember it). I started using pH strips, doing starch conversion tests...and in the end I found out that as long as my grains were ground and put in hot water, everything turned out fine. You might get slightly better conversion if you have perfect pH, but for a 5 gallon batch I doubt it will be much. I find that the crush on a grain, the temperature of the water, and the volume of the strike and sparge water have greater effect than the pH.

If I were in your shoes, I would buy some pH strips (they're cheap) or borrow some from another homebrewer. Filter the water and toss it in the mash tun, then check if the pH is good. If it is, you'll be fine.
 
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bduane

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Filter it how? I have reverse osmosis, but from my understanding that filters it too well and removes everything.

I am not overly concerned about the water i just wanted to make sure that it is good enough and that nothing in the profile stands out as bad for brewing.
 

Yooper

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Your alkalinity is too high, and the calcium is too low. Chloride isn't shown.

If you have RO water, use it!!!!!!! That would fix all of your problems.

Use the RO and a teaspoon of calcium chloride for most beers, and you'll be fine. In that recipe, some gypsum might be nice as well. So, say maybe a teaspoon of gypsum for your IPA if you like to enhance the hops bitterness.

Check out the "water chemistry primer" in the Brewing Science forum for more details.
 
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Filter it how? I have reverse osmosis, but from my understanding that filters it too well and removes everything.

I am not overly concerned about the water i just wanted to make sure that it is good enough and that nothing in the profile stands out as bad for brewing.
I was just referring to a simple filtration system (i.e. Brita). Brewing with RO is a very specific issue, and you'll want advice from brewers that actually use it for brewing (I do not). This is a thread about building brewing water from RO water and might help you out.
 

Sixpak

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Charcoal filters work great for getting rid of all that excess chlorine. You should be able to find them pretty cheaply. You're trying to over complicate things even thinking about RO at this stage of the game. :)
 

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Charcoal filters work great for getting rid of all that excess chlorine. You should be able to find them pretty cheaply. You're trying to over complicate things even thinking about RO at this stage of the game. :)
That's where I just can't agree. RO water is absolutely perfect for brewing, with a minimum of additions. It's a blank slate.

The water profile above is too low in calcium, chloride isn't listed, it's low in sulfate, but high in alkalinity and possibly magnesium. The bicarb is too high. In addition, it has chlorine.

I might not go the RO route if I had to go buy 10 gallons of it, but if it's easily available, it's the perfect (and easy) solution.
 

Yooper

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Recipe i am using:

Crisp Maris Otter (12 lbs, 4 oz)
Weyermann Pale Wheat (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Crisp Crystal Malt 45L (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Crisp Crystal Malt 120L (0 lbs, 6 oz)
Rice Hulls (1 lbs, 0 oz)
Biscuit (0 lbs, 8 oz)
Challenger,UK Pellets (2 oz @ 60 mins)
Fuggles Pellets, UK (2 oz @ 10 mins)
Kent Goldings, UK Pellets (1.5 oz @ 0 mins)
Danstar Nottingham Ale Yeast
Oh, by the way, this wasn't your question, but I'd recommend eliminating or reducing the rice hulls. A pound of rice hulls is a LOT- and if you want to add them, a big handful will do. I use maybe 4-6 ounces in 10 gallons if I'm doing a lot of rye or other sticky malts. You don't have anything in there that will cause a stuck mash or sparge, and the rice hulls will suck up a ton of your mash water!
 

sheeshomatic

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Oh, by the way, this wasn't your question, but I'd recommend eliminating or reducing the rice hulls. A pound of rice hulls is a LOT- and if you want to add them, a big handful will do. I use maybe 4-6 ounces in 10 gallons if I'm doing a lot of rye or other sticky malts. You don't have anything in there that will cause a stuck mash or sparge, and the rice hulls will suck up a ton of your mash water!
Just soak the rice hulls in water for 20 minutes before you add them to the mash tun along with the rest of the grain. That way they don't absorb any mash water.
 

Sixpak

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That's where I just can't agree. RO water is absolutely perfect for brewing, with a minimum of additions. It's a blank slate.
I took a (very quick) look at the thread pointed out and it looked like you had to build the water profile back into something you want to use, adding the minerals and stuff that you need. I figured it's a heck of a lot easier to just go buy some mineral water or run it thru a charcoal filter. TBH I know nothing about RO although now I understand that you can build the perfect water profile for your beer. Still seems more difficult though!
 

Yooper

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I took a (very quick) look at the thread pointed out and it looked like you had to build the water profile back into something you want to use, adding the minerals and stuff that you need. I figured it's a heck of a lot easier to just go buy some mineral water or run it thru a charcoal filter. TBH I know nothing about RO although now I understand that you can build the perfect water profile for your beer. Still seems more difficult though!
You add a teaspoon of CaCl2, perhaps. That's hard?!?!

