Got my water report. Please help.

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Lodovico

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Got a few numbers back from my water company. Can someone give me an idea of what this means for my brews?? How would you adjust for various styles or can I leave my water alone??

I would really appreciate any help because these numbers mean nothing to me. Thanks!


Calcium Ca (ppm)- 81 ppm

Sodium NA (ppm)- 20 ppm

Sulfate SO4 (ppm)- 50 ppm

Chloride Cl (ppm)- 30 ppm

PH level- 7.1 to 7.3

Hardness as (CaCO3) 238 ppm

Alkalinity as (CaCO3) 190 ppm
 

HarkinBanks

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Download Brewater 3.0 and adjust to your desired water based on style. You will need to bring down your ph for mashes to around 5.2 to 5.4. Might want to use 5.2 mash for that. Where in PA is this water?
 
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Lodovico

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Meadville. About an hour and 10 minutes north of Pittsburgh.
 
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Lodovico

Lodovico

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So I've been brewing with this water for a long time now and not adjusting anything.

What effects is that PH level having on my beers??
 

desertbronze

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From How to Brew

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-1.html

There's a very good spreadsheet at the end of that chapter that will help you to determine the best beers for your water and how to adjust the water to suit your needs. I entered your data in the spreadsheet - your water is ideal for beers around 18-19 SRM according to Palmer's spreadsheet.

Did you get a test for magnesium? Not a critical element, but it is usually included in water reports.

In general, I aim for these ranges
calcium - 50 to 150 ppm
sodium - 0 to 50 ppm
sulfate - 50 to 150 ppm (up to 350 ppm for very hoppy beers)
chloride - 50 to 150 ppm
carbonate - under 50 ppm for light colored beers - 50 to 150 ppm for ambers - 150 to 250 + for dark beers

Your water should be good for dark beers as is. I would dilute with 50% distilled water for ambers and 80% distilled water for pale beers.
 

MattHollingsworth

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I use the spreadsheet from Palmer that desertbronze posted above me here.

I also preboil my water to remove carbonate. If you want to get your number down, you might try that.

See my thread on this here:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/effectiveness-pre-boiling-water-remove-bicarbonate-134108/

Dave Miller says:

You can estimate the effect of boiling for decarbonation (removing bicarbonate) by the following formula: boiling will remove all but about 30 to 40 ppm of carbonate-bicarbonate; at the same time, it will remove 3 ppm of calcium for every 5 ppm of carbonate. For example, if your water has a total alkalinity of 150 ppm, boiling will remove 110 to 120 ppm of that amount. At the same time, the calcium content of your water will be lowered by 66 to 72 ppm.
Which essentially means that with your water, if you preboil it and rack the water off of the chalky crap in the kettle, with your calcium of 81, you can remove around 135 ppm of bicarbonate. I do this and then dilute with distilled water. If this is too much effort, you can just dilute with distilled water and adjust with salts if necessary. That spreadsheet has dilution with distilled water. With my method I nail the pH every mash.

Look at Palmer's info on bicarbonate and the other salts to see what levels are good.
 
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Lodovico

Lodovico

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So is this a bad water profile for IPA's?? It seems that my dark beers turn out better than my lighter ones. Could this profile explain some of that??

Is this profile so off that I shouldn't attempt brewing any pale beers until I learn to adjust my water?? I've read the links posted but some of it is still over my head.

Thanks!
 

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Lodovico

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I just emailed the Commercial Brewery that is down the road from my house and asked them what they do with their water in preparation for brewing.

They emailed back and said that they simply boil all of the brewing water for 2 hours and that's it. They don't add a thing for any of their beer styles. The use the water as is and they make a good variety of beers.

Given the water report I posted, is this surprising?? These guys make great beer (Voodoo Brewing) http://www.voodoobrewery.com/ Meadville, PA.

Is there a way I can get this same result without boiling for 2 hours?

What exactly do you think the boiling is accomplishing?? Thanks!!
 

desertbronze

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I just emailed the Commercial Brewery that is down the road from my house and asked them what they do with their water in preparation for brewing.

They emailed back and said that they simply boil all of the brewing water for 2 hours and that's it. They don't add a thing for any of their beer styles. The use the water as is and they make a good variety of beers.

Given the water report I posted, is this surprising?? These guys make great beer (Voodoo Brewing) http://www.voodoobrewery.com/ Meadville, PA.

Is there a way I can get this same result without boiling for 2 hours?

