pH of water is greater than 8.0

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mlandon98

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Hello all, I am posting this here because pH is said to be more of a factor in BIAB than extract brewing. Both my tap water and my refill station water (glacier brand) are above 8.0. I have noticed a rubber taste in my beers, especially paler ones. I have adjusted my pH with citric acid but have done nothing to account for alkalinity, which may be a problem.

In water that is presumably quite alkaline and very high in pH (the maximum allowable pH in drinking water is 8.5), what have people done to make their water more suitable for brewing?

Notes: I am always all-grain and I keep my wort pH to be between 5.2-5.6
 

doug293cz

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The pH of the starting water doesn't matter. What matters is the alkalinity of the water, which is a measure of how much acid it takes to reduce the pH to a specific value. For example, in a low alkalinity water, it might take 1ml of 88% lactic acid in 8 gal to reduce the pH to 5.4, but a higher alkalinity water might require 4 ml of the same acid for 8 gal to reach a pH of 5.4, even tho both water samples start at the same pH. You can have high pH, but low alkalinity water, or the opposite. It depends on the total ionic composition of the water.

In mashing, the grains tend to reduce the pH of the mash from that of the starting water, with darker grains providing more reduction than lighter grains (in general.) The higher the alkalinity, the less effective the grains are at reducing the pH into the desirable range for mashing.

Brew on :mug:
 
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mlandon98

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Get your brewing water analysed. Armed with knowledge of your water profile you'll be able to use brewing software to make appropriate adjustments.
I am trying like hell to avoid that. Like I mentioned in my other post which you saw, I think temperature is the main issue.

That being said, pH is important and adjusting my pH made some difference and of course alkalinity is still a factor. But I boiled some water this morning and there is absolutely no white precipitate on the bottom (patches of something clear have formed on the surface and I don't know what that is) so alkalinity may very well not be the issue. but I still have a pH of 8.3 so hearing people's experience on reducing pH without excessive amounts of acid is what I am after here.
 
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mlandon98

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The pH of the starting water doesn't matter. What matters is the alkalinity of the water, which is a measure of how much acid it takes to reduce the pH to a specific value. For example, in a low alkalinity water, it might take 1ml of 88% lactic acid in 8 gal to reduce the pH to 5.4, but a higher alkalinity water might require 4 ml of the same acid for 8 gal to reach a pH of 5.4, even tho both water samples start at the same pH. You can have high pH, but low alkalinity water, or the opposite. It depends on the total ionic composition of the water.

In mashing, the grains tend to reduce the pH of the mash from that of the starting water, with darker grains providing more reduction than lighter grains (in general.) The higher the alkalinity, the less effective the grains are at reducing the pH into the desirable range for mashing.

Brew on :mug:
I have made pH adjusted batches with no effect on the rubber flavor, and I have been under the impression that consequences of high alkalinity are a problem whether pH is adjusted to 5.4 or not. It seems that by your logic, no matter how much acid is required to reduce pH, the final pH is the deciding factor. Are you sure?

Edit: I guess what I am asking is, don't we have to lower alkalinity anyways if it is high?
 
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mlandon98

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That's a shame, because it's really part of the all-grain process.
I will test my water eventually. Unfortunately I am on a student's budget and I know it's possible for me to make a decent beer without testing
 

doug293cz

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I have made pH adjusted batches with no effect on the rubber flavor, and I have been under the impression that consequences of high alkalinity are a problem whether pH is adjusted to 5.4 or not. It seems that by your logic, no matter how much acid is required to reduce pH, the final pH is the deciding factor. Are you sure?

Edit: I guess what I am asking is, don't we have to lower alkalinity anyways if it is high?
It's the pH of the wort in the mash that affects the chemical reactions (primarily starch hydrolysis) that occur during the mash, so that is the important pH value. The alkalinity of the starting water determines how much acid, or base, must be added, along with the grains, to bring the mash pH into the desired range.

Brew on :mug:
 

kgranger

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I will test my water eventually. Unfortunately I am on a student's budget and I know it's possible for me to make a decent beer without testing

Ward Labs has a brewing water test kit for $45, they send you the supplies and you ship them the sample. A lot cheaper than those LaMotte at-home test kits.
 
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mlandon98

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Ward Labs has a brewing water test kit for $45, they send you the supplies and you ship them the sample. A lot cheaper than those LaMotte at-home test kits.
True, but then again for 3x the price you get 50 uses or so with kits. I will have to make a decision on this.
 

