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Greg Bruell

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Hi all!

Just after some advice about water profile and combatting Alkalinity, what the need to is and how to go about it.
So... I have recently received a water report back from a lab and have given my CaCO3 results as 235, from looking on brewfather for the majority of styles im interested in brewing this is way above the style range, most are looking for 40-120! I am managing to calculate with the addition of lactic acid bringing my mash PH down to a good level of between 5.4 & 5.6. I can also almost always get everything else in range or near enough (within 50 odd ppm) but have no idea how to adjust for the CaCO3, and honestly whether i really need to?

Could someone please explain simply the effect this Alkalinity level has (after the PH adjustment with lactic acid) and simply how to overcome it if needed?

Much appreciated!
 

Lupulus

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The effect is a mild chalky flavor that may or may not go well with your beer depending on style and your own taste.
To get the carbonate out, you can use lime treatment or boiling. You may need additional Ca++ for either method depending on the Ca++ level of your water.
 

Vale71

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Alkainity as CaCO3 is just one of the many standard ways to report this paramenter, it doesn't actually mean you have CaCO3 in your water since that would be literally impossible as calcium carbonate is insoluble.
 

mabrungard

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No, CaCO3 is soluble. It just takes time.

Alkalinity is generally undesirable in brewing, but a proper level does help. Don’t rely on a target level. The proper level is that which produces a desirable pH.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Thanks Martin,

So i'm guessing I can just counter the effects of this Alkalinity with my mash & sparge addition of lactic acid?
Treating 10 gallons of strike water to rid it of 235 ppm alkalinity (to a level of around 12 ppm) will require around 14.6 mL of 88% Lactic Acid. At that level it will potentially become an undesirable flavor component. Ballpark 154 mL of 10% Phosphoric Acid, or 13.7 mL of 75%, or 11.3 mL of 85% Phosphoric Acid would be flavor neutral alternatives.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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The effective mEq/mL acid strengths of various acids at "specifically" a pH of 5.5 are:

88% Lactic Acid = 11.52 mEq/mL
80% Lactic Acid = 10.31 mEq/mL
85% Phosphoric Acid = 14.92 mEq/mL
75% Phosphoric Acid = 12.31 mEq/mL
30% Phosphoric Acid = 3.681 mEq/mL
10% Phosphoric Acid = 1.095 mEq/mL
AMS (CRS) = 3.66 mEq/mL

The molecular weight of CaCO3 is 100.0869 mg/mmol
The Equivalent Weight of CaCO3 is therefore 50.04345 mg/mmol

235 ppm (mg/L) alkalinity (as CaCO3) = 235/50.04345 = 4.696 mEq/L
For pH 5.5: 235 mg/L - 12 mg/L = 223 mg/L of alkalinity to be removed
= 223/50.04345 = 4.455 mEq/mL of alkalinity for removal

10 gallons = 37.854 Liters

37.854L x 4.455 mEq/L = 168.64 mEq of alkalinity to be removed such as to hit pH 5.5

Lastly divide 168.64 mEq of alkalinity by any of the above acids mEq/mL acid strengths at 5.5 pH to determine the acid addition quantity required to neutralize alkalinity down to ~pH 5.5 (or ~12 ppm alkalinity).
 

Silver_Is_Money

Larry Sayre, Developer of 'Mash Made Easy'
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A rough tentative "ballpark" acid strength for 'typical' Acid Malt at pH 5.5 would seem to be in the vicinity of about 0.34 to 0.35 mEq/gram.

Does this seem to be about right?
 
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Greg Bruell

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A rough tentative "ballpark" acid strength for 'typical' Acid Malt at pH 5.5 would seem to be in the vicinity of about 0.34 to 0.35 mEq/gram.

Does this seem to be about right?

Have to say you have slightly lost me!

Reading about phosphoric Acid it does seem to be a better choice in regard to off flavours, my concern is though how it reacts with calcium? Unfortunately i have very hard water with a CA+2 of 103ppm. Do you think this will have a negative effect should i treat with Phosphoric?
 

