Guys: Thanks for the warm welcome. I know that there are very good brewers here because I recognize some brewers from other boards. I always say that I'm a student of this hobby and probably always will be... and that's fine with me as long as I'm impressed and happy with the beers I'm making.
Joe: I grew up in Arlington Heights and now live in Cook County Buffalo Grove. Yes, I have Lake Michigan water and have had it analyzed by Ward Labs a couple times. I am using a very reliable pH meter to check my mash, sparge and kettle pH and using CaCl, CaSO4 and lactic acid as my weapons in the world of water. I used to shake my fists at the sky because I thought our water was only marginally good for brewing but I now realize that we have pretty nice water... especially compared to some poor souls. Yes, there is bicarb in our water but that's easy to resolve. Keep me posted if you want to know some further details. I will be happy to share my most painful pale lager journey with you and anyone else interested. Cheers Beerheads!