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Another water report

I finally got around to getting my water report, and I’ve been playing around with it in Brun Water a little. Before I do anything incredibly stupid, though, I was hoping to get some feedback on the report from you guys. What are your thoughts on this water report?

pH 7.8
Total Dissolved Solids 193 ppm
Electrical Conductivity 0.32 mmho/cm
Cations/Anions 3.9/3.8 me/L

Sodium, Na 3 ppm
Potassium, K <1 ppm
Calcium, Ca 51 ppm
Magnesium, Mg 15 ppm
Total Hardness, CaCO3 190 ppm
Nitrate, NO3-N 0.1 ppm
Sulfate, SO4-S 3 ppm
Chloride, Cl 1 ppm
Carbonate, CO3 <1.0 ppm
Bicarbonate, HCO3 217 ppm
Total Alkalinity, CaCO3 179 ppm
Total Phosphorus, P 0.01 ppm
Total Iron, Fe <0.01 ppm

Thanks eh! Sorry about the lousy formatting.

Relatively low on flavor ions, so its a good starting point. The main concern is the high alkalinity. Acid will be your friend!

Actually, there are other options. You can pre-boil the water or perform lime softening. Either will work to drop the calcium and bicarbonate. But for ales…you can just acidify and be fine. Lactic acid may not be ideal, but it will work with some beer styles brewed with this water. Phosphoric may be a better choice.

Thanks Martin! That’s what I was hoping to hear.

I’m going to be making an all-Citra SMaSH tomorrow, and assuming I’m using the spreadsheet right it looks like I can get close to where I want with a little calcium chloride, some gypsum, and an acid addition to the mash and sparge water. I can’t get any phosphoric acid by tomorrow, but I have some citric acid and although I’m sure it’s not ideal, I’m hoping that it will be OK with the fruity hops.

After plugging in my water profile, I’m surprised that any of my light beers to date have been palateable. My mash pH must have been in the ballpark of 6.0. Data rocks!

Hopefully this isn’t a dumb question… If I boil my water first, how do I account for the effect in the water profile?

I’ve noticed that when I overheat my sparge water, I have some precipitate floating on the surface of the water. Would this have to be removed, or will it remain out of solution if I use the water as-is?

If you are going to use citric acid, it will be very important to pre-boil the water to knock some of the bicarb out. You can read about the process and how to calculate the resulting ending concentrations of Ca and HCO3 in the Decarbonation by Boiling section on the Water Knowledge page of the Bru’n Water website.

Citric acid is too flavorful to use if you have a bunch of alkalinity to neutralize. You have to take some of the alkalinity out beforehand.

The preboiling process does take at least an hour to perform well, so plan ahead. You have to boil for 10 or 15 minutes and then let the water sit until its clear. Then you decant the water off the sediment. You’ll then have to clean the sediment out of the kettle and THEN you can begin your brew day. Oh joy!

I would forgo the citric acid. If you aren’t gonna postpone the brew, I say use all distilled and build it up. Might need a bit of baking soda if you are gonna load up on the gypsum.

[quote=“mabrungard”]If you are going to use citric acid, it will be very important to pre-boil the water to knock some of the bicarb out. You can read about the process and how to calculate the resulting ending concentrations of Ca and HCO3 in the Decarbonation by Boiling section on the Water Knowledge page of the Bru’n Water website.

Citric acid is too flavorful to use if you have a bunch of alkalinity to neutralize. You have to take some of the alkalinity out beforehand.

The preboiling process does take at least an hour to perform well, so plan ahead. You have to boil for 10 or 15 minutes and then let the water sit until its clear. Then you decant the water off the sediment. You’ll then have to clean the sediment out of the kettle and THEN you can begin your brew day. Oh joy![/quote]

I’d cut the kids’ allowance and and feed them dried beans for a couple of weeks; use the money you save to pay for distilled water.

[quote=“mabrungard”]If you are going to use citric acid, it will be very important to pre-boil the water to knock some of the bicarb out. You can read about the process and how to calculate the resulting ending concentrations of Ca and HCO3 in the Decarbonation by Boiling section on the Water Knowledge page of the Bru’n Water website.

Citric acid is too flavorful to use if you have a bunch of alkalinity to neutralize. You have to take some of the alkalinity out beforehand.

The preboiling process does take at least an hour to perform well, so plan ahead. You have to boil for 10 or 15 minutes and then let the water sit until its clear. Then you decant the water off the sediment. You’ll then have to clean the sediment out of the kettle and THEN you can begin your brew day. Oh joy![/quote]

Wow, that sounds like a lot of fun… you just convinced me to order some phosphoric acid!

Had a chance to stop by LHBS on Friday night, and they had some acidulated malt so I used that instead. Am I correct that it just has some lactic acid content, and the same effect could be achieved by adding lactic acid to the mash and sparge water?

Brewing is a slippery slope. A year ago when I re-started, I swore that dry yeast was all I needed and that liquid yeast was a waste of time. Now I really only use liquid or harvested yeast. I swore that I’d be content with extract. Nope. I figured water treatment was over-the-top, and if I couldn’t make a good beer with my well water, then so be it. Well here I am researching water treatment. And it’s actually pretty cool!

Acid malt is basically the same thing as lactic acid. Both reduce mash pH. That said, acid malt is not used in the sparge. You need acid or distilled water here.

I recall when I thought this way about dry yeast and extract but have come full circle. Next beer is a lager and using saflager 34/70. Dry yeast has come along way. I much prefer to use dry instead of stepping up starters for liquid. That being said, I think water treatment is worth the fuss.

No kidding! As soon as the temperature drops enough, I’m going to try my first lager in the basement.

If you could only choose one, is either lactic or phosphoric acid preferable over the other? Are there certain styles where one would be better? I like to keep things simple, but if there’s a clear advantage of one or the other for certain uses, it’s good to know ahead of time.

Thanks again!

The advantage of phosphoric acid is that it is the most neutral tasting. For that reason I advocate it. All acids add some flavor. I am in minority but I do NOT like lactic acid. Acid malt is fine though…

Water treatment is style dependent. That said, there are 2 basic strategies I use. Tap water and phosphoric acid for typical light colored ales (IPA, saison) and all distilled and acid malt for german stuff (hefe, pils). There is some variation for each beer. IE for IPA I use gypsum to raise sulfate to 300ppm, phosphoric acid to mash pH of 5.4. I then acidify sparge water to same and add gypsum that would typically added to sparge into the kettle. For now, focus on proper pH. Both mash AND sparge. Once these are dialed in, experiment with salts for flavor.

Be aware that some folks (Noonan) say that only water with less than 120ppm alkalinity can be treated with acid because the acid flavor would become more dominant when overused. I cannot state whether this is true or not since my water is under that level. You might luck out. Suffice to say that if some off flavors appear, you might consider cutting the water 50/50. I recall that phosphoric acid can give beer a soda pop or seltzer water off flavor.

Again, thanks for the great information! I’ve only been using gypsum and calcium chloride so far, so the addition of phosphoric acid should keep me busy for awhile. A little hit of acid never hurt anything.

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