It sure seems lots easier than running water through a charcoal filter and then trying to reduce the alkalinity. How would you reduce the alkalinity? Lactic acid? Phosphoric acid? Boil it? You could adjust the mash pH with acidulated malt. And the calcium is low- so you'd have to add some back in. Probably as calcium chloride. So, you'd charcoal filter, add something to precipitate out the excess CaCO2, and then add calcium chloride anyway to get the calcium in range. My suggestion is to use RO and add calcium chloride (or calcium sulfate for a hoppy beer). It sure seems to save about 3 steps to me.

You can do whatever you want to. If the OP didn't have RO water available, that would be one thing. But using tap water with high alkalinity and low calcium and full of chlorine, vs RO water with maybe adding a teaspoon of calcium chloride? No contest for me!
 

Yooper

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Just soak the rice hulls in water for 20 minutes before you add them to the mash tun along with the rest of the grain. That way they don't absorb any mash water.
Yeah, but a POUND of rice hulls lasts me six months! It's not needed at all in this grainbill, but it can't hurt. I was just suggesting that a pound is more than overkill.
 

sheeshomatic

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Yeah, but a POUND of rice hulls lasts me six months! It's not needed at all in this grainbill, but it can't hurt. I was just suggesting that a pound is more than overkill.
Oh yeah, totally agree on that. I was more piggybacking your comment than adding an alternative.
 
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bduane

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You add a teaspoon of CaCl2, perhaps. That's hard?!?!

It sure seems lots easier than running water through a charcoal filter and then trying to reduce the alkalinity. How would you reduce the alkalinity? Lactic acid? Phosphoric acid? Boil it? You could adjust the mash pH with acidulated malt. And the calcium is low- so you'd have to add some back in. Probably as calcium chloride. So, you'd charcoal filter, add something to precipitate out the excess CaCO2, and then add calcium chloride anyway to get the calcium in range. My suggestion is to use RO and add calcium chloride (or calcium sulfate for a hoppy beer). It sure seems to save about 3 steps to me.
I did find my chloride is 32ppm.

I think RO is out of the equation unfortunately. My RO system is very slow (i think i need a new membrane, which is quite costly) and our tap water is good enough to drink in my opinion, so probably not worth replacing.

So, to get my water within range:

1. Add a campden tablet to remove chlorine.
2. Possibly dilute it with a couple of gallons of distilled water? I wouldn't mind needing to buy a couple of gallons.
3. Possibly add Calcium Chloride?


What ranges do i want to target for brewing typical pale ale/ipa styles? I don't care about it being perfect at this point.

Am i missing anything? Would i still want to do anything to adjust the pH?

Thanks for the tips!
 

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I did find my chloride is 32ppm.

I think RO is out of the equation unfortunately. My RO system is very slow (i think i need a new membrane, which is quite costly) and our tap water is good enough to drink in my opinion, so probably not worth replacing.

So, to get my water within range:

1. Add a campden tablet to remove chlorine.
2. Possibly dilute it with a couple of gallons of distilled water? I wouldn't mind needing to buy a couple of gallons.
3. Possibly add Calcium Chloride?


What ranges do i want to target for brewing typical pale ale/ipa styles? I don't care about it being perfect at this point.

Am i missing anything? Would i still want to do anything to adjust the pH?

Thanks for the tips!
That's what I do- use some RO water to dilute my tap water (which is also alkaline). I don't have an RO system, so I buy 2 (2) gallon jugs from the "water machine" at the grocery store.

Campden will work great to remove chlorine/chloramine, and then adding back a little calcium in the way of calcium sulfate or calcium chloride will fix you right up.

Mash pH is very important- many brewers add a couple of ounces of acidulated malt to get the pH in range. Check out all of the water information in the water chemistry primer, and try out one of those spreadsheets (EZ water calculator is, well, easiest for a beginner). That will give you an idea of how much calcium you'll need. With an RO/tap water mix, you'll need very little like maybe 1/2 teaspoon of CaCl2 for malty beers or 1/2 teaspoon of CaS04 (gypsum) for hoppy beers.
 

theDeutscher

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I'm, by far, no expert on water but I think you should really listen to Jamil and Palmer's Brew Strong series on water here: http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/Brew-Strong/Page-7 It helped me out immensely.

They basically say that if your water tastes and smells clean, just worry about getting your calcium ppm up to the level for your style of brew and don't worry too much about anything else. I do agree that getting rid of your chlorine is important. I noticed a huge reduction of sharpness in my brews after I started using camden tablets.