What exactly do you think the boiling is accomplishing?? Thanks!!
They are reducing the carbonate in the water. Only problem - it also drives off the calcium. I would just buy distilled water to dilute and work from there. I have water with very high bicarbonate levels - 289 ppm - that is what I do. The brewery may also be adding salts to reduce the alkalinity. I would not expect that a brewer would give up all his methods to someone, unless he knew them well.

Also - it takes a lot of energy to boil all the brewing water for two hours. I just buy distilled water from the dispenser in the grocery store. 30 cents a gallon. I'm not wasting time and propane boiling water when distilled water is that cheap.
 

desertbronze

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So is this a bad water profile for IPA's?? It seems that my dark beers turn out better than my lighter ones. Could this profile explain some of that??
Yes - I had the same results. Dark beers good - amber beers ok - pale beers bad.

Is this profile so off that I shouldn't attempt brewing any pale beers until I learn to adjust my water?? I've read the links posted but some of it is still over my head.

Thanks!
It took me several months of reading and rereading everything I could find about brewing water before it all made sense to me. Read the linked section from How to Brew again. I would not attempt a pale beer with your water (or my water) without dilution with distilled water at a minimum.
 

MattHollingsworth

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I don't boil my water for two hours. I boil for maybe 20 minutes and rack off of the carbonate left behind. My water starts with 386 ppm of carbonate. I calculate that it ends the boil with 243 ppm. For a pale beer, I then dilute 50/50 and add some salts back.

As I said, if you don't feel like boiling, simply dilute with distilled water. Use that spreadsheet. Really. Put your numbers in, and try to hit your residual alkalinity on that spreadsheet. You can agonize over this if you want to but if you just use that spreadsheet and distilled water, it'll work. Then you brew killer pale ales.
 

MattHollingsworth

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If you have Excel, get this: http://www.huizingh.net/EZ_water_adjustment.xls
If not, use this: www.huizingh.net/EZ-water-calculator.htm

Correct. You have too much alkalinity for a light beer as is. You'd be fine for a hoppy amber but not a pale IPA. You'd probably need to cut with 50% RO/Distilled and add back in a pinch (1gram in 6 gallons) of CaCO3, CaCl, and MgSO4.
He doesn't want to go to all of the trouble of removing bicarbonate then add it back. CaCO3 is carbonate. Don't put that back in your water. I think you meant Calcium Sulfate/Gyspum here.
 

MattHollingsworth

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Harry, I setup the spreadsheet for you if you wanna give it a go. I didn't see your number for Magnesium, and put in 20 in that column. So, you'll need to change that.

But if you look over this spreadsheet, you'll see I put your numbers in. I made one change to the spreadsheet. I add a box for "Avg RA", which is the average residual alkalinity. You'll see it in red. I aim for that.

If you look over the spreadsheet, you'll see that I diluted your water 56% with distilled water. Assumed a 4 gallon mash water volume for no particular reason. Adding 2 grams of Gypsum and 2 grams of Calcium Chloride with all of that got me to an RA of 5, which is the average RA here for a beer with a color of 8.

I don't personally mess with acid.

This yielded a beer with 102 Ca, 9 Mg, 85 alkalinity as CaCO3, sodium 9, Chloride 77, Sulfate 96, RA of 5 and a chloride to sulfate ratio of "Balanced".

You can adjust this sheet from there. Put in you're real color that you want at the beginning and see what the average RA is. Then input the amount of water you're mashing with. Then your dilution rate with distilled water. Then go to the salt area and add some salts if needed to get to the desired RA. Then when you mash in, add those salts and your pH should fall into the correct range. Works for me every time.

Hope this helps. This is with NOT pre boiling the water, BTW.

View attachment Palmers_Mash_RA_ver2e_harry_hood.zip
 
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Lodovico

Lodovico

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Harry, I setup the spreadsheet for you if you wanna give it a go. I didn't see your number for Magnesium, and put in 20 in that column. So, you'll need to change that.

But if you look over this spreadsheet, you'll see I put your numbers in. I made one change to the spreadsheet. I add a box for "Avg RA", which is the average residual alkalinity. You'll see it in red. I aim for that.

If you look over the spreadsheet, you'll see that I diluted your water 56% with distilled water. Assumed a 4 gallon mash water volume for no particular reason. Adding 2 grams of Gypsum and 2 grams of Calcium Chloride with all of that got me to an RA of 5, which is the average RA here for a beer with a color of 8.

I don't personally mess with acid.

This yielded a beer with 102 Ca, 9 Mg, 85 alkalinity as CaCO3, sodium 9, Chloride 77, Sulfate 96, RA of 5 and a chloride to sulfate ratio of "Balanced".