McMullan

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I will test my water eventually. Unfortunately I am on a student's budget and I know it's possible for me to make a decent beer without testing
Where are you based? With a little luck there might be local all-grain home brewers using the same water source. I'm sure they'd be happy to help.
 
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mlandon98

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Where are you based? With a little luck there might be local all-grain home brewers using the same water source. I'm sure they'd be happy to help.
I live in New Mexico and the nearest homebrew store is in Albuquerque (2 hours away). That is a good thought though, I hadn't considered that. I will keep it in mind whenever I move.
 

hotbeer

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The pH of your water won't tell you much until you know what other stuff is in your water to buffer it. AKA, alkalinity.

Water with little buffering capacity will swing every which way easily. So that's why people are telling you it's not so much what the pH of your water begins at.

I get around all the cost of analysis and messing with chemicals by using bottled water with a known analysis. It evidently is buffered well as the pH of the water is pretty much the same as the pH of my mash at start, middle and finish.
 

bwible

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True, but then again for 3x the price you get 50 uses or so with kits. I will have to make a decision on this.
How many times do you think you’ll really need to test your water though? I recommend having it tested in the early summer when theres no chance of picking up salt runoffs from the roads and snow, etc. Does anybody have a better suggestion when the best time of year to test is?

Outside of that I don’t see why your water would change that much. If its well water it should be pretty stable. With city water maybe chlorine additions go up and down at the plant by time of year or something like that. But I can’t see a need to test your water 50 times in a lifetime.

Plus with Ward you’re sending it to a professional lab vs relying on a home test kit to be accurate.
 

bwible

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I think this is the second thread I’ve read in a couple days where somebody was talking about a rubber flavor and saying they treated their water with citric acid.
 
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mlandon98

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The pH of your water won't tell you much until you know what other stuff is in your water to buffer it. AKA, alkalinity.

Water with little buffering capacity will swing every which way easily. So that's why people are telling you it's not so much what the pH of your water begins at.

I get around all the cost of analysis and messing with chemicals by using bottled water with a known analysis. It evidently is buffered well as the pH of the water is pretty much the same as the pH of my mash at start, middle and finish.
I know, I have already used the word alkalinity 6 times or so in this thread. Let's not beat a dead horse here.
I think this is the second thread I’ve read in a couple days where somebody was talking about a rubber flavor and saying they treated their water with citric acid.
Coincidence
 
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mlandon98

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How many times do you think you’ll really need to test your water though? I recommend having it tested in the early summer when theres no chance of picking up salt runoffs from the roads and snow, etc. Does anybody have a better suggestion when the best time of year to test is?

Outside of that I don’t see why your water would change that much. If its well water it should be pretty stable. With city water maybe chlorine additions go up and down at the plant by time of year or something like that. But I can’t see a need to test your water 50 times in a lifetime.

Plus with Ward you’re sending it to a professional lab vs relying on a home test kit to be accurate.
It seems self-defeating to say there is an 'ideal' time of year to test my water and then saying I wouldn't need to test more than once.
 

balrog

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Does anybody have a better suggestion when the best time of year to test is?

Outside of that I don’t see why your water would change that much. If its well water it should be pretty stable. With city water maybe chlorine additions go up and down at the plant by time of year or something like that.

Many civic water supplies use multiple sources at different concentrations of each during the year, during dry or wet seasons. Bottled water suppliers can change sources also. Is it a major issue worthy of getting gnat's a$$ detail results all the time? That, my friends, is up to each and every one of you to decide.
 

d40dave

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I will test my water eventually. Unfortunately I am on a student's budget and I know it's possible for me to make a decent beer without testing
A pool supply place like Leslie's Pool will test you water for free. It's not nearly as good as Ward Labs but you will find out the PH and alkalinity.
 

bracconiere

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It seems self-defeating to say there is an 'ideal' time of year to test my water and then saying I wouldn't need to test more than once.
well you said dark beers are good, so test the water the time of year you're in the mood for light beer? ;) :mug:

in my head i haven't decided water chemistry is the culprit for rubber taste yet...sounds just like taking beer too seriously...

my rationality would be slow down, and rule out mash ph, temp, gremlins, goblins, gouls...have you tried an all extract batch? just for fun to see if your all-grain skills are off, or not? for all i know maybe you just preffer stouts and porters, and don't like light beer?
 

