Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

My 1st attempt at treating water

Backstory: Brewing for 5 years, all grain.
Water comes from the city well, very hard.
I have a carbon filter. I have never treated any water for my brews. (other than the carbon filter)

I am getting ready to brew a big beer, Belgian Westy 12. I have the BLAM book, and I have researched all the various clones and water reports from the region.

I have come to the realization, that although we know the Water Profile of that brewery, we do not know how they treat it, so that report is mostly useless to me.

So I have found that some people are saying that the Chimay is probably close to the end result of the water profile, so I have decided to use their profile as my goal.

The numbers:
My water profile is:
Chloride 17, Sulfate 30, Sodium 18, Calcium 54, Bicarbonate 220, Magnesium 15

The Chimay profile, as of the writing of the BLAM is:
CHloride 21, SUlfate 21, Sodium 7, Calcium 70, Bicarbonate 216, Magnesium 7

I have been told by my LHBS just to use 1/2 Distilled and 1/2 Tap water, and that would get me close enough.

Does that seem right? It seems like my water profile is very close on Bicarb and Sulfate and Magnesium, but very far on the others.

Lastly, how do I actually add in the treatments? WOuld I have to get all 8.25 gallons in a pot, add in the treatments, then put the water into the Mashtun? Or do I put the water into the Mashtun, then add in 1/2 of the treatment, Mash, then Batch Sparge, then add in the rest of the water along with the rest of the treatments?

Thanks in advance for any guidance or suggestions.
gdizzle

Using Bru’nwater, I’ve found that I get better results by using color and flavor to select a water profile instead of using a city or region profile.

Don’t bother trying to reproduce the tap water profile for Chimay. That Chimay water would have been decarbonated either by lime softening or pre-boiling. The resulting calcium content would be more like 30 ppm and the resulting bicarbonate content around 80 ppm. Those values are much more likely to produce an acceptable result than the original water. The original and boiled Chimay profiles are included in Bru’n Water.

The relatively low flavor ion (Mg, Na, Cl, and SO4) concentrations should not overwhelm the beer flavor, so they are appropriate targets.

Without getting into water treatment too deep I agree with the LHBS and cut 50/50 with distilled should make you dangerous. Not familiar with Beersmith but I don’t believe it offers any sort of mash pH calcs. The main goal of water treatment is to ensure your pH is optimal for brewing. From there, you can tailor the water to give you a better taste. I suggest you download and learn bru’n water if you want to learn more. Plug your water data and recipe in and report back. :cheers:

Martin, than you for the data for post carbonate removal. The figures are close to what I’ve learned to estimate.

Thanks for the replies. I checked out BrunWater. According to it (and to BS), if I use the Boiled profile of Chimay, and if I use my normal ,untreated tap water (no distilled water), neither say I need to treat my water? Which seems very confusing to me, knowing that I have very hard water, and Belgium has very soft water.

The BrunWater does say that my mash alkalinity is too high at 6.1, but then it doesn’t instruct me to lower my ph.

I just measured my tap water ph, it is 7.2

I believe my goal for ph during mash is around 5.3
I am simply mashing 8lbs of Pale Malt (US 2 row) and 8lbs of Belgian Pilsner in about 4 gallons of water (150deg). Then Batch sparge it with about 4 gallons (170deg).
I am not doing any fancy protein rests or any of that stuff.

All of my dark color is going to come from Dark Candi Syrup.
Any further ideas?

[quote=“gdizzle”]Thanks for the replies. I checked out BrunWater. According to it (and to BS), if I use the Boiled profile of Chimay, and if I use my normal ,untreated tap water (no distilled water), neither say I need to treat my water? Which seems very confusing to me, knowing that I have very hard water, and Belgium has very soft water.

The BrunWater does say that my mash alkalinity is too high at 6.1, but then it doesn’t instruct me to lower my ph.

I just measured my tap water ph, it is 7.2

I believe my goal for ph during mash is around 5.3
I am simply mashing 8lbs of Pale Malt (US 2 row) and 8lbs of Belgian Pilsner in about 4 gallons of water (150deg). Then Batch sparge it with about 4 gallons (170deg).
I am not doing any fancy protein rests or any of that stuff.

All of my dark color is going to come from Dark Candi Syrup.
Any further ideas?[/quote]

Sure, all of Belgium has soft water. That’s like saying that all of Indiana has hard water. Both statements untrue! Don’t be so surprised that your tap water has similarity to water from somewhere else. You are fortunate that you don’t have to do much in this case. Clearly you will need to include an acid addition somewhere to bring that obviously high pH to your target pH. I would target 5.2 for a pale Belgian style.

To lower the pH you add acid. Either lactic or phosphoric.

I like the simplicity of your recipe. I would be using 20% sugar BTW.

If it were me, I would cut 50/50 with distilled and acidify mash with phosphoric acid to 5.2 as per Martin’s suggestion. Cut sparge 50/50 and acidify to 5.7. No Ca salts.

You using 3787?

Where do I find an amount of acid to add?

Yes on 3787
I am also using about 3lbs of sugar/syrup

[quote=“gdizzle”]Where do I find an amount of acid to add?

Yes on 3787
I am also using about 3lbs of sugar/syrup[/quote]

You have to enter it. Think of Bru’nwater as a spreadsheet where you set up “what if” scenarios.