You can adjust this sheet from there. Put in you're real color that you want at the beginning and see what the average RA is. Then input the amount of water you're mashing with. Then your dilution rate with distilled water. Then go to the salt area and add some salts if needed to get to the desired RA. Then when you mash in, add those salts and your pH should fall into the correct range. Works for me every time.

Hope this helps. This is with NOT pre boiling the water, BTW.
Thanks for doing all of that Matt. It's really helpful. I'm all set to make a stout this weekend but a pale ale is next and I may shoot you a couple of questions once I have my magnesium number and I mess with the spreadsheet.

So do you agree with others here that if I'm making a stout, I shouldn't need to tweek my water?? Thanks again for your effort.
 

MattHollingsworth

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Thanks for doing all of that Matt. It's really helpful. I'm all set to make a stout this weekend but a pale ale is next and I may shoot you a couple of questions once I have my magnesium number and I mess with the spreadsheet.

So do you agree with others here that if I'm making a stout, I shouldn't need to tweek my water?? Thanks again for your effort.
Yeah, for the most part I agree on the stout thing. I did a brown recently though and adjusted it a little bit to get the balance I wanted with the chloride and sulfate. The dark grains lower the pH for you, though, offsetting the bicarbonate. That's why the color of the beer affects the desired residual alkalinity. The darker the beer, the more bicarbonate can be tolerated, basically. I've made a super tasty pale ale here with something like 56% distilled water. Came out great and hit the pH just right. If you want to do super pale beers, that's when you'll need to use a lot of distilled water.

Glad to help. Feel free to ask anything. If I can help, I will.
 

desertbronze

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You can adjust this sheet from there. Put in you're real color that you want at the beginning and see what the average RA is. Then input the amount of water you're mashing with. Then your dilution rate with distilled water. Then go to the salt area and add some salts if needed to get to the desired RA. Then when you mash in, add those salts and your pH should fall into the correct range. Works for me every time.
Works for me as well. I use the spreadsheet and adjust the water as needed. pH is consistently 5.1 - 5.3.
 
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Lodovico

Lodovico

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I'm going to take you up on offering assistance in building the correct water for a beer style. I plan on brewing a Special Bitter next and according to this discussion, my water is not suited towards this beer style.

I definitely get too much harsh bitterness at the end with these types of beers. So if anyone (Mattholdingsworth) would help me figure out the spreadsheet for my first time, I think I could take it from there.

So my water profile is listed in the post above but they couldn't supply me with the magnesium number. What I do know is that the water here is extremely hard. So the magnesium number must be pretty big too.

So how would you go about changing my water for this brew?

Special Bitter
OG: 1.047
FS: 1.012
IBU: 30
Color: 11 SRM
4.6% ABV
Pre Boil Volume 7 Gallons


9.5 pounds of marris otter, .5lb aromatic, .5lb crystal 20, .25lb special roast

So how would you cut this with distilled water? And do you use the distilled just for the mash or also the sparge??

A quick primer for my first time adjusting water would be SO appreciated. :) Thanks!
 

MattHollingsworth

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I'm going to take you up on offering assistance in building the correct water for a beer style. I plan on brewing a Special Bitter next and according to this discussion, my water is not suited towards this beer style.

I definitely get too much harsh bitterness at the end with these types of beers. So if anyone (Mattholdingsworth) would help me figure out the spreadsheet for my first time, I think I could take it from there.

So my water profile is listed in the post above but they couldn't supply me with the magnesium number. What I do know is that the water here is extremely hard. So the magnesium number must be pretty big too.

So how would you go about changing my water for this brew?

Special Bitter
OG: 1.047
FS: 1.012
IBU: 30
Color: 11 SRM
4.6% ABV
Pre Boil Volume 7 Gallons


9.5 pounds of marris otter, .5lb aromatic, .5lb crystal 20, .25lb special roast

So how would you cut this with distilled water? And do you use the distilled just for the mash or also the sparge??

A quick primer for my first time adjusting water would be SO appreciated. :) Thanks!
Well, not sure exactly what your harshness is coming from. Your chloride/sulfate ratio looks fine. Could be some grain based harshness from bicarbonate. Dunno. I'm no guru. But here's what I think:

My water is super hard and my magnesium is 27. I wouldn't assume yours is super high or anything. I put it as 20 for no particular reason.

