Ward Labs Report Question

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ParanoidAndroid

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I am coming over here from the All Grain forum since some people told me to. I have never considered water chemistry as a major part of the brewing process. Here is a link to my thread I started:

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/getting-worse-homebrewer-1st-all-grain-astringent-taste-444925/

Basically I have been using Publix brand spring water for all my brews and all but 1 or 2 (out of 15 or so) have been what I consider good. I recently purchased a filter with a Pentek Chlorplus10 insert and sent a filtered sample to Ward. Here are the results:

pH 8.5

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Est, ppm 266
Electrical Conductivity, mmho/cm 0.44
Cations / Anions, me/L 5.1 / 5.6

ppm
Sodium, Na 38
Potassium, K 3
Calcium, Ca 61
Magnesium, Mg 4
Total Hardness, CaCO3 169
Nitrate, NO3-N < 0.1 (SAFE)
Sulfate, SO4-S 9
Chloride, Cl 18
Carbonate, CO3 16
Bicarbonate, HCO3 244
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 226
Total Phosphorus, P 0.16
Total Iron, Fe < 0.01

Now obviously these are way different than the spring water from Publix, and I am switching to using my home water. I want to get a few more all grain brews under my belt before a dive right into the water chemistry part, but I am looking to see if anything is just WAY off. Right now I am just looking to make good beer, and hopefully great will come later with the water adjustments.

Is anything way wrong that would possibly just cause every batch to be bad?
 

g-star

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Water hardness is at a good level, but alkalinity is certainly on the high side. If your mash/sparge pH is too high, you will extracts polyphenols/tannins which can lead to an astringent off-flavor. This will be more prominent in the pale beers.

I would recommend getting a pH meter (or colophast strips at the least) and some lactic acid to test and bring your pH into the correct room temp range (5.2 - 5.6). I can say from experience that my water, which is not nearly that high in alkalinity (61ppm as CaCO3) requires a 1 - 2ml lactic acid (88) addition for pale ales/lagers to get pH near 5.4.
 

mabrungard

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The concept of residual alkalinity is a valid first guess at the suitability of a water for brewing. At 181 ppm, this water's RA is very high for any brewing use. Even the darkest of stouts would probably not need more than a RA of 90 ppm, so the alkalinity of this water needs to be neutralized. The rest of the profile is decent for brewing.

One option is to pre-boil the water and decant the water off the sediment after it clears. Another option is lime softening. A third option is RO treatment. A simple option may be to acidify the water, but the level of acidification may require the use of phosphoric acid to avoid taste effects when using lactic acid. Other acids such as hydrochloric and sulfuric acid are viable options, but they can be rather hazardous to store and use.
 

B4brew

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I have a question regarding Ward labs test. Do we need the phosphorus test? What does this information tell me? Hope i'm not changing the subject to much, the subject title was a good fit. Thanks
 

ajdelange

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If the water has any calcium the phosphorous is going to be low especially at higher pH. If you are a real nitpicker (worse than me) you need to include phosphate in calculations involving the water's alkalinity. About the only thing I ever use it for is in assessing the quality of a report by including it in the charge balance. If phosphorous gets much higher than in your report, say into the mg/L range, then you should be checking your source for potential agricultural runoff contamination.
 
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ParanoidAndroid

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Thanks for the suggestions.

I input my profile into EZ Water and had some questions (This is Lil Sparky Nut Brown Ale):

1. I assume the only malts that affect the Ph are the base malts and crystal since these are the only inputs available. The recipe calls for flaked oats, chocolate malt, and victory too.

2. My Mash Ph is high, but when I play around with Gypsum and Ep Salt to get it down, it throws other items out of range at the bottom. How do I go about getting this right? Is Mash Ph more important than Mg ppm or Sulfate or Chloride/Sulfate ratio, or are they a function of each other?

Lil Sparky Nut Brown Water Profile3.jpg
 

ajdelange

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1. I assume the only malts that affect the Ph are the base malts and crystal since these are the only inputs available. The recipe calls for flaked oats, chocolate malt, and victory too.
Any malt that has a DI water mash pH that is different from the mash pH you want has an effect on mash pH. Some, base malts, pull mash pH up. Others, roast and caramel malts, pull it down. All malts must be considered.

2. My Mash Ph is high, but when I play around with Gypsum and Ep Salt to get it down, it throws other items out of range at the bottom.
That is because adding minerals in not a very effective way to influence mash pH. Acid in some form is much more effective and that is why most beers required some acid.


How do I go about getting this right?
Add some acid. This can be in the form of liquid phosphoric or lactic acid or sauermalz or roast or caramel malts or a combination. Calcium and magnesium do add acid but as noted it is a secondary source.


Is Mash Ph more important than Mg ppm or Sulfate or Chloride/Sulfate ratio, or are they a function of each other?
They are both important but getting the stylistic ions right is not going to save the beer if you don't get the mash pH right. There is a proper level of sulfate for each beer and a proper level of chloride and as such there is a ratio that is right but you cannot design a beer by the ratio. If you have a beer that is good with 50 ppm sulfate and 50 ppm chloride and try to brew it with water containing 300 ppm sulfate by increasing chloride to 300 ppm you won't get at all the same beer. Best to forget that you ever heard about required ratios learn how to get sulfate and chloride right.
 

GotPushrods

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1. I assume the only malts that affect the Ph are the base malts and crystal since these are the only inputs available. The recipe calls for flaked oats, chocolate malt, and victory too.
As AJ says, they all have a contribution. Since these spreadsheets are just models, they attempt to take a manageable subset of the input data and give a reasonable estimate.

Since there is clearly no lookup data for 500 malts in the sheet, you need to put every one in some category. It's just an educated guess until you get more used to how they behave. Even then, malt varies from batch to batch, and these models are only giving you a probability window. I use 5 different models before each brew, record their estimates, and aim for the middle. (Sometimes weighting acid addictions for the ones that perform best)

I'm just a nerdy engineer and I find that fun. I'm not suggesting everyone do that, but pointing out that no model is best with each brew.

I'd call the flaked oats base malt, chocolate roasted, and the victory roast as well. But that's a guess.
 

mchrispen

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This.
...getting the stylistic ions right is not going to save the beer if you don't get the mash pH right
In the OP you mentioned extreme astringency in many of your beers. I had the same issue with water that was very high in sodium and bicarbonate, and difficult to acidify to achieve even the higher spectrum of mash pH. I moved 100% to R/O water, and treating that with salts to hit the stylistic requirements. Two brews later, I invested in a large R/O system for my brewhouse.

The primary benefit, however, was the ability to manipulate my mash pH easily with acid or alkalinity, because R/O has so little. The secondary was the simplified approach to achieving the stylistic profiles for each recipe. I think this is something you should consider, and can test by brewing a couple of batches with store bought R/O and the Primer recommendations and a pH meter. You should balance this effort with the efforts of pre-boiling or treatments with slaked lime before your brew days. Once you understand those processes better - then dive into EZ Water or Bru'n Water for a more sophisticated approach. I have found Bru'n to provide more accurate predictions than EZ, but it maybe a bit more complex. I would also recommend the Palmer/Kandisnky book on Water - for which AJ and Martin contributed.
 
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