Local tap water pH is great, recipe not so much. Changes?

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SanJuanWorm

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Hi Folks,
We are very lucky here in Calgary to have tap water that hovers around 6.5 - 6.7 pH unless we are into spring runoff. Good ole Rocky Mountain water!

I've created a recipe in BrewFather that is showing a pH of 4.72 and I'm into my first few tries adding Gypsum or Calcium Chloride.

Should I use the K.I.S.S method, brew away and stop stressing the little things, or should I add anything?

Also, there's a municipal election coming up, and the Fluoridation debate is running hard. Does Fluoride in the water supply even affect brewing?

Thanks in advance, and I look forward to your response. :D :mug:
 
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SanJuanWorm

SanJuanWorm

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Thanks @Bobby_M I haven't had a chance to get my specific water tested, and it's a bit wonky, because the apartment-style condo I live in has installed a water softening system. All I have just now are strips. I know, I know not very reliable, but it's a start.

I guess I'm not too worried, because the acidic recipe and the almost neutral water we are blessed with might cancel each other out for a 5-ish end result.

Fluoride issues aside, would anyone worry about adding? Not overly concerned, just covering some bases before brew day tomorrow.
 

Jim R

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I wouldn't even waste my time using pH strips on the base water. That doesn't tell you anything about your brewing water management or what you should be adding to your water. You could have a base water with a pH of 6.5 that would make great beer and another water with a pH of 6.5 that would be terrible. You need a formal water test and then some time studying how to use the results.
 

marc1

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If you've made beer you like with this water before then keep at it, but you've got some possible issues.

The recipe software can't give you a mash pH prediction without information about your water, so that 4.72 isn't real.

Testing your water pH is worse than knowing nothing, because you still know nothing useful but think you do.

Water softeners also make for bad brewing water. I have one, and have to run it through an RO system afterwards.

Given the softener, I recommend getting RO or distilled water and using that as your base to build up with salts. Brew father will then have accurate information to base the flavor minerals and mash pH estimates on too, because all the mineralization in the source water will be essentially 0.
 
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SanJuanWorm

SanJuanWorm

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If you've made beer you like with this water before then keep at it, but you've got some possible issues

Water softeners also make for bad brewing water. I have one, and have to run it through an RO system afterwards.

Given the softener, I recommend getting RO or distilled water and using that as your base to build up with salts. Brew father will then have accurate information to base the flavor minerals and mash pH estimates on too, because all the mineralization in the source water will be essentially 0.
Thanks @marc1 I don't feel that the softener issue in my particular building is affecting water quality, I've had some great brews. I double filter my water before brewing. I have lots of 'build-up' on my kitchen tap, however, and it's probably calcium.

However, I have matched a certain water profile into a Porter that was a zinger beer, so maybe it could work without additives..?

Thanks again, everyone. I'm going to wing it and brew. It's been too long since a 'trust it' brew went into my bottling room! Cheers!

:bigmug:
 

BigEd

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As Bobby_M said already, the pH alone doesn't tell you much if anything as to what is actually in the water. You can have two water supplies with the same pH and they could have vastly different ion content and makeup. It is the pH of the mash which is of primary importance to brewing. Once you know the brewing ion contents of your source water that info can be compared against the style of beer being brewed and the proper adjustments can then be determined. If your raw water is being softened two general assumptions can be made. The original water is high in Calcium and alkalinity and the softened water is high in Sodium.
 

marc1

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As Bobby_M said already, the pH alone doesn't tell you much if anything as to what is actually in the water. You can have two water supplies with the same pH and they could have vastly different ion content and makeup. It is the pH of the mash which is of primary importance to brewing. Once you know the brewing ion contents of your source water that info can be compared against the style of beer being brewed and the proper adjustments can then be determined. If your raw water is being softened two general assumptions can be made. The original water is high in Calcium and alkalinity and the softened water is high in Sodium.
And the softener might not be working so well if there is still build up on the faucets.
 

cactusgarrett

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I double filter my water before brewing. I have lots of 'build-up' on my kitchen tap, however, and it's probably calcium.
Filtering doesn't circumvent the issues using softened water poses. And having buildup post-softener is still a reality. The only real way to knock this issue down is somehow source water before it goes through the softener. Spigots on building exteriors are good for that.

Also, throw away your strips. Those flat-out just don't work.
 

marc1

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Filtering doesn't circumvent the issues using softened water poses. And having buildup post-softener is still a reality. The only real way to knock this issue down is somehow source water before it goes through the softener. Spigots on building exteriors are good for that.

Also, throw away your strips. Those flat-out just don't work.
In general, strips are not good for wort or beer. If they are good lab grade strips they are probably pretty accurate for the water, but that is not a useful measurement to start with. Knowing what the water contains is much more important.
 
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