Read this page:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-1.html

I'd aim to get calcium 50-150, magnesium I'd leave alone, I'd try to get the sulfate at 50-150 and my chloride to sulfate ratio as bitter. If you want to match a specific beer from a specific area, you'll have to do that research. I've been brewing American styles and can't really guide you there.

So, anyway, on that spreadsheet that I attached, plug in your color number, which you list as 11. You'll see that gives you an average RA of 41. Aim for that.

If I put mash water at 4 gallons and dilute with 46% distilled water, then add 1 gram each of gypsum and calcium chloride, then the water comes out like this:

Ca 77, Mg 11, Alkalinity as CaCO3 103, sodium 11, chloride 48, sulfate 64, RA as 41 and chloride to sulfate ratio as bitter.

If I want more sulfate and chloride, maybe I'd try this instead:

Dilution 23%, 2 grams gyspum, 2 grams calcium chloride, 1 gram epsom salt, which yields:

Ca 129, Mg 22, alkalinity as CaCO3 146, sodium 15, chloride 87, sulfate 138, RA 41, chloride to sulfate ratio as bitter.

The attached spreadsheet I gave you earlier already has your water numbers input. So, to do this yourself, you need to open that up. Change the target color to 11, then you'll see an average RA of 41. Then go to step 3 and enter a dilution rate. You'll see the numbers on the right change, but don't look there to nail this number. If you JUST enter a dilution of 65%, you'll see your RA go to 42. But then your minerals are really low, especially the calcium. You want to enter a number for dilution to just get you started, then go to the next steps and you'll look for your numbers after you add salts.

So, now go down to step 4 and put in your mash water volume. Then go to step 5 and add some salts. I skip the acid and go to step 7. Look at your numbers here. Then you go back and forth from your dilution rate and your salts to get these numbers listed in step 7 to how you want them. It usually takes just a few minutes. It's not difficult, it's just a matter of going back and forth a few times to get it in the right spot. Make sense?

Hope this helps. But the main thing here now, is you'll have to do this yourself so you learn how this works. The basic concept is that calcium sulfate, calcium chloride and magnesium sulfate lower your pH and your RA. Carbonates raise it. Diluting your hard water will lower your RA too. So it's just a balancing act between these, but you need to also get your minerals in the desired range for the reasons listed on that Palmer linked page above.
 
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Lodovico

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Well, not sure exactly what your harshness is coming from. Your chloride/sulfate ratio looks fine. Could be some grain based harshness from bicarbonate

So does that mean that you think if I just charcoal filter my water it would be ok to brew a Special Bitter??? I'm kind of confused now. I thought that the previous posts were telling me that I don't have good water for this type of beer.

Thanks for spending the time to write that extensive post Matt. It's helpful and I appreciate it. But now I'm wondering if I even need to adjust my water for this brew?
 

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You said you're getting hop bitterness that's harsh, right? That can be from too much sulfate. But your water doesn't have too much sulfate, so that's what I was commenting on.

Adjusting water is to get the right mash pH and the right mineral concentrations for both flavor perception and yeast helth. Your water has too much bicarbonate to make a pale beer and have it fall into the right pH. Read Palmer's info on pH to get a better understanding:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter15-3.html

I personally think you should adjust your water.
 

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From that link:

...This residual alkalinity will cause an all-base-malt mash to have a higher pH than is desirable (ie. >6.0), resulting in tannin extraction, etc. To counteract the RA, brewers in alkaline water areas like Dublin added dark roasted malts which have a natural acidity that brings the mash pH back into the right range (5.2-5.6).
You can end up with harshness from grains if your pH is too high.
 
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Lodovico

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This is awesome Matt. Thanks for your help man. Now I see why my lighter beers haven't been very good and my dark ones have turned out really nice. The lowest SRM I could brew with my current water would have been a 15.

This makes so much sense now. So I messed with this for my Special Bitter and this is what I came up with.

I think I did this correctly. I'm going to dilute 65% with distilled water and add 2 grams of chalk, gypsum, and calcium. This will give me:

Calcium 148
Magnesisum 7
Alkalinity 131
Sodium 7
Chloride 74
Sulfate 91

Est. SRM 7 (low) 12 (high)

Chloride - Sulfate ratio - Balanced

Hopefully I did this right but it's exciting to know that you can adjust and try to make the beers that much closer to style.

So the est. RA for this SRM was 12(low) 71(high) with a 41 avg.

The adjustments I just stated bring me to an RA of 22. Should I shoot more for the average or am I ok inside the limits??? Thanks again.
 