bwible

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It seems self-defeating to say there is an 'ideal' time of year to test my water and then saying I wouldn't need to test more than once.
No I guess the biggest thing is they put how many tons of salt on the roads in the winter for snow which washes into the aquifers. Depending on what kind of winter you have. Your sodium and Chloride levels would maybe be up if you got that. Can’t avoid that
 

z-bob

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They dump tons of salt on the roads here every year and the sodium and chloride levels of the municipal water are quite low.
Can you get a free water report from the water company? Your pH looks so high there's a good chance the alkalinity is not that bad.
Try using phosphoric acid instead of citric; it doesn't really have a taste
 

bracconiere

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Depending on what kind of winter you have.


people have winters? and have to season the roads? :wow:

and it effects homebrew huh? 🤣

if the road seasoning is the problem with rubber taste, i'd be more thinking about people doing burn-outs and doughnuts on the street!
:mug:

edit: but i still on serious desire to help, seriously try a 100% extract light batch...maybe move up from there to both light and dark extract, then move up to partial mash with steeping grains to narrow this down....

edit 2: maybe even water down some candi syrup, see if maybe you get it there too?
 
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MicroMickey

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In most states, there is a county extension service (or by some other name). They are often connected to a major university. Well water sample analysis is usually offered with a charge of zero to a modest few dollars. Look into it to see if these services exist in your area.
 

RobP

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I had ward labs test my water 10 years ago. Then tested again recently. The numbers were practically near all the same. Of course my water comes from a water treatment plant and I run it through a carbon filter. So there's a pretty good chance your water is not going to change much once you have it tested.
 

MaxStout

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Have you tried reaching out to your local water dept? They could give you some answers.

If their water comes from deep wells, the annual road salt is not going to reach that depth. OTOH, if they draw from a reservoir, runoff could alter the makeup.
 

wsmith1625

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gouls...have you tried an all extract batch? just for fun to see if your all-grain skills are off, or not? for all i know maybe you just preffer stouts and porters, and don't like light beer?
@bracconiere has the right idea. Try an extract batch with distilled water and see if you get the off flavor. If you do, it's definitely process related. If not, do the same extract recipe with your home water.
 

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Get your brewing water analysed.

I am trying like hell to avoid that.
You have asked a question about water chemistry. If you do not get your water analyzed or find some other way of knowing what is in your water then the only other rout you have for water chemistry adjustment is trial and error with lots of time, grain (or extract) and hopefully improving beer. Another option is to start with RO or distilled water and work from there. You don't have to pay for analysis but you do have to pay for water.

When I first started looking into water chemistry I read the various articles and posts on the subject and my head would spin and my eyes glazed over. I have no chemistry background, not even from high school. I persisted in reading and found my water supplier's water report on line (for free). Each time I read something more on the subject it made more sense. I read this thread because i thought I might pick up something new or that it would reinforce what I do know and help me understand the subject better.

There are several suggestions here on how to learn more about your water. Asking about adjusting your water without knowing what is in it is like asking why my bread isn't coming out good and all we know is that you use flour. What kind of flour and what do you combine with that flour?
 
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mlandon98

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In most states, there is a county extension service (or by some other name). They are often connected to a major university. Well water sample analysis is usually offered with a charge of zero to a modest few dollars. Look into it to see if these services exist in your

You have asked a question about water chemistry. If you do not get your water analyzed or find some other way of knowing what is in your water then the only other rout you have for water chemistry adjustment is trial and error with lots of time, grain (or extract) and hopefully improving beer. Another option is to start with RO or distilled water and work from there. You don't have to pay for analysis but you do have to pay for water.

When I first started looking into water chemistry I read the various articles and posts on the subject and my head would spin and my eyes glazed over. I have no chemistry background, not even from high school. I persisted in reading and found my water supplier's water report on line (for free). Each time I read something more on the subject it made more sense. I read this thread because i thought I might pick up something new or that it would reinforce what I do know and help me understand the subject better.

There are several suggestions here on how to learn more about your water. Asking about adjusting your water without knowing what is in it is like asking why my bread isn't coming out good and all we know is that you use flour. What kind of flour and what do you combine with that flour?
Let's not forget that this thread was about reducing the pH of alkaline water safely without excessive amounts of acid. And according to people on my other post, the off-taste of my beer is almost certainly the result of high fermentation temperature. I will eventually test my water but I do not think that ion concentrations are a huge problem. Like someone said (I think the beermeister), almost all variables in beer have allowances, temperature does not.

