Author Topic: Fun with Water  (Read 1298 times)

Offline AlbieTom

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Fun with Water
« on: March 27, 2017, 03:40:07 PM »
So sometimes I feel like too much knowledge truly is a dangerous thing. I feel John Palmer's book on water may have been a mistake at my level of brewing. Even knowing that I can't stop reading brewing articles and books, I figure I still have a great deal to learn. Onto my question.

I live in Atlanta. After researching the local water and looking into the rough profile of the water this is what I get too. The few sites that discuss it come to this.

Beer Smith Water Profile:
Calcium(Ca): 6.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 1.0 ppm
Sodium(Na): 3.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 7.0 ppm
Bicarbonate(HCO3): 19.0 ppm
PH: 7.2 PH

First time I tried all grain I went with Distilled Water and used brunwater to determine my salt additions. It did well but after talking with some other homebrewers that said Atlanta water was a good starting point I decided to try that. I'm on my second batch just using Atlanta water and I'm having difficulty hitting my Mash pH. I follow the burnwater to the letter on salt additions (gypsum, calcium chloride, etc.) to hit the numbers but my pH is still coming in high around 5.8-6. Haven't tried using lactic acid or acid malt to try and bring it down. Has anyone else had similar issues with hitting target pH of ~5.2? Any suggestions?

Additionally I use a one vessel BIAB system currently.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2017, 03:43:56 PM by AlbieTom »

Offline Stevie

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #1 on: March 27, 2017, 04:08:51 PM »
You are assuming your water aligns with those reported numbers. That's not always the case. You could have a sample tested to determine where your water is. This changes from time to time, so you'd need to test again at some point.

Offline braufessor

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2017, 04:28:20 PM »
As mentioned - assuming your water is a certain profile could be hit and miss.

One thing to consider is how you are measuring pH..... Did you measure the pH on your first batches with Distilled also?  Did they come in at a lower range that you were shooting for?  Without a good pH meter or very good test strips - measuring pH is really a crap shoot.

I would say those are the two most likely issues:
* Your water is not what you think it is (Get an actual analysis from Ward Labs)
* Your measurements of your actual pH are not precise/accurate.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2017, 04:45:56 PM »
Atlanta water is right out of the Chattahoochee and its a great starting point for brewing. I'm not sure where you got that profile from, but be aware that a water is unmineralized as Atlanta's is often dosed with lime or some other caustic to reduce the corrosiveness of the water so that it won't eat the pipes in the ground and in your house. Do get a Wards test to find out if your tap water matches the profile you've posted.
Martin B
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Offline AlbieTom

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2017, 01:06:29 PM »
Thanks everyone! I'm going to take my water to the UGA extension office and get it tested. Looks like it's only $22 so I can do that every 6 months or so. I think I'll also invest in some better pH strips. Then when I have some better info I'll come back with what I think my water alterations should be for further discussion and input.

Offline braufessor

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2017, 01:52:51 PM »
Make sure you get the relevant numbers for brewing..... check out what Test 5A or 6 from Ward Labs covers - that is basically what you want to make sure you are getting from the place you are getting your sample:
http://www.wardlab.com/water-services.php

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #6 on: March 29, 2017, 03:00:22 PM »
I think I'll also invest in some better pH strips.

Unfortunately, there are no pH strips that can provide definitive guidance or information when working with wort. Colored wort makes any interpretation very difficult and error prone. They really aren't a substitute for a calibrated pH meter.
Martin B
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Offline kramerog

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2017, 05:12:44 PM »
Try contacting the water company.  They may be able to provide several analyses over a year which will give you an idea as to the variability of the water. 

Offline MagicRat

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Re: Fun with Water
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2017, 12:29:59 AM »
The water chemistry stuff gives me a headache so I've taken the path of least resistance and just ignored it.  In 20+ batches, I've made some really good beer and some that was nothing more than drinkable but those I attribute to just poorly thought out recipes and execution. Who knows how a little attention to water would have changed my perceptions of my beer?
I did recently obtain a water profile and compared it to Palmer.  Everything is pretty much well within specs for brewing but what I take away from Palmer is that if I'm brewing very light colored beers, I should be diluting with half distilled water.  If you ask me why, I couldn't tell you off the top of my head but that's because all I'm looking for is the minimum info I need without going into a lot of technical detail that's over my head anyway.
Bottom line - when I brew something with less than about 7 SRM, I'll be getting a few gallons of distilled water.


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