Robert65

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As I understand it, we will rarely if ever have the conditions where the apatite reaction with phosphoric acid is a practical concern. And on the other hand, I prefer lactic acid as it is the one that would naturally occur in the brewing process anyway, and it will also rarely if ever be required at levels meeting or exceeding the taste threshold. I doubt you'd have anything to worry about either way.
 

Silver_Is_Money

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Have to say you have slightly lost me!

Unfortunately i have very hard water with a CA+2 of 103ppm. Do you think this will have a negative effect should i treat with Phosphoric?
@Robert65 is correct. The impact upon calcium will be trivial enough to be of no concern.
 
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Greg Bruell

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Thank you both!

going to experiment with a brew or two of each and see what results I get!
 

cire

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@Robert65 is correct. The impact upon calcium will be trivial enough to be of no concern.
Yet we in UK, who brew with water considered too hard and alkaline for brewing by most on HBT, avoid using phosphoric acid in the HLT because of the extra work cleaning that vessel afterwards. It isn't a problem with soft water or when the acid is added directly to the mash, but it would appear unwise to assume the calcium level is maintained in the mash when using phosphoric acid to reduce alkalinity.
 

Robert65

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Yet we in UK, who brew with water considered too hard and alkaline for brewing by most on HBT, avoid using phosphoric acid in the HLT because of the extra work cleaning that vessel afterwards. It isn't a problem with soft water or when the acid is added directly to the mash, but it would appear unwise to assume the calcium level is maintained in the mash when using phosphoric acid to reduce alkalinity.
Fair enough. When I said "we..." I was indeed specifically referring to US brewers, for whom this holds true. Across the pond, you often do brew with waters sufficiently mineralized to make phosphoric acid problematic. I won't pass further judgment on the suitability of said waters, as I have fond memories of the resulting libations.
 
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Greg Bruell

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Yet we in UK, who brew with water considered too hard and alkaline for brewing by most on HBT, avoid using phosphoric acid in the HLT because of the extra work cleaning that vessel afterwards. It isn't a problem with soft water or when the acid is added directly to the mash, but it would appear unwise to assume the calcium level is maintained in the mash when using phosphoric acid to reduce alkalinity.
What would you recommend then sire? I'm tempted to stick with Lactic on any darker styles like porters or dark german beers and move to phosphoric in anything lighter like ales and largers. I do tend to drink and brew a considerable amount more pale ales & lager/pilsners then any other style so am concious of making the right decision with these styles.
 

cire

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What would you recommend then sire? I'm tempted to stick with Lactic on any darker styles like porters or dark german beers and move to phosphoric in anything lighter like ales and largers. I do tend to drink and brew a considerable amount more pale ales & lager/pilsners then any other style so am concious of making the right decision with these styles.
Our waters are quite similar in terms of hardness and alkalinity, but how we might treat them will be influenced by what is available and what suits our tastes.

Here, in UK, the most popular way to reduce alkalinity is with CRS/AMS, which is readily available for both amateur and commercial brewers. The manufacturer of AMS also provide technical advice on treating water such as is found here on their website, where Phosphoric and lactic acids are mentioned as well as AMS. However, in UK we can still obtain food safe hydrochloric and sulphuric acids and these are what I mainly use. I'm not sure how easily such items might be obtained in other countries.

For stouts and similar dark beers, hydrochloric acid will be used to reduce alkalinity, which in the process increase the chloride content, while in pale beers that I would prefer to be drier to promote bitterness and hop flavours then sulphuric is my primary choice. Those two, can of course, be used in combination to achieve the required reduction and proportion of sulphate and chloride content desired. Similarly other acids can be used in combination provided the usual rules concerning handling acids are observed.

Lactic acid might well provide an enhancement to darker beers and quantity needed would be less than for a lighter beer, although I've never felt the need to explore that avenue. Personally I find phosphoric acid when used in larger amounts does add a kind of sweetness , as maybe it does in Cola, as well as causing a deposit in my HLT. Were I to use phosphoric acid frequently, I would want to measure if and how much calcium was reduced.

