Very hard water and IPA

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Mikent

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Hi all,

So, I live in Kent in the UK where we have "very hard" water, my water report shows:

Ca+2: 124
Mg+2: 4.6
Na+: 33.4
Cl-: 67
SO4-2: 70
HCO3-: 397
CO3-2: 1.826
GH: 328.3
Alkalinity: 328

I have no pH meter but assume it would be fairly high.

So I've brewed several all grain and partial grain beers with this water before, usually belgian tripels and dubbels, and some darker and amber ales, they have mostly turned out really well. I've never really considered water chemistry before, but reading around IPAs, it seems that the lighter grain might struggle a bit with the high pH. I don't really want to mess around with buying RO water, salts, acids, etc. so I was wondering if an acid rest at 35-37 °C might be helpful? Looking back through my recipes, it seems like I've also had a fairly low efficiency with my mashing ~60-65% which I have put down to inexperience and technique, but is it possible that my water profile is contributing?
Does anyone with a similar water profile, or expertise in this area have experience with brewing an IPA with it?
I would definitely appreciate any feedback!
(I accept that at some point I may have to get into the nitty gritty of water chemistry, but might struggle to justify buying more equipment at the moment...)

Anyway, here's my plan:

HOME BREW RECIPE:

Brew Method: All Grain
Style Name: IPA
Boil Time: 60 min
Batch Size: 25 liters (fermentor volume)
Boil Size: 30 liters
Boil Gravity: 1.043
Efficiency: 65% (brew house)

Hop Utilization Multiplier: 1

STATS:
Original Gravity: 1.049
Final Gravity: 1.009
ABV (standard): 5.32%
IBU (tinseth): 68.01
SRM (morey): 5.1

FERMENTABLES:
6 kg - Finest Maris Otter (100%)

HOPS:
1 oz - Chinook, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 12.5, Use: Boil for 60 min, IBU: 34.86
0.5 oz - Olicana, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 7.34, Use: Boil for 30 min, IBU: 7.87
0.5 oz - Chinook, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 12.5, Use: Boil for 30 min, IBU: 13.4
1 oz - Olicana, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 7.34, Use: Boil for 15 min, IBU: 10.16
1 oz - Olicana, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 7.34, Use: Boil for 2 min, IBU: 1.73
1 oz - Olicana, Type: Leaf/Whole, AA: 7.3, Use: Dry Hop for 7 days

MASH GUIDELINES:
1) Strike, Temp: 37 C, Time: 30 min, Amount: 19 L
2) Increase Temperature, Temp: 66 C, Time: 60 min
3) Fly Sparge, Temp: 75 C, Amount: 12 L
Starting Mash Thickness: 3.13 L/kg

YEAST:
Lallemand - LALBREW® NOTTINGHAM HIGH PERFORMANCE ALE YEAST
Starter: No
Form: Dry
Attenuation (avg): 80%
Flocculation: High
Optimum Temp: 10 - 22.22 C
Fermentation Temp: 18 C

This recipe has been published online at:

Generated by Brewer's Friend - Brewer's Friend | Homebrew Beer Recipes, Calculators & Forum
Date: 2022-10-20 09:57 UTC
Recipe Last Updated: 2022-10-20 09:57 UTC
 

hottpeper13

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My well water is similar so I installed an RO system after the iron remover and softener. I use 50% RO when making stouts and porters. Not wanting to do anything about it,you could try making IPA as is and make another one but boil the liquor for 10 min. let chill overnite then decant off the sludge.
Understanding water chemistry and DOING SOMETHING about it has taken my beer to You Should Sell that territory.
 

CascadesBrewer

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So, I live in Kent in the UK where we have "very hard" water, my water report shows:

As far as terms, hardness is generally a measurement of combined Calcium and Magnesium. At least as far as the USGS categories hardness goes, you are at the very bottle of the "hard" level ("121 to 180 mg/L as hard; and more than 180 mg/L as very hard"). Overall, I don't think it is the "hardness" of your water that is the biggest challenge, but the level of HCO3/Alkalinity. This may require a healthy dose of acid to bring your pH down to the right level. Your Chlorite and Sulfate levels are in a decent range and balanced. Sodium is at a decent level.

I don't use Brewer's Friend myself, but it should have tools to help calculate acid additions based on your water profile and recipe.

Strange Steve's brilliant guide on the UK forum is all you need to get started.

With a quick scan, this looks like a very solid resource for people that live outside the UK as well.
 

BigEd

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(I accept that at some point I may have to get into the nitty gritty of water chemistry, but might struggle to justify buying more equipment at the moment...)


You'll need to do something. You may as well get started with brewing water adjustments. IMO it will be more beneficial than a second rest and will make your brewing better as you learn.

That water has very high alkalinity which is going to cause problems with a light colored beer. The simplest way out would be to dilute with RO or distilled water but it is going to take probably 60-80% of your total brewing liquor to get that job done. Another option is reducing alkalinity by pre-boiling the water with a slaked lime (Calcium Hydroxide) addition.

http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Alkalinity_reduction_with_slaked_lime

Whichever way is used you should also add some gypsum/Calcium sulphate to the water. Either method is going to reduce your Ca+2 ion content below optimum. Also the sulphate is a traditional component of the ion content in brewing water for hoppy, light colored ales.
 
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Mikent

Mikent

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As far as terms, hardness is generally a measurement of combined Calcium and Magnesium. At least as far as the USGS categories hardness goes, you are at the very bottle of the "hard" level ("121 to 180 mg/L as hard; and more than 180 mg/L as very hard"). Overall, I don't think it is the "hardness" of your water that is the biggest challenge, but the level of HCO3/Alkalinity. This may require a healthy dose of acid to bring your pH down to the right level. Your Chlorite and Sulfate levels are in a decent range and balanced. Sodium is at a decent level.