I think Yooper is right, too, in saying that you would benefit from some gypsum in any brew. You have decent water to begin with, but you should always have at least 50ppm calcium for the lightest beers and upwards from there. I think Burton water is around 200ppm calcium, which is the original water for English IPAs.

I will mention, too, that JZ and JP say to be weary of building water from scratch because minerals don't distribute well in water and you can mess up a brew very easily. Nature has the convenience of hundreds of years to build minerals in water, but if you do, they say that best time to do it is when you mash in the grains. If I remember correctly, I think it has something to do with the idea that the enzymes in the grains help dissolve and distribute the minerals in the water. Everyone has their own opinion, though. I like the idea of keeping your own water profile in the beer as much as possible to give your brews a uniqueness.
 
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bduane

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I'm, by far, no expert on water but I think you should really listen to Jamil and Palmer's Brew Strong series on water here: http://www.thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/Brew-Strong/Page-7 It helped me out immensely.
Thanks! I'll give it a listen.

I do like the idea of keeping it simple. Now, adding calcium will not do anything to the Alkalinity though right? I should still dilute to reduce it?

I will check my mash pH on my first batch to see if i'm within range, if it is high, adding the acidulated malt will reduce it, not increase it, correct? Are there concerns of it being too low, or is that usually not an issue?
 

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I do like the idea of keeping it simple. Now, adding calcium will not do anything to the Alkalinity though right? I should still dilute to reduce it?

I will check my mash pH on my first batch to see if i'm within range, if it is high, adding the acidulated malt will reduce it, not increase it, correct? Are there concerns of it being too low, or is that usually not an issue?
Yes, diluting to reduce the alkalinity would be a great way to deal with it.

Almost always, the mash pH is too high, and almost never too low. I guess with some waters, a mash with lots of dark roasted grains could drop too low, but that would be the rare occasion.

You could check the pH, and add some acid malt or lactic acid to the mash if you need to adjust the pH. Those spreadsheets make it easy to make a good guestimate in advance.
 

theDeutscher

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Hey, Yooper. Do you know how many ppm calcium (or anything else) CaCl2 or gypsum would add? Say a 1/2 tsp, like you mentioned.
 
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bduane

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Ok, i've been playing with the water spreadsheet a bit, according to it i'd need to use 50-60% distilled to get the pH in range.

A few questions:

1. This might be a stupid question, but is that the whole point of reducing the total alkalinity to reduce the mash pH?
2. If that is correct, would it not be easier and probably cheaper l to just add some Lactic acid?
3. Either way, i'll would probably want to add both Gypsum and CaCl2 to increase calcium, not just one, right? If i just add one, the chloride/sulfate ratio gets way out of whack, which isn't desired typically, right?
 

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I would run your tap through a charcoal filter,at the beginning of the mash check your ph, i start adding a little at a time because it doesnt take much sometimes.Palmer suggests the ph to be 5.1-5.5. Although,I have a hunch my brews are lacking magnesium. I general have used cl2 and gypsum and baking soda,i still dont think mine is quite right,but i do try to keep it in that range.Its been one of the more challenging things of brewing, i would keep reading up on it. How to brew has a pretty lengthy section on it.
Brewing salts are cheap,its just figuring them out.Thats probably the way to go with using a charcoal filter with your tap.With brewing salts you wouldnt need to buy distilled water every time, unless you wanted to.
 

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Ok, i've been playing with the water spreadsheet a bit, according to it i'd need to use 50-60% distilled to get the pH in range.

A few questions:

1. This might be a stupid question, but is that the whole point of reducing the total alkalinity to reduce the mash pH?
2. If that is correct, would it not be easier and probably cheaper l to just add some Lactic acid?
3. Either way, i'll would probably want to add both Gypsum and CaCl2 to increase calcium, not just one, right? If i just add one, the chloride/sulfate ratio gets way out of whack, which isn't desired typically, right?
1. No. Reducing the alkalinity improves the flavor of the beer.
2. Yes, that does work to reduce the alkalinity. I added 5ml to 8 gallon of water in my case.
3. Chloride/sulfate ratio is meaningless.

Check out the "water chemistry primer" for just a brief glimpse of basic water additions. I'm no water expert, so it's super-easy and will work great for even non chemists (like me)>
 
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bduane

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I would run your tap through a charcoal filter
This is something I will probably do at some point. It seems to get an inline filter + food grade hose and all the neccisary fittings to hook it up to my spigot will cost. $50, not ready to take that step yet.

Will a charcoal filter also reduce/remove the minerals in the water (some of which i of course want, calcium, etc)?
 
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bduane

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2. Yes, that does work to reduce the alkalinity. I added 5ml to 8 gallon of water in my case.
So do you dilute with RO and add lactic acid? Both reduce alkalinity right? So why do both?
 

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