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General Category => Ingredients => Topic started by: euge on February 28, 2010, 07:47:40 AM

Title: Brewing water
Post by: euge on February 28, 2010, 07:47:40 AM
I've never sent off any samples for a report- but one is available online and I go by it's average. What I do have is a TDS meter. Gives me an exact ppm. My water is average for the area according to it's reading.

High in bicarbonates with a sulfate-chloride ratio skewed to bitter. I've brewed across the spectrum with my water. In my lower SRM beers (around 10) I would get a weird harshness in an otherwise perfectly acceptable beer. Oh how I agonized over what may have gone wrong.

In contrast when I started in on the Brown ales and Milds I started seeing vast improvements in my finished beer. Something clicked and I did the research. OH. I really do have to brew within my water profile if I plan to use local water.

Accepting this has been a turning point in my brewing. If I want to use straight out of the tap to mash it has to be a minimum of 16 SRM. Period. And twenty is better.

What about you guys? Difficulties wit yer water?

Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: dean on February 28, 2010, 02:02:37 PM
I recently had a water report done and I'm still playing with it adjusting my recipes.  I have water similar to yours it sounds though, straight out of the tap my water is good for roughly the same SRM you stated.

I recently tried shifting the sulfate to chloride ratio toward a maltier beer just to see what difference it made.... to ~1.50ish... its been in the fermenter for 6 days and I pulled some to check the gravity and tasted it.... Yuck... it tastes like liquid cream of wheat cereal.  At first taste when it hits my lips it has a certain saltiness to it and I didn't add anything to up the sodium content at all... my tap water only has 6 ppm of sodium too. After the first taste the saltiness seems to disappear thank god!   It should also have 69 IBU's but it doesn't taste like it and I used Columbus hops.   ???   I don't know... maybe it will condition and change more over the next week or two but the gravity reading shows its nearly finished already.  I also have a lot of issues with cloudiness, regardless of how long I mash, but that started before I moved here.  I'm taking some very serious looks at my equipment and other things... again.   :(
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 28, 2010, 02:51:43 PM
Going to RO water and building the mineral content was a big improvement in my beer quality.

Tap water is loaded with minerals.
Ca=114
Mg=33
Na=58
SO4=16
Cl=132
HCO3=368

Dublin has the closest water to that, and we know what they brew with the water.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: denny on February 28, 2010, 04:40:47 PM
I've got really great well water....slightly hard, slightly carbonate, but not extreme, and it tastes great.  I can do anything but really light and really dark beers without any treatment.  I've been starting to learn how to adjust it for those extremes, and it's made quite a difference.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: a10t2 on February 28, 2010, 05:38:52 PM
My alkalinity and hardness are both over 300. So step one for me is always deciding how much to dilute.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: euge on February 28, 2010, 05:53:18 PM
I got a Whirlpool RO unit Friday that goes under the sink. Haven't hooked it up yet but the excitement is there. Cheap and easy dilution.

My house is softened but the water is still about 225 ppm- all sodium. It doesn't taste bad necessarily but something about it discourages me from drinking this stuff. I still don't like the taste overall and finally concluded it won't get included in any more brews.

Brewed with it before (dilution) and it doesn't really help much. It didn't give the finished beer a mineral or salty flavor but just wasn't right.

Wow hopfenundmalz. That sulfate-chloride ratio is wack.

Denny, I guess you got lucky ;) well water has a rep for having high iron in some areas.

Dean- how much chloride did you add? Might try cutting back?
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: dean on February 28, 2010, 06:56:09 PM
I only added one teaspoon of CaCl overall... 1/2 teaspoon of gypsum overall and 1/2 teaspoon of epsom salt overall.  Maybe the epsom is the culprit but it didn't show adding any sodium.  With my water it only put it at this... (first time I've brewed using ez-calc.)  I understand why its not as bitter as it could have been had I used a lower choride to sulfate ratio but the flavor throws me.

Results                                        Calcium   Magnesium    Sodium        Chloride     Sulfate             Alkalinity
                                               (Ca ppm)    (Mg ppm)    (Na ppm)     (Cl ppm)     (SO4 ppm)    (CaCO3 ppm)

Mash + Sparge Water Profile:              122        24               6               107            68                181

The RA was 80 and the CaCl to S04 ratio was 1.56
               
                                                                
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 28, 2010, 08:08:16 PM

Wow hopfenundmalz. That sulfate-chloride ratio is wack.


Just one of the reasons I use RO and builf from there.  The RO water at Ward Labs came back all <1 ppm.  Just about distilled water. 
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: gail on March 01, 2010, 01:18:51 PM
Jeff--were you on city water or well water before you switched to RO?
Gail
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 01, 2010, 03:26:15 PM
Gail,
 
I am on city well water, which is the Milford Village water system, drawn from 2 wells about 110 ft. deep.  The water has gone through the local gravel and ground up limestone that the glaciers left here.  The Na and CL might be there due to road salt, but I don't really know.  The Village removes the iron, but that is it.   

Boiling was my procedure before, and it would drop out some of the carbonate, so that the kettle had "fur" the next morning.  Boiling was time and energy intensive.  I also didn't know the repeatability, or the mineral content after boiling.