I don't use Brewer's Friend myself, but it should have tools to help calculate acid additions based on your water profile and recipe.



With a quick scan, this looks like a very solid resource for people that live outside the UK as well.

Thanks for the reply, I decided to buy some lactic acid and give it a try, though will have to rely on calculations as I can't afford a pH meter. I'll have a read of strange steve's guide just now.

I guess the definitions are different over here, as my water is labelled as very hard by the water company who provides the report.
 

z-bob

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I have water that is almost as alkaline as yours. I have to add so much lactic acid, I can taste it in light-colored beers (or at least I think I can.) I use phosphoric acid (85%) instead, or sometimes a little phosphoric acid and some acid malt if I'm brewing something German.

You're in the UK so you can get a hydrochloric and sulfuric acid blend (I think it's called CRS); I would try that. Or mix about 25% or so RO water with your tapwater so it doesn't take so much lactic acid to de-alkalize it.
 
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hottpeper13

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Like everyone says,you'll have to do something. If you want to do the boil thing,for an IPA add 2.75 grams per gallon of brewing liquor CaSO4 and that will give you 400 total ppm SO4 and add 170 ppm of Ca. With the extra calcium the boil should remove almost all of the alkalinity,but also most of the calcium. after decanting add enough CaCl2 to boost calcium and balance your sulfate to chloride ratio. This could be reversed CaCl2 instead of CaSO4 when brewing a pale lager.
 

rburrelli

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Thanks for the reply, I decided to buy some lactic acid and give it a try, though will have to rely on calculations as I can't afford a pH meter. I'll have a read of strange steve's guide just now.

I guess the definitions are different over here, as my water is labelled as very hard by the water company who provides the report.
PH meters can be purchased at a very inexpensive price point. You should try that just to see where you are.
 
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Mikent

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PH meters can be purchased at a very inexpensive price point. You should try that just to see where you are.
I've had a look, but from what I have read, the cheaper pH meters are very unreliable, so I'd rather not throw away money on a junk one
 

Miraculix

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The easiest way that works well for me is to throw in 1-2% of the grist's weight as acidulated malt. So in your case about 20g acidulated malt per kg of grist. The darker the grist, the lower the amount necessary. In a stout I wouldn't add any acidulated malt at all.
 

Miraculix

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Btw. I successfully used that technique when I was living in Thatcham UK, which had a water with about 300ppm alkalinity, so pretty bad. Worked perfectly fine. But be careful with all the chlorine and potentially chloramine.... These need to be taken care of as well.
 

Miraculix

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And one more uk water tip, Tesco's bottled water, the big 5l plastic bottles have very low alkalinity, if I remember correctly. You can just buy four or five of these and call it a day. But check the label first, maybe the source has changed, is been a while for me...
 
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Mikent

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Thanks Man! I appreciate the input. I bought some lactic acid, so going to try that for my first batch of an IPA, and I plan to buy some acidulated malt, as you suggested to compare outcomes. I'll let you know how it goes!
 

TwogunRocky

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Tesco's bottled water, the big 5l plastic bottles have very low alkalinity
Yep, Tesco Ashbeck is a great base water just 25ppm HC03.... I use it for everything apart from stouts, then use the empties as fermenters for wine & ciders
IMG_20220827_105234.jpg
 

monkeydan

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I'm from the UK and have also lived in very hard water areas.

I used to use all tap water, calculate alkalinity using salifert tests and dose with CRS but now just buy RO water and dose from there with salts. Usually gypsum / calcium chloride is all I need to add.

I am FAR from an expert on water chemistry so buying RO water has been the easiest thing to do for me (pretty much the same as buying the Ashbeck from Tesco!)

Took me years to realise that you can buy RO water from aquarium / tropical fish supply shops. Filling a 20 litre container costs like £3.50. I have two of those containers and use ~30 litres to brew a batch so have some left over for next time (or to use with Star San).
 

Miraculix

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I'm from the UK and have also lived in very hard water areas.

I used to use all tap water, calculate alkalinity using salifert tests and dose with CRS but now just buy RO water and dose from there with salts. Usually gypsum / calcium chloride is all I need to add.

I am FAR from an expert on water chemistry so buying RO water has been the easiest thing to do for me (pretty much the same as buying the Ashbeck from Tesco!)

Took me years to realise that you can buy RO water from aquarium / tropical fish supply shops. Filling a 20 litre container costs like £3.50. I have two of those containers and use ~30 litres to brew a batch so have some left over for next time (or to use with Star San).
Did not know that either :D.
 

mabrungard

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That tap water is okay as a starting point for an IPA. However, the thing that you definitely need to manage is the water’s alkalinity. Since the sparging water will also need acid neutralization, you really need to learn to use an acid. Using only acid malt won’t get all your water where it needs to be.

Sure, you can use acid blends like CRS or AMS, but they can limit where your water profile can go. Using other acids like lactic or phosphoric enable you to fine tune the chloride and sulfate levels independently.
 

Miraculix

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That tap water is okay as a starting point for an IPA. However, the thing that you definitely need to manage is the water’s alkalinity. Since the sparging water will also need acid neutralization, you really need to learn to use an acid. Using only acid malt won’t get all your water where it needs to be.

Sure, you can use acid blends like CRS or AMS, but they can limit where your water profile can go. Using other acids like lactic or phosphoric enable you to fine tune the chloride and sulfate levels independently.
I forgot about sparging, I do full volume biab, in this setup acidulated malt is hard to beat in terms of convenience and result. With lautering setups it's a different story.
 
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