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St. Paul MN Brewing Water

Hi folks,

Since this is a NB forum and St Paul is kind of the home court, I thought this would be a good place to look for some advice on brewing water. The input I have received at NB and from some local brewers is that St Paul city water is relatively benign if maybe a bit soft. The advice I was given is that little or no modification is needed when brewing using St Paul water.

I am looking for comments from St Paul brewers. Are there any styles that prove to be difficult to brew with St Paul water without significant water work?

Thanks for the input.

I am not the expert by any stretch, but my experience is our water is great for lagers. But it needs a bit of hardening - gypsum, epsom salts for stouts/porters in particular. The nature of the bitterness of those beers - it’s just smoother/softer with a bit of hardening. Beersmith has all sorts of chem. break downs on waters of the world. You can get current water info from the st. paul home brewers club, enter that and beersmith will tell you what to add. I never got that specific though.

Most all beers ranging from 8-14 SRM will have mashes right in the realm of 5.3-5.6 PH with no water manipulation.

In very light styles of beer you will have to acidify the mash some to bring the PH down.
[color=#FF8000]Edit: Jtb got a post in before I got mine up. We have pretty soft water but for delicate styles like pilsner you will need to acidify the mash if you want to hit on all cylinders when making this style. If you were to mash in as/is you will end up with a higher than desired PH. For example if using the water straight out of the tap with nine pounds of pils malt you will end up with a room temp mash sample showing 5.8-5.9 which translates to a mash temp PH of 5.5-5.7

You would really like to see a mash PH of 5.2-5.3, not 5.5-5.7 for a pils or other similar style.
Its not a deal killer but your final beer will have a higher PH than desired also which is the difference between a crisp clean pils and a flabby/insipid tasting pils if semantics matter to you. [/color]

In very dark styles of beer you will need to add lime or other minerals to bring the mash PH up.

As is St Paul water is great for brewing although there are three aspects to be aware of which will require starting to learn basic brewing water manipulation. Two newer free applications let you do this with ease and without a PH meter compared to a few years ago before these technologies/ research existed.

The three concerns a St Paul water user will have is:

  1. Most months of the year our water is higher in Chloride and lower in Sulfate. This will make many beers appear to taste malty to very malty. You can use the below apps to bring the sulfate up and find a balanced to bitter profile if your beer style requires it.

  2. Our calcium amounts range from 17-25ppm and this should be boosted closer to 50ppm in the mash and kettle full for more efficient mashes/ boils and fermentation.

  3. Our chlorination level is usually very high so it is wise to add 1/4 tablet of campden per 5 gallons of water used.

The two applications to make it all easier on your learning curve:
A. Bru n water (Read the instructions tab very good complete information on the whole subject of water manipulation.)

B. Braukaisers water app. ... alculator/

That’s the basics, If you wish to know more do some searches on the forum as I have spoken to St Paul water manipulation too many times to count and do not want to rehash old text.

St Paul publishes each months report the following month around the 15th. Many times they are
late to publish reports.
Current data available: June 2013
Ca: 18
Mg: 6
Na: 27
Cl: 47
SO4: 13
HCO3: 57
Alk: 47
HCO3 is not shown on the monthly report just take the alkalinity value and times by 1.22
Sulfate/ SO4 is not shown on the monthly report just take the sulfur value shown and times by 3

Link to St Paul’s water monthly test page:

Great information. Thanks fellows.

And there, beautifully displayed, is the difference between 636 posts and a dozen. Thanks for that info ITsPossible.

That is the water that I use for my ales and I’ve had it tested twice by Ward Labs and that compares to what he is showing.
I also use the 30,000 year old water from the old Landmark brewery on west 7th it has more hardness in it great for an IPA.

Not a problem, glad to help. 12 or 12,000 Everyone has good information to contribute…So welcome to the forum.

[quote=“jtb”]That is the water that I use for my ales and I’ve had it tested twice by Ward Labs and that compares to what he is showing.
I also use the 30,000 year old water from the old Landmark brewery on west 7th it has more hardness in it great for an IPA. [/quote]

Very nice, If you get a chance it would be interesting to find out what your numbers were on what approx date and your general locale in the watershed. Also it would be nice to see this thread turn into a local report junction point. I obtained a ward report for midway way back in 2004 and it was very close to effluent. So I now go on the monthly report. Although it would nice to see what levels are actually being seen in different parts of the metro including Mpls and suburbs.

Also here is a link to information found recently about the old Schmidt well that Chuck is referring to:


In this link is a report found from the 1990’s and a wards lab panel I ran on it in 2010 when it was turned back on. I haven’t looked at the well water for anything other than darker beers in the past due to its high alkalinity and TDS. But I will have to run some numbers again Chuck on some IPA recipes and see how it sits although one thing I can remember from memory is that sulfate would need some boosting for an IPA.

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