Edit: I have determined since I posted this that my water is not excessively alkaline. Also I thought that pH and alkalinity were related but somehow separate. But any effects of alkalinity are supposedly mitigated by reducing the pH
 
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z-bob

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Try using Kveik yeast to eliminate the temperature thing. Kveik is like honeybadger; it don't care.

You also might have more than one unrelated problem and they are exacerbating each other.
 

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according to people on my other post, the off-taste of my beer is almost certainly the result of high fermentation temperature.
High ferm temps can definitely be an important factor in off flavors, which can manifest themselves in many different ways.

Re: water analysis:
You can call your water company (which provides your tap water) and ask for a detailed mineral report. Many have it posted online, but often the minerals we brewers are interested in, are missing. Give their quality control dept. a call, they have those numbers. Also ask how much they fluctuate with seasons, or other climate events.

Glacier water, as it comes out of machines at supermarkets, hardware stores, etc.?
That's supposed to be Reverse Osmosis water, but they may add a little bit of minerals back into it, increasing pH somewhat. You'd need to find out. A (cheap, $12-20) TDS meter will tell you the total mineral content quickly. Anything under 20-30 TDS is very fine for brewing, and needs very low adjustments for Pale beers, if any.

Here in the east, many Walmarts have Primo machines, very similar.

Again, water pH is not significant by itself. It's dissolved minerals (mostly those adding to the alkalinity) that make it resists change of pH in your various brewing processes.
 
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mlandon98

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High ferm temps can definitely be an important factor in off flavors, which can manifest themselves in many different ways.
I boiled the glacier water and there was some white calcium residue afterwards. It was much less than in my tap water but that means there are ions added. Not to mention, the filters on those machines wear out so unless you use it right after it's serviced you'll get unexpected dissolved things.

Besides a rubber taste, how does high temperature effect the beer?
 

IslandLizard

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Besides a rubber taste, how does high temperature effect the beer?
You mean, how high fermentation temps affect beer? Big time, and not in a good way!

Yeast selection and associated fermentation temps are among the most important parameters influencing beer flavor and aroma. If not solely the most important ones, all other variables remaining the same.

The optimum ferm temps (or a short range of temps) highly depends on the yeast strain used, and the desired outcome. For example, Saison yeasts will lean more character (which is desirable for a Saison style) when fermented toward the higher temps in their range.

Allowing the beer to ferment at temps too high (for the strain used), the yeast will go rampant, binging on the fermentables. She will pump out a plethora of higher order (fusel) alcohols and other byproducts in large amounts. Those are non-desirable flavors and aromas, and often referred to as "rocket fuel."

Mind, fermentation is an exothermic process, which means, it creates/produces heat. So at higher temps, fermentation will be faster, creating more heat, thus fermenting faster again... etc. That's why one should control ferm temps inside a narrow, chosen range, to prevent them from going rampant and rising (too high).
 

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I know, I have already used the word alkalinity 6 times or so in this thread. Let's not beat a dead horse here.

Coincidence

One way to guestimate alkalinity is a simple aquarium test, about $5 at Walmart. It won't give you everything you need (calcium, sulfate, calcium chloride, sodium) but I use it to see if my RO water filter is working properly. One drop from the reagent confirms that it is. You can try that- but your mash pH of 8 is immaterial as it could simply have absorbed CO2 by the water sitting out.
 

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One way to guestimate alkalinity is a simple aquarium test, about $5 at Walmart. It won't give you everything you need (calcium, sulfate, calcium chloride, sodium) but I use it to see if my RO water filter is working properly. One drop from the reagent confirms that it is. You can try that- but your mash pH of 8 is immaterial as it could simply have absorbed CO2 by the water sitting out.

Absorbing CO2 would drive the pH down (to 6 or high-5's), not up to 8. :) But it's true that the pH of 8 doesn't mean much without knowing how much carbonate or bicarbonate.

How about adding a few ounces of acid malt to the mash and see what happens? Seems like a low-risk test. Trial and error doesn't always mean lots and lots of iterations to find something that works.
 

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Ward Labs has a brewing water test kit for $45, they send you the supplies and you ship them the sample. A lot cheaper than those LaMotte at-home test kits.
You don't even need the brewing water test. I have no idea why people want the couple extra tests that are included. All you need is the

W-4. Livestock Suitability​

$23.25 USD

Just send the water in a small drinking water bottle and a check for $23.25.
 
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