The RO water I get is from a store in Wixom, which is on the "City" water system, originating in Lake Huron.  Good water to start with, and the RO gets it to <1 ppm for all the minerals tested by Ward Labs. 

Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: denny on March 01, 2010, 04:15:34 PM
My house is softened but the water is still about 225 ppm- all sodium.

Which is probably from the softener.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: Kaiser on March 01, 2010, 05:02:26 PM

Boiling was my procedure before, and it would drop out some of the carbonate, so that the kettle had "fur" the next morning.  Boiling was time and energy intensive.  I also didn't know the repeatability, or the mineral content after boiling.
Quote

Jeff,

Have you considered lime treatment of your water to remove some of the alkalinity? It requires much less energy than boiling and is fairly consistent. I tried it on two of my recent batches and using a GH&KH test kit I was able to confirm the alkalinity reduction. The only complicated part is calculating the necessary lime additions but I plan to add support for that to my spreadsheet and also plan to write a how-to soon.

Kai
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 01, 2010, 05:46:38 PM
Kai,

I have read about that some years back, have not tried it.  Does it leave the other minerals unmodified?

Jeff
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: Kaiser on March 01, 2010, 05:56:33 PM

I have read about that some years back, have not tried it.  Does it leave the other minerals unmodified?

Yes, it only changes calcium and alkalinity. There are also ways to reduce magnesium hardness as well if there is a need for that. It's basically removing chalk from the water. The same thing which boiling does w/o the need to boil. 

Kai
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: gail on March 02, 2010, 01:02:59 AM
Great food for thought from both Jeff and Kai--thanks!  I'm on metro Detroit city water which is actually very versatile with some Campden tabs for chloramines (and I filter through charcoal, too).  Boiling was just too energy intensive for me after I tried it a few times.  I saw Gordon Strong's recipe for APA a while back and noticed he started from RO which I've always been leery of doing.  I've been even more hesitant about lime treatment.  However, I would like to get an even cleaner-tasting, under 10 SRM beer and maybe tinkering more on my water will be a way to achieve that.  Thanks,
Gail
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on March 02, 2010, 02:25:02 AM
Gail,

You have a good water source that you can diltue with RO or distilled.  There several programs that will predict for you, as you probably know.  We both know some people who get "City" water (i.e. Detroit) when they can.

Jeff
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: gail on March 02, 2010, 01:51:57 PM
Jeff--have the programs and have diluted with distilled, just not quite the clean outcome I want.  I'll keep reading and "playing" (AKA brewing).  Palmer's RA spreadsheet is the one I've been using over the last year + and that has gotten me much closer, a noticeable improvement.  Maybe I'll have to get some more tips from AABG!  With your water source being Village well, I see why you're using RO and building from there.  Our City water makes fantastic light ambers to stouts with minimal adjustments (OK, so there are some advantages to living in metro Detroit).
Gail
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: brewmichigan on March 10, 2010, 02:31:24 PM
Gail, I live in Flint which gets it's water from the Detroit system and I usually dilute my water with RO to 50% for most beers between 6-13 SRM. I have noticed during the winter though that my mash ph has been lower which would mean my bi-carb values are down and the water has less buffering capability. I brewed a Stout with 100% my water a month ago and the ph is usually spot on but I had to add some CaCO3 to the mash to raise the ph a little. First time I've ever had to do that.

Oh, and I always add about a teaspoon of gypsum to the boil for my IPAs. I don't know my sulfate level but I think it makes the bitterness much more "clean" tasting.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: euge on March 10, 2010, 06:35:16 PM
Hooray!  ;D    Hooray!  ;D     Hooray!  ;D
         

Got my RO unit installed over the weekend. Man that water sure tastes great!

Planning on diluting 50% and brewing a 10 SRM batch this weekend- which I haven't been able to do to my satisfaction in years...

Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: gail on March 19, 2010, 12:41:19 AM
Gail, I live in Flint which gets it's water from the Detroit system and I usually dilute my water with RO to 50% for most beers between 6-13 SRM. I have noticed during the winter though that my mash ph has been lower which would mean my bi-carb values are down and the water has less buffering capability. I brewed a Stout with 100% my water a month ago and the ph is usually spot on but I had to add some CaCO3 to the mash to raise the ph a little. First time I've ever had to do that.

Oh, and I always add about a teaspoon of gypsum to the boil for my IPAs. I don't know my sulfate level but I think it makes the bitterness much more "clean" tasting.
The last info I got on our Detroit city water was Spring 2009, sulfates at 31 ppm.  That was from Springwells plant which supplies my area.  I'm pleasantly surprised Flint gets Detroit water.  Jeff is right: our city water is great for most beer styles and stouts need just a little adjustment.  Time to get another city water analysis which should be available soon.  I'm reading another thread about Best vs. Weyermann malts and am wondering if the issues I'm having with lighter SRM beers is really about the malt and not the water (I have diluted and not gotten the clean, malty results I've wanted).  I love this hobby.  So many variables.
Title: Re: Brewing water
Post by: euge on April 04, 2010, 07:28:33 PM
Drank a couple of gallons of excess Brown-ale I just kegged earlier this week. For the first time I used 25% R/O water to dilute. Even though the beer was only 11 day old it was very good. I designed this beer around the mash water and the RA. There's none of the odd harshness I used to see in some of my other batches even though I'm using pretty much the same ingredients.