Water treatment for Extract with Steeped Grains

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Tipple, Aug 14, 2021.

  1. Tipple

    Tipple New Member

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    Hello.

    I've been brewing beer and making wine for decades, but until recently my beer-making has been limited to the occasional quick-and-easy kit. Brewing from all-grain recipes isn't feasible for me, but I'm very much enjoying learning to brew from extract supplemented by steeped grains. At present, I'm learning about water treatment.

    I've more or less figured out how to use the use the Water Calculator, except for how to use it for steeped grains. So far, I've been setting the Total Water Volume to 19 litres and the Mash and Sparge to zero, so that I treat the full volume of water before I start brewing. This seems to make sense to me. Is this the correct way to do it? I don't bother with entering the steeping grains in the Grist section.

    The other extreme would be to treat only the water that I use in the steep, in which case I might set the Total Water Volume and the Mash to the steeping volume and enter the steeping grains in the Grist section. Thus I would end up treating only the steeping water. I would be able to attend to the pH and alkalinity of the steep, but the chemistry of the rest of the boil water and the make-up water would be off - possibly by a long way for the more extreme styles of beer.

    I need some words of wisdom on how to approach water treatment for these brews!

    My sincere thanks in advance,

    Tipple
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Use RO or distilled water. If you don't have access to either of those, use the softest water you can. The minerals were added when the extract was mashed and all that was removed was pure water, so use the purest you can get to reconstitute the extract. Same holds for steeping: All you're doing is dissolving solids in the grain. Use your tap water for this: You aren't converting starches to sugars. The exception is if you're doing a mini-mash. In that case you are converting starches so will have to use the water calculator to get the pH right.
     
  3. Tipple

    Tipple New Member

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    Thank you, that's a clear explanation. For steeping, I'm choosing specialty grains that have DP = 0, so I'm essentially just rinsing rather than mini-mashing and I'm happy to continue doing that.

    We live in a rural area and get our water from a well. This means that I have a choice between untreated well water and water that's been through our softener. The natural well water is quite hard at 180 mg/l CaCO3.The softener can add significant levels of salt, but I can probably mitigate this by drawing my brewing water just before the next softener media regeneration is due and the worst of the residual salt has been used up (I'm going to have this tested). So far, I'm using softened water for Pilsner (100% extract) and "natural" well water for everything else. Either way, I think the alkalinity is fairly high. I haven't had that tested yet either, but a simple pool test strip puts it at about 120.

    If I'm interpreting your comment correctly, I should use natural well water for steeping and our softened tap water for the boil and make-up, and not bother with any adjustments to chemistries. Should I be concerned about the alkalinity when brewing very pale or very dark beers? Should I aim to get the Residual Alkalinity within Palmer's range for a particular brew? I suspect that the answer is "Don't bother" if most of the important bio-chemistry takes place during a mash.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    If you have to soften it, don't use it. Too much mineral flavor. Get the purified water from the grocery, it's RO.
     

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