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Burton water salts *with* ph5.2?


I’ve never added much to my mash water other than some pH5.2 powder. I want to now add some Burton water salts or gypsum to my brewing waters to approximate my water to the Burton-on-Trent for the ESB that I’m going to brew next week. I don’t test pH when I brew…do I want to omit the pH5.2 addition and instead add just the Burton salts? Or, add BOTH? Also, how much to add…I’ve read to add 2-4 teaspoons of Burton salts to 5 gallons of water.

Thanks in advance!

Wow. It really depends on where you’re starting. Without knowing what ions are in your water, it’s just a shot in the dark. Send a sample to Ward Labs and do some reading on water chemistry. Then use Bru’nwater to help guide you on building appropriate water. I know… complicated, but worth it.

I’m not all that concerned with exactness…I’ll probably add a few tablespoonsful of Burton salts and go with that…I’m more interested in whether Burton salts change the pH in the favor of the style (which I know it does) but also still wondering whether pH5.2 powder with Burton salts would improve or worsen the water for the mash…not sure if there is a right answer here!!

not concerned with exactness?

Tried to write a lucid response to this…can’t come up with one…all i can do is laugh.

Don’t mean to sound like a jerk but, seriously…

Get a water analysis and make adjustments accordingly. Everything else is just a waste of time and money, including the magic 5.2 potion which many of us tried at one point or another until we realized it was BS.

OK my last post sounds really harsh…just trying to help…

Until you know where you’re starting, ie, water analysis…it’s just a stab in the dark as pkrone said.

You could be making your water worse and driving your mash pH through the roof.

My hopefully more positive 2 cents, and I did try the 5.2 stuff for a while, either do nothing to your water or get it analyzed and use a program like Brunwater to adjust it for the style you’re brewing.

Having said that…do what you think works and enjoy brewing. :cheers:

Water chemistry sucks. It makes my head hurt. Brunwater is way out of my league. But these guys are right… adding a dash here, a dash there really is much worse than just leaving your water alone.

A middle ground I’ve been trying has been to start with distilled and calculate some additions using EZwater. I don’t want to measure pH as I’ve heard the strips are horribly inaccurate and the more expensive pH meters are really futzy. So starting with distilled water as a known quantity, I think I can get in the ballpark (I’m not very exact, either). The last couple of brews I’ve taken this approach on have been good… much better than my “toss some gypsum in there because that’s supposed to be good for IPAs” approach ever was.

The most basic approach to water can be found here- It says to just add 1 tsp of calcium chloride, and use 2% sour malt in your mash for every beer. Again, general ballpark.

I personally think water is important, but not because you have to get everything exactly right, just that you don’t want to make things horribly wrong. I’ve made my share of alka-seltzer beer by trying to add too much without knowing what I’m doing. There’s room to dabble in water, just have some idea of where you’re going.

I agree with dannyboy58 said. In my earlier days of brewing, I “willy-nilly” added brewing salts w/o doing any research on my water. Let me tell you that was the biggest mistake of my home brewing experience to date. My coffee stout tasted like, well, if I said sea water, that would be an insult to sea water. It was just utterly disgusting. You are better off not adding anything than to try and guesstimate what salts should be added.

Next, 5.2 pH stabilizer is junk. Plain and simple. I stuck with against the recommendations of many highly experienced brewers. I wanted to believe that it worked and that there was a magic pill the could stabilize my wort pH without any effort.

My suggestions would be first to contact you local municipality and get obtain a water report, typically they will provide you with what you need for free. That is what I did instead of sending my water out to a lab. Next, I would get familiar with how specific salts impact your final product. John Palmer has a pretty basic explanation of the impact of the most common additives on his website: howtobrew com

Lastly, there are free programs out there that can dial in your water for what you are brewing. Ez-Water is just that. It is a very user friendly program, but does not have all the bells and whistles of Bru’n water. I use EZ because it is just that, but I am currently and slowly digesting Bru’n water.

Best of luc

I started to go crosseyed when talking about/fussing with water as well, but playing around with Bru’n Water for a few minutes fixes that, assuming you are comfortable with Excel.

Also, look up the E-Z water spreadsheet or Kaiser’s water calculator. Much more bare bones, but easy to make adjustment.

+1000 to NOT messing with your water when you don’t know what you are doing/targeting.

Water is actually pretty simple to handle in a practical sense. The explanations and technical information can be overwhelming but with a program like bru’n water all the how and why become unnecessary, people much smarter than me figured it out and I’m ok with that. You NEED to know where you water starts but from there Brun water does everything. I’d suggest downloading brun water just for the water knowledge tab it includes. Its some of the most understandable to the point information out there IMO.

OK, guys, point well taken…I’ll get a water report and pay more close attention to water chemistry. One last thought…I filter my water with a portable home water filter (10" charcoal filter in plastic housing). I know that does a good job with chlorine, etc., but will it alter the water chemistry much from the municipality’s report? THANKS!

The 5.2 stuff made all my beers salty tasting. It was gross. It’s worthless other than making your beer taste like sh*t. About the best thing you can do, to give you peace of mind \m/, is to use RO and build up using Bru’n water. Or use RO and use the Primer by Aj DeLange on Homebrewtalk (if you want to keep it stupid simple).

I don’t know too much about home filters, but I think they’re mostly for getting chlorine out. Especially the charcoal ones. I’d probably just send the lab whatever you’re brewing with, ie, the filtered water you’re using.

Charcoal filters remove sediment, some heavy metals and nitrites, odors and bad tastes and some contaminants. They also can actually introduce bacteria if you don’t change the media in them or replace the filter often enough.

I totally agree with all the above. I don’t know much about water, but you don’t need to when using bru’n water. You start with your lab report and add the brewing salts until it meets the profile. Easy as that. And its ACCURATE.

Charcoal filters do NOT change the composition of your brewing water. So you could get a report and still use your filter.

If you go the RO route (the ones where you fill your own jugs), talk to a manager or someone in the know as the units need to be maintained. If they are not you are wasting your time.

Josh, all good information. However, I caution against relying on a repair person or manager to tell us that the RO machine is operating properly. They probably can’t tell any more than anyone. That is when you need your own TDS meter so that you can check how pure the RO water is. Less than 25 ppm is good, over 50 ppm is getting pretty bad. A TDS meter is pretty cheap and they are sturdy and should last a long time. They are an important investment for anyone who buys or gets their water from a RO machine.

[quote=“Loopie Beer”]

If you go the RO route (the ones where you fill your own jugs), talk to a manager or someone in the know as the units need to be maintained. If they are not you are wasting your time.[/quote]

This is a good point to keep in mind. I’ve seen Ward labs analyses of RO water from supermarkets with quite a bit more than 2 H’s and an O in there. My understanding is that to be truly “RO”, the equipment and maintenance is quite expensive. Like prohibitively expensive even for grocery stores.

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