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Water report

After all the talk about water lately, what styles are best for my water? What can/should I do to improve it? Some of my beers turn out great, some not so great.

Acidity / Alkalinity (PH)
6.5

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
37 mg/l
Calcium (Ca++)
4.1 mg/l
Magnesium (Mg++)
1 mg/l
Sodium (Na+)
1.5 mg/l
Potassium (K+)
0.5 mg/l
Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
396.5 mg/l
Chloride (Cl-)
1.6 mg/l
Sulphate (SO4–)
5.3 mg/l
Silica (SiO2)
1.7 mg/l

Wow - that is some crazy water. Are your dark beers good?

Your bicarbonate # is through the roof.

[quote=“mainemike68”]After all the talk about water lately, what styles are best for my water? What can/should I do to improve it? Some of my beers turn out great, some not so great.

Acidity / Alkalinity (PH)
6.5

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
37 mg/l
Calcium (Ca++)
4.1 mg/l
Magnesium (Mg++)
1 mg/l
Sodium (Na+)
1.5 mg/l
Potassium (K+)
0.5 mg/l
Bicarbonate (HCO3-)
396.5 mg/l
Chloride (Cl-)
1.6 mg/l
Sulphate (SO4–)
5.3 mg/l
Silica (SiO2)
1.7 mg/l[/quote]

Everything looked great until I got to the Bicarbonate. That is a hell of a lot of bicarbonates. It’s a bit odd since things like Calcium, Magnesium and Sodium are extremely low. Highly bicarbonate water is problematic for light colored beers. You could probably get by for dark beers by adding some additional Calcium but even for dark brews the bicarb is excessive. Pre-boiling will reduce the number and is cheaper than buying water al;though you will still likely have to dilute further with another source to get the bicarb number down to an acceptable level for lighter beers. :cheers:

[quote=“Braufessor”]Wow - that is some crazy water. Are your dark beers good?

Your bicarbonate # is through the roof.[/quote]

The Dry Irish Stout I have on tap is probably one of my best and I am not a huge stout fan. So darker beers better from this water?

I have had some IPA’s come out good and some come out great, the one I am drinking now is either still “green” or bad.

Some ambers good some not so good. I have not really made any lighter colored beers since moving here to this water source.

Yeah - You’re water’s bicarbonate level is higher than Dublin’s! Stouts and porters are definitely your friend with that water.

I agree that it is weird that all your other numbers are really pretty low - to nonexistant. Are you using a water softener? That will take a lot of the other minerals out, but not change bicarbonate #?

Also, you didn’t mention - all grain or extract?

If extract, I would go 100% RO or Distilled water and add minerals if needed (hoppy beers).

If All grain, you could brew darker ambers, browns, porters, stouts, etc. with some additions of CaSO4, etc.

If all grain and brewing ligher beers, Pale ales, IPA’s etc. - I would be cutting your tap water with 50% - 100% RO/DIstilled water depending on style and adding minerals as needed. (that is what I do - My water is about 260 bicarbonate which is high, although not as crazy high as yours is.)

Brau,

Yes I am using a water softener and I am doing all grain. Like I said some of my beers, (Dead Ringer, Sierra Madre, amber ale) come out great, others come out "salty’ or medicinal.

ive been using poland spring water since ive started. 45 extract batches in, i havent had a bad batch yet. im a little reluctant to change but i think i need to check my tap water and start using that. all of these mineral additions are a bit confusing.

I have a water softener too - but, I have a couple faucets (kitchen sink, outside faucets) that are hard water. Don’t use water run through a softener for beer - gonna give you problems.

Option 1 - If you have a faucet that is not hooked to your softener, you could use that water - but, because of your superhigh bicarbonates, you are still going to need to cut the water with RO/Distilled for brewing anything other than stouts and porters.

Option 2 - If all of your water is hooked up to the softener, I would say you are going to have to buy jugs (or find a friend who will trade water for some beer). If you refill jugs at grocery store or walmart, you can usually get it for 30 cents a gallon, which is pretty cheap when you figure the time and expense you are going to in order to make your beer.

If you use RO/Distilled water you will need to add minerals to it (CaSO4, CaCl2, etc.)

While not quite as bad I’m in about the same boat as you regarding water. I don’t use a water softener so some of my other minerals are a bit higher but my bicarbonate is ~300 ppm which makes doing anything but the darkest beers pretty tough. Maybe its that I already had different aspects under control but nothing made a bigger difference in my all grain beers than correcting my water.

Take the time to learn Brun’ Water, it seemed it bit complicated at first but now it is quite easy to use. You’re going to have to use a fair bit of RO water to get the bicarbonate down to reasonable levels so that you get get your mash pH to an acceptable range. With my water I use from 35% (darker beers) to 85% (blonde beer) RO water to get to the desired water profile, quite likely you’ll have to do the same. Also you’ll want to use some salts since cutting you’re already very low mineral water with RO water is going to require adding back some of the desired minerals.

Don Cuz -

I would not switch to your tap water unless you get a water report first. Extract beer already has minerals in it (Extract is dehydrated wort - that was made using a water source with roughly appropriate minerals). If your tap water is high in minerals, and you add it to extract that has the correct minerals, you could end up with mineral contents that are much higher than appropriate. From most of what I have read, when brewing extract, go with RO/Distilled water and maybe just add certain minerals (CaSO4 or other additions) when brewing a particular style that calls for higher levels - like an IPA/hoppy beers would benefit from higher sulfate for example.

I think you have either a typo or something missing from the report. You can’t have that much bicarbonate without some cations to balance it. The pH is also unusually low for municipal water. Or is this well water?

Is this supposed to be the softened water that was tested? The lack of sodium makes me think that wherever it was sampled, it hadn’t actual gone through the softener.

[quote=“a10t2”]I think you have either a typo or something missing from the report. You can’t have that much bicarbonate without some cations to balance it. The pH is also unusually low for municipal water. Or is this well water?

Is this supposed to be the softened water that was tested? The lack of sodium makes me think that wherever it was sampled, it hadn’t actual gone through the softener.[/quote]

It is well water that is hooked up to a softener. The test was done locally when we purchased the house last year as part of the buying agreement, I am not sure if the softener was running or if much water was being run before we bought the house.

Thanks to everyone for the help and info. I am beginning to think that there is something wrong with these numbers as well. I think I will send a sample off to the Ward Lab and ask for feed back from everyone here after that. I really think that the water is what is keeping me from making consistently great beer.

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