[quote=“gdizzle”]Where do I find an amount of acid to add?

Yes on 3787
I am also using about 3lbs of sugar/syrup[/quote]

Open Brunwater and click on the Water Adjustment sheet tab at the bottom. The bottom half of the page with the heater Water Additions, second column from the left highlighted in blue. you put in the additions you’d like to make there. the last item is acid, choose if you’re using lactic or phosphoric and put in the amount, the pH will be adjusted on your adjustment summary page.

There is a learning curve to Brunwater but it’s a great tool. I found I had to read the instructions a couple times, plug in some values, read again…I’m still learning things about the tool after 9 months of use.

Here’s a “walkthrough” for Bru’nwater that might be helpful…

http://accidentalis.com/archives/275

Thanks for all the ideas. This Brunwater just isn’t for me. I am too stupid to take it in. Tried a few times, but I thought it would calculate for me, instead it appears I need to input possible adjustments, and I am lost.
Using 50% distilled, meaning of my 4 gal mash, 2 gal would be distilled, I type in .9ml per gallon, it tells me that is 3.6g of Lactic Acid to add directly to my mash. I ignore the sparge aspect, since I Batch, and I suppose I would just be using 50% distilled for that as well (no additions)
This tells me it would bring mashPH to 5.3? Is this making any sense?

Make matters worse, I want to brew this beast tomorrow.
I ordered a bunch of additions just in case, but I failed to order any acid. What I did order was Gypsum, Calcium Clhloride and Chalk.
Any last minute ideas? I cant get to LHBS to get acid. And I still have yet to go get any distilled water.
uugg. And we are having a huge rain storm.

[quote=“gdizzle”]Thanks for all the ideas. This Brunwater just isn’t for me. I am too stupid to take it in. Tried a few times, but I thought it would calculate for me, instead it appears I need to input possible adjustments, and I am lost.
Using 50% distilled, meaning of my 4 gal mash, 2 gal would be distilled, I type in .9ml per gallon, it tells me that is 3.6g of Lactic Acid to add directly to my mash. I ignore the sparge aspect, since I Batch, and I suppose I would just be using 50% distilled for that as well (no additions)
This tells me it would bring mashPH to 5.3? Is this making any sense?

Make matters worse, I want to brew this beast tomorrow.
I ordered a bunch of additions just in case, but I failed to order any acid. What I did order was Gypsum, Calcium Clhloride and Chalk.
Any last minute ideas? I cant get to LHBS to get acid. And I still have yet to go get any distilled water.
uugg. And we are having a huge rain storm.[/quote]

Here is a suggestion, based on a your situation of wanting to brew today and no access to acid or LBHS.

Go with 100% distilled water. Add 2 grams CaSO4 and 2 grams CaCl2 to your 4 gal of mash wather. Nothing else.

With this entered into the B’water sheet I get:
Ca: 67
SO4: 74
Cl: 64
Bicarb: zero

Mashing 16 lbs of base malt in this water, I am getting a mash pH of 5.5.

These numbers are not “ideal” but considering your circumstances, I think this will get you into a range that is acceptable to brew with today.

I would bet that with a little time and experimentation, the Brunwater will start to make more sense to you. So don’t give up on it. Or more to the point, don’t give up on water modification, Spend some time on it and your beer will thank you.

You are all overthinking this. The OP does not need to adjust his water. The end.

Of course not. Most homebrewers don’t. And if he doesn’t then he will still make beer. But he’s asking how he could, so he may be at teh stage of dipping his toe into water improvement but not at the point of being comfortable with the concepts.

While that tap water will make beer, it won’t EVER make a decent pale beer without reducing that bicarbonate content. It’s just way too high and the resulting pH will be too high also.

Dave, I’m assuming you are looking at the comparison between that tap water and the Chimay profile? You are correct that they are similar enough. But Chimay does not brew with that water in that form. They also treat the water to reduce the bicarbonate content.

By the way, that tap water is not that bad…once you reduce the bicarbonate.

I appreciate the “you are overthinking it”. That is a compliment.
Ok, I came up with a few random options for acid.
I don’t really want to do the all distilled version, as I still want to retain some of my “natural” local water.
So the 50% thing is looking good, with a small acid addition into the mash.
In trying not to make a 60 minute drive to LHBS, I have found that I have a Pool tester kit, which has a vial of Hydrochloric acid. Could I use that? I mean it reduces pH in the pool, right?

Also I called around to a pet shop, they have Sulphuric Acid.

Any of you ever use either of these acids to make beer?
Lastly, I do have some chocolate malt, I read somewhere people toss in few oz of chocolate malt and that reduces the pH?
I actually also have Black Patent and Roasted Barley.

Hit me back fellas. Time is a wasting’ and the rain has stopped.

p.s. am I the only one who used to touch HCl while a middle school student, just to see my skin turn yellow?

Those acids are OK for water treatment, but unless they are reagent-grade or food-grade acids, I wouldn’t use them in my brewing. They could easily have contaminants in them otherwise.

Nitric acid turns your skin yellow, but I’ve never seen HCl do it. Personally I would shy away from HCl or H2SO4 since they are nasty strong acids. Also, they will dissociate completely and leave Sulfate or Chloride in your water, which you would need to account for.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com