Brewing water question

I’m just starting with all grain and have done my best to try and adjust my water to get a good water profile for my beer. At first I thought it would be best to add the salts to my 15gal drum and then re-test to make sure it’s correct but my results didn’t come out like the calculators said it would. Also the chalk basically sat at the bottom and didn’t dissolve. So I then used EZ-water calculator and added it to the mash and sparge water. I don’t know how the best way to prepare my water, if I treat the mash and sparge, you have no way to insure the correct amount of salt was added. If you mix the salt to the water before brewing some will not dissolve.

Can anyone help me with my water questions? I added my water test results. Thanks!

This is my well water run through a up flow neutralizer. (I by-passed my water softener.)
Ca – 24
Mg – 18
Cl – 110
So4 – 0
Na – 72
Total Hardness CaCo3 – 100
Total Alkalinity HCO3 – 144
Residual Alkalinity – 18

This is my well water run through a up flow neutralizer and a RO system. (I by-passed my water softener.)
Ca – 0
Mg – 0
Cl – 20
So4 – 0
Na – 22
Total Hardness CaCo3 – 0
Total Alkalinity HCO3 – 24
Residual Alkalinity – 0

Both of those waters are pretty good for different styles. How come you were adding chalk? Your RO water might need it for a dark beer, but I think you might do better with the raw water if you’re running into problems of mash pH being too low.

Chalk doesn’t dissolve in water, it needs acid to go in solution. Knowing that, I tried once to dissolve it in selzer water. No go, just sat there. Also tried to add it with lactic acid in my sparge water. Still no go. If you need to add Ca, it’s much better to add CaCl2 or CaSO4(gypsum).
Are the numbers you gave in ppm? If so, you could take your water run through the up flow neutralizer(don’t really know what that is), and add some CaSO4 and brew most anything. Would probably want to add even more SO4 for the hoppy ones. It does look a little high in NaCl(you must be close to the shore) so you could dilute it 1/2 and 1/2 with the RO, and add back CaSO4 and Mg SO4(Epsom salt). I use Brunwater and really love it. It did take some reading to understand it, but now it totally makes sense.

1 Like

Hi thanks for the info, I made an Imperial stout. I added the grain build, target water profile and RO water profile into EZ water calculator. I also added enough salts to get my 15 gallons of RO water closer to my target just so I wouldn’t have to add so much to the mash and sparge. (The up-flow neutralizer is just a big lime filter to take out the acidic water. it was eating the copper lines in the house) I should test the water with the up-flow neutralizer bypassed to see what I get.
So when we brewed 10 minutes into the mash the PH was 4.74. the ez-water calculator showed it at 5.58. with it that low will it effect the beer? we mashed at 150°for 60 minutes and batch sparged at 170°. Two other adds were, 1lb of lactose with 10 min left to the boil and 12oz of maple syrup at end of boil so I’m not sure it that would through off the PH. I had some 5.2 stabilizer but forgot to use it. :frowning:

Starting Water (ppm):
Ca: 36
Mg: 22
Na: 39
Cl: 70
SO4: 20
CaCO3: 84

Mash / Sparge Vol (gal): 6.7 / 4.8
RO or distilled %: 0% / 0%

Total Grain (lb): 19.0

Adjustments (grams) Mash / Boil Kettle:
CaSO4: 8 / 5.731343284
CaCl2: 2 / 1.432835821
MgSO4: 2 / 1.432835821
NaHCO3: 0 / 0
CaCO3: 0 / 0
Lactic Acid (ml): 0
Sauermalz (oz): 0

Mash Water / Total water (ppm):
Ca: 129 / 129
Mg: 29 / 29
Na: 39 / 39
Cl: 108 / 108
SO4: 227 / 227
Cl to SO4 Ratio: 0.48 / 0.48

Alkalinity (CaCO3): 84
RA: -25
Estimated pH: 5.58

To measure pH, are you using a calibrated pH meter or strips?

The starting water profile was a treated 15 gallon batch of RO water just to get it close to my target so I wouldn’t have to add so much in the mash and sparge

I have a PH meter and was calibrated that day

A mash ph of 4.7 is too low, especially for a stout(assuming your meter is accurate, I hate mine). Adding baking soda works for me much better than chalk. You do have to account for your sodium though. If sodium is a problem picking lime is an option. Disclaimer I have not tried pickling lime yet but harder to predict its effect from what I can glean. I think home brew stores all sell us chalk when we start water additions and everyone has a similar(bad) experience…

I wouldn’t use the buffer (stabilizer). I would mash a beer like that up around 5.4, not much lower than 5.2.

I am confused as to why your mash pH went so low. The ingredients you mentioned wouldn’t have affected it since you added them after you took your measurement.

1 Like

Right, that’s why I was wondering how pH was measured… that’s REALLY low. Something seems not right here, as you probably wouldn’t get good conversion at that low a pH. What was your starting gravity? Can you post your grain bill? Did you let your test sample cool to room temp before checking pH? My suspicion is that you got a bad measurement somehow.

when I mixed my 15 gallons of RO water I did a partial mix to get it closer to my target profile so I wouldn’t have to put so much in the mash and sparge. But now I’m thinking most of the chalk probably didn’t dissolve and settled to the bottom so my starting alkalinity was much lower than it should have been causing the PH to be lower. I know I’m going to pick up some PH strips just for a back up on my next brew.

The PH was measured with a LaMotte Tracer meter calibrated that day.

The starting gravity was 1.072 at 73° (the estimated pre boil SG was 1.081) with out accounting for the Maple syrup

the cool transfer wort was 1.94 at 73° (The estimated post boil SG was 1.095) with out accounting for the Maple syrup

Grain build: 16lb Maris Otter, 1lb Black Malt, 1lb Roasted Barley & 12oz of Chocolate Malt. (I added 10oz of VT Maple syrup at the end of the boil that the software didn’t calculate into the SG numbers as well as 1lb of Lactose at 10 minutes left of boil)
90 minute Boil
60 minute mash at 150°
Batch Sparge at 170°
Batch size 5.5 gal
Estimated ABV 10.4

Hope this helps. How will this effect the taste of the beer if the PH is indeed low?