My water is not totally suitable for some pale lagers with both magnesium and sulphate content being higher than many would desire. For those beers I will use a mix of water from my daughter's home and my own before treating with hydrochloric acid and adding calcium chloride.
 

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I do tend to drink and brew a considerable amount more pale ales & lager/pilsners then any other style so am concious of making the right decision with these styles.
The Germans themselves, in compliance with the Reinheitsgebot, adjust these pale lagers, both in the mash and in the kettle, with Sauergut ("sour wort,") which is a standard wort anaerobically fermented with the lactobacillus occurring on the malt itself. This Sauergut is used in significant quantities, and contributes a very distinct flavor in addition to the simple lactic character; some describe it as a "grape Koolaid" note. So much for trying to avoid making a noticeable flavor impact when acidifying your pale lager!
 

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They also had problems when doing water analysis for a while. Not sure I'd trust them much beyond distribution
 

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The Germans themselves, in compliance with the Reinheitsgebot, adjust these pale lagers, both in the mash and in the kettle, with Sauergut ("sour wort,") which is a standard wort anaerobically fermented with the lactobacillus occurring on the malt itself. This Sauergut is used in significant quantities, and contributes a very distinct flavor in addition to the simple lactic character; some describe it as a "grape Koolaid" note. So much for trying to avoid making a noticeable flavor impact when acidifying your pale lager!
There's a very good brewery in England called Lost and Grounded who make an outstanding keller beer, they use a german system with sauergut in all their beers. They also brew belgian style ales
http://lostandgrounded.co.uk/2017/02/the-heart-of-our-brewery-a-7hl-lactic-acid-tank/

acid is vital in cooking as well of course, not just to balance sweetness/saltiness/heat etc but also for flavour

There are many ways to skin a cat, or indeed brew beer properly :) Makes this hobby so interesting
 

ScrewyBrewer

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Hi all!

Just after some advice about water profile and combatting Alkalinity, what the need to is and how to go about it.
So... I have recently received a water report back from a lab and have given my CaCO3 results as 235, from looking on brewfather for the majority of styles im interested in brewing this is way above the style range, most are looking for 40-120! I am managing to calculate with the addition of lactic acid bringing my mash PH down to a good level of between 5.4 & 5.6. I can also almost always get everything else in range or near enough (within 50 odd ppm) but have no idea how to adjust for the CaCO3, and honestly whether i really need to?

Could someone please explain simply the effect this Alkalinity level has (after the PH adjustment with lactic acid) and simply how to overcome it if needed?

Much appreciated!
You could dilute your source water with distilled or reverse osmosis water to reduce the alkalinity of your brewing water.
 

Mer-man

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As I understand it, we will rarely if ever have the conditions where the apatite reaction with phosphoric acid is a practical concern. And on the other hand, I prefer lactic acid as it is the one that would naturally occur in the brewing process anyway, and it will also rarely if ever be required at levels meeting or exceeding the taste threshold. I doubt you'd have anything to worry about either way.
My adventures with apatite left me with an appetite for RO water. :D
320ppm HCO3 here....
 

Vale71

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No, CaCO3 is soluble. It just takes time.
And dissolved CO2 but that's not the main point I was trying to make. Let me try again.

The lab has neither measured nor reported the actual amount of CaCO3 in your water. What they've done is measure the amount of HCO3- (bicarbonate) ions in your water and then converted it to a CaCO3 "equivalent" by multiplying the measured value by the ratio of the respective molar masses. It's entirely possible that you might actually have 0 ppm of calcium in your water as those measured HCO3- ions must not necessarily be bound to Ca+ ions. Your HCO3- might for example come entirely from dissolved sodium carbonate.

Long story short, you cannot plan your water treatment based on this value alone, you'll need several values from the report such as actual Ca and Mg ions in order to be able do that.
 
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