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Glad to help. I'd have to look at this closer and busy at the moment. BUT, by adding chalk, you are undoing the work of diluting with distilled water. Chalk is calcium carbonate. You're distilling to remove that. If I were you, I would definitely not be adding chalk. Just dilute less if you can, instead. It's like you add distilled water to remove that, then you add it back in. Makes no sense.

I guess you'd be okay inside those limits, but I always aim for the average myself and have good luck. This is all something that doesn't have to be super precise, as long as you get in a good range everything will take care of itself.
 

MattHollingsworth

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Just reread your recent post and you said "harsh bitterness". Sorry, my mistake. I was thinking that you musta meant more from hops. But I'm guessing you mean more from astringency, which is very likely from your hard water leeching tannins.
 
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Lodovico

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Glad to help. I'd have to look at this closer and busy at the moment. BUT, by adding chalk, you are undoing the work of diluting with distilled water. Chalk is calcium carbonate. You're distilling to remove that. If I were you, I would definitely not be adding chalk. Just dilute less if you can, instead. It's like you add distilled water to remove that, then you add it back in. Makes no sense.

I guess you'd be okay inside those limits, but I always aim for the average myself and have good luck. This is all something that doesn't have to be super precise, as long as you get in a good range everything will take care of itself.
Gotcha. That makes sense. 1 more question. I just talked to the owner of my LHBS and he suggested just using Starsan 5.2 PH stabilizer. He said that this takes care of all of these issues by adding this to the mash.

Would this take care of my water issues or would I still need the distilled water and salts??
 
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Lodovico

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So for a "Special Bitter", do I want my Chloride to Sulfate ratio to be bitter or balanced??
 

MattHollingsworth

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Gotcha. That makes sense. 1 more question. I just talked to the owner of my LHBS and he suggested just using Starsan 5.2 PH stabilizer. He said that this takes care of all of these issues by adding this to the mash.

Would this take care of my water issues or would I still need the distilled water and salts??
That's your call. I don't use that stuff. Even if you *do* decide to use it, you need to consider chloride/sulfate ratio and mineral amounts.

I don't use it because I don't see the need, personally. It's *easy* to adjust your water once you're used to it. Plenty of people DO use it though.

So for a "Special Bitter", do I want my Chloride to Sulfate ratio to be bitter or balanced??
Also your call. Personally, I would go for bitter. But if you like more maltiness balanced in there, you can try balanced too. I use bitter for my APA and it comes out great.
 
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Lodovico

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So can I adjust to where I need to be by messing with just the distilled water dillution and gypsum salts?? You said not to add chalk and I understand why you're saying that.

Do I need to tinker with anything other than the dillution level and gypsum level?? My LHBS doesn't have calcium chloride.

I guess what I'm asking is what are the main variables (salt wise) that you actually adjust?

Thanks again for your patience to these basic questions.
 

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No problem.

If you just add gypsum, you'll eventually get a lot of sulfate and no chloride to balance it. I use both gypsum (calcium sulfate) and calcium chloride myself (along with dilution). If I were you, I'd mail order some. Loads of places have it and it's not heavy for shipping.

Also, on the 5.2 stabilizer thing: It's my opinion that if you learn how to adjust your water, that you're learning something about the process of making beer that can only help you. It's not ONLY about the pH, but that's a big part of it. But if you take some time and learn this stuff, it's worth it, I think. And it's not difficult once you get your head around some things. If you just throw stabilizer in there and don't do the learning, I feel you're at a disadvantage. If I were in your position, I would learn this stuff then see how you feel about it. Then if you opt to use stabilizer, you're doing it from a point where you understand a bit more about your water and how it affects your process and the final beer. Like I said, loads of people use it and a i bet it's okay.
 
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Lodovico

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I'm adjusting my water for the first time tomorrow using this spreadsheet. Hopefully I'm not screwing it up.

I'm brewing a Special Premium Bitter and these are the types of beers that haven't been coming out so great for me.

I'm dilluting 25% with distilled water and adding 2 grams of Gypsum and 2 grams of Calcium Chloride. I think I've figured this out.

Excited to try!
 

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Hey guys, sorry to revive an ancient thread. But it seems like you know what you're talking about.
I got a partial water report from my municipal office but it's missing key things. Here it is:

All are "mg/L"

Alkalinity: 28
pH: 7.1-7.5
Hardness:56
Manganese:>.03
Sulphate:5.6
Chloride:10
Sodium:25

Magnesium and calcium as well as bicarbonate are not listed. My question is, is there any way to determine these values from the listed info? I'd prefer to not pay for an expensive water test.
 
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