Illinois Question for Chicago lager brewers

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Hedo-Rick

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Hey Chicago,

I'm currently living and have been brewing in San Francisco for the last 9 years, but want to move back to Chicago this fall.

95% of what I brew are German Pilsners with the occasional hoppy beer sprinkled in. We have really lean water here and I can build just about any water profile I need to with calcium chloride and gypsum additions.

What are you brewers in Chicago doing with your water to brew a German Pilsner? What is the water profile like coming out of the tap?
 

Steven Barrett

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Hey Chicago,

I'm currently living and have been brewing in San Francisco for the last 9 years, but want to move back to Chicago this fall.

95% of what I brew are German Pilsners with the occasional hoppy beer sprinkled in. We have really lean water here and I can build just about any water profile I need to with calcium chloride and gypsum additions.

What are you brewers in Chicago doing with your water to brew a German Pilsner? What is the water profile like coming out of the tap?
Chicago has fairly soft water. The city conducts comprehensive water analyses quarterly and they are available online here: https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/dep...ndreports/comprehensive_chemicalanalysis.html
 

mirthfuldragon

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What is the water profile like coming out of the tap?
Depends on what you mean by "Chicago". There are three water sources from Lake Michigan. My water comes from Evanston and I live in the northwest suburbs. Using the public reports, the water profile is something along the lines of Ca 32, Mg 11, Na 7.7, Bicarbonate 122, So4 25, and Cl 14. It makes it fairly hard. Be prepared to use extra soap and detergent.

Honestly, I don't mess with water too much - I fill water jugs after the brew day and let the chlorine (not chloromine) off-gas for a week and use straight-up tap water for just about everything. There is a reason Milwaukee (just up the road) is famous for lagers. The reason it's Milwaukee and not Chicago largely comes back to Prohibition and Capone and a lot of other reasons, and I suggest Bob Skilnik's excellent Beer: A History of Brewing in Chicago for more information.
 

MarTeBrew

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I recently tested my TAP water with WARD lab (water was after Culligan RFC-BBSA filter) I am in North - West suburbs of Chicago (Arlington Heights area)

I hope this will help.

pH 7.9
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 170
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.28
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.5 / 3.5


Sodium, Na 10
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 37.6
Magnesium, Mg 13
Total Hardness, CaCO3 149
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 9
Chloride, Cl 17
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 148
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 122
Total Phosphorus, P 0.20
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01 "<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
 

JayZeus

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I am in the SW suburbs and did a test with Ward Labs just a couple of weeks ago. This is straight out of the tap with no filter...

pH 8.0
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 207
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.34
Cations / Anions, me/L 3.5 / 3.1
ppm
Sodium, Na 10
Potassium, K 2
Calcium, Ca 37.5
Magnesium, Mg 14
Total Hardness, CaCO3 151
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.3 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 12
Chloride, Cl 15
Carbonate, CO3 < 1.0
Bicarbonate, HCO3 118
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 98
Total Phosphorus, P 0.50
Total Iron, Fe 0.02

"<" - Not Detected / Below Detection Limit
 

Craiginthecorn

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The City of Chicago supplies many suburbs, but the further you get from Lake Michigan, the more likely it becomes that the water source will be a well. If so, mineral profiles will vary widely. Our little suburb has radium in the water, so they use reverse osmosis to remove it. In spite of that, our water is not truly soft.
 
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When people talk in terms of water hardness categories (such as "very hard" or "hard" or "soft"), what exactly do they mean? Here's some numbers and the associated hardness categories:
Hardness.png


Russ
 

ITV

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I live in the Western suburbs of Chicago and my village switched over to Lake Michigan water 20+ years ago. The existing village water pipes (35+ years old) have a fair amount of rust, even though they are flushed every year, which I change my sediment filter out every 6 to 8 months.

I use RO water when I brew mainly because I brew a wide varity of beer styles and I prefer to tweek the water profile for each style. I measure the incoming TDS at 135.

Before I used RO water, I just treated for chlorine which made acceptable beer, expecially IPA's or pale ales, I didn't do lagers back then due to no fermentation chamber.
 
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