Hopefully my last water treatment question

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jmcnamara, Mar 1, 2017.

  1. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I found the following excerpt in a Homebrew Talk forum by AJ deLange (posted by Yooper no less). Can it really be that simple? I'm not looking to know exact ppm or anything, just a basic guideline to get started.




    The following recommendations apply to “soft” water. Here we will define soft as meaning RO or distilled water or any water whose lab report indicates alkalinity less than 35 (ppm as CaCO3 – all other numbers to follow mg/L), sulfate less than 20 (as sulfate – Ward Labs reports as sulfur so multiply the SO4-S number by 3 to get as sulfate), chloride less than 20, sodium less than 20, calcium less than 20 and magnesium less than 20. If your water has numbers higher than these, dilute it with RO or DI water. A 1:1 dilution reduces each ion concentration to 1/2, a 2:1 dilution to 1/3 and so on. If your water contains chloramines add 1 campden tablet per 20 gallons (before any dilution)

    Baseline: Add 1 tsp of calcium chloride dihydrate (what your LHBS sells) to each 5 gallons of water treated. Add 2% sauermalz to the grist.

    Deviate from the baseline as follows:

    For soft water beers (i.e Pils, Helles). Use half the baseline amount of calcium chloride and increase the sauermalz to 3%

    For beers that use roast malt (Stout, porter): Skip the sauermalz.

    For British beers: Add 1 tsp gypsum as well as 1 tsp calcium chloride

    For very minerally beers (Export, Burton ale): Double the calcium chloride and the gypsum
     
  2. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Not a bad write up there jmcnamara thanks for sharing the post here. Sounds like this bloke knows what he is on about. I haven't diluted any of my brews thus far with distilled water I've definitely added calcium chloride and calcium sulphate 2:1 weather hop based or a malt based brew. My bicarbonate levels are 33 so I'd say my local water supply is soft. Water is the biggest ingredient in our beers so designing water profile to enhance beer flavour is pretty important.
     
  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I've always gone by the adage "if it's good enough to drink, it's good enough to make beer" as far as my tap water goes.
    I'll throw in a campden tablet to get rid of the chlorine (or chloramines, whatever), but this stuff all seemed Greek to me when I read up on it elsewhere
     
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  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    being 3 hours away from Budweiser or "Anheuser bush" "add who else here" lol my water is set up for lagers just like them and well after double carbon filtering my water, its pretty low in everything and all I do is add 1 tsp gypsum and 1 tsp calcium chloride for most pale beers

    for darker beers I mean amber to brown I just add 1 tsp calcium chloride, now at first taste its not very bitter or spicy but once its carbed in the keg for 30 days the bit shows up and very tasty

    I don't really brew black beer any more so I cant tell ya
     
  5. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    the best way to start is get a wards lab water report for beer brewing, I can show you more from there
     
  6. Myndflyte

    Myndflyte Active Member

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    It really makes water treatment not quite a headache that I thought it was. Definitely saving this for the future.
     
  7. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    I've got one from the county somewhere here, I'll post it when I have a chance

    Thanks!
     
  8. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    This is actually better than messing with your water without knowing what your doing for sure. That mistake is made a lot.
     
  9. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    Yes, it really is that simple if you don't want to mess with the water.

    The most important thing to target is the mash pH. Once you have that down (generally in the 5.3-5.5 pH range), then the salts you add (if any) are for tweaking flavor. Just like salt or pepper add something to food, so do brewing salts. Chloride enhances a "roundness" or "fullness"' of flavor, while sulfate (from gypsum) enhances dryness. You can't go wrong with 100% RO water and 5 grams (1 teaspoon more or less) of calcium chloride in all beers, especially in lagers, just like adding some salt to most dishes that you cook. It's a good start. And in many cases, it will be enough.

    The only disadvantage to not adding any salts at all (going with 100% RO water) may be a bit of blandness in the finished beer. The malt itself has enough magnesium and calcium for a healthy fermentation. Adding a calcium salt (either gypsum or calcium chloride) to RO water does have one distinct advantage, though- having at least 40 ppm or so in the brewing water helps to stop the formation of beerstone. It doesn't have to do with the fermentation though- it's just a preventative thing for your convenience in the future.
     
  10. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Ok, here's the water report from the county (it's a little old, i know). I highlighted the stuff that was mentioned in my first post.
    From what I understand, the chlorides and alkalinity are quite high compared to the definition of soft water that he gives. So, if I dilute half and half tap water and distilled, that will bring all my baseline numbers to "soft water." Then just build back up like he describes?
    I don't know if I can wait until we move into the new house to brew my next batch with these little tweaks!
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    My water treatment regime:
    - Make sure you get rid of chlorine/chloramine (Campden tablets, filtration)
    - Make sure the water tastes good
    - Make sure you have enough calcium (50 ppm)
    - Make sure the residual alkalinity of the mash (the mash pH) is low enough - 5.2 to 5.6 cool - either through salt addition, dilution with RO/distilled water, boiling or acidification of the mash water, depending on the result you want
    - Keep the sparge temperature under 170 degrees and keep the sparge pH below 6.0
     
  12. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
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    That water isn't bad at all! If you want to work with it at all, you could try the water calculator here at brewer's friend. Shoot for a mash pH of 5.3-5.5 in the calculator, and you should be ok. You could use some calcium chloride or gypsum as needed, but it's not even necessary.
     
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Agree with Yooper: Settle on a treatment program and stick with it. Mine's charcoal filtration, calcium chloride and phosphoric acid. I filter the water to remove the chlorine/chloramine, add a few grams of calcium to bring the value above 50 ppm (my tap water has about 36 ppm), then acidify the entire batch of brewing liquor to pH 5.6. Even for very dark batches, this works much better for me than trying to hit a given profile. But then, I usually cap my sparge with my dark grains so my mashes are pretty consistent. Our local craft brewery's head brewer tells me he never treats our water, even for pilsners (and he brews a killer Pils), just uses acid adjustment, usually acidulated malt, to keep the water in control. There are lots of approaches to brewing water, I prefer the minimalist route.
     
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  14. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    cool! i definitely try to apply the KISS method to everything (out of efficiency, not laziness ;))

    I'll play around with the calculator a bit more, the last time i looked at it i went cross-eyed with all the options and stuff
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    Ill make a how to in a day or so, Im sick and cant look at the screen too long without getting a headache lol
     
  16. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    I am all for KISS (unlike jmcnamara, purely out of laziness ;)), but after years of dealing with an odd taste that I can't quite nail down, I am thinking about removing chlorine. I use straight-up tap water, which has fairly little, but still often noticeable chlorine/chloramine content.
    According to the municipal water supply, I have ~<50mg/l chlorine in my tap water.
    I can sometimes claim to smell it, but for the most part, I don't...
    Is it a level I should consider filtering for brewing purposes, or am I just being paranoid?
     
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  17. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Chlorine will instantly form polyphenols and leave a band aid flavour in beer
    Camden tablets or preboiling water get rid of it
    Before I started thinking about my water my beers were OK and water chemistry took them to the next level
     
  18. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input.
    Sounds like I am on my to buying some campden tablets...and then a water filter. :D
     
  19. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Water filtration is a great idea too , I'm setting up a dual filter in brewhouse this weekend
     
  20. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Much obliged. Take your time, I've waited 5 years to get into water, another few days won't hurt anything
     

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