Author Topic: Brewing water  (Read 1907 times)

Offline euge

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Brewing water
« on: February 28, 2010, 12:47:40 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?

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Offline dean

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2010, 07:02:37 AM »
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.   :(

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2010, 07:51:43 AM »
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.
« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 07:54:18 AM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline denny

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2010, 09:40:47 AM »
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.
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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2010, 10:38:52 AM »
My alkalinity and hardness are both over 300. So step one for me is always deciding how much to dilute.
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Offline euge

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #5 on: February 28, 2010, 10:53:18 AM »
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?
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline dean

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #6 on: February 28, 2010, 11:56:09 AM »
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
               
                                                                
« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 11:58:48 AM by dean »

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2010, 01:08:16 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. 
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Offline gail

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2010, 06:18:51 AM »
Jeff--were you on city water or well water before you switched to RO?
Gail

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2010, 08:26:15 AM »
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. 

Jeff Rankert
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Offline denny

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #10 on: March 01, 2010, 09:15:34 AM »
My house is softened but the water is still about 225 ppm- all sodium.

Which is probably from the softener.
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #11 on: March 01, 2010, 10:02:26 AM »

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

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #12 on: March 01, 2010, 10:46:38 AM »
Kai,

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

Jeff
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2010, 10:56:33 AM »

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

Offline gail

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Re: Brewing water
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2010, 06:02:59 PM »
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